Classic Meets Modern

Photo courtesy Tellier Studios
by Gabrielle L. Wheeler

Isabella Spa-Salon at Belhurst Castle offers guests the opportunity to be pampered like royalty

Who would have guessed there is a castle located on Seneca Lake – and it is open to the public as an all-inclusive Finger Lakes resort no less? Located in Geneva on the western side of the lake, Belhurst Castle stands amid massive oaks on a stately yet inviting property. Built in 1889, the castle is rich in history and legend, and mingles modern with classic for guests to enjoy.

The property’s history is vast and was originally the site of a Seneca Indian Village, as well as home to the Council of the Six Nations of Iroquois. The castle itself was built at the direction of Mrs. Carrie Collins after she purchased the property upon sight in 1885. After her death it passed hands frequently, and to pay for its upkeep the castle’s uses have varied throughout the years, including as a casino, a restaurant, a hotel, and finally a premier tourist attraction in the Finger Lakes Region at the present time. In 2003, a 30,000 square-foot addition was completed by the current owners, Duane and Deb Reeder, and today Belhurst Castle offers its visitors 47 guest rooms, two restaurants, two ballrooms for weddings or events, a winery, and Isabella Spa-Salon.

Belhurst Castle
Photo courtesy Neil Sjoblom

Isabella Spa-Salon

The centerpiece of the Isabella Spa-Salon is a large fountain from which gurgle the relaxing sounds of running water throughout a guest’s salon experience. In the center of the fountain stands a pink and white flowering tree that never withers. The castle is steeped in legends and stories, some fictional and others that may have a slight ring of truth, including that of William Bucke and his lover Isabella who were drawn to the property by a majestic tree. Placed as an homage to the Isabella legend as well as to a massive tree that stood where the spa resides before its construction, the fountain sculpture is a favorite among guests due to its uniqueness. Surrounding the fountain, in a space that is both modern yet strives to maintain the classical feel of the castle, guests can enjoy pedicures, manicures, hair-styling and coloring, and/or make-up application. Above the salon, around an open balcony overlooking the fountain, the spa has 6 rooms for body treatments, including a companion suite. “It’s kind of a neat architectural concept with the alcove looking down into the hustle and bustle of the salon, yet up here it’s so peaceful and serene,” Kate Antonucci-Austin, general manager of Isabella Spa-Salon, says of the double-story design.

A Wedding to Remember

With its beautiful stone architecture and a stunning backdrop of Seneca Lake, Belhurst Castle is a premier Finger Lakes destination for weddings from spring until fall. “The salon and spa were added as an amenity to hotel guests, but specifically to target all of our wedding business that comes to the castle,” Antonucci-Austin says. “We are known far and wide as a wedding destination; it’s what we are great at.”

To cater to couples, Isabella Spa-Salon offers pre-bridal and wedding day salon services and has a team of professionals that attends to the wedding party and aims to pamper like royalty throughout the big day. “It’s so convenient because it’s a one-stop shop. Brides come down from their hotel room; they can relax, they can order food and beverage from the restaurant for their guests,” Antonucci-Austin says of the resort. For the ultimate in pampering before or after tying the knot, the spa offers a True Bliss Romantic Retreat body treatment, a 100-minute session for two which includes a scrub, wrap, aromatherapy, and full body massage. “It was a really nice experience, very relaxing, especially after the busyness of the weeks leading up to it,” Annastasia Sage of Pine City says of her wedding experience with Isabella Spa-Salon.

With a pocket door in the companion suite of the spa, the True Bliss package could be taken advantage of by any two people, not just a couple. All members of the party are invited to enjoy the services of the spa and salon, and there is something for everyone. Just for men, the salon offers gentlemen’s facials and pedicures. Antonucci-Austin finds that classic treatments such as massage, manicures, and make-up application are popular among wedding guests.

Philosophy of Health and Wellness

The philosophy of Isabella Spa-Salon is that of health and wellness, and services are open to hotel guests, day visitors, and local clientele seven days a week throughout the year. “We are a sanctuary for relaxation and…mind-body-soul,” Antonucci-Austin says. As such, both the salon and spa use products that are organic and natural and reject any treatments that involve harsh chemicals, which the salon views as a service to its clients. As the base product for body treatments, the spa uses the world-renowned line, Eminence Organics, which is also available in the salon’s store. Along with their classic menu, Isabella Spa-Salon is now offering a new Vitamin Sea Facial for 2018, which has collagen boosting, anti-aging effects. That sounds like a modern treat with the classical feel of luxury and pampering, a truly unique experience as it is in a castle on Seneca Lake.

Belhurst Castle is located at 4069 West Lake Road, Geneva, NY 14456. To contact, call 315-781-0201 or visit


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