Tips & Advice

Get Tips and Advice from the guides at Mountain Trek. Nutrition, Hiking, Sleep, Detox and Fitness are just some of the topics we cover.

Creative Ways to Mother Yourself

This Mother’s Day, we invite you to think of the word mother as a verb (“to mother”), versus a noun. Why? Mothering transcends the female–you’re mothered by anyone (or thing) who offers you acceptance, nourishment, instruction, and empowerment.

By detaching motherhood from any particular person, you’ll begin to notice where you could personally use more mothering. Be curious when you’re feeling unlovable, empty, anxious, helpless, scared, or incapable. Clear answers hint at your need to patch yourself together a new kind of mother that nurtures your unmet needs. To help you understand which areas you may be neglecting, try our Balanced Wellness Questionnaire, a self-assessment tool designed to help you step back and survey, at a high-level, how your health is balanced across your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs.

Mothering Can Come from Nourishing Experiences

After a week in our award-winning program, many of our guests learn nature is the mother and that hiking is the mothering they need at this time; exploring trails enriches their being in a way they’ve never before felt. The trees wake up their mind. The rivers refresh their soul.

Kirkland Shave, Mountain Trek’s Program Director, says, “When we’re on the treadmill of life, we lose track of the wounded child in each of us, and we need to take a break to not only acknowledge our unmet needs, but to reflect on how we can self-care.” He continues, “The need to be mothered doesn’t disappear with age, and the real work is done when we learn how to parent ourselves.”  

Top two ways to mother yourself in adulthood

  1. Play and wonder. Open your senses through new tastes and activities. Experience what it’s like to try something for the first time again. Take a ballroom dancing class, or try that funky-colored fruit you always bypass.
  2. Free your emotions. Deeply connect with yourself by letting go of the notion that adults should always be strong and unaffected. The Stiff Upper Lip syndrome only leads to disconnection, and disconnection only leads to feeling lost and neglected. Laugh, cry, go in for energy-releasing bodywork treatments: do whatever you need to do to tap into your raw feelings.  

As the grandfather of many toddlers, Kirkland feels mothered when he’s playing with his grandchildren. Making forts out of pillows and towers out of blocks, he’s able to nurture his creativity and connect with his desire to live boundlessly.

Other ways to mother yourself this Mother’s Day

  • Create a comforting bedtime routine
  • Take a break from social media (because the unfair comparisons are driving your anxiety)
  • Get fresh air
  • Eat nourishing foods
  • Meditate
  • Say nice, encouraging things to yourself in the mirror
  • Do puzzles, and other mind-challenging activities
  • Keep cozy comforts easily accessible, like a basket of fuzzy socks by the door for when you take your shoes off upon returning home
  • Journal, in a free-flowing stream-of-consciousness style
  • Listen to uplifting music
  • Make yourself a nice drink (like our Lemon Ginger Tea) and sip it slowly
  • Plan a special one-on-one date with yourself
  • Build a cozy fort to relax in, equipped with a book, movie, snacks, you name it   

You mother, we mother, he mothers, she mothers, they mother. The ocean mothers, and the mountains mother. Pets mother, and travel mothers. Look beyond the female who raised you to acknowledge all the different ways you are mothered and can be mothered. Open yourself up to new perspectives and opportunities, and embrace the ability to meet your needs in a myriad of ways. Seek comfort in the potential. You are not alone. You are not stuck.

To realize a new kind of mothering, consider a week or two-week-long stay with Mountain Trek. The Mountain Trek program provides a space for you to not only feel deeply mothered but to seek out the mothering you may be lacking. We provide a safe and healthful environment, teach the important rules and roles of life through our lectures on stress, detox, sleep, nutrition, and fitness, and we meet your emotional needs with our empathy. Our program will uncover a new ability within you to grow, heal, and show up for your life as fully as you can.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is an award-winning health retreat located in the lush forests of British Columbia, Canada. Founded in 1991, our health reset program helps 16 guests at a time unplug, recharge, reconnect with nature, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

 

How To Offset The Carbon Footprint Of Your Flights

passenger jet flying overhead through a hole in the trees

Humans have an insatiable curiosity — that’s one of many things that makes our species so special. However, the advent of highly-accessible air travel, where it often takes less than a day and $1,000 to place your body on the literal opposite side of the world, has quickly become the largest—by a vast margin—contribution individuals have on climate change. If you’re interested in offsetting the carbon from your flights, you’ve come to the right place.

It’s been calculated that in order to curtail global warming, each human can emit up to 3 metric tonnes of carbon each year—an annual “allowance” of sorts. That’s 3,000 kilograms or 6,600 pounds—of a gas that’s not much heavier than air…to put that into perspective, and assuming an endless gas tank, you could turn your combustion engine car on right now, walk away, and return 68 days later and just be using up the last drop of your allowance. Seems like a lot, right? Unfortunately, when it comes to air travel, it’s not. One roundtrip ticket from LAX to JFK, sitting in coach class, eats up a whopping 43% of this annual allowance. And if you decided to treat yourself and fly business class, your annual allowance is entirely spent (2.5 coach seats can be put in the same space as one business class seat,  multiplying the impact of flying business).

Even if flying coach, you likely drive to and from work, your kid’s school, grocery store, hardware store, out for dinner, etc., and presumably, like any reasonable human, you like to take hot showers, heat your house in the winter, cool it in the summer, and store food in your refrigerator and freezer. These essential activities consume every last molecule of your annual allowance. Even if you’re already driving an EV, there’s a carbon footprint attached to your electricity, which is still predominantly generated by burning coal and natural gas. So unless you’re living off your own solar panels and wind turbine, you’ll have to wait another 365 days to fly again. How likely is that? It’s not. So what do you do?

Before moving on, let’s address the elephant in the room. Ceasing air travel altogether. Would this help? absolutely. Is it realistic? Not really. Remember how humans have an insatiable curiosity? When any desire is stifled, a slew of mental health issues can arise, like irritability, melancholy, and lethargy. Basically, you are grumpy, which brings up a greater question about living life in the first place. It’s clear air travel isn’t going anywhere, so we’re best off finding ways to do it sustainably, which will allow us to feed our desire to see and experience the world and all of its majesty, without destroying it in the process.

Reduce What Needs to Be Offset in the First Place

Reducing the average annual miles flown per person will significantly move the needle, but this doesn’t mean we need to reduce our vacation days. One great option is to take fewer, longer trips, as the travel to and from the destination is typically 90+% of the entire footprint for a trip. Said differently, taking two (2) week-long trips is almost twice as impactful as taking one (1) two-week trip. So with just one adjustment, we can still take the same amount of vacation, but have half the impact. This type of travel, now being labeled as “slow travel”, is a large-dial change. Yes, you need to plan to be away from work for longer, but having additional motivation to wrap up loose ends and better prepare those around you to step up in your absence is often a good exercise to practice anyway.

What’s wonderful about longer trips is that they afford a much greater opportunity to experience your location deeply, fully savoring the culture, food, and people. Lately, we have been calling this type of travel “mindful travel”, and have been designing more experiences like this for our community. Slowing down, being present, and immersing in the region or experience you’ve made such an effort to get to will satiate your need for travel more deeply than quickly bouncing from place to place mindlessly ticking off checkboxes. This “travel satiety” will quench your inner desires and needs such that upon returning home, you won’t immediately feel the urge to start planning the next adventure. Therefore, even if your next big air-travel-based vacation isn’t slated until next year, it won’t seem so painfully far away.

