SunWater Spa at the heart of Manitou
Come for the mineral waters and stay for the healing
It’s easy enough to drink the healing spring waters of Manitou, but bathing in them is a different experience altogether.
Sunwater Spa opened on the eastern edge of Manitou Springs next to the 7 Minute Spring in August, 2015. Before then, there was no way for visitors or locals to immerse themselves in Manitou’s spring waters. Today, the spa boasts seven decadent cedar tubs filled with solar-heated and otherwise untreated spring water, overlooking the stunning mountain scenery of Manitou.
“The Utes considered these the most healing waters in all of the United States,” says Kat Tudor, co-owner of Sunwater.
The native peoples are a big influence on Sunwater Spa and they are always invited to be a part of the endeavor. Tudor and co-founder Don Goede asked the Ute permission to use the waters before building the spa, Goede said.
With strong concentrations of calcium and magnesium, the water is good for blood circulation and bone health. Combined with the cedar oil from the tubs, there’s surprisingly no need for a shower or lotion after a soak. Because the tubs are solar-heated and emptied and refilled daily, the spa doesn’t need to employ harsh antibacterial chemicals.
The idea to build the spa was born when Tudor and Goede were bathing in India’s Ganges River during a spiritual ceremony.
“It was overwhelming and intense,” Goede said of the ceremonial bathing in the river. Entering the water at auspicious times had different and important spiritual meaning and impact. “There was this incredible spiritual pressure.”
The experience was moving, and both Tudor and Goede kept thinking of how the setting was strikingly similar to Manitou. Goede said it was unfortunate there were no Ganges in Manitou. And Tudor pointed out that the aquifer underground carried waters just as spiritually energizing as the river they were visiting.
Goede and Tudor returned home and immediately sought to recreate that experience by harnessing the healing power of the natural springs in Manitou.
It took time to identify a way forward with their plan, but they worked with the city and agreed to rebuild a leaking well at 7 Minute Spring in exchange for permission to use up to the amount of water that was previously lost through leaks. The spa comes nowhere near using its limit, Tudor said.
Beyond the soaking tubs, the spa offers a full schedule of yoga, dance and other healing classes daily. With steam caves, steam showers, therapy pools and massage offerings, it’s easy to spend a full or half day at the spa.
Since it’s opening, the spa has grown popular, and new people are discovering it every day. It’s an intense labor of love for its founders.
“People open businesses for a lot of different reasons,” Goede said. “Some are driven by money or demand. Spirituality really guided us. At the end of the day, we’re just trying to be part of something we know will change people’s lives.”
The building is an architectural sanctuary. It weaves seamlessly between outdoors and indoors. The spa’s steam hut is called the bear cave because it’s built into a hillside up a short trail from the main building and housed a sleeping bear one morning before its doors were installed.
Tall windows that open wide onto deck space create an inviting connection with nature in the spa’s main yoga and performance space.
In addition to classes and massage, the spa hosts The Story Project, a platform for thoughtful and well-told stories about the community from locals each month. The space is also used for everything from writing workshops to indigenous peace pipe ceremonies.
Sunwater adds an enticing opportunity for visitors to relax, heal and be well.
“We have a lot of people who do the incline and come down afterward for a soak,” said Gera Dmitriev, an employee. “I have done that personally and it’s a really fantastic day.