If you had told me that I was going to go to a spa located in a casino that started out as a Bingo hall in the northern Idaho panhandle—and that I would end up loving it—well, I would have had a hard time believing you. But guess what? I did exactly that, and came away from the experience pleasantly surprised, well-buffed, less stressed, and content in my being.
I don’t gamble. I don’t smoke. The strongest thing I drink is Cabernet—but boy do I spa. And I found my bliss amidst the water, stone, and natural light that make up this soothing 15,000-square-foot sanctuary. I enjoyed the soaking tubs, appreciated the aromatic cedar saunas, was happy to discover a Vichy shower (not so easy to find at American spas these days), and had one of the best pedicures of my life in the nail lounge.
This may just be one of the best spas for newbies, as it is not intimidating in the least and offers a wonderful selection of spa treatments, a great staff, and a contemporary yet unfussy atmosphere. I’d recommend this spa first and foremost for girlfriend getaways, as well as serious golfers, as Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort is also home to the acclaimed Circling Raven Golf Club.
Spa Ssakwa’q’n (pronounced Sock-wah-kin) is owned and operated by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, and sits at the edge of woodlands on the tribe’s 345,000 acres of farmland, lakes, and mountains. (The tribal farm is made up of about 6,000 acres and produces barley, canola, lentils, peas, and wheat.) French traders in the late 18th or early 19th century, gave the tribe its name, which in French translates to “heart of the awl,” but in the ancient tribal language, their name was “Schitsu’umsh,” meaning “The Discovered People,” or “Those Who are Found Here.” For more on the history of the Coeur d’Alene, see this link: www.cdatribe-nsn.gov.
This may just be one of the best spas for newbies, as it is not intimidating in the least and offers a wonderful selection of spa treatments, a great staff, and a contemporary yet unfussy atmosphere. I’d recommend this spa first and foremost for girlfriend getaways, as well as serious golfers . . .
The spa was recently named a Best Attraction at the Annual Inland Northwest Tourism Awards. It’s easy to understand why. “This [award] is a true credit to our amazing staff at the spa and the resort, as well as the dedication and support of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe,” says Kelleye Heydon, spa director. Heydon has done a pretty amazing job creating a spa that works, offers some of the best seasonal specials I’ve come across, and manages to make the locals feel just as welcome as the guests— a tall order—but this spa, which opened in 2011, definitely delivers from the heart.
In a nod to their ancient culture, woven baskets with traditional herbs—sweetgrass and sage—are kept in the treatment rooms. “We wanted to present our culture in a subtle way, but not have it overwhelm,” says Laura Stensgar, executive marketing director and tribal member. “This is reflected in the design and throughout the property, specifically in the Spa Tower.”
Some of these details that struck me: the ethereal feather dancer photos lining a corridor, the beautiful beaded artwork on display, and the lovely photographs of the four seasons hanging in the spa.
“Ssakwa’q’n means ‘water on top of the head,’ it reflects the lake on top of the mountain, called Crystal Lake,” explains Stensgar. “It’s quite a ways from here. The mountain range is called Bitterroot. It’s a spiritual place that was used in some of our traditions. You drive up to the area, have a three-mile hike in to the mountain lake that’s surrounded by a crater. Just to look around and see the beauty is awesome.” The resort hired a photographer who traveled to this magical spot and took photographs throughout the seasons. Those are the photos that now hang in the spa.
During my three-day stay, I tried the Palouse Prairie Massage, a relaxing massage designed to relieve tension and improve circulation; the gently exfoliating Mountain Rain Shower Scrub & Wrap that used a nice mud scrub that smelled faintly of coffee beans; and the signature Ssakwa’q’n Facial, a good customized facial. As a non-gamer, it was easy for me to avoid the casino, as I stayed in the Spa Tower wing. (For those of you who may want to play, there are non-smoking areas in the casino, as well.) There’s also a nicely stocked spa boutique, where I couldn’t resist purchasing a cozy, warm, hooded spa robe on my way home.
Mary Bemis is Founder & Editorial Director of InsidersGuidetoSpas.com. She is a pioneering spa journalist, most recently honored as one of the "Top 30 Influential Voices Transforming Wellness." She is an inaugural recipient of Folio's Top Women in Media Award, and was honored by ISPA with its distinguished ISPA Dedicated Contributor Award. In 1997, she launched American Spa magazine, and in 2007, Mary co-founded Organic Spa magazine. A pioneer in the sustainable spa and beauty worlds, Mary is co-curator of Cosmoprof North America's Discover Green Pavilion. She is a Global Wellness Day Advisor, and a co-founder of the Washington Spa Alliance.
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