Taking more local weekend getaways and fewer air-travel trips is another big step in the right direction, and can keep your lust for bigger flight-based travel at bay. For the ultimate low-footprint excursion, consider renting an EV and exploring within the 300-mile radius it affords (again, note that not all electricity is created equally. For instance, Colorado still generates more than half of its electricity from coal, with another quarter coming from natural gas). Or, hop on a train, ideally electric, which has one of the lowest emission footprints per traveler. You will likely be surprised by how much there is to explore right in your own backyard!

Calculate Your Emissions

Once you know your itinerary, it’s actually quite easy to calculate your emissions. Lots of online calculators, like this one from carbonfootprint.com, have sprung up that can help you understand your share of emissions for the flights, car trips, buses, and even trains you take throughout your vacation. Simply input your travel details and it will spit out an estimated amount of metric tons of CO2 for your trip, aka your “footprint”.

Often, time is our most precious, and limited resource, so calculating the carbon of your travel each and every time could be the hurdle that prevents you from doing so. If doing this each and every trip seems overwhelming, do one year-end review where you sum up all of your miles flown, and if possible, miles driven. If you travel a lot, just these two numbers will be 90+% of your individual footprint, which if offset, will make a massive difference.

Offset The Carbon Emissions of Your Flights

Once you’ve decided to travel, especially by air, and have calculated your footprint, consider offsetting your share of the emissions. If you’re reading this article, you’ve likely explored this in the past, and have equally as likely found that there are wildly varying and confusing methods for doing so. A lot of airlines are now offering the ability to add offsets to the purchase of your ticket, but don’t be fooled by the seemingly reasonable dollar amounts (i.e. $27 for that roundtrip LAX -> JFK ticket). In the nascent world of offsetting carbon, airlines are taking one extreme end of the spectrum, often simply purchasing carbon credits, which is fuzzy math at best, or passing funds onto what are called “low durability” solutions such as tree planting. Don’t get us wrong, planting trees is wonderful, and we absolutely need to regenerate our forests to curtail climate change. Unfortunately, however, natural solutions like tree planting are low “durability” because as soon as a planted or protected tree is ignited in a forest fire (which the likelihood of happening is increasing every year with global warming), all of the carbon that tree sucked up, or “sequestered”, (i.e. the emissions from your flight) is immediately released back to the atmosphere… And at the end of a tree’s life, during the decomposition process, most of the carbon stored will be released back into the atmosphere anyway (1/3 of all global carbon emissions come from the “deadwood” in forests!). Again, trees are 100% a part of the solution, they just can’t be 100% the solution.

On the other end of the spectrum, you could pay for “high durability” offsets, such as Direct Air Capture, which literally sucks carbon dioxide directly out of the air and places it deep underground where it once came from, and will stay for thousands of years. However, at today’s rates, you would need to spend at least $1,500 to offset your roundtrip LAX->JFK ticket, which is likely much more than the ticket cost itself. That’s unfeasible to most, meaning it’s not a sustainable solution either.

With as much air travel as our retreat requires to get to, and with our mission to heal both people and planet, we think about striking a sustainable balance quite often. We also think about what might actually get adopted. After months of research, we’ve landed on a formula that we feel is both impactful, approachable, and reasonable for most individuals, giving it a chance of actually doing some good. Note: we fully expect this formula to evolve as new technologies emerge and offset costs decrease (so stay tuned!).

The 747 Formula

We’ve created the “7-4-7” formula (yes, a pun on the Boeing 747), which breaks your carbon offset into three categories, all of which have their pros and cons, but combined, strike a balance that is effective and approachable, increasing the likelihood of adoption. The first two categories are based on the “durability” of the solution as defined by Microsoft’s Corporate Sustainability Group, whose effort to not only fundamentally understand and report on their impact on climate change, but take a strong stance in reversing it, has been a cornucopia of knowledge, while the final category focuses on awareness and education, vital components in solving this little conundrum we’ve gotten ourselves into.

Immediately remove 7% of your emissions with Direct Air Capture

Direct Air Capture can sequester carbon for thousands of years, literally sucking carbon dioxide out of the air and putting it deep in the ground where it originally came from. This “engineered” technology is as close to a permanent solution as possible, making it extremely resilient and earning the label of “high durability”. Pulling air via massive industrial fans through filters to capture and process carbon dioxide and then placing it thousands of feet underground is expensive to operate, but it’s the most effective solution available to immediately reverse the emissions we cause and needs to be a part of any offset strategy. This component kickstarts your offset nicely and immediately removes 7% of your emissions.

Offset Option:

Climeworks—$1.30 per kg of CO2 removed. Founded in 2009 in Switzerland, Climeworks has developed state-of-the-art technology for directly removing carbon from the atmosphere at scale. Climeworks provide a calculator on their website, making the calculation of this contribution straightforward.

Example: Our economy seat going from LAX to JFK and back is responsible for 1300 kg of emissions. 7% of this is 91kg, meaning $120 USD needs to be paid to immediately pull those 91 kgs of carbon out of the atmosphere.

Plant 4 trees for every hour you travel

Tree planting is defined as a “low durability” solution—an initiative that sequesters carbon for less than 100 years and has inherent reversal risks (such as trees burning prematurely). The math of offsetting carbon emissions with tree planting is extremely difficult to nail down. One mature tree will absorb roughly 50 lbs or 22 kg of carbon dioxide each year, but how long that tree lives before it burns or begins to decay and emit sequestered carbon right back into the atmosphere is a complete unknown. It also takes 20-30 years for a tree to mature, so this solution kicks the can down the road quite a bit. Fortunately, planting trees is the cheapest carbon offset option available, so we feel it’s best to just vastly overshoot this component of your contribution, and calculate based on how many mature trees it would take to sequester your emissions in one year, aiming to offset 63% of your travel’s emissions over time.

Offset Options:

One Tree Planted—$1 USD per tree.

The Nature Conservancy—$1.50-$3 USD per tree.

Example: Our economy seat going from LAX to JFK and back would take 12 hours of air travel and is responsible for 1300 kg of emissions. 63% of this is 819kg, which would take 48 mature trees to sequester over the course of one year, or 4 trees for each of the 12 hours flown. This would cost $48 through One Tree Planted.

Donate $7 for every hour you travel to awareness & education initiatives

The amount of information and misinformation flying around us at all times is dizzying and causes serious climate change confusion. Knowledge is the ultimate power, so it must be a part of the solution. While awareness and education don’t pull carbon out of the air directly, they certainly help reduce how much is emitted in the first place, which is actually the quickest solution to our problem. This element is extremely hard to quantify, but this donation needs to eventually offset 30% of your emissions. We have interpolated between the other two solutions to arrive at our recommended donation amount of $7 per every hour you travel.

Offset Options:

Project Drawdown

Kiss The Ground

Example: Our economy seat going from LAX to JFK and back would take 12 hours of air travel. We should donate $84 to climate change awareness and education to aid in offsetting future emissions.

Should we pay now or make our children pay later?

In total, our roundtrip LAX-JFK economy ticket costs $252 USD to offset (as of 2023), over 10x what the airlines suggest. This may seem like a hefty sum to add on top of the ticket cost, but that’s kind of the point. Flying is costly to the environment, so either we pay now, or our kids and grandchildren pay dearly in the future. It’s our choice. Remember, if you choose to travel above and beyond your allowance, offset your emissions with the 747 formula, immediately pulling 7% of your emissions back out of the air via direct air capture, planting 4 trees for each hour traveled, and donating $7 for each hour you travel to awareness and education non-profits.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is an award-winning health retreat located in the lush forests of British Columbia, Canada. Founded in 1991, our health reset program helps 16 guests at a time unplug, recharge, reconnect with nature, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about Mountain Trek, and how we can help reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

BEST KOOTENAY HIKES | MOUNTAIN TREK’S STAFF PICKS

spring-hiking

One of the key features of the Mountain Trek experience is hiking in nature. Our beautiful lodge in Ainsworth, British Columbia, is surrounded by the majestic, snow-capped peaks of the Purcell and Selkirk Mountain ranges. The area is replete with ghost towns, mossy trails, and clear-flowing streams that feed the stunning, 100-kilometer long Kootenay Lake.

