Travel can be invigorating and exhausting at the same time. I am sometimes frustrated by the go-go-goness of our self-inflicted hectic travel schedules. We travel to see and experience new places, but also to relax, rejuvenate, and reconnect. Every year I try to schedule one or two trips that are simply about leaning into me — a little self-care. These wellness retreats come in different wrappers — some involve being ensconced in a luxurious spa, and others, like my recent trip on the Rocky Mountaineer, are self-created.
The aspects of wellness retreats and self-care getaways encompass a variety of personal preferences. However, some key ingredients come to mind when I consider a self-healing break. Psychological wellness is key, allowing for time to reflect and meditate is an important piece of the health puzzle. Attending to your physical well-being is the second piece — eating well and relaxing repairs and fuels tired muscles. My personal journey began in the Rocky Mountains city of Denver, Colorado, and continued through to the adventurous city of Moab, Utah.
Note: Some information in this piece was obtained during a sponsored press trip, but all recommendations are my own.
1. Culinary Delights In Denver
Denver is a young and vibrant city. You can’t help but love the quirky street art, amazing restaurants, and modern adaptation of architectural relics in the Mile High City. For this trip, I was centered in the LoDo (Lower Downtown) area right near Coors Field. Hip and trendy, the area is filled with young worker bees sporting backpacks and navigating sidewalks on rental scooters.
What I love about this area is the selection of restaurants and the proximity to Larimer Square. The pedestrian-friendly enclave comes alive with foodies seeking to experience amazing culinary creations.
First-class culinary delights are a form of meditation for me. The visual beauty, the sensational aromas, the flavors rolling across my tongue all come together in a harmonious balance that brings me inner joy. One of my new favorite restaurants, Osteria Marco is in the heart of Larimer Square. Discovering creations like their perfectly fried calamari with Calabrian chile aioli in the Midwest is mind-blowing. Engaging with dishes like Luca’s wild mushroom fusilli with roasted oyster and cremini mushrooms, and a creamy Parmesan sauce topped with shaved truffles (a seasonal special surprise) sends me to nirvana. Be sure to have a glass of limoncello for an authentic Italian experience.
There is a foodie meditation that comes from dining alone. The experience allows you to focus on the plate in front of you and consider the connection between food and wellness. Put away your phone and explore each morsel, relish in the wonderful dishes presented.
2. Sleep Well At The Maven Hotel
Modern design’s clean, uncluttered lines allow space for your vision to relax in the world where we are bombarded with information every second. The Maven Hotel, located in the funky and urban Dairy Block of LoDo, offers guests a sleek, modern design punctuated with purposeful pops of color. With views of Coors Field and immediate access to a variety of shops and restaurants, The Maven Hotel allowed me to explore this lovely little slice of Denver.
The Maven offered the most well-stocked mini-bar I have encountered — it was tempting! The rooms were quiet and the bed was soft and comfy — getting a great sleep is the foundation of any wellness routine.
3. Massage At The Oxford Club
Personal wellness is about the mind and body. The benefits of massage therapy are well documented — and it makes you feel great too. The Oxford Club and Spa is a heavenly stop for anyone on a wellness journey. I left feeling taller and ready to take on the city.
Their new Herbal Poultice Massage is a tension-relieving, Thai-influenced massage punctuated by steamed linen bundles filled with salt crystals and lavender buds. It not only chases away physical tension, but it alleviates mental tension as well, bringing back balance and harmony to your pathways. Alternatively, how about a mineral-rich, therapeutic bath? I can almost hear the aah. Soak away stress and find balance in this remineralizing bathing ritual.
Who knew this personal wellness journey would be so Om?
4. Denver To Glenwood Springs On The Rocky Mountaineer
All aboard The Rocky Mountaineer on a journey from the Rockies To The Red Rocks. Normally you wouldn’t expect train travel to be part of a personal wellness journey, but this luxury train ride offered ample time to relax, reflect, and rejuvenate.
I boarded the Rocky Mountaineer in Denver excited to begin my excellent adventure. I adore riding trains and I traveled solo for this trip because I wanted an immersive experience, absorbing the landscape and meditating on life.
