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Skaná, The Spa at Turning Stone in Verona, New York
Julie Register visited this resort spa in upstate New York in August, 2007

Click to Enlarge - The Lodge at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New YorkMy husband and I have celebrated our anniversaries at some pretty nice places - Sedona, Cancun, Carmel, Hershey, Bangkok, West Virginia, Georgia, New Jersey, Texas and Alabama among others. For the last decade or so, the celebration has also included a couple's spa treatment. This year was no different. Our anniversary is two days apart from my husband's birthday, so we spent a long anniversary/birthday weekend at the Oneida Indian Nation's Turning Stone Resort in Verona, New York.

Nestled in the heart of Central New York's scenic Mohawk Valley (made famous as the "Leatherstocking" region by James Fenimore Cooper), the 1,200-acre Turning Stone Resort and entertainment complex is 35 miles east of Syracuse Hancock International Airport. However, we drove about 4 hours to get there from home - most of it was a pretty, scenic ride.

Turning Stone Resort features four hotels, five golf courses, two spas, 21 dining options, a casino, showroom, event center and conference space. We stayed at the AAA 4-diamond award-winning, 98-suite, Adirondack lodge-styled Lodge at Turning Stone. Except for a couple of hours exploring the casino, we spent the entire time there. The two-room Lodge Suite was very comfortable. We especially enjoyed the large bathroom. It gave us some great ides for features to incorporate in our someday master bath renovation. Jeff loved the Kohler adjustable shower head. I enjoyed soaking in the deep tub. We also enjoyed doing something we never do - watch TV in bed. I know. It sounds pretty worthless, but we rarely watch TV together. While in-room movies were available, we got hooked watching a Survivorman marathon and really enjoyed it. Each night there was a turndown service with delicious chocolate-covered pretzels crusted with toffee crunch. The first night, we received a dream catcher. According to the card accompanying it, a dream catcher moves freely when hung in the night air and grabs dreams as the pass by. The good dreams, knowing their way, slip through the spirit bead in the center of the dream catcher, then slide down so softly that often the sleeper does not know they are dreaming. The bad dreams, not knowing their way, get tangled in the webbing and perish with the first light of the new day. Originally, dream catchers were hung on the cradle boards of new babies.

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Click to Enlarge - Lodge Suite with King Bed in The Lodge at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York
Lodge Suite with King Bed in The Lodge at Turning Stone

Click to Enlarge - Lodge Suite with King Bed in The Lodge at Turning Stone in Verona, New York
The Lodge Suite's
pass-through marble bathroom features Kohler designer fixtures and L'Occitane en Provence Verbena bath amenities

We caught up on a little reading in the Great Room while relaxing on incredibly comfortable lounge chairs that overlook the lovely lawn and terrace (the scene of two weddings during our stay). I read The Secret Life of Bees and Jeff brought blink.

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Click to Enlarge - The Lodge at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York
The Lodge at Turning Stone

We got up early each morning and worked out in the Fitness Center. There are two glass walls in the room which make the room bright and pleasant. One wall is lined with three treadmills overlooking the indoor pool. The other wall is lined with 2 ellipticals and 3 stationary bikes overlooking the gardens, small lake and golf course. A third wall has a table with water and a basket of apples. The fourth wall is lined with Star Trak strength equipment - mostly for arms and upper body and a couple for legs. There are no free weights. Classes are offered daily in the fitness studio - pilates, yoga, cardio, core. I took a yoga class from Stephanie. It turned out to be a private lesson and was very enjoyable. There is also a 5,600-foot outdoor fitness trail that we used.