So as homage to the abundant nature that surrounds us, we share our favorite Kootenay hikes. These hikes are meant to challenge and motivate you, get your heart rate up, and set your spirit soaring.

MONICA MEADOWS

fall-monica-meadows-hike

There are fewer trails in the world that offer such relatively easy access for such a great pay off. Monica Meadows, located in the Purcell Mountain Range, is one of the most stunning locations in southern British Columbia. With vast meadows, shallow lakes, vibrant larches, gorgeous alpine flowers, and views of the surrounding peaks and ridges. Monica Meadows is a haven of calm beauty encircled by rocky mountains. An 8-kilometer hike from the trailhead, through cool forests, and along boulder-strewn pathways will get you there in no time so we can rest, enjoy the views and even go swimming before our return.

IDAHO PEAK

Looking-out-from-Idaho-Peak

This is a moderate hike that takes you to some of the best views and most abundant wildflowers in southern British Columbia. We begin our hike at the ghost town of Sandon, then wind our way up along old mining trails and logging paths before reaching the viewpoint. Once there you’ll enjoy gazing down at the town of New Denver on Slocan Lake below, as well as breathtaking views of New Denver Glacier, the Valhalla Mountain range, Kokanee Glacier, and Mt. Cooper.

EVANS CREEK

From the trailhead at Slocan City, you’ll hike on the undulating, moss-lined trail along the shoreline of Slocan Lake. On the way, you can expect spectacular rocky vantage points, special pockets of flora, and prime swimming spots. Round trip, the Evans hike is approximately 15 km (18 km if we make it to Evans Lake) and includes a lot of Ponderosa pine, juniper, white cedar, and fir trees befitting the drier climate zone. There are some fun rock ledges to clamber out onto to take in the beautiful views up and down the lake. Knowing that the surrounding Valhalla majestic peaks were named after Norse Gods makes the Evans Creek hike that much more mythic.

GALENA TRAIL

This is one of the most popular hikes in the Slocan Valley. The Galena Trail follows the route of a railway line that dates back to the glory days of Silvery Slocan. It once connected the silver mines of Sandon via sternwheeler service from Nakusp to the Canadian Pacific Railway mainline at Revelstoke. The rail beds were abandoned over 100 years ago and Mother Nature has reclaimed much of the existing corridors. This historic trail follows the old railway line, passed the ruins of abandoned mines and ghost towns like Alamo. Occasionally, we’ll even take the two-person cable car crossing over Carpenter Creek along the way.

KOKANEE GLACIER PARK

Kokanee Lake in Kokanee Glacier Park

Located just west of the Mountain Trek Lodge, the beautiful Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park offers an incredible alpine experience with very little effort. The park is one of the oldest in the province and boasts no less than three glaciers, including Kokanee, Caribou, and Woodbury. These glaciers feed over 30 lakes and are the headwaters of many creeks. On a typical hike, we’ll visit two of those lakes, Gibson and Kaslo, with water so clear you’ll be able to watch rainbow and cutthroat trout swimming by. The trail is about 14 kilometers round trip and guests will enjoy views of the surrounding peaks, glaciers, and sub-alpine flower meadows. Depending on the season, we’ll also see eagles, ptarmigan, pikas, marmots, mountain goats, and feast on wild huckleberries.

PILOT PENINSULA

Pilot Peninsula Provincial Park is the safest harbor on Kootenay Lake and is perfect for swimming and hiking. The trail we typically take skirts the shoreline of Kootenay Lake and offers multiple pebble beaches. In fact, Pilot Peninsula is a great start to our week as it’s very flat, with hardly any elevation gain or loss. We won’t bag any peaks on this trail but it’s still an incredible foray into some stunning BC wilderness that includes tall stands of aspen, colorful wildflowers, calm coves, and around every corner, views of the surrounding peaks.

When it comes to healthy living, our philosophies are rooted in nature as well – from our locally sourced, organic meals that nourish your body to the core content of our inspiring lectures, to the many stunning, butt-toning hikes we go on every day. We hope you can join us on some of the best Kootenay hikes.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

EXTRA SERVICES MENU

In addition to the three 50-minute therapeutic massages already included in your program, we offer additional treatments and sessions to enhance your stay.

Please note: Scheduling is based on specialist availability and therefore cannot be guaranteed. We will do our best to accommodate all extra service requests. Prices do not include tax.

2022 SEASON SERVICES & PRICING

DEEP TISSUE THERAPEUTIC MASSAGE
Support your individual healing needs with a therapeutic massage. Engage your mind and body, while focusing your session on chronic areas of contraction or pain, while releasing muscle knots and fascia, liberating joints and mobility.
$150 CAD

THAI MASSAGE
Traditional Thai Massage performed fully clothed on a floor mat and incorporating a combination of deep tissue acupressure and yoga-like stretching. Encouraging lymphatic function, this therapeutic offering will also detoxify the body, strengthen the immune system, and prevent injury.
$150 CAD

ACUPUNCTURE
An alternative medicine modality in which extremely fine needles are used to help relieve pain and inflammation in the body by stimulating the release of chemicals and the body’s natural healing process.
$165 CAD

NUTRITION CONSULTATION
A 50-minute, private session with our Registered Nutritionist, Jenn. Health questions and concerns are reviewed, physical, emotional, and lifestyle factors discussed, and recommendations are given. Please bring a 7-day food diary.
$150 CAD

PRIVATE YOGA SESSION
Enjoy a personalized session focusing on creating your own take-home routine, or deepening your current practice.
$150 CAD

ORGANIC FACIAL
An anti-aging and mineral-rich nourishing facial treatment.
$185 CAD

PERSONAL COUNSELLING SESSION
Enjoy a private 50-minute session with our Registered Clinical Counsellor, Michelle. Whether you’re working through a life transition, relationship issues, depression, anxiety, stress, trauma, grief, addiction, or issues relating to self-image and self-confidence, these client-centered counseling sessions are an opportunity to slow down, become clear, and find ways to resolve current concerns or issues from the past that interfere with living fully in the present.
$200 CAD

NATUROPATHIC HEALTH CONSULTATION
During a 50-minute consultation, Dr. Kimberley will review your health history to help you identify the underlying cause of your symptoms and health concerns. You will leave with a personalized strategy to maximize your health.
$255 CAD

OPTIONAL NATUROPATHIC HEALTH CONSULTATION ADD-ONS:

The above Naturopathic Health Consultation is required to request any of the following add-ons.

