Tapping into a high-end spa culture that is increasingly placing an emphasis on wellness over simple pampering, several leading hotels and resorts have begun the year by announcing investments in health-focused facilities.
In late February, InterContinental Hotels Group launched a new brand in the U.S. market, EVEN hotels, to cater to guests demanding healthier travel. In addition, Starwood Hotels and Resorts in April said that its Sheraton brand would add new Shine spas to properties in Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, including 10 this year.
“Hotels in general are offering more wellness and healthy activities—in terms of food, sleeping, exercise—to make guests feel better when they leave than when they came,” says Susie Ellis, president of Spafinder, a marketing firm for spas and wellness companies. “These activities are the tip of the iceberg because companies will recognize that meetings need to be a healthy experience.”
Individual resorts across the West are no exception, with many either jumping on the wellness bandwagon or augmenting existing offerings.
At La Costa Resort and Spa, in Carlsbad, Calif., which houses the Chopra Center for Wellbeing (the official home of Dr. Deepak Chopra, a world-renowned holistic physician), the 28,000-square-foot spa—recently renovated as part of a $50 million upgrade at the hotel—is committed to the elements of nature through a new reflexology path adjacent to an herb garden.
Prominent in China, reflexology paths consist of smooth cobblestones or beach stones embedded in concrete, laid in specific patterns that are meant to provide stimulation to the feet. According to resort officials, walking along these stones provides gentle yet deep-working therapy, stimulates pressure points in the feet that correspond to all major body organs, encourages vital energy and blood flow throughout the body, relieves stress, improves balance and enhances physical and mental well-being.
The resort offers groups team-building activities, yoga classes before and after meetings, and exercise and stretch breaks during meetings, says Barry Brown, director of sales and marketing. The spa offers experiential packages, a dedicated spa function room, and multiple private courtyard areas with fireplaces for group use.
“The resort is getting more requests from companies that want to invest back in their people,” he says. “A sales meeting is not just about sales, because a strategic objective of companies is taking care of employees.”
La Costa features 612 guest rooms, six dining venues, a new athletic club and a new adult-only pool and cocktail venue.
At Terranea Resort, southwest of downtown Los Angeles, groups are offered outdoor exercise classes, “fun runs” and seaside spin classes, all incorporating the property’s natural setting and environment.
The 582-room, 102-acre resort also tailors spa packages for large groups, offering massages and manicures and pedicures in 50-minute time slots, rather than the traditional 60 or 90 minutes, which saves money and allows more guests to be accommodated, according to Kevin Barosso, director of group sales.
Terranea features 70,000 square feet of outdoor meeting and event space, and another 65,000 square feet of indoor function space.
Additionally, Terranea has eight dining venues, a spa and fitness center with 25 treatment rooms, an adults-only pool, oceanfront yoga and Pilates studio and an activity center offering a wide range of sports.
Montage Deer Valley, a ski-in/ski-out on-mountain location in Park City, Utah, can customize meeting breaks with activities like breathing for stress management, and create team-building exercises such as mountain boot camp, according to Kurt Diekhoff, director of group sales.
“High-altitude training—hiking and biking the trails adjacent to the resort—is not only a metaphor for companies that are meeting in order to take performance to new heights, but also provides real time benefits to ensure attendees are fit and focused,” he says. “Post workout, attendees can book various treatments to maximize relaxation.
“During meetings, breathing breaks are led by spa staff to boost oxygen intake for improved concentration and creativity,” he adds.
The 220-room property can also offer groups winter activities like dog sledding and inner tubing, or summer sports like archery, badminton and bocce ball.
Situated 40 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport, Montage Deer Valley has over 55,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space, including a 4,800-square-foot lawn set against the backdrop of Empire Mountain. The property’s Apex American grill restaurant can be subdivided for group meals and private events.
A member of Historic Hotels of America that’s surrounded by New Mexico’s Santa Fe National Forest, Bishop’s Lodge Ranch Resort and Spa has 91 guest rooms, a 19th century chapel built by the first archbishop of Santa Fe, two dining venues, 8,000 square feet of meeting space and the ShaNah Spa, which offers treatments inspired by Native American traditions, including massages in a teepee.
“The name of our spa is inspired by the Native American word for vitality and energy, and we provide a range of wellness activities to help attendees relieve stress and reenergize, whether they want a custom massage in our spa, sunset horseback ride on the ranch or a round of skeet shooting,” says Director of Sales Jeff Lashar.
These offerings benefit meeting attendees, Lashar asserts.
“We find that groups enjoy both the wellness activities we provide and they leave their meetings and retreats here feeling refreshed, reenergized and ready to collaborate more effectively with others.”
Jane Levere is a New York City-based freelance travel industry writer.