September 1, 2008

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Nurturing in Nature

Relax and Restore with Local Wellness Retreats

Carolyn Campbell

September 1, 2008

In June 2008, Lindsay Parrish, account manager at KSL TV, organized a wellness retreat at Red Mountain Spa in St. George for 35 of the TV station’s female advertising clients. The women chose either a massage or facial and many also enjoyed a manicure or pedicure. Hiking, water aerobics, yoga and a cooking class were among activity options. “The ladies were able to rest and relax, laugh and have fun and also reconnect with other women in the marketplace,” says Parrish. Corporate wellness retreats can offer a win-win environment for taking a break from business, with healthy pampering, invigorating physical activity, and therapeutic interaction beneath a picturesque mountain backdrop that provides a restorative getaway. Sonia Q. Thomas, founder and CEO of Women in Nature Wellness and Fitness Retreat, says that a vital element of working hard and having a balanced life is to reward oneself. She explains that while the increasing popularity of time saving electronic devices has simplified many daily tasks and provided more time in which to do them, people in business often find themselves doing more work in spite of technological advances. “People in business are frequently rushing, constantly thinking of the next step and next move,” says Thomas. Thomas explains that attending a wellness retreat allows such people to “reflect and relax and get in focus with themselves and their power.” She explains that living a balanced lifestyle and engaging in wellness activities is very helpful in managing stress. She adds that, “wellness retreats often include therapeutic experiences for the mind, body and spirit.” Her company’s wellness retreats take place at Utah Mountain Lodge near Brighton Resort. “Many studies show how much nature helps to heal, to release stress and to get yourself in balance. People who go outdoors have less of a tendency to become depressed,” says Thomas. Women in Nature and other wellness retreats often include specialists such as life coaches, personal trainers, massage therapists and yoga instructors. “You don’t need to take a long vacation or travel to an exotic place to feel immersed in nature at a wellness retreat,” says Thomas. Women who attend her retreats participate in yoga, personal training, mountain biking and hiking trips. Women In Nature also includes a nutrition program and personal training sessions. “It is a great jump start to losing weight,” says Thomas. Jen Deraspe owner of Nurture Through Nature, one of a growing number of companies and spas that provide wellness retreats for people in business says, “Getting away from distractions of work and home helps to clear the mind and set the direct gateway to our heart, where our spirit is. This happens organically, out in the wilderness.” Deraspe’s customized retreats in Moab often include canoeing down the Green River, along with yoga, meditation and peaceful silence. “There’s no pressure to fill the space with chitchat. While canoeing down the canyon, amid 200 feet of red Navajo sandstone, people shortly find themselves in heaven,” she says. The Torrey Schoolhouse Bed & Breakfast, a renovated 1914 school building near Capitol Reef National Park, can accommodate up to 24 adults for customized wellness retreats that can include massage, yoga, hiking, exercise, organic breakfast and meditation in the onsite gardens, according to owner Ty Markham. The Homestead Resort in the mountains near Midway offers guided hikes and horseback rides, soaking in a naturally-heated mineral crater and a full-service Aveda concept spa that offers massage and facials, says Jeremy Roberts, director of sales. “Located only 45 minutes from Salt Lake City, we feel we offer a wonderful option for wellness retreats.” Tracey Welch, general manager of Red Mountain Spa in St. George, says that participants leave such retreats empowered, re-energized and ready to give back and focus on their work. “They are given permission to take care of themselves while they are here.” She adds that while enjoying the outdoors in a group environment, co-workers can support their individual goals, connect with other team mates and learn about their challenges while they hike, bike and kayak. “They establish a whole new connection through their experiences. You don’t have to be the best–you can just be an active participant. Each person’s experience can be individual to them as they each seek the goal of improved health and fitness.” She adds that when employers provide a retreat that incorporates wellness, it is a valued expression of appreciation that is actually a win-win situation. “Incorporating wellness into a retreat speaks to how you value your employees, and when employees feels appreciated they want to give back to the business.”
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