FOOD SENSITIVITY TESTING
Common symptoms of food sensitivities include fatigue, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, sinus congestion, headaches, eczema, and joint pain. Immune reactivity to 96 foods can be assessed through an advanced laboratory test that is easily collected via a simple finger-prick blood test.
+$550 CAD
Includes a 30-minute follow up phone consultation 

DUTCH COMPLETE HORMONE AND NEUROTRANSMITTER TESTING
This detailed test assesses your sex and stress hormone levels; including estrogen and its metabolites, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, cortisol, dopamine, adrenaline, melatonin, and more! This test is suitable for both men and women, and it’s especially helpful to pinpoint the cause of anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, weight gain, and PMS or menopausal symptoms
+$650 CAD
Includes a 30-minute follow up phone consultation 

CARDIO-METABOLIC & THYROID TESTING
This test provides a comprehensive assessment of thyroid function. It measures thyroid hormones (TSH, T4, T3) as well as screening for autoimmune reactivity. It also screens for insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, which may be making it difficult for you to lose weight.
+ $600 CAD
Includes a 20-minute follow up phone consultation 

COMPREHENSIVE DIGESTIVE STOOL ANALYSIS
This comprehensive test is paramount to help us pinpoint the cause of digestive symptoms, bloating, skin concerns, autoimmune conditions, and more by providing us with a detailed assessment of your gastrointestinal health. Through advanced laboratory assessment, we are able to evaluate your key markers of digestion, absorption, and inflammation, in addition to assessing for bacterial imbalances, yeast overgrowth, and parasites.
+ $675 CAD
Includes a 20-minute follow up phone consultation

COMPREHENSIVE FULL PACKAGE PRICE
Includes all tests and 2.5 total hours of consultation time with Dr. Kimberley (50-minutes in person at Mountain Trek and the remainder via phone or video-based consultations once you return home).
+ $2,475 CAD


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

A Saturday in Nelson, British Columbia

Nelson BC

While you’ve traveled to beautiful British Columbia to experience our award-winning program and otherworldly hiking trails, Nelson, a little bohemian town located just 45 minutes away from the Mountain Trek lodge, is well worth a visit before, or after, your stay with us.

Also known as “The Queen City,” Nelson boasts an impressive collection of restored heritage buildings from its glory days in a regional silver rush. The downtown area is packed with good restaurants, coffee houses, one-of-a-kind shops, and small art galleries.

Should you take the opportunity to explore our lumber-town-turned-thriving-arts-and-mountain-sports-hotbed, here are some suggestions:

  • Walk up one side of Baker Street and down the other, popping into the unique boutiques and eateries
  • Head uphill from Baker Street into neighborhoods showcasing a mixture of classic Craftsman houses to quaint Victorians
  • Keep heading uphill to The Great Northern Rail Trail for wonderful views of the city and BOB, our Big Orange Bridge that crosses the lake

To fuel your adventure, may we suggest:

  • Oso Negro for locally-roasted coffee, enjoyed in their perennial garden
  • Pitchfork, a farmer-owned restaurant that forages its ingredients from the surrounding wild Kootenay mountains
  • Cantina del Centro for seasonal tacos, tortas, soups, market fresh salads and desserts made in-house and from scratch
  • Red Light Ramen, for, you guessed it, ramen, and house-made kombucha
  • Full Circle Café for a hearty brunch, featuring gluten-free and vegan options
  • Kootenay Co-op for their salad bar and snack selection
  • Sprout for flavorful plant-based foods, including burgers and grain bowls
  • Rel-ish for locally-sourced, organic dishes prepared in their open kitchen

 

To boot, Saturday hosts Nelson’s Farmers’ Market at Cottonwood Falls Park. From 9:30 to 3:00PM, browse the 40+ vendors selling produce, eggs, honey, local natural meats, home-brewed root beer, a great selection of prepared savory and sweet foods, jewelry, artwork,  body wear products, hats, scarves, and so much more. There, treat yourself to some fresh juice while listening to live music–the perfect way to start or end your Mountain Trek trip.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out for more suggestions; the list of things to do and see in Nelson is endless.

Nelson’s Saturday Farmer’s Market in Cottonwood Falls Park

 

 

What Are the Differences Between a Wellness Retreat and a Wellness Resort?

You might hear the terms “wellness retreat” and “wellness resort” used interchangeably, but don’t let that fool you: these destinations are as different as night and day. It’s important to understand the differences between the two when choosing what to book, or even what search terms to use when doing your research, because arriving at a resort when you were hoping for a retreat, or vice versa, may put the final nail in the coffin of your trip before it begins.

So what are the differences between a wellness retreat and a wellness resort? And how do you know which is the right choice for you? There is no quick answer, so let’s break it down…

By definition, a retreat means “a place of refuge, seclusion, or privacy.” At its core, that’s exactly what a wellness retreat is: a place to escape from the stresses of daily life and the ever present demands of technology and obligations. It gives you an opportunity to connect with yourself and focus on your needs free from any other worries.

Activities and meals are usually included in your reservation package and follow a set schedule, even down to what day and time you arrive or depart. The retreat will often have a particular focus area, like perhaps yoga, strength training, or weight loss, and is usually geared toward a final outcome: helping you achieve whatever goal you had in mind when booking the retreat.

The retreat begins the moment you arrive- many have a “no phones” policy to help you decompress and detach from the outside world (because honestly, most of us need a break from our phones from time to time and need a little external push to make that happen). Activities and meals vary between retreats, but most wellness retreats prepare meals to encourage a healthy lifestyle and detox from caffeine, alcohol, refined sugar, and processed foods. Which as an added benefit, also assists with weight loss.

Activities could include things like hiking, yoga, cardio classes, meditation, sound baths, massages, cooking classes, workshops, and any other activity that could help you recharge and rejuvenate. Healing takes place when you make changes from within, and that is exactly what happens when you attend a wellness retreat- you leave the retreat a different person than the one who arrived. All while under the guidance of trained professionals in a distraction-free environment.

Some of the key benefits of attending a wellness retreat are:

  • The opportunity to do a full mental and physical reset- the retreat takes you out of your regular life and gives you the chance to start fresh
  • Guests see faster results because it is the only thing they have to worry about during their stay- the focus is completely on you and your journey due to the smaller staff to guest ratio
  • Having the help of trained professionals takes the guesswork out of creating a healthier lifestyle and losing weight
  • The seclusion of the retreat makes it easier to be fully present and just focus on attaining your goals
  • Guests sometimes have the support of the retreat staff long after their stay is over to give them the best chance of continuing their health journey

So then what is a wellness resort? While there are some similarities such as the focus on living a healthy lifestyle, detoxing, and rejuvenation, there are a few notable differences. First and foremost, a wellness resort doesn’t seek to separate you from your regular life. Rather the focus is on integrating your regular life with wellness practices. They don’t seek to achieve a full system reset or jumpstart a healthier lifestyle, but instead strive to help you relax and maybe learn some new habits you can take home with you.

They also function more like a typical resort- you experience the trip on your own time, and often meals and activities aren’t included with your stay and must be purchased separately. But with that comes more flexibility; eat when you’re hungry, sleep in however long you want, book spa treatments when you want them, or venture off-site to do some exploring. Or do literally nothing if that’s what you want. You set the schedule, you make the rules. The goal is to soothe the spirit, rejuvenate the body, and enrich the mind…however you see fit.

Some key benefits of a wellness resort are:

  • Flexibility- arrive when you want, stay however long you want, and do whatever you want
  • A more relaxed approach to building new healthy habits- no pressure to exercise if you really don’t want to
  • Staying connected with the “real world”- makes it easy to see how your new healthy habits will work with your regular routines
  • Leave feeling relaxed and rejuvenated with tools to continue your wellness journey back home

The biggest differences between a wellness retreat and a wellness resort are structure, intensity, and level of seclusion from the outside world. How quickly do you want to see results? How much guidance and support do you want or need? To what degree are you looking to detox and reset your life? How unplugged from “normal” life do you want to be? How focused do you want to be on your wellness journey? These are just a few of the questions you should ask when trying to decide which one is right for you.

Retreats provide the opportunity to stop everything you are doing and start fresh. At a resort, regular life continues, but you focus on your health more than you normally would at home. Humans are heavily impacted by their environment, so retreats help guests escape from their usual urban settings and connect with the healing powers of nature. Many resorts also strive to do this as well, but maintain some connection with the outside world.

According to Earl Miller, a neuroscientist at MIT, constant external stimulation and multitasking have been found to increase the production of cortisol (the stress hormone) and adrenaline, which leads to an overstimulated brain and mental fog. When retreats ask you to unplug they remove that temptation, providing an opportunity for increased mindfulness and clarity. Retreats tend to be more goal oriented, regimented, and structured, with a focus on targeting underlying issues to help guests change their behavior.

