Are you ready for a transformative experience?

I don’t think I’ve talked about that one time when I bawled through a massage.


Photo courtesy of VeraVia Resort


Several years ago my sister Diane got me hooked on going to the gym. Once I experienced the energy and synergy of the classes, and the ease of showing up at the right time and getting a great workout, I was hooked. I’ve been enjoying a gym membership ever since.


I have scoliosis. Although it was never diagnosed when I was a kid, I’ve known I’ve had it ever since my mid-20’s, when I noticed that one hip is a little higher than the other. Occasionally over the years I’ve had some lower back pain, and it’s become a little more frequent as I’ve gotten older. During or after some gym workouts I felt some back muscle pain, so I modified as needed.


Two years ago I decided that I’d better get an official diagnosis for my scoliosis, and even more importantly, see what, if anything, I needed to do to not have it progress. I was shocked when an X-ray showed that I have a whopping 46% curvature, combined with a 22% counter-curve. A chiropractor pointed out how amazing our bodies can be: even with that curvature, my shoulders are level and my hips are just a little out of sync. But I was told that I should stop ANY type of lifting, anything that compresses my spine. No more dead lifts or push presses at the gym.


Three months following that diagnosis, I was still trying to adjust to my new gym program. About that time, a friend and I had the opportunity to visit the Red Mountain Resort (click here to read about that amazing experience!) for a long weekend getaway. While there, we got massages.


I love massages. Especially deep tissue ones, partly because of the tight back muscles I have due to my scoliosis. The massage therapist that worked on me that day at the Red Mountain Resort was exactly what I needed. As the massage was beginning, he commented, “Your muscles are toned. Whatever you’re doing is working.” I said, “Thanks. I don’t know how to keep them that way,” and the tears began seeping out of my eyes. I told him about my struggle figuring out how to not make my back worse and yet still try to exercise. And I cried through most of that massage. He didn’t try to solve my problem, just mostly listened and offered a few tips. But I left that massage feeling like a weight I hadn’t even known I was carrying was gone. I felt so much freedom and light! It felt so good to release all of the emotion I’d been carrying around. It was delightful.


Massages can be transformational. Wherever you live, or wherever you travel, you can experience a massage.


In addition to mentioning the spa at the Red Mountain Resort (it’s fabulous!), I want to highlight some other amazing U.S. spa resorts. These are all destination spas, and some offer day spa options as well. (Hint: a massage is even better when combined with a relaxing stay at a beautiful resort!)



Photo courtesy of VeraVia



California: Vera Via in Carlsbad, near San Diego

A few years ago I spent a day at the Vera Via Resort, located in the Hyatt Aviara Resort. Their spa is incredible: 15,000 square feet with a hot tub, steam room, sauna, and services which include facials, hair, nails, massages, body scrubs and wraps. My massage there was wonderful.


Arizona: Civana in Carefree, 15 miles northeast of Phoenix

The Civana Wellness Resort’s spa has 22 treatment rooms and an Aqua Vitality circuit. Their treatments include a range of therapeutic and rejuvenating massages which focus on healing through water, increasing circulation and promoting relaxation. They pride themselves on having the only KLAFS SANARIUM (a sauna which can be tropical, warm air, soft steam or herbal air), in the continential U.S. Pretty cool.


Photo courtesy of Big Cedar Lodge



Missouri: Big Cedar Lodge, about 10 miles south of Branson

Big Cedar is known as a wilderness resort, an incredible true adventure location. Their world-class spa is incredible: 18,000 square feet of hand-hewn timber ceilings, natural stone floors, and stained glass and antique chandeliers. They have 11 treatment rooms, each equipped with its own fireplace. An indoor grotto pool and ice room, saunas, hot spas, and steam rooms complete this beautiful location.


Texas: Miraval Austin (in Austin)

The Miraval is a destination wellness retreat, but they do offer one-day options as well. The single day includes access to the entire property: restaurant, two infinity pools, the spa, mindfulness fitness center, zip line, walking trails, and the Cypress Creek Farm. The Life in Balance Spa offers Ayurveda (an Indian medicine system), protecting and healing skin treatments, and a wide variety of massages.


Pennsylvania: The Lodge at Woodloch (between Philadelphia and New York City)

The Lodge at Woodloch’s Aqua Garden includes heated hydromassage WaterWalls, soaking pools and an infinity whirlpool. They offer a la carte spa treatments and nail services, if you’re interested in more of a day spa type of experience. Their menu is extensive: a wide variety of massages, plus facials, reflexology, light or sound therapy, prenatal treatments, and body wraps.



Maine: The Cliff House in Cape Neddick, about 31 miles from Portland and 65 miles from Boston

The Cliff House is just what you would imagine Maine to be! This resort sits on a cliff overlooking the crashing ocean and beautiful coast. I stayed there a few years ago and fell in love with this hilltop resort. The Seaside Sanctuary Spa is aptly named; floor-to-ceiling windows offer full views of the coast from the relaxing waiting room. Their spa services include not only massages, but also skin care and body treatments as well as salt stone therapy. My massage there was a treat.


I don’t normally cry during massages; in fact, that time at the Red Mountain spa is the only time for me! But every spa treatment is an opportunity to emerge a little different person than you enter: one that’s more relaxed, grounded, and feels SO much better physically, mentally, and emotionally.


If you’ve never gotten a massage before, you should try one! Look up a day spa in your area and make an appointment. Go with a friend or family member if you’re a little nervous about it. If you’ve had a massage and aren’t hooked, then in my opinion, you just haven’t had the right person or the right type of massage. These locations that I’ve mentioned might be travel inspiration for a “someday” trip, but everyone has the opportunity to find a spa near them and experience the life changing opportunity of a massage.


I’m still going to the gym. I’m still modifying my activity based on the doctor’s orders, and hopefully my scoliosis won’t put me in a wheelchair someday. It’s still a work in progress; I’m still figuring out how I can help my muscles be strong without compromising the health of my back. And massages for me are a lifesaver.


Why am I sharing all of this with you? Because massages are a way to take some time for self-care. Because massages can be transformational, and I’d love for you to experience one. Sometimes on family vacations I’ve taken a day or a partial day away from everyone to visit a resort wellness destination and experience their spa. I can help you experience a day, a weekend, or several days at a place like one of these.


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