As a spa trends specialist I must admit I have ‘been there, done that’ and experienced the best of the best in luxury pampering and spas across the globe. I have been pummeled and prodded, pampered and preened from the sublime to the ridiculous, yet there’s always some new resort spa, healing retreat or wellness treatment that never ceases to amaze me. In my travels I have sampled the buffet at the spa menu, where there are unique themes that reflect the indigenous plants and elixirs of their specific eco-culture.
I must admit that I have never been to an Indian Casino Resort to experience their Native healing practices in a spa-like setting. When in Arizona or Bali, there were the luxe resort spas that featured natural products and protocols reflecting the native rituals, folklore and plant based ingredients.
Yet here in the US, the Native-themed spas are actually based on Indian Country, which means they have their own set of laws and lifestyle. While setting themselves apart by offering not just luxury, but treatments and services connected to Native culture. The diversity of different tribes which host thousands of guests at their casinos and resorts have an extra something special, offering Native hospitality through their traditions to everyone who steps foot inside. There are a few world-class spas with signature treatments inspired by culturally significant ingredients.
What makes it most worthwhile for me is that when you choose to visit a Native resort spa you are not only receiving the benefits of your own health and wellness with their specialized services but you are also able to provide aid or support for their tribe. Each of these spas distribute their proceeds from the gaming and hospitality enterprises to fund social services and education for members, and infrastructure improvements to the reservation.
Recently, I have been exploring the wine country of Temecula, California and discovered two nearby Indian Casinos with wellness spas.
The first on my list was the Pechanga Resort Casino and Spawhich is the largest resort/casino on the West Coast and one of the largest in the country
This four star spa awarded by Forbes Travel Guidepeaked my interest. The hotel was huge and exciting, with a Vegas vibe. However their new 25,000-square foot spa is a haven of luxury, wellness and serenity designed for year-round rejuvenation. It is located in its own private sanctuary overlooking the lush golf course and green mountains. It is truly a world class spa in all aspects.
This New Spa focuses on the Healing Properties of Native Plants & Flora Found on the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians Reservation
The Pechanga tribe used native white sage to cleanse and purify the body, so we made sure that the white sage properties, as well as other native Pechanga plants and flora, are prevalent in the new treatments.
They are organic and fresh since you can find them right outside the door on tribal lands and most importantly, leave our guests refreshed and restored.
Even though it is the largest day spa in the area the experience evoked a feeling of comfort, coziness and pure serenity. The minute you walk into the private retreat, you will notice the meticulous attention to detail in the haute decor and well designed atmosphere.
In addition to the numerous amenities to indulge, from steam and sauna to a large sized indoor whirlpool as well as the private outdoor waterfall/spa and co-ed pool area. There are several intimate places to relax and retreat. My favorite was the outdoor terrace overlooking the spa pool and natural scenic golf course where you could order a light spa lunch or an after-treatment glass of champagne! Every aspect of the decor was a delight of art filled hallways, well appointed rooms and heated massage tables (even the perfect fit for your face, unlike most other spas where you leave with lines from a squished massage face mash!)
These luxurious spaces were delightfully designed to encourage guests to destress and linger for a day-long ‘souljourn’ that you wish would never end. This is the kind of resort spa that is a cut above the rest, and cannot be appreciated unless you spend lots of time indulging in each of the specifically created intimate escape spots.
The upstairs lounge room offers an array of goodies such as fruit infused water, tea and munchies like a generous assortment of fresh berries, (refilled through out the day) as well as nuts and some yummy treats for your sweet tooth.
Healing is integral throughout your journey here at Spa Pechanga. Our new menu items are designed to awaken and relieve the five senses after each treatment,” said Whitney Tabor, Spa Pechanga Manager.
My personal fav was the most comprehensive and results oriented anti-aging “Hydrafacial”. It is performed using a machine with a handheld device that utilizes four different HydroPeel tips and various skin care solutions (chemical exfoliants, antioxidants, and hydrating serums like hyaluronic acid) to achieve its results
Another signature treatment is the Acorn & Walnut Renewal which uses the indigenous plants found on the reservation. The Acorn tree theme is seen throughout the spa because of its prevalence throughout the natural landscape on the reservation.. You cannot help but experience the total effects of wellness and tranquility when you receive this extensive exfoliating body treatment and massage combo which leaves your body in a state of bliss and rejuvenates your skin.
Spa Pechanga is inspired by the reverence for native botanicals and the strength of the Great Oak known as Wi’aasal. Our therapies integrate the healing powers of nature and the highest quality of service. Every one of our signature treatments embraces our mission of calming the mind, nurturing the body and rejuvenating the spirit.
The other ‘must indulge’ retreat to visit is the remote Pala Casino Resort and Spa on the Pala Indian Reserve. It is located in a small tranquil setting in the middle San Luis Rey RiverValley in northern San Diego Countya short but remote drive from the hustle and bustle of freeways and ‘city life’. En route you drive down a somewhat deserted road where you can see avocado groves, produce stands and even a field of buffalo and horses, in a remote country atmosphere.
The spa is tucked away in the rear of the resort, outside the main casino and hotel, next to the newly remodeled pools, lounges and large open air concert venue. It is in an intimate setting with a replete with the usual spa facilities, fitness center, as well as a jacuzzi, steam, sauna and relaxation spot. But what makes it so special is the spa and salon menu.
I chose the Lavender Renewal, a Thai-inspired treatment which was 100 minutes and would leave me feeling renewed from head to toe. What I didn’t expect was to have a soulful connection with the gifted masseuse, Olivera who performed the three part ritual. The first was a body scrub exfoliation with lavender and a long and relaxing soak in the separate en suite tub room overlooking a private outdoor patio. The third part was an additional immersion into one of my favorite scents, lavender, as I was treated with a warm bolus massage using Himalayan salt crystals and lavender buds.
Suffice it to say that the health benefits of lavender are well documented in many aspects as promoting wellness. According to Medical News Today, The medicinal benefits of using lavender to treat anxiety, fungal infections, hair loss, and wounds have been demonstrated.
In the spirit of wellness, I discovered that the petite salon was the only one in this area using my fav organic hair coloring product, Natulique. I am very picky with undergoing any kind of chemical hair treatment and this savvy Scandinavians (Denmark) company uses pure, with raw organic ingredients unlike any other, that really works! Natuliquecombines beauty with holistic health, from one of the world’s leading countries focused on renewable energy and sustainable living. I had the opportunity to get a chance to brighten up my color with highlights and left refreshed with golden, radiant tresses.
With all the amenities and fun offerings of these Native Casino Resorts, from the entertainment, to the amenities and gambling the best spot for me is always the healing experience of visiting the spa. The experience of visiting the Native Casino and Resort Spas has given me a whole new understanding of how everyone ‘wins’ with wellness. All of them offer luxury, excitement, beautiful surroundings and the latest in entertainment.
The unique aspect is the relationship between the tribes, their specific traditions that infuse each resort and the architecture, and here is where Everyone Wins with Wellness!