Destination / April 05, 2017

Utah stands tall as a place for fitness and well-being

by Jeff Heilman

  • Moab



    Hummer Tour, Moab

  • Homestead Crater, midway

    Homestead Crater, midway


    Homestead Crater, Midway

    Homestead Crater, midway
  • Cliff Spa

    Cliff Spa


    Cliff Spa, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort

    Cliff Spa

From its world-class ski resorts to the ancient, otherworldly landscapes of Arches, Canyonlands, Zion and other national parks, the Beehive State offers unrivaled high-altitude, high-adrenaline, high-inspiration departures from the ordinary. From these elevated experiences, groups can then surrender mind and body at an equally compelling collection of spas, wellness facilities and other sanctuaries.

Concentrated in the wider Salt Lake City and Park City regions, and in the state’s magical southern reaches, the following choices show how Utah rewards those who push the limits, offering relaxation like few other destinations.   

Where to Unwind

This February, Salt Lake City recognized the enduring transformation of its identity and economy, meetings prominently included, that occurred after hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics 15 years ago.

“Few industries benefited from the Olympic Games as much as the tourism industry,” stated Scott Beck, president and CEO of Visit Salt Lake, in a release. “Hosting the Games immediately vaulted Salt Lake to the top ranks as a destination for major conventions and meetings, and solidified our reputation as a destination for world-class winter sports and recreation, embodied by our moniker, ‘Ski City.’”

Within an hour of the ski resort quartet of Alta, Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude (collectively marketed as “The Greatest Snow on Earth”), and even closer to the spectacular canyon country of the Wasatch and Oquirrh (pronounced “oaker”) mountain ranges, Utah’s capital has since enjoyed unassailable global status for its outdoor sports and adventure offerings.

Equal to these rewards are the region’s centers of rejuvenation, such as Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort’s spacious, event-capable Cliff Spa. Featuring 21 treatment rooms, a yoga studio and fitness center, the spa’s rooftop pool and hot tub look out panoramically over the Wasatch Mountains. Groups can also enjoy popular apres-ski spa services at Alta’s Rustler Lodge.

Back in Salt Lake City, the celebrated 775-room Grand America Hotel, offering 75,000-plus square feet of flexible meeting space, is home to the award-winning Grand Spa.

Completely remodeled in 2013, this luxurious 20,000-plus-square-foot oasis includes 18 service rooms and the stunning Grand Spa Suite.

In Salt Lake City’s historic Avenues neighborhood, The Kura Door is a holistic Japanese Spa offering traditional Japanese healing and specialized treatments such as the Ofuro bath ritual, based on Japan’s thousand-year tradition of the bath as “the path to well-being for both body and soul.”

Thirty minutes away, Park City also continues to bask in Olympian afterglow. Offering group- and event-capable legacy venues and activities from 2002 at Olympic Park, this welcoming four-season resort has also established worldwide renown as a luxury spa destination.

At Montage Deer Valley, offering 50,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, Spa Montage is one such sanctuary. Others include the 14,000-square-foot Remede Spa at St. Regis Deer Valley, and the spa at the Waldorf Astoria Park City, with treatments including the body-toning “Sculpt Me.”  

Conference-capable Westgate Park City Resort & Spa’s Serenity Spa by Westgate, offers 14 treatment rooms, a cedar sauna, aromatherapy steam room and waterfall hydrotherapy spa. Treatments integrate healing botanicals, among other options.

At Park City Yoga Adventures, unique programs include the snowshoe and yoga package, and paddleboard yoga in the geothermal waters of the Homestead Resort’s Homestead Crater in Midway, a group destination unto itself.

Located 25 miles south of Park City in the heart of the scenic Heber Valley, the Homestead’s origins date to 1886 when Swiss emigre Simon Schneitter, a farmer drawn to the area’s resemblance to the Swiss alpine region, discovered a crater on his land flowing with warm mineral water. His “Hot Pot” became a local attraction and remains a hot draw at this welcoming 125-room property, which offers 10 year-round conference rooms, including the Pavilion on the Crater Springs Golf Course, for groups of up to 300 attendees.

Another Swiss-inspired Heber Valley escape, Zermatt Resort & Spa, offers 65,000 square feet of IACC-certified conference space and features one of Utah’s largest spas, offering a full range of services.

In the north fork of Provo Canyon at the base of 12,000-foot Mount Timpanogos, some 20 miles south of Midway and 13 miles northeast of Provo, Robert Redford’s Sundance Mountain Resort beckons groups with 95 luxurious guest cottages, 10 mountain homes, 12,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and 5,000 acres of mountain wilderness to explore. Plus, a nature-inspired eco-spa with health and wellness offerings that include mountaintop yoga, meditation and nature walks.  

Southern Sanctuaries

Five miles from Arches National Park, home to the world’s largest concentration of natural sandstone arches, and some 35 miles from Canyonlands, Utah’s largest national park, Moab is surrounded by near-extraterrestrial red-rock wonderment. Award-winning travel operator Moab Adventure Center offers guided programs including Arches hiking tours, Colorado River rafting trips, climbing and canyoneering, stand-up paddleboarding and private Hummer excursions for eight people.

Named America’s No. 1 “Best Mountain Bike Town” by National Geographic in 2015, Moab also features the Sand Flats Recreation Area. Here, mountain bikers (this writer included) navigate the world-famous Slickrock and Porcupine Rim trails across 200 million-year-old petrified sand dunes from the Jurassic Period. The 9,000-acre expanse also includes 40 miles of Jeep trails.

Longtime local operator Western Spirit Cycling rents equipment and leads guided tours such as the four-day trip along Canyonlands’ iconic White Rim Trail. (My week-long unguided White Rim biking odyssey remains a top lifetime experience.)

Founded in 1966, Salt Lake City-based Holiday River Expeditions offers white-water rafting and mountain biking expeditions in the area (and elsewhere in Utah, plus neighboring states), plus specialty trips such as stargazing and “Balance and Flow” programs based on mindfulness, wild yoga, vegan wellness and other themes.

Set on 160 acres of open ranch land along the Colorado River near Moab, the secluded 59-room, conference-capable Sorrel River Ranch Resort and Spa offers body treatments such as “Hiker’s Heaven” and “Desert Rain Soak.” The property is also available for group buyouts of 220 people.

Given the Moab area’s overall limited bed base, larger groups should plan conferences, trips and other bookings at least a year out.

The St. George area combines proximity to another sensational national park—Zion—with year-round golf and the Dixie Center, its 46,000-square-foot column-free exhibit hall, and 19 meeting rooms flexibly hosting conventions of up to 5,000 delegates.

Offering versatile event spaces that include a 100-person conference room, Green Valley Spa is globally recognized for unique healing treatments such as “Energetics, Frequencies and ‘The Vibes Of Life.’” Just north of St. George, highly acclaimed Red Mountain Resort features the Sagestone Spa, surrounded by the red rock splendor of Snow Canyon State Park.   

With a base elevation of 9,800 feet and peak elevation of 11,300 feet, Brian Head, near Cedar City, is billed as America’s “Highest Resort Town.” With a yearly average snowfall of 360 inches, the resort’s two connected mountains, Giant Steps and Navajo, feature 71 ski runs and over 650 acres of available terrain. With group space for 45 people, The Grand Lodge at Brian Head’s Red Leaf Spa takes relaxation to new heights, offering seasonal spa services at 9,600 feet.

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