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Click to Enlarge - Fitness Center at The Lodge at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York
Fitness Center at The Lodge at Turning Stone
Click to Enlarge - Indoor Pool and Whirlpool at The Lodge at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York
Indoor Pool and Whirlpool at The Lodge at Turning Stone

We ate all but two of our meals at Wildflowers, the AAA 4-diamond restaurant at The Lodge at Turning Stone. The work of Chef Daniel Graban, a native of Madrid, Spain, was impressive. The food was excellent and the service attentive. While we didn't order everything on the menu (which were printed on parchment paper and personalized for each guest), we sampled a good variety. We tried to stick with the items marked "Healthy" such as Wildflowers Salad with Seasonal Greens with Feta Cheese Vinaigrette, Beet dipping Dots and Carrot Foam; Dehydrated Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette; and Disorganized Grilled Vegetable Lasagna with Herb Marinated Tofu & Balsamic Vinegar Sauce. The presentations were beautiful. Especially memorable was the Wildflowers Salad. It looked like a vase of flowers that had tipped over. It was delicious as well. They even surprised Jeff with a special birthday desert and cake (and, thankfully, didn't sing!). We also enjoyed the bountiful Sunday Brunch at Wildflowers.

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Click to Enlarge - Wildflowers at The Lodge at Turning Stone in Verona, New York
*Wildflowers at The Lodge at Turning Stone

We never made it to The Skaná Spa Café which is open for breakfast and lunch every day serving tasteful, healthy, beautifully prepared and properly balanced cuisine. Next time, for sure. But we did spend a lot of time in Skaná, The Spa at Turning Stone.

Skaná, the 33,000 square-foot Spa at Turning Stone opened in December 2006. Sheri Beglen of the Wolf Clan and an Oneida language teacher worked with an Oneida language consultant to provide options for the spa's name. Skaná (skah-nah), meaning peace, was selected. It is representative of the Oneida's belief in the balance of good health, harmony with nature, and tranquility within.

Skaná is housed in its own building that is connected to The Lodge by way of a long, wide, turning hallway. It is a physical transition to the peaceful atmosphere of the spa. Halfway along the hallway is an area that marks the official entrance to the spa. There you find a large water feature and a display of Native American pottery by Tammy Tarbell-Boehning. The figures are her interpretation and representation of the three clans of the Oneida Nation - Bear, Turtle, and Wolf. The center piece is 'Turtle Woman" who represents Mother Earth. The turtles in her belly are her children. More of Tammy's work can be found at Oneida Sky, the boutique near the casino.

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Click to Enlarge - Skaná: The Spa at Turning Stone in Verona, New York
Skaná: The Spa at Turning Stone in Verona, New York

Continuing down the hallway on the walk to the spa, you pass The Skaná Spa Café and the retail boutique where the all-natural Kerstin Florian and Naturapathica products used in Skaná treatments can be purchased for home use.

The reception and welcome area, like much of the spa's architecture, is a tribute to the Oneida culture. The welcome area represents the traditional arched Oneida longhouse with a fireplace and a suspended flue. A full-service salon is located next to the welcome area. The salon features two hair stations, three pedicure stations, three manicure stations and makeup application area.

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Click to Enlarge - Skana Spa Cafe in  Skaná: The Spa at Turning Stone in Verona, New York
*Skaná Cafe in Skaná: The Spa at Turning Stone offers menu options that please the palate and provide beneficial nutrients with lower calories, fat and sodium. The Cafe is open for breakfast and lunch daily.

The main floor is also home to the VIP suite, which includes a private herb garden, dressing room, lounge area, two-person shower, twin soaking tubs, private sauna and steam rooms, and couple's treatment room.

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Click to Enlarge - VIP Suite Private Relaxation Garden in Skana, The Spa at Turning Stone in Verona, New York
*VIP Suite Private Relaxation Garden in Skana, The Spa at Turning Stone


Downstairs, there are men's and women's locker rooms, each with their own wet areas (sauna, steam room, whirlpool) and lounge with fireplace. There is a co-ed mineral pool as well as 11 treatment rooms including five massage rooms, three facial rooms a wet room for body treatments, a couple's room with two-person shower, and a spa suite with soaking tub, a treatment room and a shower.

