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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

charming places: review--red mountain resort

It all came down to this: Hawaii, Italy or a spa.

I needed to feel recharged and I wanted to visit a Happy Place where I could get my happy back. I wanted to go someplace where I would feel strong and empowered. Hawaii and Italy are indeed happy but what I needed at this moment was both physical AND emotional inspiration.  Hawaii and Italy were places I wanted to go back to with L. so I narrowed the search down to spas in the U.S. and Mexico. I used to start the search and selected finalists including Red Mountain Resort, Canyon Ranch, The Pritkin Spa,  The Golden Door, Miraval and Fitness Ridge (associated with TV's "Biggest Loser") I called each of the resorts and spoke at length about their offerings and their "vibe."
I felt a little like Goldilocks.
One was too rigid (I didn't want to be intimidated into working out. Push me, yes, but don't make me cry.) Several were too expensive ($6000 and up for one week.) And several just didn't seem like it was a right fit. I spoke with Brad Crump, the Health & Wellness Director at Red Mountain Resort. He told me about the resort like the others had but he listened. He wanted to know what I needed from the resort. Was I there for pampering? To lose weight? To gain a new perspective? To challenge myself? Yes. Yes. And yes.

I drew up a chart listing each resort and their pros and cons. I read the reviews on and their respective websites. Several were in the running but then I read the events calendar on the Red Mountain Resort site and it was this one item that clinched the deal.

This is Bacon, my new friend I did the Pound Puppy hike with. Isn't she wonderful?!"

I knew that any resort that would sponsor something like this was one that I wanted to be part of. I was right. It was perfect. Perfect. It was better than I could ever have hoped.

Red Mountain Resort is located in St. George, Utah adjacent to Snow Canyon.  The new St. George Airport opened in January 2011, but you can also fly into Las Vegas. Shuttle service is available to and from both airports. The location is strikingly beautiful backing up to black lava fields and red rock bluffs. One of the great design features of the resort is that the eleven terra cotta colored buildings are scattered amidst beautifully rolling landscapes. While Red Mountain can accommodate up to 210 guests you never feel like the property is at full capacity. Meandering paths amidst manicured indigenous plants take you from the guest room buildings to all of your activities.

In the center of the resort is the Welcome Center surrounded by the guest room buildings, villas, pools (one indoor and two outdoor), Fitness Center, Sagestone Spa and the Canyon Breeze restaurant. What I loved about the property are the unexpected surprises like the grotto jacuzzi hidden away in a lush landscaped garden just steps from my room and the labyrinth where I could wind down my day being quietly contemplative as the sun set beyond the red hills.
With a 3:1 guest ratio the staff is there to attend to your every whim. Literally. On my first night I decided to walk the property to get a lay of the land. It was about 11pm, dark out with just enough landscape lighting to make my way but still I got lost. (Don't worry, within 24 hours you'll know the property well.) In a few minutes a staff member on a golf cart was driving my way, saw that I was clearly lost and not only gave me directions back to my room but also gave me a tour around the property with facts about the resort. From the Welcome Center team to the Fitness and Health Center staff to the dining room employees, within the first couple days they all know your name and your habits. For example, the restaurant staff knew that I liked the passionfruit iced tea and brought it to me at lunch and dinner even before I had a chance to get it myself. One wonderful surprise was after our hard hike through the canyon, when we got back to the van the guides gave us ice cold washcloths that had been unfused with a hint of peppermint. After a 90 degree hike this simple act of offering us an ice cold minty cloth was perhaps the most refreshing thing I have ever experienced.
The Vibe
What you'll love about Red Mountain Resort is that you can make your vacation what you want it to be. For me, it was important to feel strong and empowered. I wanted to take classes from 7am straight through until the evening with lots of hiking, climbing, swimming, meditation and healthy living classes. But if you were so inclined you could make it a pampering holiday, spending most of your days in the Sagestone Spa getting massages, facials, pedicures and steams.
The feeling on the resort is chill. Take as many guided hikes as you can handle or work out with one of the personal trainers and while you will sweat and challenge yourself, the staff won't treat you like you're in boot camp (unless you take the Boot Camp class, of course.) During the day I challenged myself with hikes in the desert, followed by aqua class, a personal training session and Drums Alive. While in the evening I enjoyed a leisurely dinner followed by learning sessions like "Test Your Intuition," "Astronomy" out on the lawn and "Meditation: A Good Night's Sleep." There are cooking classes, Pilates lessons and Life Coaching sessions.  I opted for the Weight Loss and Well Being package which included my guest room, three meals a day as well as metabolism testing, a session with life coach Cindy Clemens (author of "Life is a Do-Over") and several sessions with nutritionist Dr. Reema Sayegh. It was a mind, body, spirit connection and I left feeling completely new.
Here's one of my well-loved pages of my schedule.
What to Do
In one week it would be impossible to do everything that Red Mountain Resort has to offer. While my schedule was packed from sunrise to sunset I still didn't even begin to scratch the surface of everything Red Mountain has to offer. There are activities from Zion Park biking to horseback riding, Pilates, Nordic Walking, Rock Climbing and M.E.E.T. the Mustangs (a once in a lifetime meeting with wild horses). The Sagestone Spa offers everything from Reflexology Massages to the Sea Lily Brightening treatment to the Adobe Lavender Hydrating Cocoon. You can meet with a Life Coach to get your life back on track or take a healthy eating cooking class.

