The Residences blend into the sandstane.

After a summer of dragging video equipment around the mountains of Ireland, I was back in the southwestern U.S. with an aching shoulder so I knew it was time to check in for a deep tissue sports massage at Red Mountain Spa in St. George, Utah. (Opening photo of Snow Canyon State Park.)

You have to love a spa resort that has its own Adventure Concierge, and in fact, I have never come across such a complete array of spa, romance, adventure, fitness, and cuisine services and activities as at Red Mountain Spa, and it was only getting better.

The gateway to health.

Spa Director, Debra Evans was currently involved in a multi-million dollar make over of the entire facility. Debra, once the Spa Director at Lake Austin Spa, was certainly the right person for the job, a whirlwind of vitality and vivaciousness, and I must admit I want to return to see her handiwork and magic touches. The wait is over for you because Debra’s inspiration is complete and she has moved on to other spa projects.

The Spa grows indigenous herbs.

What you will find at the “new” Red Mountain Spa are redesigned guest rooms and Villas (called the Residences and you can actually own one!). Past guests and future guests now have new healthy menu options, cooking schools and adventure cuisine.  I am certainly all for adventure cuisine, as long as I don’t have to chase it or shoot it. All the spa services have been moved into new headquarters, into one of those space age round pods that were part of the property before there was a Red Mountain Spa.  This frees up the building housing the restaurant for more educational courses, seminars, lectures, retreats, and corporate conferences.

This is Edward Abbey's Slick Rock country.

Red Mountain Spa has always been a progressive adventure sport paradise because of its locality to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, The Grand Canyon, and Grand Escalante Staircase, but hey, you don’t even have to get on an adventure tour because it beckons right out the back door at Snow Canyon State Park.  In fact, I didn’t even have to design my adventure through the Adventure Concierge, all it took was a bike rental, a twist of the seat bolt on my mountain bike for better riding adjustment, and I am off on a dedicated pathway that starts at the Spa and that is mostly up hill, but DOWN HILL on the way back. 

Of course there are many other guided trips available from the Spa, and they have their own vans for transportation, such as for kayaking in a small stream nearby, or for late night star gazing.  I have been to many remote areas in the world, including the pitch black night sky of the Blue Mountains of Jamaica and the Wind River Range in my home state of Wyoming and the night ferry from Lanai to Maui, but southern Utah matches these primal lightless areas. We loaded up two vans of guests for a short trip to the home of our astronomer guide, John P. Kolb, Jr., who enhanced our experience with an ad hoc lecture after he opened his garage door.   A movie screen and projector has hooked up to one of his outside telescopes so we got a wonderful ride through the galaxies.

The amazing lava field maze.

Later the next night I moonlight walk around the countersunk lava field maze. The protected lava fields are administered by the BLM and Red Mountain Spa, and the maze was a transfixation of mysticism.  The jack rabbits and coyotes must feel lucky in their natural home because nothing will ever be built on the lava fields. The trails splitting off in various directions were like rivers of quicksilver in the moonlight. Desert breezes brought scents of sage.

My dad had died only days ago so this was a very special spiritual solitude spot for reflection with the universe for me.

Poolside lava fields.

This is truly God’s outdoor country, and you must spend some time at Red Mountain Spa to get back into nature and into shape. Leave the laptop at home and work off that lap in the ultra modern state-of-the-art fitness center that includes a full size Olympic indoor pool and a seasonal outdoor pool.  I preferred the outdoor pool because the September days were still toasty hot, after sundown a night dip was so perfect, with the heat radiating off the rocks and cement that no towel was needed. The full moonlight lit up the lava field poolside making this a great escape.

Okay, I admit that I was not in the best of shape and needed some detoxification after pub crawling around Ireland, and this is certainly the place for it because of the unique spa techniques and certified technicians, trainers, and counselors. Hey, that sports massage fixed my stabbing shoulder pains so I am ready for a little free weight training.

Private dining classes.

One evening I was lucky to attend a seminar from one of the professors from the nearby colleges in St. George.  The subject was conscious eating habits.  We were served healthy cuisines in a private dining area, but we were coached in thinking about what we ate.  The reason for so much obesity in the U.S. is because we don’t realize how some foods harm our bodies.  Our instructor showed us how to slow down the dining experience, and made us realize that the living food is nature's energy, full of nutrients. While eating, it takes about 20 minutes before the stomach recognizes that it is getting full; we usually eat so fast and thus too much before the body's mechanisms sound off, but by slowing down the dining process, it gives our bodies time to react.  While listening to the lecture, one of the Spa chefs was outside the dining room window, snipping fresh herbs for some delectable seasoning.  Now that is FRESH!

