Vail launches health and wellness vacations |

Vail launches health and wellness vacations

Melanie Wong

VAIL — Imagine this. You arrive at your Vail vacation to be greeted at your hotel with a refreshing meal, then sit down to meet with your life coach. You’ll chat about your health and fitness goals, then get rested for the next day, when you’ll get a complete physical, blood analysis and screening by a physical therapist.

An exercise physiologist will pinpoint your fitness level and metabolic rate using tests usually reserved for professional athletes, then you’ll talk to a trainer and nutritionist to construct a plan for the week.

The remainder of your vacation will include anything from yoga classes to hikes up Vail Mountain with a trainer, to a round of golf on one of the valley’s pristine courses. It’s all rounded out by regular massages and dinners at Vail’s top restaurants, enjoying meals crafted to be gourmet yet healthy.

That’s a typical Peak Wellness retreat, a new kind of vacation package offered in partnership with the Vail Vitality Center and a host of other medical specialists, fitness experts and recreation operators around the Vail Valley.

“There are already many wellness components within the village,” said Peak Wellness co-founder Lauren Arnold at a recent presentation to Vail’s marketing committee. “We’re trying to offer them as a comprehensive package.”

Move over, Sedona

The retreats are offered in three-day to four-week slots and can be custom fitted to any sort of client, from the competitive athlete looking to get to the next level to someone looking for a time of physical and spiritual renewal. The goal is to help bill the Vail community as a top destination for preventative wellness and health, said co-founder Jeff Morgan, who also is director at the Vail Vitality Center in Vail.

He said that the company is putting the finishing touches on the program through May, backed by the marketing power and expertise of a former NFL football player, then will be open for business by June. He expects that the retreats will truly gain traction next summer.

About 20 specialists and companies are involved in the program right now. Morgan said the beauty of the idea lies in the fact that Peak Wellness isn’t really creating any new services, simply helping package existing services into a single retreat experience.

“The retreat includes assessing your fitness goals, and once here, you see different experts, and we send you back with a plan to help keep it up at home,” said company co-founder Gaby Milhoan. “The activities you do will depend on what your goals are — a healthy relaxing week or to make some life changes.”

If a retreat client uses a service, that company will give Peak Wellness a cut of the payment as a booking fee.

“Basically, Peak Wellness retreat is a platform and a low-cost way for businesses to be involved in wellness tourism,” said Morgan. “We’ve already got VVMC, Howard Head and Vail Integrative Medical Group on board. We’ve been working with some private doctors as well, and we have the support of the Vail Valley Partnership and the town of Vail. The idea is, we’re going to fill your table, your gym, your office, and we handle the booking.”

Finding Vail’s niche

For the past six years, Vail officials and business owners have talked about marketing the town as a summer health and wellness destination. While the idea has been widely applauded by the business community, what that actually looks like has been a hazy notion. Vail Valley Partnership CEO Chris Romer points out that the valley hosts great health and fitness events and is home to a number of respected medical organizations, but no one has been able to figure out how to continually attract health tourism to the valley.

“It’s great to see an organization or business take the initiative on this,” Romer said.

“We’ve been struggling a little bit to find as a community what health and wellness means to our visitors. We haven’t had a flag in the ground program to resonates with guests.”

Some in the business community have long thought that Vail has the potential to be a health resort destination akin to Sedona, Ariz., or Canyon Ranch, which has resort locations across the country.

Marketing research shows that people who visit Vail outside of the ski season are interested in wellness and participatory experiences. The concept of a wellness retreat fits perfectly in that, said Romer.

“This is the first effort I’ve seen on a seasonal basis, not just a one-time event, to drive visitation for summer health and wellness,” said Romer. “In my opinion, it’s long overdue.”

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 or at

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