Untie the Knots

Our picks for the 15 best local massages, all of which are sure to bring a bit of bliss to your day. Plus: Spa treatments—on a budget.

Every once in a while, we all need to take care of ourselves—you know, schedule a little “me time.”

These days most of us would settle for an uninterrupted half hour on the couch, but we recommend investing a bit more time (and, OK, a little money) in your physical and mental well-being by scheduling a much-needed, well-deserved massage. Our advice? Book one of the following 15 treatments and release all that built-up tension.

Elixir Mind Body Massage

The Vibe: With more of a health club atmosphere than the typical day spa, Elixir attracts those looking for less pomp and more service. With a menu that offers nothing but massage and massage packages (for example, the PMS Survival package or the Techie Tweak package), you’re certain to find a massage that suits your particular mood.

The Treatment: Book the 60-minute Elixir massage ($65), a customizable treatment that employs firm pressure to increase circulation, ease muscle tension, and improve flexibility. When we have the time, we like adding the 30-minute scalp and facial massage ($35).

Product Pick-Me-Up: The aromatherapy neck wraps are an awesome at-home remedy for weary neck muscles.

TallGrass Aveda Spa and Salon

The Vibe: Nestled in the pine forests of Evergreen, TallGrass’ foothills location infuses an added dose of serenity into its ambience. Dressed in light woods and stone, and sporting large windows with beautiful views of the surrounding landscape, TallGrass feels less like a day spa and more like a destination for relaxation.

The Treatment: Take your significant other with you when you head up the hill—after all, he (or she) needs a little pampering, too. Book the spa’s TallGrass Tango (two people, 65 minutes, $210), a custom-scented, side-by-side massage in the private Sage Room. Afterward, enjoy a cuddle by the fireplace or a stint in the steam room.

Product Pick-Me-Up For him: Aveda Lip Savor lip balm with SPF-15. For her: Rosemary Mint body lotion.

Spa Universaire

The Vibe: Secreted away on the second floor of the Belvedere in the Golden Triangle, Spa Universaire doesn’t enjoy spacious digs with square footage for saunas and quiet rooms. But Spa U devotees don’t come for resort-style furnishings; they come for the outstanding massage therapy—a treatment for which the spa has long been known.

The Treatment: A deep-tissue massage featuring Aveda’s Blue Oil Balancing Concentrate—a refreshing blend of peppermint and soothing blue chamomile oils—the Deep Blue Sea Therapy (60 minutes, $82) releases muscle stress and fatigue. An added bonus: The scent of peppermint permeates the treatment room, awakening your senses and making the treatment all the more invigorating.

Product Pick-Me-Up: Try Aveda’s Enbrightenment Brightening Intensive Massage Masque, a biweekly treatment that made our skin firmer and more radiant.

Spa at St. Julien

The Vibe: With plush robes, a 60-foot indoor lap pool, steam and sauna rooms, fitness center, cozy treatment areas, and vanities full of complimentary products, the Spa at St. Julien will wow even the most veteran spa-goer. Yet, the spa doesn’t feel too over-the-top formal: The check-in staff is friendly, the quiet rooms feel homey, and the locker rooms cater to the whims of guests who’ve just stopped by for a lunch-hour treatment.

The Treatment: The aromatherapy massage (50 minutes, $110), a treatment that combines the use of botanical essences and Swedish-style massage techniques, encourages a deeply calming sensation. As the heady scent of lavender or rose or eucalyptus (you get to choose) hangs in the air, you’ll want to snuggle farther down into the heated massage table.

Urban Escape Day Spa

The Vibe: Simple and small yet decidedly upscale, this spa in historic downtown Golden will exceed your expectations with its leather chair-lined quiet room equipped with herbal tea and snacks, well-heeled locker room with decadent robes, and super-cozy massage tables.

