I needed to stretch. I needed to breathe, focus on myself and unplug from my ever-growing email inbox. I needed to relax and do nothing … and take pleasure in the fact that I could relax and do nothing.
I needed a break.
It was with this mindset that I set off to find a wellness retreat for a much-needed getaway. It’s a vague term—“wellness retreat”—and an increasing number of resorts ranging from the beaches of Bali to the fresh air of Canada claim to cure overburdened lives with yoga and meditation or hiking and adventure. But it was a different resort altogether—one that recognizes relaxation means something different to every person—that caught my attention.
Red Mountain Resort, located about ten miles outside of St. George, Utah, somehow seems to meet just about every definition of rejuvenation with yoga and meditation, life coaching and wellness workshops, rappelling and kayaking, pool time and spa treatments. The great debate here isn’t which email to answer first or what to serve for dinner but whether to take part in a water aerobics class or sit in on a workshop about chakras.
As overworked Americans, we tend to push ourselves in an effort to please others and, as a result, create an unnecessary amount of stress for ourselves. At Red Mountain Resort, all the hard decisions are made for the guests at the property. The routes for the morning hikes are already decided; I just have to decide whether to take a challenging one or one that involves meditation in Snow Canyon State Park. All of the desserts were healthy; I just have to decide whether I want to eat deconstructed blueberry cheesecake or chocolate and fruit fondue.
At every turn, employees ask what my name is and how I am doing. Wait staff practically make it impossible for me to worry about anything during dinner, even going so far as to catch a bee so it isn’t buzzing anywhere near my table. Not only do I not worry about anyone else while doing sit-ups with a personal trainer or fighting buoyancy with water weights at the pool, but I hardly have to think about me. My stress just seems to slide away without any effort at all. I stretch not because I need to, but because it feels good. I focus on my breathing one morning while I do yoga among the stunning red mountains of Southern Utah not because I should, but because it feels right. I’m not forced to do anything at all because, at Red Mountain Resort, all those things I came to “fix” just fix themselves.
Red Mountain Resort excels in making the relaxation process effortless while still being all things to just about all people. A group of four women staying in a villa near mine spend their days lounging by the pool, interspersing their sunbathing with running laps from one end to the other. One morning at breakfast I overhear a mother and two daughters discussing a day filled with spa appointments. Other people tackle one fitness class after another, pushing all that pent-up anxiety away with a healthy dose of sweat. Though the overwhelming majority of guests tend to be women, everything is gender neutral, and it’s not uncommon to find men signed up to spend days upon days rock climbing, rappelling, hiking and mountain biking. And, as a testament to Red Mountain Resort’s ability to meet the wellness needs of its guests, a growing number of visitors are returning for their second, third or fourth time from cities all over the United States.
As I finish a cross training class, sweat pouring down my back and dripping off my nose, I know that those stressful things in my life—not finding enough work, missed opportunities, deadlines, high expectations of myself—can be put off until tomorrow. Today is about me and my need to stretch, focus, breathe, relax and be.
And it doesn’t hurt that I can enjoy fruit and chocolate fondue to celebrate that fact.