Relieving Stress With Rocks

By Beacon Staff

The room smells of blended coconut and vanilla. A quiet resonant clack is the only clue that Holly Dillenburg massages with two stones. They glide like silk over the skin – feeling neither like fingers nor rocks – but hot pressure that seeps into the body. Called “Stone Silence,” the massage is a signature luxury treatment at The Spa at Whitefish Lake. “The stones are an extension of tools that are our hands and hearts,” says the licensed massage therapist of this unique brand of wellness care. “It’s the equivalent of three deep tissue massages.”

One of only two spas in the U.S. offering Stone Silence, The Spa at Whitefish Lake targets more than tourists for its treatments. Its location in The Lodge at Whitefish Lake’s ground level poises it to be part of the hotel’s summer and winter visitor experience. But its seven-day-a-week, year-round operation speaks otherwise. “People think we’re just servicing the hotel, but we’re here for the locals as well,” says spa director Stacey Averill. That’s not just a lip service claim and a warm welcome; the spa gives discounts who locals to avail themselves of monthly or weekly treatments.

Their Montana Membership Club cuts prices for locals akin to a frequent skier card. Running for a minimum of three months, membership garners 20 percent off all services, personal training, gift certificates, products, hotel rooms, and the Boat Club Restaurant. “Consistency is key,” says Averill, citing both mental and physical health benefits to continual wellness care. “We have so much stress in our lives and run at such a high pace that relaxation is good.” With no initiation fee, the $20 per month membership is flexible. “You can quit and sign up again anytime,” she adds. The spa also runs coupon specials. One right now offers two treatments, with the second one at half price.

Stone Silence, a 90-minute riverstone massage, is the most comprehensive of three signature treatments using stones from the Flathead River and organic Balinese lotions and oils from Jamu, a Whitefish-based company. The $175 service combines massage, detoxifying aromatherapy, and exfoliation. The stones, heated in water to 140 degrees, have high iron content that holds the warmth. Because of the heat, Stone Silence is not good for pregnant women, diabetics, or those with high blood pressure.

Dillenburg starts by placing a few stones, varying from fat quarters between the toes to dessert plate sizes on chakra points. She adds one cold marble bar at the nape of the neck to regulate body temperature. After rubbing on oil, she alternates massaging with heated stones and chilled marble. The effect, scented with pure coconut and vanilla, sends you from basking on a Balinese beach with the sounds of trickling water to tingling like a roll in snow after a hot tub or sauna.

After one hour of hot stones, Dillenburg switches to massaging with kalapa – in Bali, a moisturizing exfoliation scrub made from rice flour and small bits of risotto-like matter. A hot shower follows, then a lotion and oil mini-massage. “There’s such a wonderful energy in this centuries-old stone technique,” says Dillenburg. “We just modernize it into the spa setting.”

Modernize it they do. A quiet ambience greets you at the door with a message about their whisper-only, no cell phone code followed by crawling into 800-thread count microfiber sheets on a cushy heated table. One of four treatment rooms is for couples, where two can receive the treatment at once.

Adjacent to the spa, their fitness center opens 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Equipped with Precor machines, balls, free weights, steam room, and rain shower, the exercise facility invites locals, too. “We have a big crossover of people who take ownership for their own fitness,” notes manager Brynn Acheson, adding that many Montana Membership folks upgrade their monthly fee to $40 to include the workout facilities. Acheson also teaches pilates classes there three-times weekly.

Stone Silence’s sensory infusion imparts an energizing rejuvenation – for both tourists and locals. Dillenburg adds, “The greatest gift you can give yourself is a breather.”

For more information: www.spaatwhitefishlake.com; 406-863-4050.