Dunton Hot Springs is a restored 19th Century mining town in the Colorado Rockies. Now a stunning, exclusive resort set on a lithium hot spring.
Dunton Hot Springs is a romantic 19th Century ghost town nestled deep in the San Juan Mountains of the Colorado Rockies. Set in an extraordinary alpine valley, the resort’s history is an inherent part of its identity: Dunton, Colorado was a small, unincorporated settlement in Dolores County, established as a mining camp in the late 1800s.
The population started at fewer than 50 people and peaked at about 260 – 300 in 1905, when the nearby Emma mine’s ore production was at its highest. But the nearest rail connection was miles away and Dunton suffered from isolation and a lack of transportation. The boom was not to last and, by 1918, the town was deserted. It was purchased by local residents and operated as a cattle ranch, and later a dude ranch, until the 1990s, when it was bought by current owner Christoph Henkel, who spent seven years renovating and restoring the entire town.
Leading sustainable operation
Today Dunton Hot Springs is a stunning, exclusive resort offering a variety of day and overnight packages — and the entire town can be rented exclusively for corporate retreats, family reunions, and weddings.
The breathtaking property is an industry-leading sustainable operation protecting the natural hot springs on which it sits, featuring exquisitely furnished, hand-hewn log cabins, a saloon serving excellent food, gorgeous trails, and soothing lithium-rich waters.
Activities include horseback riding, fly fishing, hiking, llama hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, rafting, skiing, snowshoeing and more.
The Spa at Dunton Hot Springs
The Spa at Dunton Hot Springs prides itself on providing an experience you will not find anywhere else, providing the best of holistic and therapeutic healing. Several treatment and wellness areas include the Pangolin Spa Cabin, a yoga space, and a spa tent with an outdoor shower next to a horse field.
The owners also have an interest in saving the pangolin, explained Dunton’s Spa Director, Janette Gianetti. The pangolin is a mammal sometimes called the “scaly anteater” native to Asia and Sub Saharan Africa. “They are almost extinct because of poaching. So, our spa cabin is called Pangolin.”
The calcium bicarbonate springs contain minerals like dissolved iron, manganese, and magnesium, as well as small amounts of lithium. Bathing in the springs is said to assist in opening peripheral blood vessels, improve circulation to the body’s extremities, and promote healthy skin. There are five ways to take to the waters, which range in temperature from 85°F to 106°F: under the stars at the source, inside the restored 19th century Bathhouse, in the pool outside the Bathhouse, in the pool behind the Dunton Store cabin and inside Well House cabin.
“People love the springs,” said Gianetti. “Once they start soaking, they don’t want to leave because the lithium is such a nice, calming and balancing influence on the body. People are just so happy when they’re in there.”
Gianetti recently implemented Book4Time Software at The Spa and says there are a lot of things she loves about the system. These include, the ease of booking and rescheduling appointments, the ability to not overbook or double book, and to schedule the correct therapist for the correct procedure, and the ease of scheduling therapists 3-4 months in the future.
Gianetti says, “The most enjoyable feature is that we also are booking our many activities almost as a separate entity, but using many of the same techs – we have several staff members that have multiple talents and skills i.e. some of them are shuttle drivers, as well as river and fly fishing guides, hiking guides, etc.”
Asked about her favorite treatment at the spa, Gianetti, who is trained in ashiatsu, lists the Ashiatsu Deep Barefoot Massage Ashiatsu is a barefoot massage during which the therapist uses their feet instead of their hands. “We do everything we can with the weight of our body, so our clients can get the deepest, most luxurious massage with no pain.”
The massage is described thus: “Our deepest massage — your therapist’s skilled feet apply firm effleurage strokes for the ultimate deep tissue experience. Overhead bars allow your therapist to work within your comfort level.”
Other stand-out menu items include:
“A deeply therapeutic, full body stretching technique to relieve muscular tension, improve circulation, boost the immune system, and energetically balance the body.”
Rasayana Body Regeneration and Massage
“The skin is briskly polished with a mixture of herbal powders, rose water and aroma oils. Steamed ginger tea compresses are used to condition the skin. This treatment reactivates the metabolism and can have a firming and slimming effect. The service is complete with a combination of deep tissue and lymphatic drainage massage techniques with exotic oils.”
Dunton Springs Hand and Foot Ritual
“Enjoy some me time, or together time for two, in The Spa Cabin designed just for foot and hand treatments. Lavish in the subtle scents of rare oils as your feet and legs slide into our hot springs water. Your feet will be scrubbed, masked, and massaged while you sip a glass of champagne, or a cocktail. Your hands will receive the same luxuries to complete this ritual.”
A focus on luxury and wellness
Gianetti has big plans for the future. She says, “We’re getting more of a wellness focus. We’re offering a summer solstice retreat and we have a yoga retreat planned for July. We’re offering quite a few workshops that we didn’t offer before. I am elevating the services a little bit to create more of a luxury setting.”
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