Resorts function more as a quick fix or band-aid- they make you feel better during your stay, but the results don’t usually last. Support from the staff ends when your stay ends. Retreats are a long term investment for your well being whereas resorts are for the present.

There are a few other terms that could come up in this context and it’s worth taking a quick look at what those mean too. For example:

  • Health retreat: a multi-day destination that focuses on providing guests a complete and balanced guided rejuvenation of body and mind 
  • Health spa: a place you go to exercise and take part in activities that are thought to be good for your health such as massage, exercise, and time in spa amenities like; steam room, sauna, soaking bath/hot tub/jacuzzi, and cold plunge.
  • Health vacation: self-supported travel designed around health-focused intentions
  • Wellness tourism: a division of the tourism industry geared towards marketing natural assets and healthy activities to wellness travelers
  • Wellness travel: travel that specifically provides the opportunity to maintain or create a healthy lifestyle and enhance a sense of well-being
  • Wellness vacation/holiday: self-supported travel designed around wellness-focused intentions 
  • Wellness destination: a geographical area that promotes and fosters wellness within the community and economics
  • Day spa: a place a person visits just for the day to receive spa treatments such as massages and facials

There’s a good deal of overlap between all of the terms and they all fall under the overall umbrella of “wellness”- it really just comes down to personal preference. Knowing yourself, knowing your body, and knowing which style will give you the best results for whatever you seek. These destinations are definitely not one-size-fits-all.

So how do you know if you need a wellness retreat over a resort? There are many different reasons that a person might seek out a wellness retreat, either for their physical or mental wellbeing. Or maybe they just want to go on a healthy vacation and meet like minded individuals. But some common reasons that draw attendees to wellness retreats are:

  • Feeling like your health is out of control, and need external support and motivation to reset and get back on track.
  • Tired and exhausted all the time, and no amount of sleep is helping
  • Overwhelmed with stress and life, feeling like you can’t catch up and are just going through the motions instead of thriving
  • Feeling stuck in a rut, wishing your life was different but are unsure how to break free and get where you want to be
  • Trauma healing- have just gone through something horrific and need to get away from everything for a while to focus on mental and physical healing
  • Finding your life purpose, knowing you are meant for something better but can’t figure out what that is
  • At a crossroads, whether that is retirement, a new job, or a death in the family
  • Getting in touch with yourself, feeling like somewhere along the way you forgot who you are and want to feel like “you” again
  • Dependents are finally out of the house and it feels like time to be selfish again
  • Wanting to create healthier habits/get in shape/lose weight and need a little help
  • Seeking time to reflect, renew, and restore without the distractions of regular life

A wellness resort is the best choice when you are looking for something with less structure and more freedom, in the way most of us think of the term “vacation”. If you get there and decide you just want to sleep in and relax by a pool, that is ok. And it’s also ok if you want to keep busy every second of your stay and pack your days with exercise, hiking, spa treatments, sightseeing, and whatever else strikes your fancy. The wellness aspect is there if you want it, but you can also opt out. This is a good choice if you are very self motivated and normally happy with where you are with your health, but just need a little break. Or are curious about the health and wellness lifestyle. You aren’t looking to make any major changes in your daily habits or lose weight or detox…you just want to escape for a while, but in a healthy way. And maybe learn some new good habits while you’re there.

Wellness retreats and wellness resorts both have their place and attending either will be a rejuvenating experience. When it comes to choosing which way to go, it just comes down to what you are hoping to gain from the experience. Looking to refresh your spirit, unwind, relax, and detox on your own? A wellness resort is a good choice for you. Looking for a more supportive experience to reset your health? Then a wellness retreat is the right call.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Health Spa Guide

 

Time spent in a health spa can truly change your life, but only if what you book is in fact the experience you’re seeking. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when bombarded by choices and multitudes of information online, so we’re here to help break it down for you. After all, it’s important to know all the facts when it comes to making choices for you and your body.

If you’ve heard the term “health spa” in the past and felt a twinge of curiosity flicker deep down somewhere, you’ve come to the right place. This article—a guide rather—will help you fully understand what a health spa is (and how they differ from a “day spa”), the benefits you can expect from attending one, how to find the right one for you, and offer you a list of the best health spas in the world right now.

What is a Health Spa?

If you were to look in either the Merriam-Webster or Cambridge dictionary, you’d see definitions that date back to the 60’s, when the term first appeared. However, a lot has changed in the last 60+ years. Today, as the entire “wellness tourism” market explodes, and hundreds of niche variations surface, from yoga retreat to fasting retreat, an update of the term is needed.

A health spa is a multi-day destination retreat or resort that focuses on providing guests a complete and balanced rejuvenation of body and mind, often layering physical fitness activities (like hiking, yoga, and exercise), eating clean food, detoxification and stress reduction practices, spiritual inspiration, and even sleep support and educational seminars, on top of a traditional spa experience (steam room, sauna, jacuzzi, cold plunge, and massage/treatment rooms).

Health spas are typically located in an inspiring and remote setting to allow natural beauty and tranquility to aid in healing the whole being, are only attended by a small number of guests at a time, and usually have a well-rounded staff of caring, nurturing, professionals to assist guests in meeting their individual health goals.

What is a Day Spa?

Day spas are the most commonly confused with health spas. Day spas are just that: a place you go for the day to relax in spa amenities like a steam room, sauna, or jacuzzi, and/or receive spa treatments such as massages, facials, waxing, and nails. Generally speaking, you pay an entrance fee to access the facilities and then buy treatments a la carte. No fitness or nutrition aspects involved, and the service is over when you leave the building—overnight accommodations are typically not available nor included. Fantastic if you are looking for an outing with your friends or a little “me” time, not so great if you are looking for a major health reset or lasting lifestyle changes.

The History of Spas

The idea of a health spa is by no means new; rather, health practices such as detoxification, healing and deep relaxation have been around in some shape or form for almost as long as we homo sapiens have walked the earth.

It’s long been known that water is essential to our health and wellbeing. Many of the first settlements around the world were built near seas and rivers, and not just for agricultural reasons either. Water was believed to have healing properties and was considered to be a gift from the gods. Hindus would plunge themselves into the sacral Ganges River to heal their body and soul, while ancient Egyptians used the waters of the Nile for beauty procedures. In Buddhist Japan it was believed that bathing was a way to ward off disease and bring good fortune

And while most ancient cultures valued water in all its forms, there were a couple of them who recognized the added benefits of hot water. Specifically, natural hot springs. The ancient Greeks with their baths, and Japanese, with their onsens, were well-aware of the healing properties of hot springs heated by geothermal heat from the earth’s interior. Greek philosopher Hippocrates hypothesized that all human diseases begin with an imbalance of “bodily fluids” and that to restore balance, changes needed to be made to your habits and environment. He also suggested that bathing, massages, walking, and perspiration were crucial to restoring balance in your body. Hippocrates knew intuitively what so many of us are just discovering now; that hormone (“bodily fluid”) imbalance wreaks havoc on our health, that movement induces circulation and sweating, both of which detoxify the body naturally, and that human touch is not only a core need, but also helps move lactic acid and other fluids out of our muscles and through our detox organs (kidneys and liver).

The water in hot springs essentially acts like a multivitamin for your skin. Heated water can hold more dissolved solids than cold water (picture dumping table salt into a glass of cold water versus hot water), so the water is packed with good-for-you elements such as calcium, magnesium, silica, lithium, and radium. These elements found in the water of natural hot springs (in addition to the high temperature of the water) have been found to help with everything from soothing aching muscles to softening your skin, to clearing nasal congestion and improving circulation.
Even without natural hot spring water, and well before knowing the science behind it, cultures all over the world understood the importance of heating our bodies, especially in the colder flu season months to induce a “false fever” when they were more sedentary, inflamed, and susceptible to illness. Turkish Hammams, Russian Banyans, Finnish Saunas, and Native American Sweat Lodges have all been around for millenia, and an integral part of each culture’s ancient healing practices.

