It only makes sense that a retreat born on the ethos of rescuing horses (and other ailing animals) would heal me. I, too, am a weary beast after all.
Enveloping 3,500 acres of pine-studded nature, scooped with valleys, rasped by undulating rivers, and layered with soaring inclines, The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection near Park City, wedges into its own secluded corner of Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. Both a metaphorical and literal breath of fresh mountain air, the upscale hideaway exudes a natural curative energy. Land gives back when it’s loved, and it’s easy to see that this mountainous expanse of ranchland has formed a spiritual union with the owners, Barb and Mike Phillips, who have, in turn, then trusted the fine Auberge group to manage their parcel of enchantment.
Embodying the Phillips’ steward-like commitment to their land, their passion project is the on-site Saving Gracie Equine Healing Foundation at Gracie’s Farm, a home for rescue goats, dogs, chickens, cows, cats, and horses—named after the first horse they rescued. Here, not only can guests touch the actual earth and learn gardening skills amongst the growing plants, but they can interact with sweet animals, care for them, gain insights from them, and spend meaningful time with them on a level sure to strike a transformative cord.
“Land gives back when it’s loved, and it’s easy to see that this mountainous expanse of ranchland has formed a spiritual union with the owners . . . “
But, there’s more. Sustainably engineered and designed, the hotel’s contemporary-styled suites look to the mountains through window walls, where fires—like an invitation to live well—burn on some of the ample terraces. All art throughout the hotel depicts and honors the rescued animals. A range of tempting seasonal activities abound from axe throwing to dog sledding. A heated outdoor infinity pool feels like a geothermal swimming hole atop a hill. Myriad trails–for hiking or snowshoeing in season—wrap around the expanse. And Yuta, the all-day-dining, farm-to-table restaurant, helmed by award-garnering Executive Chef Jason Franey, serves up the best carrot soup of your life with carrots grown on Gracie’s Farm.
The Edge Spa: An Invitation to Linger
Still, what catapults this resort into mecca status for wellness seekers is the glorious Edge Spa. Set atop a cliff, capped with a garden roof, it fuses seamlessly with the surrounding landscape. Carefully and lovingly executed, it features countless spellbinding details, each meant to be an unspoken invitation to linger longer, to go inward, and to heal. (Think handmade tea bags full of foraged herbs and handcrafted journals with thoughtfully gathered quotes penned on textured pages, casually left like found treasure in relaxation rooms.) Immense windows reveal awe-inspiring views of the mountains at every turn.
The spa menu proffers both classic and results-driven rituals, with some treatments drawing from the surrounding region, such as the High West Whiskey Rubdown (named for Park City’s beloved distillery). But, I think the spa’s greatest asset is its staff: warm, open-hearted, golden-lit teachers, guides, directors, and therapists—all bearers of inner and outer restoration resources, a boon for all life-weary souls who enter.
Designed to feel like entering a cocoon, the spa runs along the edge of a river, its five airy treatment rooms facing the vista, seen through 12-foot windows. I gasp at the beauty, before enjoying a Hydrating Oxygen Facial, a treatment I love to have after a day of flying. In its afterglow, I break routine. Whereas I normally scuttle back to my room to rest after a spa treatment, I can’t resist the ambiance of The Edge’s relaxation room. I dither about for an hour, drinking copious amounts of tea, while gazing alternatively between the view and the quote-filled pages of those handmade paper journals, each topped with a mystical crystal.
Sanctuaries, Snowshoes & Healing Journeys
The next day I start early with a yoga class in the resort’s eye-popping yoga room, a private sanctuary off the state-of-the-art gym. We practice, facing a window so large it seems to incorporate the sky. Our instructor, Elizabeth Jensen, a gifted master of the healing arts, uses props such as oracle cards and the Edge Spa’s own trio of proprietary essential oil blends (aptly named Earth, Creek, and Sky) to ground and transport us. During Shavasana, I notice a storm blowing in.
An hour later, I return to the spa for an Intuitive Energy Journey with Sugar, a touted local healer. Adept at clearing blocked energy, bringing the chakras into harmony, and supporting the sort of conversations that soul seekers yearn to have, Sugar simply knows things. Auspiciously, as we begin my Intuitive Journey, it starts to snow, a weather phenomenon that always feels cleansing to me. We start with tranquil meditation, and then Sugar taps right into me. Immediately, I feel energy surging and rippling like so many vortexes in motion or as if a thunderstorm rumbles within. I am infused with inner light, basking in a kaleidoscopic panoply of colors. Sugar has written notes during the meditation. Her method is to record what she feels, sees, and hears on paper in automatic writing during the session. When I open my eyes, I see her veritable ream of notes, which she refers to during the last segment of our time together. We talk. She shares her impressions. I make sense of them. I walk away with her spot-on feedback swirling within, feeling cleansed, hopeful, and liberated all at once.
Taking advantage of a short stay in Utah, I manage to fit another wellness activity into my day. I reunite with Elizabeth for the spa’s popular Fire & Ice Journey. We don snowshoes and spend an hour or so clomping through the snowdrifts and along tree-peppered trails. We end beside the river at the Edge Spa’s Sanctuary, a tucked away luxury tent, anchored by a snow-covered statue of Buddha. Within, fur blankets, lit candles, a warm fire, hot tea, and various yoga accoutrements await. The solace and sacredness of the setting awes me. It’s perfect for yoga and meditation—that’s why we’re here—and Elizabeth leads a deeply meaningful practice. When the two-hour-plus Fire & Ice activity ends, I find that I’ve slipped into a deliriously heady, otherworldly state, stripped to the spiritual core. I know the answers to questions I didn’t even know I harbored. They’ve floated up as bubbles, then fallen to the earth to melt like the snowflakes I see outside. Infinitely energized and on the right path, I’ve shifted. I’ve been cared for by The Lodge at Blue Sky, as lovingly as they tend to the animal occupants of Gracie’s Farm.