With a window seat at the back of the SilverLeaf Plus Service car, I had the luxury of time to be thoroughly introspective. Wide seating and panoramic windows allowed me to sink into the passing landscape. The low speed (dubbed Kodak speed) gives photographers a chance at catching the perfect shot of passing scenery. Between trains is a small vestibule, I perched there for extended periods of time simply feeling the soul-penetrating sunshine, wind whipping my hair, and the peacefulness of the passing moment.
5. Delicious Cuisine Aboard The Rocky Mountaineer
It all circles around to the food, and the fresh, seasonal cuisine is a nod to luxury train travel of yesteryear. Each meal had decadent and healthful options. Of course, eating healthy foods is a pillar of wellness; however, indulging in an expertly crafted meal has its own health benefits. For breakfast I chose the parfait with house-made granola, berry compote, and yogurt — it was a delicious feel-good choice. Lunch was a bit more indulgent — braised short ribs with a green chili demi-glaze.
6. Hot Springs In Glenwood Springs
We disembarked the train for an overnight stay at the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort. The resort’s mineral-charged hot springs pool was just over 100 degrees of soaking nirvana. Enjoying the cool night air while floating in the massive pool (405 feet long x 100 feet wide) is the key to a great night’s rest.
So, again with the food… The resort town of Glenwood Springs has a wide selection of restaurants. The town’s culture of dining out mixes locals with tourists and keeps restaurants lively.
I dined at the Pullman. Focused on seasonal, local products, the Pullman’s menu is constantly evolving. One of my dining buddies got the last bowl of the summer corn soup and another got the first bowl of the winter squash soup — it is that seasonal. The menu is so diverse and inviting that I struggled to land on just one dish. I finally chose the tempura tocal mushrooms with smoked shallots and a hazelnut romesco sauce — my nod to consuming vegetarian meals several times each week. It was a memorable meal.
7. Glenwood Springs To Moab On The Rocky Mountaineer
Did you know there is a tradition among Colorado River drifters? The “Colorado Salute” is a longstanding tradition of mooning passing trains. All along the river campers, hikers, and rafters shook shiny heinies at the passing train. Spotting these carefree outdoor enthusiasts and sharing a hearty laugh with fellow passengers was a wonderful way to release stress. Laughter is, according to the Mayo Clinic, one of the best medicines.
The scenery on day two was even more dramatic. Red rock buttes and mesas lined the tracks as the landscape turned ruggedly gorgeous. As part of the SilverLeaf Plus Service, I was able to enjoy the spacious lounge car. Small groups of club chairs rested by large windows and offered cozy accommodations to inhale the passing beauty.
8. Outdoor Adventure In Moab, Utah
Moab is the outdoor adventure center in eastern Utah. Surrounded by a red rocks playground, Moab draws adrenaline-seeking visitors to explore her natural gifts. Dead Horse Point State Park and Arches National Park are excellent stopping spots to absorb the Western beauty.
In Arches National Park, an early morning moderate hike to Delicate Arch is an amazing location for quiet meditation or yoga. The breathtaking views have the ability to ground your spirit. If you need something offering a little less oxygen deprivation, embark on the short walk to the Windows, a cluster of three massive arches. Go early to avoid the crowds.
9. A New Appreciation For The American Southwest
As I traversed the Colorado River on the two-day rail trip — Rockies to the Red Rocks route — I fell in love with the American Southwest. The ancient rock canyons, red sandstone cliffs, stunning mountain views, and rugged canyons are scenic landscapes you can immerse yourself in while riding the Rocky Mountaineer Train.
The Colorado River weaves in and out along the train tracks providing scenic vistas and excellent for spotting local wildlife. Bears, deer, and other hardy creatures inhabit this semi-barren land.
Out-Of-The-Box Wellness Retreats
There are so many wonderful getaway spots for amping up your health. Whether you choose an all-inclusive spa or an out-of-the-box custom retreat, I hope your choose to travel with the ability to add a bit of introspective reflection.
Here are a few of my favorite retreats:
Pro Tip: Every adventure has the opportunity to add wellness to your life. Seek out what makes you happy and take time to enjoy your travels.