A sparkling waterfall greets guests at the entrance to the SunWater Spa in Manitou Springs. As one enters the lobby, peace and tranquility seem to descend almost instantly. Stone tiled hallways lead to cedar tubs bubbling with healing mineral water tapped from the Seven Minute Spring across the street. Soaking tubs of different temperatures are found on three levels, all with magnificent views of Pikes Peak and the surrounding hills. Guests can pause for reflection in the garden or wander the meditation trail up the hillside. Massages and unique spa treatments are offered in serene private rooms. Yoga classes take place in a light-filled studio adorned with Buddhist and Hindu art. The entire experience provides a restorative respite from our fast-paced world.The spa is the brainchild of Cheyenne Mountain native Don Goede and his business partner Kat Tudor.
“Kat and I were in India, bathing in the Ganges River, surrounded by the high mountain peaks, having this incredible spiritual experience,” recalled Goede. “Suddenly, we both made this amazing connection to Manitou, to the mountains here and the life-giving mineral springs running through the ground. We realized we could create a similar experience for people back at home.”
Goede, a graduate of Cheyenne Mountain High School, felt the pull to return to the Springs after many years away, having spent time living in New York City as well as traveling the world.
“I was very happy living the New York lifestyle, but I knew I wanted to marry and have a family, and New York City wasn’t the right place for that,” Goede said.
On one of his many return trips to the Springs, Goede reconnected with his high school sweetheart and the two fell in love, prompting Goede to make a major life change.
“I was scared to leave New York and move back to Colorado Springs, but it was obvious I had to come back home. Ninety percent of my family is here,” Geode said.
Geode and Tudor met about 12 years ago as Goede began to explore yoga as a means of healing his body from injuries. “Kat is an amazing yoga teacher. She really opened me up to the spiritual side of the practice in addition to the physical,” Goede said. The two formed a business partnership soon after. “We balance and complement each other extremely well,” Goede said. “Kat is the visionary, I am the finisher of projects.”
In opening SunWater, the pair sought to create not only a healing spa, but also a multicultural, spiritual space in Colorado Springs.
“The yoga classes we offer at SunWater are slow and meditative as opposed to exercise-based. Our hope is that the classes are healing and restorative.”
Though Eastern religious influences are apparent in the design of the spa, Goede pointed out that SunWater is open to people of all faiths: “We view the deities found in different traditions as archetypes; all religions are welcome here,” he said.
Goede was mindful about reflecting and honoring Native American culture in the design of the spa. Native American artifacts adorn a large room facing Pikes Peak, known as Tava to the Ute people, meaning “Sun Mountain.” A traditional sweat lodge above the spa is nearing completion. “The Northern Utes camped by the waters here centuries ago, and our property sits on their ancestral land,” Goede said. “We asked their permission to build here; they then held a ceremony asking the Great Spirit for permission and ultimately giving us their blessing.”
The ecofriendly spa is committed to having a positive effect on the environment. The spa has restored the area along the meditation trail, reintroducing indigenous plants to the hillside.
“We are using dead plants and downed tree limbs to bring about new life through a process called permaculture,” Goede said. The exterior waterfall was designed to protect the hillside from erosion by directing rainwater into Fountain Creek. The initial spa building is housed in a restored house that is more than 100 years old. “We sought to integrate the surrounding natural environment into the design of the spa as much as possible,” Goede said.
Opened just one year ago, SunWater has expanded. A second building has been added adjacent to the original house. The spa menu has grown to include unique water and massage treatments. Lectures and presentations by local artists are added monthly.
“Our goal is to combine the cultural arts with the healing arts,” Goede said. “We are off to a great start, but we still have a long way to go.”
Goede said he is excited by the potential he sees in the spa and its role in the community.
“Whenever you are involved in something that is changing peoples lives for the better there is something special about it,” he said.
As for Goede’s return to his hometown, he said he could not be happier. “I had forgotten how special this place was,” he said. “I had to travel the world to find out that this was where I needed to be. It’s good to be home.”