While many ancient cultures understood the value of hot water, it is the Romans who deserve the credit for developing what we now know as a health spa. Romans considered regular bathing to be part of their regimen for good health, so it wasn’t long before private and public spas were built all throughout Rome and their conquered lands. They were a place for socialization as well as healing. The word SPA comes from the Roman “sanus per aquam”, which means “health by water”. And these new thermal centers not only had areas for bathing but also gardens, libraries, shops, and medical facilities.

Unfortunately, spas took a decline during the Middle Ages with the fall of the Roman Empire, but they underwent a small resurgence during the Renaissance. This time, however, they were targeted more as treatment centers for specific medical conditions, not as places of relaxation or socialization, and were primarily used by the aristocracy, as only they could afford what was then a lavish luxury.

During the Industrial Revolution, as pollution rose in Europe and North America, spas began to see a rise once again. The need to leave the city for the clean air and waters of the mountains and seaside changed health spas, who began adding “combined treatments” to their offerings. These treatments often included things such as physical exercises, massages, herbal baths, time in nature, and specialized diets. The spas, while evolving, never lost their original purpose of restoring wellness and healing the body, mind, and soul.

By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, health spas had become a staple in the lives of the wealthy and elite. Hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues started popping up around spas, making the surrounding areas popular getaways for those who couldn’t afford the spa itself, and the culture strengthened. WWII took its toll, however. Between the post-war economic struggles and the rise of modern medicine, people no longer flocked to health spas like they once had.

And now, modern society is understanding that preventative care is vastly more potent than relying on prescription pills and palliative care, and is once more seeking alternative methods for living a long, healthy life. Health spas are taking center stage again, helping people take the time to focus on self-care and wellbeing; physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Benefits of a Health Spa

Spending time at a health spa allows you the opportunity to leave regular life behind and give undivided attention to your healing experience. Day spas may be able to do that for a couple hours, but oftentimes multiple weeks are needed to make genuine progress. This is probably the biggest benefit of a health spa; complete, immersive, accelerated healing. You can be fully present with the healing process. All with the support and guidance of trained professionals every step of the way (why you want to choose the health spas with the best staff).

Modern health spas focus on a blend of physical and psychological improvement. Physically, it’s expected you will move towards a more ideal body composition (read: lose weight) and re-engage muscles you once used. Mentally, reducing stress and achieving a more calm, less anxious mind. And emotionally, finding peace, even in the most chaotic of lives, as well as new found inspiration.

What To Look For In A Health Spa

Health spas (and all of the variations) are most definitely not one-size-fits-all, so before committing to one versus the other, it’s crucial to understand the differences to help you decide which is the best choice for you based on your individual needs.

Retreat vs Resort

The largest category difference is whether the facility is a Retreat or a Resort. A health or wellness retreat is usually fully programmed, all-inclusive, and hosts less than 50 people at a time. You should expect to check in and out on a certain day, follow a schedule of events, and have most everything taken care of for you, from each calorie consumed to which type of movement you should do each day. Once you arrive, you can turn off your mind and let the staff take care of you. A health or wellness resort, on the other hand, offers guests a health-promoting environment with a la cart options to personalize the experience, hosts more guests at once, and allows you to check in and out as you normally would at any hotel. You should expect the resort to offer a wide variety of healthy options, like pools, fitness centers, and spa facilities, but for you to self-direct your wellness journey. Due to their intimate nature, all-inclusive programming, and higher staff-to-guest ratios, retreats are typically more expensive than resorts. Retreats are best if what you need is to fully unplug, turn off your mind, and have a team of experts guide you. A resort is best if you seek a healthy holiday but are more budget conscious and have the internal motivation to ensure you take full advantage of the healthy options available with your stay.

Location

The location of your health spa is integral to your success, and is very much a personal choice. Some retreats are located in the dry deserts, and might appeal to you during cold winter months, while some are located in more rugged wilderness, and might appeal to you if you’re craving to get far away from your stress/pain and reconnect with lush nature, trees, water, and fresh air. Look at both macro and micro location. Literally look at the retreat on google earth/maps to see if the region and immediate surroundings appeal to you. You may find that the health spa you are really excited about is actually located within a larger hotel, a busy development, or so far away from the nearest airport that travel to the spa is prohibitive.

Staff-to-Guest Ratio & Staff Credentials

Finally, look into the staff-to-guest ratio and staff credentials. Ensure, especially if you are going to a speciality retreat (like a yoga or meditation retreat), that each instructor is properly certified and there are only so many students to share attention between. This may be a once-in-a-lifetime investment you are making—you don’t want to entrust your health to unqualified people, nor yourself! If you are considering a hiking-based health spa, are all of the guides fully certified in wilderness first aid? How many guests are in each group? If you are considering a fasting retreat, is the lead practitioner a doctor or other highly-regarded medical professional? If you’re going to a large wellness resort, how easy will it be for you to get assistance? If you are going to a ceremonial retreat in South America for the first time, perhaps bring a best friend or trusted partner to ensure you have a built-in layer of psychological safety. If this information isn’t listed on the spa’s website, don’t hesitate to call and inquire.

Best Health Spas

Now that you know what a health spa is, the history of them, and what to look for when booking one, you may be eager to begin your own research and may not need to read on. However, if you’d rather us suggest a few of the top health spas to consider, by all means, please continue reading. We’ve broken the list into two, based on whether the spa is a Retreat or a Resort.

Disclaimer: We, Mountain Trek, have put ourselves on the list of best Retreat Spas, but are subjectively offering up this list of other experiences that our own guests have experienced and enjoyed as well as including those spas that we know are high quality by being in the industry ourselves. Our intent in writing this article is not to sell you on coming to Mountain Trek—although we would be honored to see you for a week (or two!)—but rather, to introduce you to the wonderful world of health spas, and the experience of investing in your physical, mental, and emotional health, for your own wellbeing and longevity, as well as those around you.

Best Health Spa Retreats

Woman hiker standing in front of mountains at a fitness retreat

Mountain Trek Wellness Retreat & Health Spa

Yes, this is us, and yes, we are biased, but for good reason. Mountain Trek was recently rated the Best Wellness Retreat in Canada (by both Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast), the #4 Destination Spa in the World (the term Destination Spa was created by the wellness tourism industry and is often interchangeable for Health Spa), and routinely sees a return guest rate of over 40%. Mountain Trek is a 30+ year-old hiking-based health retreat located in the lush forests of British Columbia, Canada. 16 guests at a time are cared for by over 40 staff members and follow a proven schedule featuring daily guided hikes, nutritionist-designed chef-prepared meals, mobility and restorative yoga, functional fitness classes, and ample time in the state-of-the-art spa. If you are looking to escape far from your typical routine, want to be expertly guided into lush nature, and seek a highly rewarding, highly effective “health reset”, Mountain Trek is for you. The seven day/seven night program costs $6,400 USD (2023 pricing), with gratuities and extra spa treatments optional add-ons.


The Ranch, Malibu

Located in beautiful Malibu, California, The Ranch Malibu is a relatively new player in the Health Spa world, but has been quick to make a splash, and is routinely rated one of the top Destination Spas in the world. Similar to Mountain Trek, you can expect to follow a trusted program that incorporates daily hikes, clean food (plant-based only at The Ranch and coming from their own 2+ acre certified organic garden), yoga, exercise, and a state-of-the-art spa experience (including a cryotherapy sauna). The Ranch Malibu features larger, more luxuriously appointed guest cottages, more flexible booking options (up to four weeks, and is offered year round. Weekly guest counts are around 20 and a 6-night stay at The Ranch, Malibu is $7,600 USD per person for a shared room or $8,900 USD for private accommodations. This is an all-inclusive price but note a 16% service charge is automatically added to cover gratuity and tax.


