Spas run deep in human history, possibly even predating their formal origins in ancient Greece and early Rome. One possible root of the name is the acronym of salus per aquae, or the “health from water” taken by exhausted and wounded Roman soldiers. The Belgian village of Spa gets credit for introducing the hydrotherapeutic health resort, in the early 1300s.
Today’s road warriors find comparable modern comforts from diverse practices and treatments at meetings-capable hotels and resorts around the globe—part of an ever-expanding product set that includes programs creatively integrated into group activities outside of the spa walls.
From yoga on horseback to pre-meeting meditation, here are some exceptional “out of spa” experiences at group properties around the U.S.
From the Source
The American spa story officially began at New York’s Saratoga Springs. Gifted with the only naturally carbonated mineral waters east of the Rockies, Saratoga’s 19th century legacy as “Queen of the Spas” flows on at The Gideon Putnam Hotel. Named for city founder and spa visionary Putnam, this stately 1935 resort in Saratoga Spa State Park offers 124 rooms and 22 suites, alongside 12,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space. The property also houses the historic Roosevelt Baths & Spa.
Celebrating its 80th anniversary last summer along with the hotel, the storied spa came courtesy of its namesake, Franklin D. Roosevelt. With Saratoga’s waters being over-exploited at the time, the president’s local experience with hydrotherapy while battling polio inspired his funding of new bathhouses under the Works Progress Administration.
Originally “Bathhouse No. 1,” the Roosevelt Baths & Spa features 42 original treatment rooms and comprehensive services that include baths in naturally effervescent waters and nature-inspired therapies, plus a full-service salon.
“Specialized options include acupuncture, wellness workshops, private yoga and meditation instruction, and consultative sessions on remedies such as Bach Flower Essence, for emotional healing,” says Roosevelt Spa Manager Jared Taisey, who consults with planners on regular and customized programs for clients and attendees staying at the hotel.
“We can bring these outside or to the conference rooms,” Taisey adds. “We are also looking at expanding our spa and wellness retreat programs.”
Originated in ancient India, yoga is another venerable practice offered in uniquely transporting ways throughout the U.S.
Two hours south of Saratoga in the Western Catskills, fabulous group favorite The Roxbury, each of its 28 units styled after films and TV shows such as Star Trek (The Final Frontier) and Indiana Jones (Archaeologist’s Digs cottage), is available for buyouts for around 50 guests. Complementing in-house services at the sibling Shimmer Spas (one in each wing), groups can also go off-site with local partners Wild Walks. Led by a New York State-certified guide, programs include “yoga hikes,” which end with yoga sessions on mountaintops or by waterfalls.
At Mirage Las Vegas (also see “Well-Placed Bets,” page 34), the Dolphin Habitat’s underwater viewing area is the hypnotic backdrop for “yoga with dolphins.”
Yoga on horseback defines the exceptional appeal of Salamander Resort & Spa, some 40 miles west of D.C. in the heart of Virginia’s horse and wine country. Offering multiple indoor conference rooms, ballrooms and event spaces, including the Chef’s Garden and 110,000-square-foot Grand Lawn, this luxurious 168-room resort is a planner’s paradise.