Desert songbirds accompany
al fresco dining at the Spa.

The plentiful breakfasts were superb, matched by an equally sumptuous buffet luncheon, with a full menu offered for dinner. International and domestic wines were served from the bar tableside. One evening I took the wine tasting seminar conducted by one of the wine distribution salesmen in Utah, and I must say I became sloshed, but I really felt healthy!

You can eat all you want at the resort, and the in-house nutritionist, Dr. Ralph Ofcarcik, does not expound deprivation or severe restriction, and I think there is a hidden psychological connection to food and authority, or maybe a rebelliousness in us when we are told we can’t eat this or too much of that. Email Ralph at

Just changing the way I felt about food changed my dietary patterns. Education for optimal health is the key when combined with the rich flavored and prepared ingredients at the Canyon Breeze Restaurant, and after the conscious eating seminar, I was plentifully full, but satisfied, but on less calories.

Medicine Lodge Buffalo.

One evening Molasses Seared North American Elk was served, the best since shooting my own back in Wyoming (poaching has a different connotation back there than at the Spa), and I didn’t have to chase or shoot the braised delicacy on my plate.   A little merlot with the meat makes the perfect combo while chatting with a guest from back East. Hah, a tenderfoot — a vegetarian who kept eyeing my elk flank!

Other wonderful dinner entrées included Fire Roasted Poblano Chile Relleno, Coriander Crusted Chicken, Mediterranean Grilled Vegetable Orzo Salad, Red Pepper — Swiss Chard Risotto, and Vanilla & Mascarpone Sabayon. This is true gourmet dining and the home-made seven grain breads were wonderful, as were the green soft shell tortillas.

Pinion Crusted Rack of Lamb.

The menu tends to rotate I think, because the chefs also offered on other nights such wonderful fare as pheasant, tenderloin, duck, lamb, salmon, buffalo, and mahi mahi. Hey, maybe one of the self designed adventure trips from the Adventure Concierge includes elk or buffalo hunting!

Nutritional information is posted for each dish or food served. I certainly enjoyed dining al fresco on the patio in the evening at the restaurant. Additional specialty drinks and healthy snacks may be purchased at the Canyon Café.

The School for Adventure Cuisine

Become a culinary artist.

I must come back to the resort for training at the School for Adventure Cuisine. No, you don’t have to cook from a mess kit over an open fire, but if you did, I bet it was a mesquite flame broiled salamander that you were roasting.

The room and school package includes five nights of deluxe accommodations and in-depth training at a rate of $1695 per person double occupancy. The package is designed for learning the solid principles of healthy cooking, while still experiencing the Spa and other programs. The school is held during the afternoon, so you can enjoy morning hiking, a variety of fitness classes, and have your evenings open for spa appointments. You should book this package far in advance because class sizes are limited and there are no schools in April, May, and October.

Pioneer Ezekiel Bread.

The School of Adventure Cuisine package includes:

Eight hours of private cooking school instruction
Daily Guided Morning Hikes, Spirit Hikes and Moonlight Walks
Unlimited Fitness Classes including Yoga, Pilates, Chi Ball, Reebok Core Board
3 Healthy Gourmet Meals Daily
Cooking Demos & Nutrition Classes
Healthy Living Classes & Events
Full Use of Resort Facilities

Note that the Spa and salon services are extra, as are golf, outdoor adventure trips, and health & fitness services may be added to any package for an additional fee.

The simple objectives of the School for Adventure Cuisine are to recreate health cuisines at home and to instill conscious eating lifestyle changes. The chefs teach how to substitute eggs and oils and unhealthy salad dressing and sauces with more flavorful alternatives, thus making the texture and flavors more satisfying. Menu planning is a big part of the course.

I must return for this course to see if the chefs cook with cast iron or stainless steel utensils and pots rather than the unwise aluminum, even if it is anodized.  Also to learn if they promote soybean tofu that has now been widely discredited by many nutritionists.

The resort also offers other culinary education and services and cooking demonstrations that are not part of a programed package. Many of these seminars are offered weekly in the Demo Kitchen in the Canyon Breeze Center.  One problem I always have with health food is the misunderstanding that it is difficult to make, and time is of the essences for business persons. The Spa chefs can within a short one hour course transmute a multi course meal from the oven to the plate that will certainly stimulate the senses.

Red Mountain Vegetarian Chili.

