“You deserve to feel better” is the trademark slogan of Skyterra Wellness Retreat, located in the temperate rainforest region of Lake Toxaway, North Carolina. It is a refrain echoed a number of times throughout the intense but enjoyable week-long health and fitness focused wellness retreat program. Story by Lynn Burshtein
To owner Sue Crowell and General Manager Teresa Ostler, Skyterra’s catchphrase is no hollow platitude. They make good on their word by offering a thoughtfully-designed, customizable program that is the embodiment of encouragement and support. Each week, a small group of guests (no more than 25) of all ages (from age 19 to those in their senior years), hailing from various locales (mainly North Carolina, Georgia, Texas and Florida and other parts of the U.S. plus some from as far away as Turkey, Russia and Singapore) gather on the expansive, lush property to work toward their health and lifestyle goals.
A few suggestions on planning a wellness retreat with intention
Each wellness journey kicks off with a health screening
The journey to wellness starts off rather slowly: we are encouraged to participate in activities at our own pace and according to our fitness level. Before doing so, each guest goes through an arrival screening to help gauge their health concerns and to plan a customized schedule that includes one-on-one consultations, classes and lectures intended to address their individual needs. There is also an introductory workout session led by Skyterra’s Executive Director Jeff Ford called Move Well that teaches guests proper fitness form before they embark on other workouts. Another introductory lecture, entitled Fitness Redefined, discusses efficient workout methods.
Fitness activities, adventures and more
Beyond that, there is a carousel of activities offered each day with enough variety to appeal to virtually everyone. There are adventures for the outdoor enthusiast, such as stand-up paddle boarding, waterfall hikes on picturesque trails, as well as fly-fishing and archery lessons. Fitness buffs may like the indoor or outdoor circuit classes, aqua cardio or rowing classes. And those seeking a quieter, inward journey of mindfulness will love the daily yoga, stretch and meditation classes held inside the property’s yoga yurt (affectionately known as the Yogurt.). Luxe spa services are also available a-la-carte to assist with relaxation and restoration. Despite the variety of offerings, guests are reminded that there is no pressure to participate in any of them if they feel the need to slow down.
Health food options are key to any wellness retreat
At meal-time, tasty, healthy and generously-sized dishes courtesy of Culinary Director Michael Vess are served and modifications can be made to accommodate dietary restrictions. Meals are served community-style in the dining room, fostering a close-knit group of guests. (A number of “skyterreans” I meet turn out to be repeat visitors, despite the fact that the resort has only been open for three years.). There are also Games Nights featuring Bingo and Pictionary, to keep the evenings light.
Educational wellness offerings
All of this adds up to a terrific week of recharging one’s batteries in a lovely and nurturing environment. But what sets Skyterra apart from many other wellness resorts is its comprehensive educational programming that focuses on physical and spiritual health. There are a number of group discussions led by experienced staff (all conducted in a judgment-free environment) that aim to address the psychological, logistical or other roadblocks preventing people from reaching their optimal health and wellness. Another signature component is skyterra’s after-care program. To ensure departing guests have the tools to implement the knowledge they’ve acquired once they return home, a robust library of resources is made available through the Skyterra website. These include demonstration exercise and yoga posture videos; skyterra recipes, articles and other resources, as well as contact information of the staff they worked with. This helps set guests up for success well beyond their wellness retreat. For more on skyterra
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Lynn, a frequent and long time contributor to Travel to Wellness, was a guest of skyterra in June, 2019. Photos courtesy of Skyterra. Lynn can be reached on instragram @LynnB_Travels.