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Re-Discovering a New Approach to Health at Strata Wellness and Garden of the Gods Resort in Colorado Springs

Aging In, Not Out.

As I continued my quest for the good life as a transplant to “The Springs,” a few things kept popping up in conversation, one of those being the Garden of the Gods Resort and Club, which I had seen on my bike rides around this magnificent historical, geological and spiritual wonder of a mountain park, just 10 minutes from my house in downtown COS. 

When I got a text from one of my PR buddies saying he was working with a new functional wellness institute based on the resort property, I jumped at the chance to stay and relax at one of the Front Range’s premier staycation properties. What I found was not only one of the nicest private clubs I’ve ever been invited to, but a resplendent hotel, fitness facility, pool, and views one could only imagine. It also rekindled an exploration of functional and alternative wellness for me that had been ongoing since my first daughter was born seven years ago. 

Perched atop a mellow mesa in central Colorado Springs, the Garden of the Gods Resort and Club and the on-site spa and holistic care center Strata are definitely hidden gems not just for the Springs but for the Front Range as a whole, and soaking in the spectacular views of these iconic rock formations just doesn’t get old. The newly renovated club is sometimes overshadowed by the nearby Broadmoor when it comes to exclusive stays in the Pikes Peak region, but this is definitely a premier retreat for the Rocky Mountain West, and more approachable, a world-class resort and wellness experience with amenities including championship golf and tennis, pickleball courts, an award-winning wellness spa, three outdoor swimming pools, hot tubs, and impeccable dining experiences. Not to mention hiking, cycling, and climbing opportunities inside the Park. Luxurious accommodations in its 117 rooms and suites within the hotel, Cottages, and Casitas include one- to three-bedroom suites (which feature private patios in all guest rooms) and stunning views of Garden of the Gods Park from Lodge guest rooms. Set among expansive vistas of Pikes Peak and the National Natural Landmark of the same name, the Four-Diamond Garden of the Gods Resort and Club has a fascinating local history. 

Now, they are welcoming global travelers to undergo a personalized journey of restoration and renewal within an internationally acclaimed on-site spa named Strata, which provides integrative and personalized Concierge Wellness Experiences while immersed in nature. I spent a day there undergoing some evaluations and treatments, and I didn’t want to leave. Their team of more than 30 acclaimed and board-certified physicians and therapists across more than 40 disciplines integrate Western and Eastern medical science with nutrition, fitness, and mindfulness coaching to provide guests with a fresh perspective, a greater level of whole-person wellness, and a renewed sense of possibility. 

Garden of the Gods Resort and Club is a timeless mid-20th century legacy with mid-mod bones, blending generational traditions with bespoke culture that celebrates life well-lived. For more than 70 years the resort has merged the iconic beauty of the landscape with refined ambiance and rich wellness tradition, opened in 1951. In 2013 longtime club members Brenda Smith, an accounting executive, and healthcare executive Judy Mackey acquired the high-profile resort and renamed it Garden of the Gods Resort and Club. It is through Smith and Mackey’s vision that Strata was created in 2018 within the grounds and is now open to the public, welcoming locals, members, resort guests, and area visitors to 31,000 square feet of health, wellness, and vitality, including a 10,000-square-foot medical center, a 10,000-square-foot spa and salon, and an 11,000-square-foot event center for fitness and cooking demonstrations, lectures, and more.

The red rock sandstone formations set against Pikes Peak have long been revered for their natural beauty. It served as a Native American crossroads where numerous nomadic tribes gathered in peace and where the old Ute Trail passed through. According to local stories, the immense sandstone formations were considered sacred ground, and because of this, rival tribes laid down their weapons when entering the Garden of the Gods. In 1879 Charles Elliott Perkins purchased 480 acres that included the present Garden of the Gods, and upon his death in 1909 his family gifted the land to the City of Colorado Springs with the provision that it would be a free public park, which it remains today. They also fund an amazing natural history museum on the grounds which I highly recommend.

When club founder Al Hill first looked out across the mesa with the lucent rays of late-day sunbathing the landscape in a golden glow he believed he’d found his paradise. A powerful, magnetic place, utterly peaceful, and surrounded by awe-inspiring natural splendor, Hill and his wife Margaret dreamed of sharing that view with others by creating what is now the nationally renowned Garden of the Gods Resort and Club. The Hills purchased the property in 1949, and shortly thereafter, built a private club, luxury resort, and residential community that showcased man-made elegance in an unparalleled natural setting. Garden of the Gods Club attracted fascinating people of means and influence including movie stars, politicians, artists, authors, and musicians including Walt Disney, Gene Autry and John Wayne.

Strata at Garden of the Gods Resort and Club is where “self-care and healthcare become one.” Founders say Strata has realized dreams and passions to create innovative, fully integrative, and personalized Concierge Wellness Experiences immersed in nature where  patients and providers are partners and the best techniques of Eastern practices and Western sciences blend to produce a holistic approach to health, healing, hospitality, and happiness.

It’s internationally acclaimed evidence-based Wellness Concierge Medical Memberships are founded on patient-centric, personalized, and proactive healthcare—inclusive of integrative, immersive, and innovative services and treatments that stir the senses under the care of more than 40 experts including board-certified doctors, nurses and award-winning therapists, providers, and wellness clinicians spanning medicine, aesthetics, fitness, and  through three key integrated disciplines: Strata Med (health and wellness), Strata Spa (spa and salon), and Strata Fit (fitness and performance) all under one roof. Strata’s memberships (available in four categories: Men’s and Women’s lifestyle, VIP, Cardiology) are a good option to consider for ongoing treatments, and the Men’s Lifestyle Membership is particularly relevant and offers various programs from “Vitality Boost” to “Peak Performance.” For those interested, definitely check out the staff bios and do some research before booking your appointment and heading down! 

I found their approach both refreshing and a bit contradictory to a lot of the Western medical advice I’d been receiving. But outside of any serious medical concerns, the more familiar treatments such as Chiropractic, IV therapy, and massage were some of the best I’ve received anywhere, and I would absolutely go back for more. The resort is situated near a variety of the region’s unique attractions, including the famed Manitou Incline; Pikes Peak, the 14-er you can drive or take a train to the top of and which was the inspiration behind the song “America the Beautiful”; Cave of the Winds; the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center and U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum; the nation’s highest zoo, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo; the Air Force Academy; Royal Gorge Bridge; and more.

Definitely Wild is a column by EO Contributing Editor Aaron Bible. He has been writing for Elevation Outdoors and Blue Ridge Outdoors, among other outdoor publications, for more than two decades, covering cycling, skiing, gear, adventure travel and mountain life. The opinions expressed here are his own. Follow him on Instagram at @DefinitelyWild.

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