After spending a day at Strata Integrated Wellness Spa at the Garden of the Gods Resort and Club, located at 3314 Mesa Road, I know that not every day at the spa is created equally.

Recently scheduled for a customized facial treatment, I was pampered from the moment I checked into the spa. The desk attendant gave me a large, plush robe, a pair of spa sandals and a locker key before showing me around the dressing room and shower areas. She told me that Rebecca Johnston, the executive director of spa services, would meet me in the pre-treatment relaxation room when I was ready.

The locker room area is luxurious and sets the tone for the treatment clients are about to receive. The floor fades from soft carpet in the dressing area to white tiles around the showers and down the hall to the relaxation room.

There, the lighting was dim and quiet piano music played. A well-stocked table of fruits, teas and waters stood on one side of the room, and several glass partitions divided the space. Each pane of glass was somewhat transparent, with water and bubbles moving inside.

After about five minutes, Johnston fetched me from relaxation room and led me to the treatment area.


Johnston did much of her training in Paris, at the Ambassade de Beauté. She has been named a Premier American Esthetician and one of four inaugural American Ambassadors by world-renowned Parisian skincare line Biologique Recherche in Paris. From the beginning of my treatment, it was clear that Johnston has a loving commitment to skincare and esthetics.

She reviewed my intake paperwork, asking detailed questions about childhood sunburns, my current skincare routine and my long-term skin goals.

Johnston began the facial by removing my makeup and using a cleanser. She used massaging pressure to dispel swelling, which she explained was caused by a build-up of lymphatic fluid. By massaging toward my lymph nodes, she was able to drain the fluid from my face.

After my skin was cleansed, Johnston applied several masks, occasionally layering products to get multiple results at once. At one point, she applied a cold mask with algae from the coast of Brittany, France, leaving it on for about 15 minutes.

Each of the products used at Strata is natural and non-aggressively rebuilds the skin. Johnston took the time to discuss each of my own products with me, explaining how some of the chemical ingredients may be toxic to my skin and recommending natural replacements.

At the end of the treatment, she left me with suggestions for promoting healthy aging. She walked me back to the locker room area and suggested that I use the spa amenities before I left.

Strata offers two experiential showers and a salt inhalation room, which resembled a sauna constructed out of pink Himalayan salt bricks. Johnston recommended that I spend at least a half hour in the salt cave in order to clear toxins from my skin.

Inside, the salt bricks let off a pinkish glow and hot air circulated the perimeter. When I left, I felt as if I had just gone swimming in the ocean: my skin and hair were exfoliated and damp. After showering, my skin felt clarified and pure.

When I left, I felt entirely relaxed and pampered, with a renewed confidence about how I care for my skin and body.