Wellness has been a major trend in the meetings industry and beyond for the past several years, and it’s being taken to a new level with two properties, one in the Arizona desert and the other in the forest of Northern California. Both are unique yet each allows groups to immerse themselves as much as desired in an all-encompassing atmosphere of well-being centered on both physical and spiritual wellness and personal development, all while enjoying some of the most innovative spaces around.

Civana, set in the desert town of Carefree, Arizona, is the first sustainable wellness resort in Greater Phoenix/Scottsdale, while 1440 Multiversity is set amid the majestic redwoods of Scotts Valley, California, in Santa Cruz County.

Civana Provides Sustainable and Affordable Group Wellness

Cafe Metro Fire Pit, Civana

Cafe Meto fire pit, Civana 

Civana is the vision of a group of seasoned spa industry veterans who formed a new real estate and luxury resort company focused on sustainable design and affordable wellness. Civana debuted in March after a $40 million adaptive reuse of the former Carefree Resort and Conference Center.

With the belief that most people are on a personal journey toward health, life balance and well-being, Civana’s mission is to bring a complete, brand-new wellness experience to a larger travel audience, including groups, at a more accessible price point, according to Rianna Riego, chief brand and wellness officer for Civana.

“Civana is the next-generation wellness brand,” Riego said. “There are about 22 million households that are considered wellness-conscious, who shop at places like Whole Foods, take supplements, exercise regularly, etc. But really only 10 percent of those households are served by the Miravals and Canyon Ranches of the world because those are the only people who can afford it.

“I can’t afford to go to those places, but I can afford to go to Civana because of the model—all of the activities and enrichment programs are included at a very attractive price, but nothing is forced upon guests during the experience,” she added.

The philosophy of the resort is based on four pillars: Healthy Cuisine, Movement, Healing Arts/Spa and Discovery & Enrichments Arts.

“We have daily hikes, all sorts of yoga—wall, aerial, chair, vinyasa—meditation classes, juicing sessions, culinary demos, spiritual classes such as angel card readings and spirit animal sessions, creative classes focusing on art or music, and a host of fitness offerings, such as TRX and spin,” she said, adding that there are currently 9-12 complimentary programs offered daily, and the options will continue to expand.

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For groups, Riego said the beauty is that they are offered a complimentary private session, whether that is yoga or meditation or hiking, before their meeting, then they can also book private customized classes for an extra charge, and individual attendees can take advantage of the complimentary classes and programs throughout their stay.

“We’ve created this place where people can feel comfortable and not threatened,” she said. “And we’re not labeling anything. We’re going to meet you where you are on your wellness journey.”

Riego said so far, meeting planners are loving the experience because it gives them a unique opportunity to plan at a property that has specialized in meetings for 10-plus years but now offers a completely revamped environment that also enables them to incorporate wellness on so many different levels.

“The great thing is planners can now set themselves apart by saying to the company, ‘We’re going to do this at Civana, and by the way, if your people want to do a guided yoga session or hike before the meeting, or if attendees want to immerse themselves in personal enrichment programs, it doesn’t cost them anything,” she said. “They can experience an immersive wellness resort, maybe stay an extra night and maybe even bring their spouse.”

Civana can accommodate groups of up to 220 with 189 guest rooms and more than 10,000 square feet of meeting space.

According to Riego, the property truly sets itself apart with its state-of-the-art fitness center and healthy cuisine, having appointed Justin Macy, formerly with Miraval, as its executive corporate chef.

Civana's fitness center features top-of-the line cardio, strength and flexibility equipment. Civana is also among the first resorts to feature Aktiv Virtual®, an on demand digital kiosk that provides personalized workouts and expert-level coaching. The Yoga & Energy Center houses a studio with wall yoga and aerial yoga capabilities, a movement/spin room and two other flexible movement studios. The outdoor Yoga Lawn provides mountain vistas for sunrise and sunset programs.

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In advance of launching its new cutting-edge, 22,000-square-foot spa—complete with a healing water Terme, Watsu and lap pool, solar energy and water harvesting features—in December, a smaller spa with a full package of treatments is offered.

Civana’s culinary program is all about giving guests choices and offering highly nutritious dishes for every diet, including gluten-free, grain-free, vegetarian and vegan. All food is free of GMOs, hydrogenated fats, hormones and preservatives. Highlights include farm-to-table produce, grass-fed meats and sustainable seafood, in addition to fine wines.

Meanwhile, accommodations were designed to help guests relax and recharge, with an uncluttered environment, natural materials and plenty of light.

“People will really see we’re very mindful about our intention, and we want to make sure that on every touchpoint, the guest walks away feeling healthier than they did before they came, and that includes those coming for a meeting,” Riego said. 

1440 Multiversity Takes Groups Into a Calming Forest

Sanctuary, 1440 Multiversity

The Sanctuary, 1440 Multiversity (Credit: Lori Tenny) 

There’s an immediate sense of calm that overcomes you the minute you make the turn into 1440 Multiversity. Redwood trees tower above, an empowering waterfall flows over boulders, and craftsmen-style buildings exude a sense of peaceful coexistence with the nature surrounding them.

Named for the 1440 minutes in a day, the property, formerly the Bethany College campus, was completely reimagined and redeveloped, opening last year as a new learning-meets-vacation-meets-retreat destination, hosting more than 500 private and programmed immersive learning experiences annually.

1440 Multiversity was founded by Scott Kriens, former CEO of Juniper Networks, and his wife, Joanie, as a place for people to relax, reflect, bond and spend time with great teachers in a beautiful 75-acre setting.

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The campus, which has 275 guest units ranging from sleeping pods to rooms and suites, was designed as a place for individuals, couples, groups, and corporations to experience time differently—exploring what matters to them while indulging in fresh air, locally sourced food and countless opportunities to unwind, recharge and connect with nature and others.

That could mean hiking the quiet redwood trails, taking yoga, tai chi, qigong and meditation classes, enjoying the nutritious and imaginative cuisine at Kitchen Table or taking a cooking class, all included in the nightly rate. Meanwhile, guests and groups can buy into programs by renowned thought leaders, which have included author Elizabeth Gilbert, singer Alanis Morissette, Harvard-trained neuroscientist Richard Davidson and meditation experts like Sharon Salzberg.

For corporate groups, 1440 Multiversity aims to help teams find the space to expand their creativity, deepen relationships, reduce stress and solve business problems. The places in which to do just that include the redwood trails, the inviting rest areas and fire pits of the campus, and 14 classrooms totaling over 25,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, including Redwood Auditorium, which can accommodate up to 700 people with state-of-the-art technology and no airwalls.

One of the most memorable options is The Cathedral, an outdoor venue set at the bottom of the redwood forest with several rows of wooden benches set on an incline overlooking a small stage.

The opening of 1440 Multiversity has diversified the wellness offerings in Santa Cruz County, an important topic for the destination, according to Laura Manriquez, director of sales and marketing for Santa Cruz County.

“Their model is takes it a step up in terms of the classes and leadership offerings, and they are really honing in on that niche market,” she said. “It’s beautiful, serene and off-the-grid, and it definitely is helping to bring awareness to Scotts Valley.”