Friday, December 25, 2009


By Barbara Barton Sloane

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York. This National Historic Landmark and Historic Hotel of America is located in the Hudson Valley region of New York state. Owned by the Smiley family since opening day in 1869, I had the happy occasion to attend its 140th birthday party being celebrated this year. This is a resort dedicated to life’s simple pleasures and there’s no shortage of that here.

Mohonk Mountain House is the ideal place for a family reunion. There’s even an on-site Family Reunion Coordinator who will reserve a social room and customize activities for your gathering. The Spa here has been named one of the top 25 resort spas in North America by Conde Nast Traveler magazine, and they offer some effective treatments to escape from the world, if only for a little while. There’s the Eagle Cliff Deep Tissue Massage assisted by warm packs placed on specific areas of the body, the Mohonk Red Massage which begins with inhalation of calming Evergreen essences and traditional Thai stretches to rebalance the body. I opted for the Fragrant Earth treatment which incorporated the many medicinal herbs found in the surrounding region. First I was “polished” with rosemary salts, then my scalp and body were massaged with extracts of pine, fir and oakmoss, and finally, I was “awakened” with a stimulating peppermint foot massage. Immediately following this dreamy escape, I made my way down to the Lake Lounge for the afternoon traditional English tea service including delicious house-baked cookies.

There’s a wealth of engaging activities at Mohonk. A great way to start the day is with the “5 Voices of Birds” hike on forest trails. If you have a black thumb, like me, you’ll find enlightenment with a tour through the greenhouse and a chance to hear the history of their Victorian gardens. Feeling Victorian? Why not dress like one and get your picture taken in full 19th century regalia. Depending on the season, there’s rock climbing, skating, cycling, boating….the list goes on. For kids, the Tykes and Children’s program keeps them busy for hours. There’s also an Evening Children’s Program so mom and dad can enjoy their evening cocktail in peace. From early morning, throughout the day, up to a Victorian Gala Dance at 9:00 pm, there’s a whole lotta fun going on here. Fireplaces blaze in winter, and rocking chairs on gracious porches overlooking the lake, calm frazzled nerves in warm weather. So if you want to loll about and do nothing, it’s perfectly ok. In fact, it’s a capital idea, and one that I chose for much of my stay.

A blissful offering, unique to this resort, is the Three Minute Meditator. Nina Smiley, Ph.D, and co-author of the book by the same name, teaches meditating skills which can be done in three minutes. I am serious! You come away from this charming 19th century resort with a practical skill
that can be practiced whenever needed. I personally “three-minute meditate” several times throughout my day and guess what? It works!

Summer is here but, as we’ve seen, the weather outside can still be frightful. A weekend at Mohonk Mountain House, surrounded by glorious nature, is your ticket to revive and restore.


Your Adventure is Written in Stone

by Barbara Barton Sloane

Few places on earth match the beauty and tranquility of the red rocks surrounding St. George, UT. Here, nestled on 55 scenic acres of Southwestern Utah’s Mojave Desert and a short two-hour drive from Las Vegas is The Red Mountain Resort and Spa. I visited the resort recently for a few days to both kick back and to get physical at the same time. What better way than to don a pair of uncomfortably tight climbing shoes (they’re supposed to fit that way), and join a group of six rock-climbing newbies who found the sheer cliffs both as daunting yet as exhilarating as I.

The resort arranged for this activity and Ben, our guide/instructor was youthful, cool, and had the ability to inspire each of us to rise to the challenge, as when I found myself clinging to sheer, smooth rock-face with nowhere to place my foot or to grasp even a twig-sized outcropping. Me, calling down to Ben: “There’s nowhere for me to go…I want to come down now.” Ben: “No.” Okaaaay. Lest you think our guide a sadist, actually he was just ensuring that I looked closer and deeper, both onto the rock cliff and into myself, to find somewhere, somehow to continue to the top. I did. Thanks, Ben.

The Sagestone Spa at Red Mountain is a multi-million dollar space of tranquility which debuted three years ago and is devoted to de-stress and detoxify guests through a series of innovative offerings, including their Sandstone Signature Treatments which are hand-crafted, using products from the rain forests of Brazil, salt and clay from Utah and the precious Resurrection plant found in the Arizona desert.

After clinging to sheer red rock for what seemed like forever, I deserved a welcomed treat and that came in the form of a Canyon Warm Stone Massage (70 minutes, $160), which did precisely what the brochure said. It relieved my aching muscles and revived through a massage with essential oils combined with warm canyon stones applied to all the right places. Restored, I was ready to join the others at the Canyon Breeze Restaurant to enjoy a healthy and tasty dinner prepared by Executive Chef Dale Van Sky.

Each day I enjoyed a bracing swim in the resort’s Olympic-size pool and then wound down with a dreamy session in the heated whirlpool. The sublime finale to my day was shamelessly lazing in a hammock set amid shade trees and flowering lilac and bougainvillea and then retreating to my very pretty guest room decorated in soft earth and desert tones and swooning on my custom-designed bed. Nighty-night.

The Red Mountain Resort and Spa has been named by Forbes Traveler as one of the “10 Best Healthy Resorts” and by Travel + Leisure as one of the “World’s Greatest Resort/Spas.” The energetic and enthusiastic staff, with a nearly 3:1 ratio of staff to guests, is dedicated to providing an optimum adventure environment along with great service and personal attention.

The outdoor programs at Red Mountain include daily guided hikes, rock climbing, kayaking, cycling, horseback riding, as well as National Park excursions and back-country wilderness trips. Focusing on fitness, there are over 50 classes to choose from including cardio salsa, hydroaqua fitness, yoga and Power Pilates to Boot Camp! Their Healthy Living classes run the gamut from spirit hikes to meditation, nutrition and self-awareness workshops. No, the Red Mountain Spa is not your mother’s spa, nor would you want it to be. Guests come to relax and de-stress, sure, but also for the thrill and chill. With the end of summer rapidly approaching, back-to-school and continuing education opportunities are on the minds of many. The resort encourages continued self-improvement with a series of Back-to-You programs designed to meet individual goals, including Life Compass Retreat, Fast Track Weight Loss, and Nutrition programs. Not to worry about what to do here. It’s a safe bet you’ll keep busy at Red Mountain.

Perhaps my fave activity at Red Mountain is the Pound Puppy Hike. What is that, you say? For the guest who can’t bring Fido along, the Pound Puppy program provides the chance to hike with a shelter dog and in the process, bring smiles to canine and human face alike. “We feel the Pound Puppy Hike is a healthy, happy opportunity for both guests and shelter animals,” explains Tracey Welsh, the General Manager. “The puppies will be rewarded with additional hours of playtime and the guests will feel good about sharing their fitness time with a cuddly four-legged friend.” Win-win, right?
This innovative resort program suggests you bring your teen (between the ages of 12-17; from $159) with you to enjoy their Core program which includes a daily morning hike, unlimited fitness classes, Tai Chi, use of the Resort facilities – bikes, walking trails, strength studios and much more.

The room rate at Red Mountain is $159 per person, per night, double occupancy for the “Stay & Dine Package,” up to $379 per person, per night, double occupancy for the “Premium Package.”

With its myriad healthy and adventuresome programs, its elegant spa, its sumptuous guest rooms, and hiking through pine forests with a happy, panting puppy by your side, this is one very special destination. Come visit the Red Mountain Resort and Spa ( You’ll open your heart, expand your mind and enter sacred space: your own.

Red Mountain Resort & Spa
1275 E. Red Mountain Circle
Ivins, UT 84738