One week ago today, Mountain Trek's program director Kirkland Shave stood in front of a crowd of CEOs, venture capitalists and millionaires in midtown Manhattan and accepted a "World's Best" award, without any socks on.
Travel + Leisure magazine had invited him to New York City, along with other winners of the World's Best Awards for 2016, so as to bestow him with a trophy to take back to Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat and Health spa that read #1 International Destination Spa. It was an honour that came from scoring 98.13 out of 100, the highest of any destination spa around the globe. And, for those who know Kirkland, it's not surprising to hear he went barefoot for most of the ceremony (although he did don a pair of shoes when he got up on stage.)
We sat down with Kirkland to learn more about what the event was like, how he felt in a room full of powerful business people and what the #1 International Destination Spa award means for Mountain Trek.
Thanks for taking the time for this, Kirkland. We've seen a lot of photos from the event and we have to ask, did you go barefoot the whole time?
(Laughs) I did wear shoes when I went up on stage to accept the award but most of the time I went barefoot. I'm just more comfortable that way.
What was your first reaction when you heard Mountain Trek had won the Travel + Leisure Award?
To be honest I didn’t even understand the ramifications when I first heard about it. I thought we had been placed on another top ten list and we're kind of used to that so it felt good but it didn't totally sink in. It wasn't until I learned about Travel + Leisure's premiere rating system and how well respected these awards oh that I said, "Oh my god, how did our tiny little destination retreat even get on their radar?"
You can definitely thank past guests for that. They voted and said such glowing things the Travel + Leisure voting committee couldn't help but take notice.
Absolutely and for that I feel an immense sense of gratitude towards our guests because without them voting for us, we wouldn't have received the #1 designation.
Tell us about the event in New York City.
I was amazed at the different companies that were represented in the room. The best cruise line, airline, hotel – they were all high-end businesses! And here’s little Mountain Trek ranking #1 with them all. I kept shaking my head and thinking, "Is this real?" We were on the 20th floor of a luxury hotel in midtown Manhattan and there were people in full regalia serving us. Tonnes of catering too! But there wasn’t a huge crowd because only the number ones were invited to attend and of those, only one person could attend.
How were you received?
A most curious thing occurred to me when I was there: I realized I was the only person in attendance who was a service provider. Everyone else I met were owners or CEOs or venture capitalists from companies that owned cruise lines or hotels. They weren’t guides or instructors or anything like that. It was super corporate. There were even goverment dignitaries from around the world representing cities that had won. I felt a little like the odd man out and my suit definitely wasn’t quite as high quality as the others I saw. It wasn’t Gucci.
Does any moment stand out for you about the event?
I met the guy who started Rancho La Puerta and who used to own the Golden Door Spa Resort. Today he owns a high-end hotel but he told me something that really stuck with me – he said he was really touched by the service we, and other retreats, provide. He recognizes that people need this. When he owned those spas, he'd see people arrive at his door and they were at breaking points in their lives. They were totally unhealthy and resorts such as ours give back and help them feel whole again. It's karmic payback he said and he was really proud of Mountain Trek for that reason.
What was your favourite part?
I think it was the overall sense of pride I felt for our entire staff. I was the one who was fortunate enough to attend the ceremony and represent our organization but I'm one small part of an amazing team, not the owner of a team, and so I felt really proud for all of us. It really is one of the biggest affirmations for our staff in terms of the service they provide. The TripAdvisor testimonials we get are excellent and ongoing but to have a nine-person panel of experts on the Travel + Leisure Awards committee recognize us for our high quality of service is amazing. We’re not just a little ma and pa operation somewhere – we're world-class guides, instructors and service providers.
Why do you think Mountain Trek won #1 International Destination Spa?
We've been doing our health reset program for almost two decades and we've proven it works for people. The way we provide it and the quality of the program itself stands head and shoulders above other types of programs. Plus we offer it in the Kootenay mountains – one of the most beautiful areas of the world. And it should be said that we're the only destination retreat that's created its own Habits to Health app to help people achieve their health goals even when they're at home. That's the type of thing that sets Mountain Trek apart.
To book a stay at Mountain Trek Fitnress Retreat and Health Spa (the #1 International Destination Spa according to Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards) call today at 1-800-661-5161 or visit our "Book Now" page. We look forward to seeing you.