Destination Spas Pamper Body and Soul

By Explore Minnesota

For 20 years, Birdwing Spa near Litchfield was the only game in town when it came to destination spas in Minnesota. But now three resorts on Gull Lake near Brainerd have added spas.

Birdwing, an hour west of Minneapolis, was cited as one of the top spas in North America by Shape magazine. It's nestled in a 300-acre oasis with ponds, wetlands, two miles of lakeshore and a network of cross-country ski trails.

Birdwing's comprehensive program includes spa services, fitness, nutrition and your choice of aerobics, yoga, relaxation or conditioning classes. Finely balanced cuisine is served in a dining hall, which also features hands-on cooking demonstrations for guests. Lodging options at Birdwing include rooms in the main house overlooking the lake or in spacious "Barn Suites" in a restored 1900 barn.

The spas on Gull Lake are the Glacial Waters Spa at Grand View Lodge, Gull Lake Spa at Cragun's Resort and The Spa at Madden's at Madden's on Gull Lake.

Glacial Waters Spa is in a deeply forested setting on the main grounds of the resort. Its handsome Craftsman-style building was constructed to reflect the 1919 log architecture of the resort's historic main lodge, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

What sets Glacial Waters apart from other Minnesota spas is that it uses Aveda signature treatments in each of its ten treatment rooms. There's also a full-service hair salon. Accommodations at the sprawling resort ranges from cabins or suites on the main grounds and suites near the golf course, with 10 km. of groomed cross-country ski trails. The resort also has a fitness center and an indoor pool with a 110-foot waterslide.

Cragun's Gull Lake Spa has an emphasis on massage therapy, facials and hand and foot treatments. It also offers unique spa services for kids under 18, the Cha Cha Chica kids' (3-12) package and the Cover Girl Teen Spa package (13-17). Relax in the spa after an active day of winter sports: snowmobiling (they have a rental fleet), ice skating and broomball, or dog sledding. The indoor sports center has tennis, basketball, a running track and golf simulators.

The newest spa on Gull Lake is The Spa at Madden's, housed in a Plantation-style building at Madden's Resort.

Since spa appointment books fill quickly, now is the time plan your pamper session.