As the wellness trend gains momentum in the meetings industry, hotels and resorts are increasingly aiming to cater to the demand. With idyllic settings and an overall focus on well-being, the following properties have long been favorites for restful and restorative corporate retreats.
Canyon Ranch, Tucson, Ariz., and Lenox, Mass.
Canyon Ranch, the first to introduce the wellness destination resort concept nearly 40 years ago, has two properties that are luxury standouts for groups: its flagship resort in Tucson, which opened in 1979, and its resort in the Berkshires. Each property offers extensive indoor and outdoor activities, meeting space and group programming designed to inspire clear thinking, recharged enthusiasm and shared energy.
“Our guiding compass is a philosophy of integrated wellness including mind, body and spirit,” said Tom Klein, chief operating officer at Canyon Ranch. “It’s based on five foundational pillars: health and healing, food and nutrition, fitness and movement, mind and spirit, and spa and beauty. We evaluate what’s needed for each guest using a holistic approach and leverage our team of experts, such as certified doctors, therapists, exercise physiologists, chefs and trainers.”
The biggest advantage for groups is the all-inclusive aspect, according to Klein.
“We have wellness built in to all group programming,” he said. “There are options like healthy snacks, morning and afternoon walks, fitness classes, stretch sessions, chair yoga and meditation and mindfulness classes for groups.”
Meanwhile, an array of outdoor adventures are perfect for teambuilding, he added, including roughly 100 hikes in Tucson and 70 hikes in Lenox, plus biking, canoeing, rock walls and ropes courses, among other offerings.
Creative art classes and chef demos on crafting nutritious meals are also popular.
“It’s quite robust programming, and both the planner and the attendee love it,” Klein said.
Future development plans for Canyon Ranch include possible wellness resorts in the U.S. and abroad, luxury residences in Lenox, urban SpaClub concepts and culinary concepts.
Miraval Resort & Spa, Tucson, Ariz.
Set on 400 acres near Tucson’s Santa Catalina Mountains, Miraval Resort and Spa has been a thought leader in the health and wellness space for 20-plus years, dedicated to inspiring “Life in Balance.” The luxury property, which completed a major renovation last year, has casita-style spa accommodations and suites, abundant gathering space and group activities aimed at fostering growth, leadership and new ideas.
Miraval’s dynamic health and wellness programs, innovative spa treatments, unique meeting spaces and mindful meetings amenities set it apart, according to Carl Pratt, vice president and general manager of the resort.
“Programs such as our famed Equine Experience, healthy cooking classes, challenge activities and yoga and meditation classes offer groups unique ways to focus on overall health and wellness while growing individually and as a team,” Pratt said.
The Miraval Equine Experience, created by Wyatt Webb more than 20 years ago, is one of the resort’s most unique offerings, particularly when applied in a group environment to strengthen bonds. During the signature program, Webb guides participants in interacting with horses to discover negative patterns of learned behavior. Guests are taught how to adjust their communication process to improve personal and professional relationships and experience joy in their lives.
Pratt said over the past few years, there has been an increase in companies and groups selecting Miraval for its wellness and mindfulness programs.
“Due to the overwhelming amount of evidence supporting the impact mindfulness has on productivity, communication and relationships, companies are valuing the importance of wellness in the workplace and are looking for ways to experience and practice mindfulness techniques that can then be incorporated into the organizational culture,” he said.
The Miraval Group, which remains its own entity after being acquired by Hyatt Hotels Corp. in January, is expanding beyond Arizona. The company purchased Travaasa Austin in the Texas Hill Country and the historic Cranwell Resort in Lenox, Mass. Both properties are under renovation and will be rebranded as Miraval destination spa resorts.
Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, N.Y.
Founded in 1869, Mohonk Mountain House is a National Historic Landmark located 90 miles north of New York City in the Hudson Valley. The resort, popular for corporate meetings and retreats, features a 30,000-square-foot spa wing, a wealth of leisure activities—from yoga and Pilates to hiking, biking and kayaking—and wellness programs aimed at renewing the body, mind and spirit.
Mohonk’s setting, surrounded by 1,200 acres of pristine forest, makes it the perfect place to unplug, unwind and learn new life skills, according to Nina Smiley, Ph.D., director of mindfulness programming at the resort.
“Being immersed in a spectacular natural setting calls out a unique sense of well-being,” Smiley said. “We find that groups are drawn to our mindfulness activities as a way to offer employees new ways to relax and strengthen skills for all aspects of daily living.”
Smiley leads group “forest bathing” walks at the resort, during which participants practice being mindfully present with the sensory experiences that come from being in nature.
The resort’s Mindfulness in Meetings program teaches groups how to reduce stress and enhance focus using techniques from Smiley’s book, The Three Minute Meditator.