Integrative wellness + epic nature meet at Garden of the Gods Resort in Colorado Springs
Garden of the Gods Resort is a wellness retreat for the modern age, with a slate of fitness offerings and a spa that combines luxes treatments with holistic medicine. (Courtesy of the Resort)

Integrative wellness + epic nature meet at Garden of the Gods Resort in Colorado Springs


In Colorado Springs, the colossal red rock formations of Garden of the Gods jut skyward in stunning arrangements, creating a surreal and awe-inspiring landscape.

This geological wonderland is the backdrop for a hidden gem of a women-owned wellness retreat that we'd love to keep to ourselves. But after a weekend here, we learned community is the cornerstone of true wellbeing and it's meant to be shared.

(Courtesy of Garden of the Gods Resort)

Garden of the Gods Resort combines the national landmark’s allure with a vast array of health and wellness offerings to craft an ultimate mind-body experience. Fresh from a property-wide renovation, the luxury stay evokes relaxation from moment one, with in-room amenities including yoga mats, soaking tubs and, of course, impressive natural views. But it's the 31,000-square-foot Strata Spa that brings me here.

A fully integrated wellness experience, Strata—helmed by board-certified internist, cardiologist, and electrophysiologist Dr. Michael Barber—brings together a robust team of clinicians, nurses, therapists, and aestheticians to promote healthy living through preventative and integrated medicine and self-care. In addition to the usual spa massages, facials and salon services, you'll find care including functional neurology, holistic nutrition, energy healing, acupuncture, and chiropractic in an interdisciplinary approach spanning Eastern and Western practices.

Even the more opulent services like skincare have a deeper methodology: Most of the spa's providers have obtained 52-hour certifications through the nonprofit Wellness for Cancer, which facilitates self-care for individuals in cancer treatment and recovery.

Curious about Strata's East-meets-West philosophy, I booked a ritual called shiro-abhyanga, an Indian Ayurvedic treatment designed to calm the nervous system through massage. After a cup of tea in the ambient relaxation lounge, my massage therapist educated me on the three doshas (or energies) believed in Ayurveda to govern physiological activity, as she helped me choose a harmonizing oil. The scent I picked correlated with the vata dosha. When imbalanced, vata energy presents itself through anxiety. Right on the dot, I thought.

Flowing rhythmic movements and warm oil made my body melt and, though I was skeptical at first, I completely gave in the last 20 minutes when the herbal oil was poured over my forehead in a steady stream, focused over my third eye center. I've never understood this cleansing ritual, aimed at eliminating toxins and mental exhaustion…until I did. Once I surrendered to the process, I felt the oil relieve my deepest tensions. I floated out of the room and decompressed in the spa’s salt therapy room afterward, musing over the importance of intentional practices in holistic healing.

(Courtesy of Garden of the Gods Resort)

Outside Strata Spa, Garden of the Gods Resort has all the trappings of a first-rate wellness retreat, such as three swimming pools including an adults-only infinity pool with drinks service (because who says wellness can’t look like a margarita in a hot tub?).

The daily activities schedule offers around-the-clock indoor and outdoor fitness classes including sunrise yoga and specialized workshops, plus personal training, tennis with a view, and championship golf at the Kissing Camels Golf Club.

After all that, you'll build up quite an appetite. Make a reservation to catch the sunset from an outdoor table at the Grand View restaurant, where dining beneath the iconic Pike's Peak feels like an experience on another planet. One of four restaurants on the property, Grand View lives up to its name with floor to ceiling windows. The fine, farm-to-table menu accentuates locally sourced ingredients such as the coveted wagyu from Cross Creek Ranch in southwest Colorado and organic produce from Frost Family Farms, located less than 30 miles from the restaurant. A thoughtful non-alcoholic cocktail list is available for avid health seekers.

The view from a standard suite.(Courtesy of Garden of the Gods Resort)

While you're in Colorado Springs...

Garden of the Gods is a five-minute drive from the resort and is free to enter. It’s open year-round and filled with diverse hiking and climbing trails for all abilities. If you want to simply enjoy Colorado’s fresh air, there are multiple lookout points to stop and take pictures. For the adrenaline junkie, there’s the Manitou Incline, an extremely difficult 0.9-mile trek comprised of 2,744 stairs; those crazy enough to tackle it know to make reservations in advance.

Colorado Springs continues to grow because of its proximity to Denver, and new restaurants are constantly popping up. Be sure to check out The Rabbit Hole, an underground eatery with upscale American food, Trinity Brewing for a crash course in the state’s renowned brewery scene, and Shuga’s, an artsy grocery store turned restaurant with fun snack boards.

From San Francisco

Jump on a flight to Colorado Springs with a short layover in Denver, or take the hour-ish drive from Denver to Garden of the Gods Resort and Club. // 3320 Mesa Rd., Colorado Springs,

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