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I had treatments on two of the days of our stay. The first was the 80-minute Standing Stone Herbal Remedy. After checking in, I was led downstairs, given a tour and left in the women's locker room where I exchanged my clothes for a thick, soft robe and very comfortable Oka B sandals. I spent 10 minutes or so in the lovely steam room where a large, round onyx light in the ceiling and small onyx lights in the floor gave a soft glow. I took a cool shower then spent another 15 minutes in the beautiful sauna. A stone wall with a recess for the heater provided soft, indirect lighting. The ceiling was covered with sticks like latilla used in the Southwest. Another cool shower was followed by a soak in the large whirlpool. I cooled off in the coed, clover-shaped cool mineral pool. There was a fountain in the center of the pool and a high, domed, cloud-covered ceiling overhead. I wandered into the lounge. On my way in, I helped myself to some Native American Tea Co. Good Medicine Tea and a couple of grapes. The cozy lounge was very relaxing. A fire burned in the stone fireplace. Shear curtains between the chairs created a sense of privacy.

My therapist, Michael, soon came to collect me for my treatment. He escorted me to the spa suite. He explained what the treatment would be like and what products he would use in the treatment - Naturopathica lavender hydrolait, lemon verbena body polish and shae butter. He showed me into the connecting room where a bath had been drawn. He left me alone to soak. The Naturopathica Deep Forest Oil in the bath smelled wonderful. After 10 minutes, Michael knocked on the door and asked if I'd like to start the treatment or stay in the tub longer. I got out of the tub, dried off with a towel from the towel warmer and got on the table face down. (A note on all the towels in the spa - they are simply enormous Thirsty Towels and very soft). Michael put a roll under my ankles, sprayed lavender hydrolait over me. He then massaged wonderfully scented lemon verbena with jojoba beads on my body to exfoliate my skin. He had me turn over, placed warm towel roll under my neck and repeated on my other side. When done, I took a shower to rinse off the jojoba beads. The shower head was the same kind as in our Lodge room. The arm pivoted down and the two heads could be positioned to spray only the body. I dried off, placed my robe on towel warmer and got back on the table. Michael gave me a great massage with shea butter. The treatment was very relaxing and my skin felt very soft and moist when it was over. As we were returning to the lounge, Michael gave me a card with a picture of the mandala that had been in the treatment room along with a story about it. While I changed in locker room, I overheard four women talking about their treatments - "Best massage ever," "absolutely wonderful," fabulous facial," "used arnica to really help my muscles."

I returned the next day with Jeff. We were having a couples treatment, A Walk in the Deep Forest, in the private VIP Suite located on the main level of the spa. Our therapists, Jen and Jim, gave us a cup of herbal tea and a tour of the suite that ended in the wet area where two deep tubs had been filled. We were left alone to soak in the milk and oat bath scented with mint and vanilla. After 15 minutes or so, Jen and Jim told us that it was time for our treatments. We dried off and wandered over to the couple's treatment room. Jim was my therapist and Jen was Jeff's. We had reflexology treatment with Dandelion and Peppermint followed by a warm stone massage with a blend of sage and white pine oils. At the end of our 145-minute Walk in the Deep Forest, we were very relaxed. Jen and Jim gave us cards explaining the story behind the mandala in our treatment room. We spent some time in the herb garden before returning to our room in The Lodge.

Several treatments at Skaná have been designed using herbs and plants the Oneidas traditionally use for healing. The Oneidas value white pine, rich in vitamin C, for combating cough and colds. White pine is also known as the Great Tree of Peace and is displayed prominently on the Nation's logo. Several treatments use white pine oil. Among other herbs, flowers, and plants used are sage, sunflower, lavender, peppermint, rosemary, dandelion, chamomile, sage, seaweed, marjoram, cedar, verbena, evening primrose, wild black cherry, pumpkin, sweet grass, witch hazel, plantain, blue lobelia, oat, juniper, cypress, lemon, sage, eucalyptus, algae, mud. A line of services incorporating cedar and sage have been created for the Skaná by Kerstin Florian and Naturopathica. Treatments offered at Skaná include:

Massage

  • Oneida Custom Massage
  • Skana Harmony Massage
  • Signature Sage Stone Masssage
  • Muscle Repair Massage
  • Juniper and Cypress Detox
  • Sage & White Pine Hot towel
  • Spots Massage
  • Dandelion and Mint Foot Care

