Spas originated in the forms of hydrating mineral springs in Eastern Belgian towns many years ago. The term has since evolved, now including pampering, serenity, premium guest service, and an array of other amenities. As a welcome contrast to the rugged Montanan frontier, spas of commendable quality have rooted themselves statewide. With the unmatched asset of national parks and Big Sky panorama, Montana’s spa culture is unlike any other. Here are our 10 favorites.
The beautiful dark wood ceiling and string lighting perfectly summate the Bozeman aesthetic: clean and modern, hip but still Western. And the Loft certainly molds this vibe into not only a relaxing, but a rejuvenating experience. The talented staff expertly implement a well-rounded program spanning massage and facials, and hair & nails. The available customization is the draw here: depending on one’s mood, spa packages can “indulge,” “relax,” “nourish,” or “preserve.”
Amongst a gorgeous stretch of Big Sky wilderness in southwestern Montana, Rock Creek inspires those idyllic mountain scenes of cattle rustling and neckerchiefs and cowboy hats. This nostalgia in the context of luxurious accommodations and top-notch spa amenities makes this frontier experience the best of both worlds: rugged and restorative. In fact, this establishment is the only five-star guest ranch, according to Forbes. If the escape is good enough for the Rich & Famous, it’ll certainly do for an approachable source of relaxation. It’s a decent price for a priceless experience.
Completing its second decade of regional prestige, Sanctuary is a beauty-relaxation staple that combines professional execution with Montana-brand friendliness. Amidst its broad program of skin, massage and hair pampering, this spa allows for some peace of mind as well. Much of the establishments efforts give back to the local Billings citizenry, via education, fund-raising and membership on community boards. For a top-notch salon experience, or a stress-melting spa package, this place is indeed a mountain sanctuary.
Though sleek and luxurious, Sage takes the more homeopathic and grounded tact. Aside from the requisite relaxing atmosphere, the emphasis is on being in-touch with one’s surroundings (specifically, nature), and feeling comfortable in one’s skin (literally and figuratively). The unpretentious and soothing atmosphere cradles the guest—a relaxed, hipster vibe throughout, with a pleasing herbal-floral aroma wafting from the spa’s house-made line of products. At Sage, the personalized, smaller-scale humbleness adds the crucial element of comfort to the spa experience.
Whitefish is a gorgeous lake. And the Lodge is a gorgeous lodge. Both invoke the romanticized grandeur of the Western behemoths of centuries past, à la a Teddy Roosevelt mansion or headquarters to an eccentric rail mogul. A short drive from Glacier National Park, the accommodations and new spa program actually do a commendable job of competing with the scenery. Though less elaborate than comparable spa-only programs, the necessary amenities are great. And perhaps it’s the surrounding wilderness, but a massage always feels better near the lake.
For centuries in Paradise Valley, cut by Bozeman Pass and the Yellowstone River, a number of mineral pools have gurgled to the surface, bringing nutrients and soothing warmth from the Earth’s belly. Though less a spa/salon experience, and more a straightforward hot spring, Chico checks all the boxes for a relaxing and restorative vacay. Nicknamed “The Plunge” since its discovery in the late 19th century, this set of pools is particularly attractive from its (arguably) healthy blend of mineral content: a recuperative solution of hydration, detoxification and soothing.
Certainly known in the Northwest for its mineral pools, Fairmont’s a popular stop for those on the Bozeman-Big Sky thoroughfare. A soak in the pools is uniquely restorative, almost invigorating, and perfectly complement an hour or two at the Whispering Willow Spa. Starting at $50, professional massages run the gamut: extended Swedish sessions, hot rock treatments, skin and face restorations, and even mud-baths. With the usual salon amenities as well, Fairmont provides a decent one-stop relaxing mecca. It’s simple: soak, massage, eat. Repeat.
Bordered by national forest, along the picturesque stretch of I-15, Boulder has pure rest and relaxation in mind. Sure, the accommodations are charmingly aged, reflecting its affluent Western-Expansionist history, and the mineral pools are a perfectly-invigorating temperature. But this health-mindedness is taken to the next level: the hotel’s menu is local, fresh and neatly prepared, and the property is alcohol and smoke free. But don’t let that deter. The unique spa program melds common amenities with Native American personalization (be it via meal specialization or offering authentic sweat lodge experiences).
A Gold-Crown certified seasonal oasis for skiing and golf, Meadow Lake is a well-rounded resort, with mixed activities (sport or leisure) and mixed accommodations (hotel or condo). This variety equates fun and/or downtime for families, outdoor-addicts and professional travelers, of all ages. The Spa fits into the outdoor/golf/relaxation program perfectly, offering all the basic massage, facial and skin treatments (all reasonably priced). And don't let this mixed-bag of guests mislead: there’re plenty of space, activities and great guest service to sate the family and provide respite for the traveler.
The website states it plainly and accurately: “The Yellowstone Valley…is experience unto itself.” The environs are enough to inspire relaxation and reflection. Add to that premium spa amenities and a decor that embodies a meditative and welcoming vibe, and Willow Creek provides a real mountain oasis. The salon provides first-class hair, nail, waxing and skin treatments, but the real draw is the extensive massage therapy menu. A comparably affordable hour-long session caters to the individual: the Joy massage focuses on the pregnant mother, Calm is gentle and soothing, Aroma utilizes essential oils, and the Active will squeeze the stress right out.