Spa Review: Ascent Spa at Tenaya Lodge

Ascent Spa at Tenaya Lodge Lobby
Ascent, a LEED Silver-certified facility and member of the Green Spa Network, makes sustainability a top priority.

For two glorious days I have been traipsing through Yosemite National Park—hiking up to Vernal Falls, trekking on mule-back over rocks and streams, and cycling in the shadow of Half Dome, the park’s mammoth, capstone granite crest. If you ask my traveling companion and nine-year-old daughter, this is God’s Disneyland and it’s been heaven spending time in such an iconic, pristine playground.

But this morning we’re not driving into the park. I’ve got an aromatherapy massage booked at Ascent Spa at the Tenaya Lodge, the picturesque, 297-room resort located just outside the south end of the park. After all that frolicking in nature, my overtaxed muscles could certainly use a rubdown. But in all honesty, I’m itching to be back at the park, inhaling the aromas of wildflowers and Jeffrey pines.

Still, the massage is booked, so I head across the lodge’s 48 tree-lined acres, cast one parting glance at the redwoods and meadows, and fill my lungs with fresh mountain air. I cross Tenaya’s charming rustic lobby and board the elevator to the spa where, much to my surprise, I am suddenly engulfed by the sound of a crashing waterfall. It’s like standing at the foot of Vernal Falls again! The lobby entrance features roughly cut, stone-tiled walls in the varying colors of Yosemite’s natural granite monuments as well as a vigorous indoor waterfall, which takes center stage both visually and aurally.

Ascent’s greeting area and boutique space features recycled wood furniture, walls the color of mustard blooms, hand-woven abstract floral rugs, and its logo, cleverly shaped like the park’s famous Half Dome. All this thoughtful design lends an élan that is sophisticated but earthy, and just a touch wild, conjuring the sounds, textures and sights I have delighted in while exploring Yosemite’s valleys.