The Treatment: Sign up for the Urban Escape signature massage (50 minutes, $75), but take five minutes at the beginning of the treatment to tell your therapist what you want her to focus on. Never overly thrilled with lower-body work, we asked for the full 50 minutes to be spent on the upper bod. Our therapist didn’t bat an eye—and the massage was spot-on perfect.

Product Pick-Me-Up: Golden-based Bath Nation’s coconut-vanilla bath gelée smells like the beach and doesn’t contain any nasty parabens or mineral oils.

Massage Envy

The Vibe: The uninspired waiting room feels more dentist office than spa, and the treatment rooms are bare-bones, but who cares when the treatments are this good?
The Treatment: In what may have been the best massage we’ve encountered in years, the 90-minute trigger-point therapy (price depends on membership) with therapist Kimber Fournier cured (at least for a week to 10 days) the many, many pains associated with sitting too long in front of a computer screen. Trigger-point therapy is specifically designed to alleviate the sources of pain through cycles of isolated pressure and release—it’s one of those hurts-so-good situations. Trust us.

Product Pick-Me-Up: Instead of ponying up for another bottle of cleanser, think about joining Massage Envy as a member. The paltry $39 sign-up fee seems like a deal considering you’ll get one massage a month for just $49. If you require subsequent treatments, the prices go down from there.

Balanced Being Massage Therapy

The Vibe: Hidden in a nondescript office building in Cherry Creek, Brian Fun’s one-room massage shop certainly doesn’t look like a place where you’ll receive spa-quality care. But once inside the intimate space, which is replete with aromatherapy candles and soft music, your apprehension fades away.

The Treatment: Fun’s signature treatment is Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy (60 minutes, $75), a type of massage that combines elements of Thai massage, barefoot shiatsu from Japan, and Keralite massage from southern India. Fun uses wooden bars adhered to the ceiling to suspend himself above you, using the pressure from his feet to massage shoulder, neck, leg, and back muscles.

Aspenfalls Spa

The Vibe: Even with the boutique and omnipresent aroma of body products, this day spa has a distinctly medical vibe. And that’s no surprise considering Aspenfalls offers medical spa treatments such as Botox injections, photorejuvenation facials, and laser hair removal along with typical day spa services.

The Treatment: There are few times when a woman’s body needs more pampering than during pregnancy. After all, everything hurts—feet, legs, back, you name it. At Aspenfalls, certified pregnancy massage specialists provide the Motherhood massage (60 minutes, $85), a treatment created to care for the needs of a mother-to-be. Specially designed body cushions allow total relaxation and comfort—even late in pregnancy.

Ritz-Carlton Spa Denver

The Vibe: It is, after all, a Ritz-Carlton, which means you get all the trappings of a top-notch spa, including attentive service at the front desk, sought-after amenities like comfy pedi chairs, and spot-on talent in the treatment rooms. What you also get is a central downtown location, a well-edited spa gift shop, and easy access to a yummy post-massage lunch at Elway’s downstairs.

The Treatment: If you’re not gonna go big at the Ritz, you might as well go home. With that in mind, book the Four Hands massage (50 minutes, $230). Performed by two expert therapists at the same time, this massage has the added benefit of a working-in-unison style of therapy that gives your entire body a good rub-down in less time. Add the express facial (25 minutes, $75) if you have the time—and cash—to spare.

The Spa at the Inverness

The Vibe: A resort-style spa with an indoor pool and hot tub, steam room, outdoor fireplace and hot tub, and locker rooms better stocked than your home bathroom, the Spa at the Inverness has an ambience that reminds you what vacation should feel like.

The Treatment: Sign up for the Indulge day package ($190)—a two-hour pampering extravaganza that combines a 50-minute full-body Swedish massage with a 50-minute hydrating facial. After your treatment, snuggle up by the outdoor fireplace or relax in the hot tub—the Spa at the Inverness encourages spa-goers to stay and enjoy the amenities for as long as they want. (Don’t forget to bring a swimsuit.)