A few of the courses include: Cooking with Game; Seafood Specialties; Complex Carbohydrates; Soups, Salads and Appetizers; Simple Bread Making; Personal Nutrition Consultation. These $100 courses include (for an additional $35) shopping smart at local health food stores, with transportation included. Shopping and eating smart can enhance the immure system, the digestive tract, help the heart, reduce stress, stem carb cravings, and advance athletic abilities.

One aspect I noticed while at the Spa was the amount of distilled water I drank, and every where I went on the grounds bottle water was available. Water is a critical need in the desert for normal body functions, but it also is regarded the best fluid for digestion. Avoid the aspertame in the modern colas!

Recently redesigned room complexes.


The resort is a creature comfort preserve priding itself by this motto: “Between a Rock and a Soft Place,” and believe me, my Boy Scout camping days are over and I am no son of the pioneers.  I needed my King room’s air conditioning during the day, but I left the French window slats open at night for the fresh breezes.  This is the Mojave Desert, so nights cool off quickly.  The down comforters on the pillow like mattress were so soft it was easy to slip into dreamland.  The slate floors were always cool to the bare feet.  The bathtub was deep and long. Signature scented herbal and spice fragrances and toiletries were always replenished. The towels were oversized and plentiful . . . ah, the Spa!

Single Queen bedroom.

The 82 rooms and the 12 Villa Suites at The Residences offer pondering, but relaxing  views of the red rocks surrounding the complex. The rock colors dance with the ascending and descending light throughout the day.

I have found few places on the planet that are so tranquil, but the red rocks almost forces the silence and serenity into all the pores, and with the healthy lifestyle options I was discovering a vast difference in spiritual bouyancy in a matter of days.  Most spa stays last a week. The resort has numerous special rates and packages throughout the year, so check their website regularly at or get on their email list or contact reservations at 800/407-3002.

Room types (Some rooms accommodate pets and the handicapped.)

The Residences living quarters.

Deluxe Double Queen and King Bedrooms for single or double occupancy; 12 luxury single bedroom Villa suites for up to 6 adults in the two bedroom suites.

Deluxe Guest Rooms have either Queen or King beds with  oversized soaking tubs and showers, spacious closets, 100% cotton sheets covered by a fluffy hypoallergenic comforter and luxurious bathrobes. Appointments include solid wood desk, dresser combination with desk chair, some with cozy lounge chair and ottoman, night stand, cable television, dial-up internet access, iron and ironing board, coffee maker, lighted make up mirror, hair dryer, and in-room safe.

Deluxe King Mountain View: Several rooms face the  red rock mountains and breathtaking lava fields, making these rooms the ultimate sunrise.

Villa bedroom at The Residence.

Villa Suites: Villas are individualized homes that are great for families, groups, wedding parties, and reunions. The large windows in the southwestern décor Villas capture the stunning vistas and are tailored for comfort, space, and quiet luxury. They accommodate from 1-6 guests in King or Double Queen bedrooms, or with bedrooms with adjoining suite, or two bedroom suites. The bedrooms offer natural gas fireplaces and spa style master baths with whirlpool tubs. Upgrade to a Villa Suite or Villa Two Bedroom Suite, with a living room with fireplace, kitchenette, and additional bathroom with shower. All Villa accommodations offer balcony or deck and a full array of amenities and housekeeping daily.

Comfortable vistas.

The Residences at Red Mountain

Ownership has its privileges and The Residences at Red Mountain Spa offers exactly what vacation owners' desire: a soothing respite, generous use of the home, and exceptional services from a leading property management company.

The Residences at Red Mountain Spa is your way to own a piece of beautiful Red Mountain. Each Villa is graciously designed for comfort and design, and value. The uniquely designed ownership program allows Villa access year-around. Call 800/444-4230 for details.

The "new" Sagestone Spa at Red Mountain.

What you really came here for are the unique spa treatments and services at The Sagestone Spa at Red Mountain, rated one of the top spas by Spa Finder Magazine, with the Fitness Center rated one of the best by Fitness Magazine.

Hand-crafted indigenous ingredients.

Most of the treatments are crafted with mineral rich muds, clays and salts, oils, body butters, lotions, balms and other indigenous ingredients.

The treatments are inspired by the desert, the adventures, the ancient rituals, and by romance, but all leave you relaxed and refreshed. It is suggested to book your treatments in advance of your stay so you get the time requested and so that the staff can plan customized services. Call 800/690-9215 or e-mail:

Of course the Spa has many of the traditional services such as sports massages, facials, pedicures, manicures, salon hair services, and body wraps, but there are so many packages and services that I won’t include them all here, but I will highlight a few of the Signature Treatments.

