New Life Hiking Spa: Healthy Vacations can be Fun
My husband has put on a few pounds this year, and I’ve acquired a muffin top. So when I learned about a healthy vacation at New Life Hiking Spa in Vermont this summer, I thought I’d sign us both up. The 11-day program sounded like just the thing, but because of work commitments the 3-day mini-program would have to do. I hoped it would at least jump start our weight loss efforts.
Director Jimmy LeSage holds the program from mid-May through September at The Inn of the Six Mountains at Killington mountain, where we’ve skied. It’s a 6-hour drive from our home in central Jersey. We’re not crazy about driving long distances, but we enjoy hiking and we’d be trying some new activities and learning about healthy eating. What’s not to love?
Jimmy found us after we checked in Monday afternoon and gave us a short tour. He’s as energetic in person as he is on the phone. At our final stop, the spa’s hospitality lounge, he explained the daily activities listed on a white board.
Our room was big, comfortable, clean and pleasantly decorated. A corner room, it had not one, but two balconies. The coffee maker and refrigerator may be standard amenities these days, but they made me a happy camper. Well, hiker.
Tuesday morning found us in the white Quonset hut visible from our balcony. We joined about 20 of our hiking mates on the floor, stretching on their exercise mats as directed by an instructor. We saved the next session, Qigong (related to Tai Chi) for Wednesday, and headed to breakfast. Daily choices are plain scrambled eggs, scrambled eggs mixed with a vegetable, steel cut oats, or a very filling smoothie (so I heard). All but the oatmeal were accompanied by an English muffin, and fruit was also included each morning.
Jimmy had told us we’d need over-the-ankle hiking boots for navigating the rocks and roots on the more advanced trails, so we purchased them beforehand. At 9:00 a.m. we hopped a van with 8 or so other people for a half-hour drive to our intermediate hike on a nearby mountain.
After all, we bike, we walk, and I jog. Why wouldn’t we start with that level? But I got shin splints on the incline (I was probably using different muscles), and Carl’s plantar fasciitis resurfaced, so maybe it wasn’t the best choice for the first day. However, we liked being challenged and would definitely have wanted to try it another day.
I had no energy for the strength training class in the afternoon, and ditto the Fitball session. We did jump in for water aerobics after hiking—a first for us both—and got hooked.
Wednesday and Thursday we chose the nature walks, which were on more level ground. Since we didn’t have to look down and watch our step as on Tuesday, we were able to gaze more at the breathtaking Vermont scenery. Don’t get me wrong, many of us strode just as quickly as on that intermediate level walk. Guests can walk at whatever speed they find comfortable. There are three guides on every hike (the nature walk, the intermediate hike, and the advanced hike), and they stay with the fastest guest as well as those who choose to go more slowly. Each hike begins and ends with stretching and involves a fruit break.
A sample lunch was carrot soup, a quinoa salad and two crackers with goat cheese. A sample dinner featured half a broccoli-stuffed chicken breast along with half a tabouli-stuffed pepper — a “combo” of the two dinner choices. Dessert was a peach cobbler. The food was healthy and low-calorie, and included tons of grains. We thoroughly enjoyed it except for one salad dressing containing horseradish. And we lost some weight — Carl lost six pounds and I lost one.
We skipped the talk on Chinese medicine, which others said was worthwhile, but attended another where a chef demonstrated how to make a healthy smoothie with kale, Swiss chard and fruit—which was surprisingly tasty. The chef also explained about additives, such as protein powder and chia seeds. Would I try one at home? Maybe, if I found the time.
Just before dinner Wednesday, Carl and I experienced another first — a massage. One was included; more are included with longer stays. I see now why my friends rave about them. I fell in love with the hand and foot treatments.
The New Life staff was friendly, helpful, and seemingly determined that we enjoy our stay. There were several activities that we didn’t get to try in our short visit, including yoga and a spin class. Our fellow guests were another highlight—I can’t remember having so many laughs on a trip. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
New Life Hiking Spa
|2617 Killington Road Killington, VT 05751
Prices, which include the hiking spa and meal and, are per person per night, are as follows:
A 2-to-4 night mini-vacation ranges from $229 to$ 449.
5-to-10 nights are from $219 to $239
11 nights are from $209 to $229
Check for current discounts.