The new Tenaya Stone Spa opens on September 16, 2021, at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland Resort – and we’re sharing another sneak peek! First, be sure to see our recent story on the Disney Parks Blog for an introduction to this all-new, one-of-a-kind retreat.
Tenaya Stone Spa is a new 6,000 square-foot getaway designed by Disney Imagineers who gathered inspiration from the spirit of nature, indigenous cultures of California and the iconic Craftsman design of the hotel.
This gorgeous spa was built with thoughtful details at every turn, so here to tell us more is Katrina Mosher, an art director at Walt Disney Imagineering, and Dawn Jackson, a Native American cultural advisor within Disney, who worked on the project as an Imagineer on the Story Development team.
What does Tenaya mean?
Dawn: Tenaya (pronounced ten-eye-uh) can be interpreted ‘to dream’ in the indigenous culture of the Yosemite Valley.
How did you develop the design and story of this experience?
Katrina: We wanted it to fit well within Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, melding in nature, the Craftsman experience and a California story. It also needed to be a modern day spa, with contemporary elements.
Dawn: The story development for Tenaya Stone Spa was an amazing journey. We considered the story of the hotel, and in thinking about California, the indigenous people.
Dawn, tell us about your work as a cultural advisor:
Dawn: As a cultural advisor, I was able to connect with tribal elders to look at California heritage. Who were the ancestors? What materials did they use? What stones were important? What tools?
We met with elders and took this journey together. It had to be authentic. I am a Saginaw Chippewa tribal member from Michigan, and wanted to increase my knowledge of specific tribal cultures of Yosemite. I met with different tribes and then focused on the Southern Sierra Miwok. I also thought about my own tribal teachings of what it means to live a well and balanced life. This combination of cultural knowledge comes together in Tenaya Stone Spa.
Tell us about the Tenaya stone:
Dawn: This Tenaya stone went on a journey. We were looking for it with a Miwok elder and her family, who are descendants of Chief Tenaya of the Ahwahnechee people. The stone revealed itself and this Miwok family blessed it and gifted it to us. This stone has been shaped and formed over eons of time on earth. It is the center and the heart of the spa – and a place to reflect and set intentions.
What were your guiding principles in design elements?
Katrina: Much of the Craftsman architecture has you look “out and up,” such as looking out across landscaping and up at the trees. In the spa, you literally do the opposite to look “down and in.” The translation of that into nature is going down into the earth, into stone and into roots. We took the cue from Mother Nature in order to inspire the design.
Tell us about the “powers of four”:
Katrina: The spa design embraces the concept of the natural order of four, found throughout many indigenous cultures of the world. There are four directions, four colors, four elements and four points of wellness. These bring balance and harmony to the mind, body and spirit. Tenaya Stone Spa has a strong axis in the design that represents the powers of four.
The tree root chandelier is eye-catching!
Katrina: At the entrance in the spa is a tree root chandelier, because tree roots go down and into the earth and soak up water, which represents our water element. We used obsidian because it represents the color black, which is associated with the west, inside this exposed redwood tree root. It is surrounded by beautiful pendants that our artisans made out of stained glass, which look like gemstones hanging from the ceiling.
The relaxation lounge is a special spot:
Katrina: The relaxation lounge is on the east side, where the sun rises. Being a fire element and associated with the color yellow, the stained glass window represents beautiful sunrays coming into the room, incorporating sliced agate stone. A trickling water feature has a vein of gold running through the mineral rock.
Tell us about the artwork and the minerals:
Katrina: On the south side, we have the color red and the air element, which is represented in an art piece made with red pumice and red obsidian.
On the north side, we have the color white and the earth element, which is represented by a beautiful mural by a Native American artist. She creates her art out of things that she finds in her natural environment such as pine cones and acorns, and creates basket weave patterns.
Also on the north side, we have white magnesite, which is a very precious stone and was once used as currency by some California tribes. Our particular white magnesite was sourced from a place called Chalk Mountain.
The wood flooring! Tell us about that:
Katrina: On the philosophy of looking “down and in,” we went down and into the wood flooring. Instead of wood planks, we cut wood rounds. You can literally see the life of the tree and what is inside of it.
What do you want guests to come away with after visiting Tenaya Stone Spa?
Dawn: I hope the guests will experience this idea of balance in their lives and recalibrating, perhaps, to rebalance or refocus. To live in balance means with your spiritual, emotional, physical and social self. When they leave, may they take the memory of Tenaya Stone home with them until their next visit.
Tenaya Stone Spa features eight treatment rooms, two for couples massage, four manicure/pedicure chairs, a relaxation lounge, men’s and women’s changing rooms, and a retail boutique.
Advance appointments are now available. The spa will initially be available for guests of the Hotels of the Disneyland Resort and will open to the public at a later date. For more information and a complete list of services, please visit Disneyland.com/TenayaStoneSpa.
At this time, all spa guests are required to wear approved face coverings during their entire visit, regardless of vaccination status. Visit Disneyland.com/updates for other important information to know before visiting the Disneyland Resort.