Numerous treatments for all ailments.

JAMU Massage Healing Ritual — 75-minutes, $155. This is a ritualistic massage combining Hindu, Chinese, and European influences to create a relaxing, rhythmic, and energizing experience. The Asian techniques of acupressure, skin-rolling, long strokes, and percussion invigorate the muscles and significantly increase blood circulation that is complemented with an invigorating back scrub and your choice of tropical JAMU massage oils: Bali Flowers, Island Fruits, Thai, or Coconilla.

Aromasoul Collection — Discover Your Ancient Soul. A truly unique collection of exceptional rituals offering a deeply restoring experience for the body and soul. The Aromasoul journeys are recommended for a complete and sensational restoration experience . . . a path to discover your ancient soul. Discover the benefits and pleasures of rare herbal blends and healing modalities inspired by the traditions and culture of ancient worlds. The journeys should be experienced in the order presented as they move you from opening up the body, to releasing blocks, to balancing the body and energizing the mind and body.

River stone therapy.

Relaxation areas.

Balms and elixirs and aromas.

Aromasoul-Indian — 75-minutes $145: Aromasoul Indian resonates deeply with mind, body and spirit, and embraces the essence of ayurvedic philosophy in a treatment that begins with brisk, energetic strokes and culminates with tranquil energy balancing. The first part of the treatment is derived from the traditional style which was called suks thirummu. In this part of the treatment a balance is obtained of the whole system and a normal flow of prana (vital energy) in the meridians. The second part of the treatment consists of a relaxation phase and involves the stimulation of vital points, call marma points. This treatment is contradicted for pregnancy. It is recommended for fatigue, stress reduction, and general well-being.

Pine Valley Body Scrub — 25-minutes $50. This invigorating scrub is infused with the essence of pine. Its tiny particles work to remove dead skin cells and simultaneously moisturize the skin. Stimulate the senses with this refreshing body exfoliation that will remind you of the scents and scenery found in nearby pine forests.

Javanese Lulur Royal Spa Ritual — 110-minutes $225. A regal preparation derived from the palace in Central Java, Indonesia, dating back to the 17th century. Discover the JAMU massage with fragrant oils to begin your ritual, followed by an invigorating skin scrub with a traditional Lulur recipe containing turmeric, rice, and jasmine. Followed with a cool yogurt splash, a luxurious flower petal shower, flower tea, and a light application of Jasmine Frangipani Body Lotion.

Hike to ancient sites.

Outdoor Sports and Adventure Trekking

What’s life without adventure? And Red Rock Spa ADDS plenty of non excuses to get into shape or to further buff out. First stop is the Fitness Center for an analysis of your cardiovascular health, stamina, and other athletic aspects.  While at the Fitness Center you have full use of all the equipment, including the Olympic indoor pool, strength/cardio classes, aqua classes, yoga, Reebok core board, Pilates mat classes, stretchand flexibility, balletone and more!

For me the jaw dropping awe adventure starts just outside, and the Spa is surrounded by 360 degrees of outside.  The Adventure Concierge can set up mind, body, and soul inspiring  trips such as hiking, cycling, mountain biking, kayaking, golf, and natural rock climbing adventures. Just around the corner are some of the premier national parks and with advanced notice you can get on a Grand Circle tour of Zion, Bryce Canyon or the Grand Canyon.

Mountain biking Snow Canyon's
dedicated bike pathway.

The red and white vermillion Navajo Sandstone cliffs and canyons and volcanic cones at the 6,500-acre Snow Canyon State Park can be hiked or biked or climbed, or meditate in an arroyo. You can also buy outdoor clothing, boots and accessories at the Spa’s Adventure Outdoors Store so you won't look like a complete greenhorn.

This is a great location for corporate retreats because of the team building qualities of the outdoor programs, and there are five meeting rooms if you must still connect to the outside whirl of the world.

The Adventue Concierge can set up golf outings on courses just minutes away, or take the staff out on guided daily hikes, spirit hikes, moonlight walks, and star parties. Hiking is geared as Trekker I, II or III levels depending on your fitness level. They have over 30 different hikes with over 40 specialized guides.

Adventure Concierge is available daily from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Mountain Time; call 435/652-5712 or email

This easy to reach destination has direct flights from Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, or a scenic 2-hour drive northeast from Las VegasMcCarran Airport or Executive Private Jet Center.  Contact St. George Shuttle at for airport to Spa doorstep service in comfortable vans, about $35 each way to or from Las Vegas.

By Kriss Hammond, Editor, Jetsetters Magazine.

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