One of my favorite activities was to take an enrichment class in the afternoon followed by a dip in the pool and the Jacuzzi before bed. Every night I slept like a baby.

Also in the area is the Tuacahn Center, an outdoor performance venue. I was lucky enough to get a ticket to see "The Little Mermaid" which was outstanding. The couple sitting next to me actually drove in from Colorado just for this performance. The next morning I walked over to Tuacahn for the Arts & Crafts show where I bought a hand knit scarf the color of the Utah night sky.  If you want to see a performance be sure to book your tickets for the shows when you book your travel because they sell out most performances.
The Accomodations

There are two types of accommodations at Red Mountain Resort, deluxe guest rooms and villas. I stayed in both. The deluxe guest room is lovely. It has a bed, a desk, a comfortable chair and a television. The air conditioner worked perfectly, especially since I like a cool room and temperatures were in the 90's while I was there. The water pressure was great as were the bathroom amenities. Just outside my guest room was the grotto Jacuzzi. It felt like a lovely, lush, little hidden garden in France. I also stayed in the villas which I loved. The villa rooms have fireplaces, sliding doors to a private terrace with lounge chairs overlooking the pool and a river rock tiled shower. I LOVED the shower with its open feeling and the river rocks on your feet which felt like small, smooth massages on your toes. The villas do cost more but if you want your own Jacuzzi in your room and a terrace it is worth the extra money. Either way, though, the rooms are comfortable and happy.
The Food

When I was at Red Mountain I received a lot of text messages asking me about the food. The food was amazing. AMAZING. And the best thing was that the meal plan is included in your package. It takes the stress off not worrying about how much you're spending on meals. Both breakfast and lunch are buffet style and what was especially thoughtful was next to each chafing dish was a plate with the recommended serving size of each item. This was helpful. Everything I tried was delicious from the oatmeal to the protein shakes I had twice daily. Dinner was incredible. I love the salmon so much that I had it most nights. The desserts were also delicious. Once I discovered the Deconstructed Blueberry Cheesecake I ordered it every night. Between meals the cafe is open for coffee, tea, water and fruit. If you're hungry and you want something off menu, there is a cafe where you can order a sandwich as well as other light fare.
My goal on this trip was to change my life, to hit the reset button on my body and mind and get my happy back. There were so many possibilities, so many spas to choose from where I could challenge myself and get my strength back. I am so grateful that I chose Red Mountain Resort. It was precisely what I needed. From the staff, to the accommodations, the resort was exactly what I had hoped it would be. Red Mountain Resort is a chameleon. It can be whatever you want it to be. Do you want to feel like a celebrity and be pampered at the spa? You can do that. Do you want to be a jock for the week? That's possible. Do you want to challenge yourself, get out of your comfort zone? I did that and it feels amazing. I'm looking at the things I brought home with me from the Canyon Breeze cookbook to my metabolism and weight loss plan to the small red rock I found in the desert on my last morning hike and I feel all that strength came home with me.
It's interesting how the universe can speak to you when you open yourself to it. One day I had a massage and at the end of the massage the therapist left me with a card. Considering that I went to Red Mountain to recharge and leave the past behind I was happy and shocked to read the card she had chosen for me.
Reading the card and letting go of past resentment (towards myself and others for all the bad stuff that had happened) was freeing. Maybe this card was the whole reason I had come to Red Mountain Resort-- to get this message.
Red Mountain Resort IS a happy place. I hope you can discover it too one day.

  • It isn't necessary to rent a car unless you want to venture into the surrounding area. You can get by fine with the shuttles to and from Red Mountain Resort.
  • While you will receive a nylon backpack and water bottle when you check in, I still brought my Camelback water hydration pack and filled it up each morning with ice and water which 1.) Gave me ice cold water on my hikes in the desert and 2.) My back was kept cool by the ice in the reservoir.  I also kept the schedule, sunscreen, my iPhone and headphones in my pack.
  • Before you go, print out the activities for the week and make a rough schedule for yourself. That way when you check in you can also register for the activities you want to do and know that you will get in. Some of the popular activities can fill up fast.
  • The restaurant staff is very accommodating. If you have any issues or preferences be sure to let the staff know. I LOVED the tofu ceviche (you don't even taste the tofu) and while it was typically served on just one of the themed lunches, when I mentioned how much I loved it, my server put aside a bowl for me for the next day. I was also doing a gluten free detox week and the servers always made sure I had gluten free bread.
  • If you are traveling alone, sign up for the communal table for dinner. Meeting other people is a wonderful way to wind down your day.
  • Pack light. I brought way too many clothes thinking I would need a workout outfit each day as well as an outfit for dinner. Most nights I came to dinner straight from working out. Leave your purse, jewelry and dressy clothes at home. You will never use them.
  • Surprise! There is a FREE washer and dryer located in the villas area.
  • Open your mind to what can be. Try something you never thought you would. Have your tea leaves read (this session blew my mind). Meet the Shaman for a one in a lifetime experience. Go heart-to-heart with a wild Mustang.
Looking forward to our next Happy Place!

Red Mountain Resort is located at 1275 E. Mountain Circle, St. George Utah. Contact them at 877.246.4453.

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