American Girl founder launches a luxe spa in New York

On a recent warm autumn afternoon in New York’s wine country, the mood was upbeat and convivial around the outdoor soaking pools at the new Spa at the Inns of Aurora, overlooking a bucolic meadow and Cayuga Lake in the distance.

But inside the focus was on healing.

Opened in the summer, the 15,000-square-foot wellness center is the newest addition to the charming waterfront village campus, which already boasts five meticulously restored historic inns, a farm-to-table restaurant, a gastro pub, a market, a demonstration kitchen and an activities center.

The property — about a five-hour drive from the City — is the vision of Pleasant Rowland, an alum of the Aurora’s Wells College who went on to make her fortune by founding, building and selling American Girl dolls and companion books.

She revitalized the village, transforming buildings into boutique accommodations showcasing hundreds of contemporary artworks from her personal collection.

Located on a hill with sweeping vistas, the spa was designed mindfully to be rooted in its serene natural surroundings — 350 acres with alfalfa and lavender fields, tranquil ponds and scenic nature trails. The architecture complements the rolling farmlands with a series of contemporary barnlike structures appointed with Rowland’s art.

The wellness philosophy guiding the facility, however, is rooted much farther afield in India’s rich ayurvedic culture.

Director Cynthia King drew on her training in Indian hospitals to develop authentic treatments with a local twist that are unique to the oasis, which is operated by Rasa Spa, a regional leader in holistic wellness.

According to King, the Abhyanga Massage (from $165), is the foundation for cleansing and rehabilitation. Working from head to toe, guests are covered in warm essential oil and massaged with long rhythmic movements to stimulate blood flow, clear the lymphatic system, and nourish the skin. For the truly indulgent, the Vitality Treatment (from $350) follows up the massage with an herbal body scrub and wrap, that leaves the skin exfoliated, moisturized and glowing.

The rest of the extensive spa menu covers all the bases: hot stone, sports and cupping massages (from $150); wraps and scrubs (from $170); facials (from $170); plus, a salon for hair, makeup, and nails. You can indulge in energy work like Reiki (from $150) and Reflexology (from $165), or up your game with the Performance package (from $315) targeted to your specified sport or book one of the multi-day retreats for a complete holistic wellness experience ($605-$1760). The spa’s thermal circuit includes dry saunas, steam rooms and a series of indoor and outdoor cold, warm and hot hydrotherapy pools, where you can soak away city stress year-round.

If all this still somehow leaves you hungry for more, hit the complimentary grazing table in the café before your eventual return to New York nourished and (almost) ready to brave real life again.

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