Mountain Blog

Conde Nast's "Six Signs" point to something very good at Crystal Spa
Brian Lawson - Friday, July 25, 2014



As a public relations guy who just finished some "field research" at
Crystal Spa I can tell you that it is a life-altering experience. Then again, as the "PR Guy" I probably carry some inherent bias. It doesn't mean I'm wrong but it's understandable if there's a little skepticism.

So when I recently ran across Conde Nast Traveler's post on Facebook, "6 Signs of a Very (Very, Very) Good Hotel Spa" I was intrigued to see how our spa stacked up against their guidelines. After all, it is a travel resource known for its rigorous standards and objectivity.

  1. Separate Saunas and Steam Rooms for Men and Women
    Check! In each of the locker rooms you will find both a eucalyptus infused steam room and an infrared sauna. Both are a good reason to arrive 30 minutes to an hour before your service or for that matter, relax afterward.

  1. No Communal Locker Rooms
    While very well-appointed, guests do have to share space in their respective locker rooms (one for men and one for women). However, there are curtains and private spaces in each if you're on the shy-side when changing.

  1. A Comfortable Relaxation Room
    The picture below speaks a thousand words. Not pictured is the mosaic garden and outdoor hot tub just outside with heated floors so it can be enjoyed winter, spring, summer and fall.

  1. A Well Stocked Spa Bar
    Locally-grown Light of Day Organic Tea, cucumber water, fresh fruit and snack mixes are all complimentary to spa guests with attendants ready to serve from a menu of wines, Champaign, mimosas and Michigan craft beers available for purchase.

  1. Eucalyptus Oil in the Steam Room (AKA The Little Touches)
    See eucalyptus infused steam room above but there are many more little touches worth experiencing like fluffy robes and towels, your own pair of slippers and the beautiful works of local artists like Ann Loveless, winner of Art Prize (Grand Rapids) in 2013.
  

  1. Welcoming and Genuine Staff
    Each month Crystal Mountain honors a staff member with the Service Excellence Award, most of whom are nominated by guests. The Peak Fitness Center and Crystal Spa currently has five award winners (including last year's Service Excellence Employee of the Year).

With Conde Nast's measures of a very, very, very good spa in mind, I hope to have maybe earned a little more credibility. However, if you still need to check it out for yourself to be truly convinced, I won't be offended.

You can book a service at Crystal Spa by calling . If you've enjoyed your time at the spa and Crystal Mountain please visit Conde Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Survey and share your experience. Thank you.

Art Without Barriers
Brian Lawson - Friday, July 18, 2014

Accidentals at Michigan Legacy Art Park
The Accidentals in concert at Michigan Legacy Art Park on July 11, 2014.

Ask anyone who has seen The Accidentals perform and they're likely to tell you the duo completely draws you in with their music and the pure talent behind it. In other words, they are a phenomenal act that just so happened to kick off Michigan Legacy Art Park's Summer Sounds Concert Series last Friday night.

It's not hard to imagine that even profound changes being made in Art Park, some already in place and others yet to come, may get lost in the distraction of those beautiful melodies which is as it should be. This is why the Mountain Blog exists, to bring some attention, for example, to the new stage on which The Accidentals were performing, refinished as originally designed by architect Bob Holdeman. More important is the project moving out of the planning stage that will provide easier access for all to enjoy the many forms of art provided within the 30-acre preserve.

Barrier Free Trail Vantage Point
The new barrier-free trail will provide views from below a number of sculptures including David Barr's, Diversity.

It's anticipated that construction documents for Legacy Art Park's new barrier-free trail will be completed for review by mid-next week and upon approval will go out to bid. Johnson-Hill Land Ethics Studio, who has done the master planning for Crystal Mountain and the Art Park, has thoughtfully designed a trail, featuring a grade no more than 10-percent, through the woods, sheltered from the 18th hole of the Mountain Ridge with views of more than a half-dozen sculptures sitting above.

This barrier-free trail project is an important focus of Michigan Legacy Art Park's, Art for All Campaign. So far, nearly half the funds have been raised to complete the $500 million campaign that includes new art and infrastructure. Currently, enough funds have been received, through private donations and grants, to build half the trail but fundraising continues to complete the switchback that will provide access all the way to the amphitheater. If you'd like to make a donation contact Executive Director, Renee Hintz at 231.378.4963.

Site for Discovery Grove Addition
Three new wooden platforms will be added to this side of Discovery Grove creating more space to create for children and school groups.

In the meantime, be on the lookout for three platforms to be added to Discovery Grove, allowing more room for children to create and explore. Another platform will be added to the top tier of seating at the amphitheater which now features new tables and chairs - perfect for a picnic and glass of wine during the concert.

Summer Sounds continues tonight with the Robin Connell Jazz Trio and if you can't make it, don't worry, three more acts will grace the amphitheater in the coming weeks including Lindsay Lou and the Flatbelly's (July 25), Lee Murdock (August 1) and Miriam Pico with David Chown and Friends (August 8).

A Cut Above: How Crystal's greens are rolling smoother than ever
Brian Lawson - Wednesday, July 09, 2014


Rolling greens on Mountain Ridge with Crystal Mountain's new Tru-Turf Roller

"I want them to look like billiard tables and roll that way too."

Jason Farah knows that a golf course is first judged by its greens. So that's precisely where he started this spring when he took over as Crystal Mountain's Golf Course Superintendent. He brings with him almost 25 years of experience that includes work as an assistant superintendent (North Course) helping to prepare for the 1996 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills Country Club.

"Maintaining a high-end golf course is all about doing the same thing over and over again," says Farah. "It can be a little monotonous but the crews understand it, embrace it and response has been great this summer."


Golf Course Superintendent Jason Farah (left) works with Crystal Golf employee John McElduff

"The attitude has changed right along with the course conditions," says John McElduff, pictured above operating the resort's new Tru-Turf Greens Roller, the same used at PGA Tour stops.

Every morning at 6am crews take to the Mountain Ridge and Betsie Valley courses to manicure the greens. First they mow. Next they clear the clippings. They roll them weekly and this consistent, intricate approach to each of Crystal's 36 championship holes has created the consistency on the greens.

"The greens are rolling really well so if you put a good putt on it, it's going to go in." Those were the words of Michigan PGA Women's Open Champion, Becca Huffer after shooting a second round 64 on the Mountain Ridge. It would have been the course record had Kimberly Dingh (runner-up and top amateur) not already shattered that score with a 10-under par the day before.

The staff in the pro shop have heard the accolades as well, from players of every level. Of course, a quick look around and it's not hard to notice the consistent quality has spread into the fairways, rough and tee boxes. The new wooden flagsticks, tee markers and signs certainly provide a nice accent to the canvas Farah and his crew seek to perfect with each new day.

"I love what I do and I feel like the crews out there working on the courses share that enthusiasm and take a tremendous amount of pride in their work."

And it's reflected in each stroke of the putter and smooth journey to the cup.