by Anne Dimon
A little over an hour’s drive from downtown Denver, CO and located at 6,600 feet above sea level, the spacious resort property Garden of the Gods Resort and Club embodies the slogan: Power of Place. The power is not only derived from the scenic and inspirational surroundings, but from the power that ensues when you give yourself permission for self-care. And this is one ideal spot to do just that. Take time out for self-care.
Overlooking the soaring red rock formations of Garden of the Gods Park and Pike’s Peak, one of the highest summits in Colorado, Garden of the Gods Resort and Club first opened as a private club in 1951, then expanded to include a resort in 2007. Seven years ago, it relaunched as a wellness community and most recently rebranded its’ STRATA Integrated Wellness and Spa with the introduction of five new Wellness Concierge Medical Memberships.
Garden of the Gods Club and Resort is one of the primary draws to Colorado Springs. The town of about half a million (2019) people was listed as one of the world’s Top Emerging Destinations by Trip Advisor in the February 2021.
Attracting guests from the local area, surrounding states as well as nation-wide, the resort is spread across a spacious nature-embraced property encompassing STRATA plus accommodations (116 guest rooms plus 19 villas, cottages and wellness spa casitas), a 27-hole golf course, three swimming pools (including one for adults only) a kids’ club, a recreation center for teens, a tennis program, camp programs for both adults and children and a fitness center housing a well-equipped gym, a hot tub, steam room, spin room, a Pilates studio and a heated infinity pool.
Despite the number of facilities and programs, there is “plenty of opportunity for physical distancing if one chooses,” Denise Perkins, Director of Sales and Marketing tells me as she gives me a tour around the expansive property. I was surprised to learn that Perkins was formerly with another one my favorite nature-embraced U.S. properties: Red Mountain Resort in St. George, Utah.
STRATA Integrated Wellness and Spa
Beyond the striking, inspirational view, STRATA Integrated Wellness and Spa is the pièce-de-résistance for anyone embracing the concept of “self-care.” Located in its own private building just steps from the hotel, STRATA is the perfect example of the newly emerging “medical wellness” branch of the wellness tourism tree.
STRATA is short for “stratification,” and Grant Jones, Vice President of Wellness explains that the business model at STRATA Integrated Wellness and Spa is “a layered or integrated approach to looking at the whole body.” He says, “We put wellness at the very center of all and everything we do.”
I spent several hours with Jones talking about STRATA, the growth of the wellness industry over the past several years, and the increasing importance of being proactive with our own health. I was impressed by his passion and commitment not only to STRATA but to the many “patients” that the facility welcomes and works with on the various integrated levels. A former gymnast who was part of the Olympic development program, Jones has four years of medical school and was a valued fund-raiser for both the Olympics and the Children’s Hospital of Colorado. In late 2019 he was wooed by the owners of Garden of the Gods Resort and Club to revamp the STRATA program. “We are entering a more modern, authentic, intentional and patient-centered phase,” he tells me. An innovative visionary in the field, Jones says they are redefining what they do, and how they deliver the product. The focus, he says, is a patient centered, integrated wellness product delivered with care, compassion and connection, and with authenticity and intentionality at the forefront. Demonstrating their emphasis on care, concern and compassion, even spa guests are called “patients.”
There are over 30 wellness and medical practitioners on the STRATA staff, everything from an acupuncturist to a board-certified cardiologist to naturopaths and wellness coaches, working to incorporate eastern and western philosophies and science-based practices into their customized programs.
On the medical side of the STRATA facility, there are 12 consultation/examination/medical treatment rooms including the IV Nutritional Bay, a key component of the Immunity Membership Program. The spa side offers nine indoor treatment rooms plus, weather permitting, exterior cabanas with a view of the scenic surroundings. Therapists can also be booked for in-room treatments.
Both membership and non-membership programs are available. The average stay is four nights customized with a-la-care offerings. Under the themes of Cardiology, Health, Lifestyle and Immunity, there are four-night packages available, and when it comes to the Immunity package, Jones says he has seen a “significant increase in popularity” since the onset of the pandemic. Wellness Concierge Medical Memberships range from $3,000 to $15,000 and can be personalized and scheduled to the timeframe that best suits the patient’s needs and lifestyle, ranging from two to twelve months in duration.
Three to six daily classes (yoga, boot camp, sculpt & tone, Zumba to name a few) are included as part of the room rate ($179 to $979 U.S. per night depending on the season).
I signed up for an a-la-carte offering called Meditation on the Mesa. My one-on-one, hour-long session with Kelly Stoinski, Wellness Coach and Patient Experience Navigator, was scheduled to take place outdoors by the reflection pool overlooking Garden of the Gods Park, but it was a chilly April day in Colorado Springs so we opted for a room with a view.
Kelly is also an Ayurveda consultant, a licenses doula and massage therapist and breathwork coach. I explained to her that over the many years that I have been writing about wellness travel I have participated in meditation session many times while traveling but once back at home have found it very difficult to simply quiet the mind. She talks about the “Mindful Minute” and tells me everyone has time for at least one minute each day. I cannot argue with that. She also explains that anyone can meditate with the right tools. She challenges me to take just two minutes each day and then build from there, should I choose. (I’m working on it!) Kelly shares her five meditation tips for busy people.
Catering to all dietary preferences
With integration a big part of their model, the STRATA model also integrates with the hotel’s food and beverage team to personalize menus as needed. Including in-room dining, there are seven dining options at the resort including the aptly named Grand View Dining Room overlook the striking red rock formations and mountain range beyond. Chef Thomas Hartwell tells me that all dietary food preferences are catered to. When I asked him about his food philosophy, he proudly tells me that it’s more about the management philosophy: “Good honest people, serving good honest food in a good honest way.” I like that. I’m told that cooking demos can also be requested at an extra fee.
The entire setting underscores the concept of the “power of place.” According to Jones, “nature is not just passive here, it is immersive.” I can vouch for that. One feels the connection with the very first gaze upon the nature that surrounds.
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