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Unwind, Tahoe Style

In Lake Tahoe, all that skiing, snowboarding, hiking and biking calls for an equal dose of relaxation. Fortunately, the area’s world-class spas deliver the right medicine...

There are spa vacations, and then there are vacations that almost demand a spa. Consider Lake Tahoe, whose stunning scenery is matched by world-class options for outdoor recreation, as well as top-table chefs, casinos and nightclubs. 

Tahoe-area spas offer the antidote to all this indulgence. You’ll find treatments to help un-crimp muscles, flush out self-imposed impurities and rejuvenate your skin and your spirit. So go ahead: Play hard. These spas will leave you feeling as pure as the big lake itself.

Stillwater Spa
Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort 
The clear waters of Lake Tahoe lap right up to the edge of the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe. And the resort makes it easy to get out on the water, as it provides kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals, wakeboarding lessons, powerboat charters and cruises aboard the Sierra Cloud, a 55-foot catamaran.  That high-altitude Sierra sunshine takes its toll, so do a little rehab in the resort’s Stillwater Spa. The serene space celebrates the water, with Tahoe-blue glass tile, multi-jet rain showers and 16 treatment rooms named after the lake’s bays and coves.The Hydra facial uses a pen-like device that exfoliates and vacuums away dead skin cells while bathing the face in hydrating serums. The Oxygen Infusion treatment uses pressurized oxygen to infuse the skin with hydrating and firming serums. While guys may find some spa frills fussy, few would dismiss the Men’s Tune Up. It mans up the treatments with burly names—the Mountain Man massage, the Paul Bunyan pedicure—and caps them off with a scotch and a cigar.

111 Country Club Dr., Incline Village, NV; 1.775.832.1234;

The Spa at Squaw Creek
Resort at Squaw Creek 
Understated may best describe the Spa at Squaw Creek. Rather than the lavish, over-the-top decor that typifies the current spa style, a multimillion-dollar renovation here created a clean, almost minimalist space using birch wood and river rocks.River rocks are also key to one of the signature treatments, the Tahoe Hot Stone Massage. The treatment-—now found in many spas—involves placing heated natural stones on the body to provide gentle pressure and penetrating warmth. But the massage therapists here are so skilled, you may just want to skip the gimmicky stone business and go straight for a classic Swedish Relaxation Massage or an Olympic Sports Massage.The Olympic reference is a nod to neighboring Squaw Valley USA, a storied ski area that in 1960 hosted the first Winter Games to be held in the United States since 1932 and has produced many of the nation’s champion skiers and snowboarders. In warm weather, this area is a top destination for golfers. More than a dozen notable courses ring the lake, including Squaw Creek’s own 6,931-yard championship course, which snakes through the valley. After you spend a day on the links, the staff at the Spa at Squaw Creek can help knead out the kinks.

400 Squaw Creek Rd., Olympic Valley, CA; 1.800.327.3353;

The Ritz-Carlton Spa
Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe 
The Ritz brought high-end luxury to Lake Tahoe several years ago when it opened its soaring stone-and-timber lodge by the ski slopes of Northstar Resort, near Truckee. The spa gets full marks for capitalizing on its location—after all, when you’re in the spectacular Sierra Nevada mountains amid old-growth ponderosa pines, who wants to be hidden away in a dim, windowless enclave?Instead, the 17,000-square-foot spa brings the outdoors in. Sunshine floods through the generous windows of the couples’ massage room, which is paneled in pine, like a mountain cabin. The 90-minute Couples Journey includes a bamboo body scrub, a soak in a deep copper tub, an olive-and-fig body-butter rub and a full-body massage.Elsewhere, the scent of piñon infuses the steam room, while the sauna even has a window that lets you peer out at the pines. Floor-to-ceiling glass brightens a relaxation area that has cushioned chaise longues and a bubbling hydrotherapy pool. Doors open to an adults-only outdoor pool where you can swim while gazing up at mountainsides flecked with fall foliage. It’s a fine way to cap off a day of hiking in the mountains—and plot tomorrow’s route.

13031 Ritz-Carlton Highlands Ct., Truckee, CA; 1.530.562.3000;

Harrah’s Lake Tahoe 
A wild weekend in Stateline, Nevada, can come in many guises—late-night casinos and clubbing, for example, or steering a mountain bike down the trails along Tahoe’s eastern shore.Harrah’s Lake Tahoe is convenient for both. The resort anchors Stateline’s version of the Strip: the stretch of U.S. Highway 50 where the biggest casinos cluster. A 13-mile drive north on the same road brings you to Spooner Lake, where mountain bikers can access the Flume Trail and its high-Tahoe views. Whether you’ve been pedaling or playing roulette, a good place to spin out of the action is at Harrah’s spa, Reflections. While the atmosphere could use an upgrade, the service is warm and attentive. It seems only fitting that mountain bikers should check out the mud wraps: Choose the Enzymatic Sea Mud Wrap, and you’ll be painted with a body mask of warm mud and seaweed, then wrapped up like a burrito for 40 minutes (which can feel cozy or claustrophobic, depending on how you view such things). Mud wraps, which have been around since ancient Egypt, are believed to stimulate blood flow, draw out toxins and balance the body’s pH. When you emerge with a warm glow and supersoft skin, who’s to argue?

15 Hwy. 50, Stateline, NV; 1.775.588.6611;

Note: The resort spas listed here all accept non-guests.

NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.