Balancing Remedies

  • Asehsi' (Reawakening)
  • Leave and Flowers
  • Yohusya: te: (From the Earth)
  • Standing Stone Herbal Remedy
  • White Pine Foot and Body
  • Lavender Dreams
  • Men's Balancing Retreat

Body Treatments

  • Chamomile Scrub
  • Rosemary Sage Sea Salt Scrub
  • The Spirit of Lavender
  • Hydrating Aloe Wrap

Treatments for Two

  • Dance of the Song Birds

VIP Suite

  • Signature Ritual of the Standing Stones
  • The Oneida Journey
  • A Walk in the Deep Forest
Facials
  • Pure Results
  • Botanical Clinical Grade Skin Renewal
  • American Indian Enzyme Peel
  • Oneida Signature Harmony facial
  • Sayanlahsla' Skin Facial
  • Yeh te' yakoksta: ha: se Facial
  • Moisture Drench
  • Lanukwe (for Men)

Salon

  • Nourishing Herbal Manicure
  • Nourishing Herbal Pedicure
  • Ultimate Manicure
  • Ultimate Pedicure
  • Men's Herbal Manicure
  • Men's Herbal Pedicure
  • Makeup Application
  • Makeup Consultation
  • Hair Service

Sweat Lodge Experience


Click to Enlarge - Kakiwironoron Cook in charge of the Sweat Lodge at Skana, The Spa at Turning Stone Sweat Lodge at Skana, The Spa at Turning Stone in Verona, New YorkSkaná soon plans to offer an American Indian Sweat Lodge experience to guests to give them an opportunity to experience a ceremony used for centuries to cleanse the body and purge the spirit of impurities. While it wasn't ready yet, I had an opportunity to see the sweat lodge construction in progress and speak with Kakwiranoron (pronounced Gagwil-nolon) Cook, the guide of the sweat lodge experience for Skaná. Kakwiranoron brings his knowledge of the Mokawk and Lakota Sioux tribes to work with the Oneida to create an authentic Native American experience. While sweat lodges are not traditional to the Oneida, and the physical design is not traditional to the Oneida (a longhouse would have been used instead of the tipi of the Plains Indians, for instance), several American Indian tribes used sweat lodges in some form. The lodge itself is 12 feet in diameter and is the height of a man's heart. It represents the four quarter of the universe. Canvas covered the lodge at the time of my visit, but eventually, buffalo hides will cover the red willow foundation to contain the steam and heat created in the central fire pit. While I have not experienced a Native American Sweat Lodge, I have experienced Temazcal in Mexico. Much of what Kakwiranoron described was similar to what I experienced there. The sweat lodge is representative of a mother's womb and participating in the sweat lodge ceremony and giving thanks to Mother Earth symbolizes rebirth. Kakwiranoron said stones are considered the first beings on the planet. They are the grandfathers. We can ask them anything, and they know everything. The three-hour experience will feature storytelling, drumming, chants and prayers led by Kakwiranoron. Spirits will be called with song - relatives, family, friends, plants, streams, animals and insects. Wood and water are used to create steam in the lodge. Sweetgrass is used to help call the spirits. Sage drives the bad spirits away. Kopal and cedar strengthen spiritual connections. The steam takes the requests and delivers them to the spirits. The ceremony purifies body, soul and spirit. Kakwiranoron himself participates in sweat lodges regularly as a health practice and looks forward to sharing his knowledge with all human beings.

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More Information

Contact
Skaná, The Spa at Turning Stone
Address: 
5218 Patrick Road
Verona, New York 13478
Phone: 800-771-7711
Toll Free: 315-361-7711 worldwide
Web Site:
http://www.turningstone.com

Click to Enlarge - Golf at The Lodge at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York
*Golf at The Lodge at Turning Stone

More Resources
Skaná, The Spa at Turning Stone's Listing on DiscoverSpas.com
New York Spa Directory

 

photos copyright 2007 Julie Register
exept the marked by * which are courtesy Skaná: The Spa at Turning Stone

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