The Ashram

One of the original health spas in California (opened in 1974), The Ashram, located in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains in Los Angeles, California, has deep roots in spiritual healing, but also still focuses its offering around daily hikes, exercise classes, spa time and massages, and healthy plant-based food. Weekly guest counts are around 12, and guest rooms are often shared with another person. The all-inclusive 6-night program is $6,300 USD.


The Pearl Laguna

Take all of the above, and imagine it was run by two world renowned yogis and you’d be envisioning The Pearl, in Laguna Beach, California. Hosting a maximum of 14 guests each week, but routinely less, and offering daily hiking, clean food, and power yoga, The Pearl is the most intimate and spiritual of the experiences listed here. You should expect to let your physical movement, clean nutrition, and guided yoga sessions be a pathway to a calmer mind and improved emotional health. Located in a renovated and expanded estate in Laguna Beach, California, you can join an all-inclusive 6-night retreat for $6,200 USD.


Golden Door

Located in San Marcos, California, and with 600 acres, 25 miles of private trails, 7 state of the art gyms, 2 swimming pools, and a tennis court, the Golden Door takes Japanese-inspired luxury to a new level. The Golden Door tip toes the line between retreat and resort, as it blends elements of each. Booking is limited to specific programs with scheduled check-in and check-out dates, like a retreat, but guests, a max of 40 at each time, are free to make their own healthy choices while at the facility, like a resort, but are guided by a personal trainer, again, like a retreat. The Golden Door labels themselves a resort, but have placed them in the retreat list after much deliberation. Either way, if you are looking for no sacrifices, luxurious pampering with personalized guidance, Golden Door is for you, but only if you have the funds to afford it; a 7-night stay starts at $11,000 USD.


Skyterra

If the price tags are starting to make your head spin or you are just starting your wellness journey, then Skyterra may be the retreat for you. Located on the other side of the country, in North Carolina, Skyterrra hosts a maximum of 35 guests a week and offers a budget-friendly program that balances following a specific schedule while allowing personal choice, often offering up to four different options per time slot. Over 80 different fitness classes are offered in one week, to give you an idea of the variety of choice on this pre-set menu. One week programs start at $4,025 USD per week, and stays of three weeks or more are possible, earning you a discount on the weekly price.

 

Best Health Spa Resorts

Canyon Ranch

Easily the largest collection of facilities on this list, with locations in Tucson, Arizona, Lennox, Massachusetts, Woodside, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada, Canyon Ranch uses it size to offer a wide variety of experiences, from programmed multi-night “pathway” experiences to day passes at their Fitness & Day Spa locations. You can even live at two of the locations if you want. Canyon Ranch is becoming a brand dedicated to being “the world’s premier leader in wellness guidance”, and is opening up a new resort in Austin, Texas as well as members-only “clubs” (think Equinox) in Fort Worth, Texas, and Houston, Texas. The 7-night “Lifestyle Reset” pathway at their original resort in Tucson, Arizona, starts at $9,800 USD.


Rancho La Puerta

Perhaps the oldest on this list, with doors opening in 1940, Rancho La Puerta continues to lead the way for wellness resorts all over the world, routinely being rated one of the best. Over 4,000 acres include 86 casitas, 40 miles of hiking trails, 32 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, 11 gyms, 4 outdoor pools, central fitness and spa facility with ample steam rooms, saunas and treatment rooms, and an organic farm. The facility map is reminiscent of a theme park map, only all the rides are designed for burnt out adults. While Rancho La Puerta is one of the most tried and true resorts on this list, they do only offer a Saturday check-in and check-out, taking a nod from the retreat world. However, once booked, it is up to the guest to involve themselves in any one of the 50+ daily activities such as hiking, yoga, trail running, arts & crafts, dance, HIIT workouts, and inner journey classes. Scheduled transportation on Saturdays to and from San Diego Airport are also included. The 7-night package starts at $5,050 USD, making a week at Rancho La Puerta one of the more economical options on this list.


Miraval

Truly a spa resort (and one owned by Hyatt), Miraval lets you book any check in and check out day (on a Hyatt webpage) for either of their three resorts, located in Arizona, Austin, and the Berkshires. Miraval is focused on helping guests “create a life in balance through mindfulness”, and works hard at offering environments that embody this mission. At almost every step of the way, intention is designed into the experience, from eating mindfully, to being invited to see, smell, and even feel their serene spas. Miraval may be the place for you if sweating sounds best done in a sauna. A 7-night stay at any of their three includes all meals, snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, a $175 USD nightly resort credit per person to use toward spa services, fee-based activities and private sessions with Miraval Specialists, and starts at $9,900 USD, or $9,600 if you register for a Hyatt credit card on the spot.


Red Mountain Resort

Carving out its niche in the market as an “Adventure Retreat”, Red Mountain Resort is one of the largest and most affordable on this list. Guests can either check in and out as they please, and are told upon booking this option that, “this resort style rate is room only and does NOT include meals, hiking or spa program activities”, or guests can book “Adventure Retreats” that include accommodations, daily guided hikes, bike rentals, three healthy meals daily, fitness classes, healthy life classes and events, personal discovery activities, and WiFi. Red Mountain recommends you download their app so you can review all activities and schedules during your stay, opposing most others on this list who recommend guests try to unplug from their devices as much as possible. A 7-night (minimum 3) “Essential Retreat”, where meals and activities are included, starts at a modest $3,000 USD. You can upgrade to the “Ultimate Essential Retreat” where you get a $150 resort credit every day of your stay, which, at this price—the lowest on both lists— seems worth it to customize your experiences with extra services that are otherwise included by the other spas.


Cal-a-vie

One of the more traditional health spas, where an inspiring estate and location offer primarily spa time, but a long list of auxiliary healthy activities are readily available included or on offer to further enhance your stay. Cal-a-vie dubs itself, “A European-style Spa & Wellness Retreat”, but per our definition above, they really are more of a resort, as they offer varying accommodation levels (25 villas and 7 suites), a variety of self-guided health-focused experiences, a la cart add-ons, and even host weddings, where a 400-year-old chapel from Dijon, France steals the show. The European Package, their most popular, is a 7-night all-inclusive package with three meals per day, four massages, and a healthy dose of additional spa services, and starts at $11,500 (2023 rate).


Moving forward

Clearly, not all health spas are one and the same, and seemingly, as our stressors and needs evolve, they become more specialized. Investing in any of the health spas listed in this article will probably provide you great value. Which one you choose ultimately comes down to; whether you are looking for a more private retreat environment that eliminates the guesswork, or a resort environment with more options and permits you to self-guide; which location and surrounding environment is most attractive to you (desert or forest, mountains or ocean, dry or wet); and price.

If you are looking for an intimate retreat deep in lush nature that will give you the physical, mental, and emotional reset you are looking for, we invite you to learn more about our award-winning program located in the majestic forests of British Columbia, Canada. With only 16 guests at a time, our staff of 40+ are permitted the time to slow down and be authentic, genuine, and present—pulling, not pushing, you the experience. Routinely visited by the same guests year after year, our program focuses deeply on all aspects of your health, head-to-toe, inside and out, and over the course of a expertly-designed week (or two), transforms you into a better version of yourself; stronger, leaner, more full of life and energy, and more resilient than ever.

