This is just the place Manitou and Colorado Springs have needed—this is just the place I have needed. Soaking in hot mineral spring water? Without an hour-plus drive? Right here at home? Yes, please! I’m in—literally.
As I lay back in a cedar soaking pool on the third-level deck of the SunWater Spa, I’m struck by the curious feeling that my limbs are especially buoyant. Maybe it’s the sodium, calcium, magnesium and other mineral cocktail. Co-owner Don Goede suggests maybe it’s the oxidation.
These waters come directly from Manitou’s Seven Minute Spring. They’re not heated geothermally, but they are raised as high as 105 degrees, largely by the sun. This is Manitou’s first solar commercial building; they didn’t name it SunWater for nothing.
In centuries past, curative waters drew streams of Victorian visitors to Manitou. Even earlier, co-owner Kat Tudor tells me, the Northern Utes considered the flow of Seven Minute Spring to be deeply healing and sacred. She and Goede have been careful to seek the blessing of Native American leaders to use the waters, and several tribal elders sit on the spiritual advisory board.
The aquatic vision began in another sacred river, India’s Ganges River in the Himalayan foothills. In Rishikesh, Goede and Tudor joined millions of people in a spirit-cleansing bathing ceremony in the Ganges. The region reminded them of Manitou, and it dawned on Tudor that Manitou had its own sacred waters: the springs. That epiphany inspired Tudor and Goede to create a healing arts center around Manitou’s own magical waters. “One especially important benefit is bringing back salus per aquam, healing through water,” Goede says. “Water as a focal point and foundation is our legacy in Manitou.”
Soaking is only the beginning. There’s a steady stream of classes and workshops, from tai chi to dance to various yoga disciplines, including Tudor’s unique aqua yoga. There is also a full menu of spa treatments, including Watsu, an aquatic massage-like therapy, and massages such as the Mountain Healer, which is truly rejuvenating.
SunWater’s entire space exudes a sense of serenity, from its sensuously curved architecture to its bright, warm interior. No detail is overlooked, from the glass tipi of the top-floor Cloud Lounge to the acupressure stones in the walkable outdoor stream. The hillside perch provides inspiring views of the peaks ringing Manitou and Tava beyond, the Northern Ute name for that grand fourteener above us.
A few hours of soaking and massage are enough to make me a believer in the Sun-
Water’s restorative powers. Its proximity will make me a regular.
Quick soak (two hours) $15. Day pass $30. Classes and treatments vary.
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