If Mountain Trek is not for you, we completely understand. That’s why we wrote this guide! We wish you the best of luck on your health journey. We are here to answer any questions you may have. Farewell.

To learn more about Mountain Trek, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Detox Retreat

If you’re looking to detox your body and mind, there’s no better place than a detox retreat. A detox retreat removes you from electronics, unhealthy food, and the stress of your busy, everyday life. Many detox retreats offer all-inclusive packages that include yoga classes, meditation sessions, and healthy meals. They also provide plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and swimming.

 

If you’re feeling a little run down, overworked, and stressed out, it might be time to visit a detox retreat. Mountain Trek, our award-winning detox retreat, is located in the beautiful province of British Columbia; our retreat offers the perfect opportunity to get away from it all and restore your health and well-being. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing yoga retreat or a more intensive detox program, there’s sure to be something that fits your needs.

 

So if you’re ready to recharge your batteries, take a look at everything our British Columbia detox retreat has to offer!

What to Expect at Mountain Trek’s British Columbia Detox Retreat

Mountain Trek’s detox retreat in beautiful British Columbia is the perfect place to rejuvenate and detoxify your body. Our program is designed to help you cleanse your body of toxins and stresses while giving you the tools you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

 

During your stay at our detox retreat, you will enjoy a variety of activities and treatments that we design to help you detoxify your body, including:

 

  • Infrared sauna therapy– Infrared sauna therapy is a great way to help your body sweat out toxins.
  • Massage therapy– Our detox massages are designed to help increase circulation and lymphatic flow, which can help your body eliminate toxins.
  • Yoga and meditation– Yoga and meditation can help reduce stress, which can help your body detoxify.
  • Detox foot baths– Detox foot baths can help to draw out toxins from your body through your feet.
  • Nutritional counseling– Our nutritional counselors will work with you to help you make healthy food choices that will support your detoxification process.
  • Exercise classes– Our exercise classes are designed to help you get your blood flowing and detoxify through sweating.
  • Guided hikes– Our guided hikes will take you through some of British Columbia’s most beautiful scenery and help you get some fresh air and exercise.
  • Lifestyle and health workshops– Our workshops will help you learn more about maintaining a healthy lifestyle and detoxifying your body.

 

After completing our detox retreat, you will leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. You will also have the knowledge and tools you need to continue living a healthy lifestyle.

Visit Mountain Trek’s Detox Retreat in British Columbia

Regardless of your reason for needing a disconnect and reset to your daily life, our luxury detox retreat in British Columbia will exceed all your expectations. If you’re ready for a refresh, book a stay at our detox retreat or contact us to learn more.

 

The Truth About Collagen Gummies

 

Collagen gummies are becoming extremely popular. But are they really the best solution to healthier hair and nails, pain-free joints, and better skin? In this article, we share the opinion of our award-winning team, consisting of feedback from our Registered Nutritionist, Naturopathic Doctor, Fitness Director, and Program Director. Our opinion on this matter comes from an overarching goal to see our body as a holistic system that thrives on balance. From this lens, we offer you insights you may not have considered, and a fundamental understanding that will afford you the ability to create your own opinions moving forward.

First, let’s clear one thing up right away: there is no debate as to the benefits of collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, found in the bones, muscles, skin, and tendons. It forms a scaffold that provides strength and structure within the body. It is an essential component of connective tissue and plays a crucial role in holding the body’s cells together. It also gives strength and elasticity to the skin. In summary, collagen is very important.

Our Ability to Produce Collagen Decreases With Age

As we age, we produce less and less collagen. This causes our skin to become less elastic and wrinkle, and become thinner. This can happen as early as 25-30, and accelerates in women after menopause. This scary fact is why so many people are turning to supplements, and, lately, gummies.

Rome Was Not Built On Collagen Gummies

Collagen gummies, however, are a supplement, and therein lies a massive clue as to what our relationship with them should be. Supplements, by definition, are not primary sources or fundamental building blocks; they exist just to fill in the cracks. Unfortunately, gummies are marketed as a quick and easy way to restore your collagen levels, and, all too often, taking supplements like these causes us to overlook producing essential vitamins, minerals, and collagen naturally—which is always a much more effective and sustainable way.

Collagen gummies are crack filler, and there’s no way to build anything of significance with just mortar. We must continue to focus on the natural building blocks of our health if we are to live a long, and happy life. And if, and only IF, we cannot genuinely derive or produce enough collagen naturally from our lifestyle (nutrition, exercise, habits), then we can, and should look to supplementation for help.

So what should we be doing to naturally support our collagen levels? And when those efforts don’t quite cut it, are collagen gummies really the best way to increase our collagen levels?

Our Bodies Naturally Create Collagen

Fortunately, our bodies are nothing short of extraordinary! We have the ability to create collagen by breaking down dietary protein into amino acids. If our diet contains a variety of whole food proteins at each meal, we can consume the necessary amount of protein to create ample collagen without needed supplementation. Fabulous sources of both plant + animal protein sources (to promote natural collagen production!) include:
  • Spirulina
  • Legumes
    Seeds: especially pumpkin + chia
  • Nuts: almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts
  • Bone Broth (ideally home made). Pro tip: use bone broth instead of oil to sauté vegetables, or instead of water when making quinoa or brown rice; both great, and sneaky ways, to add protein to your diet.
  • Organic, free-to-range eggs
  • Organic, pasture-raised meats
  • Wild fish

Healthy Lifestyle Factors Support Collagen Creation

However, it’s not just as easy as eating the above items and presto, your skin starts glowing and your nails never break. There are other lifestyle factors you need to focus on to help support your body to naturally up-regulate collagen:
  • Make sure you consume enough Vitamin C, zinc, and copper, which are cofactors required for collagen cross-linking. Eat your oysters, which are incredible sources of zinc and copper, and consume plenty of red peppers and citrus fruits, which are full of Vitamin C.
  • Do not smoke, and limit alcohol consumption. Both are toxic.
  • Limit exposure to pollutants. Also toxic.
  • Avoid deep-fried foods and processed meats (bacon, hot dogs), as they contain Advanced Glycation End Products (AGE’s), which can cause the stiffening of our collagen.
  • Wear your natural sunscreen! UV damage also increases AGE’s and collagen loss.
  • Eliminate added sugar. Sugar is collagen’s enemy! Glucose and Fructose (the two most common types of sugar) link amino acids in collagen and elastin and create harmful compounds called advanced glycation end products. These damage collagen and contribute to inflammation.
  • Eat regularly throughout the day, rather than all at once, and include some protein with every meal and/or snack. This  improves absorption.
  • Thoroughly chewing your food. This also helps absorption and reduces stomach acid, which might denature (damage) the proteins before becoming collagen.
  • Take a high quality, refrigerated probiotic, or add a fermented food (sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, plain greek yogurt) to your daily routine.

Supplement only when all else fails

If you have reached the point in your life where collagen production has diminished so significantly, or your lifestyle is not producing enough collagen no matter how hard you try, it may be time to look for a supplement. Collagen Gummies, however, are not the answer. Typically, these gummies are often just glorified adult candies, and immensely packed full of sugar, which as noted above, is collagen’s enemy! Better than gummies, is hydrolyzed collagen powder, which you can add to your morning smoothie (see our Energizing Morning Smoothie Recipe) or take directly with cold water. It will give you all of the benefits a collagen gummy, and more, without the need to consume an over-processed sugar cube.

In summary, and as is with most aspects of our health, focus on supporting healthy (collagen) levels naturally. Follow our tips for how to do so. If those efforts fall short, look for as clean of a supplement as possible, and remember, it’s only there to fill in the cracks, not build your temple entirely.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is an award-winning health retreat located in the lush forests of British Columbia, Canada. Our award-winning “health reset” program will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below: