Wellness Packages a Vacation Treat
by Judith Lane
Contributor to Travelink Publishing

Looking for a healthier lifestyle? Look no further than the Hills Health and Guest Ranch. Located in the heart of BC's Cariboo country, this ranch-styled retreat is a Mecca for people seeking rest, relaxation and pampering.
When it opened in 1985, The Hills was Canada's first year-round health and fitness vacation resort which today, offers activities that include cross country skiing, horseback riding, climbing, hiking, rafting, kayaking, golfing, mountain biking and more.

My visit found a variety of vacationers enjoying many of these activities as well as a corporate group holding a week-long meeting. I also ran into members of the Pole 2 Pole 2000 Challenge. The group, made up of young people from nine different countries, was in residence for five weeks to train for an expedition that will see them traverse land and sea, from North Pole to South Pole by December 31, 2000. Inspiring .... even though I wasn't in their league.

But that's what's so comforting at The Hills. Whatever your fitness level, programs are tailored to personal need in an atmosphere that exudes such calm, it's contagious. Even in the gym where sweat and exertion are the order of the day, serenity rules. And in between work-out stations, I heard testimonials: one man had lost 60 pounds, another more, while an executive couple were on a bi-annual visit which they swore kept their "middle-age spread at bay"!

Setting up a healthy lifestyle for participants is a large part of what The Hills does. All guests receive a fitness assessment before embarking on a program of exercise, diet and lifestyle counseling so regimes can be developed, practiced and then incorporated into a lifestyle long after guests return home.

And programs are extensive, covering areas from stress reduction and executive renewal to weight loss, quitting smoking, athletic training and music retreats. Spa and wellness services are so popular that facilities have recently expanded, and include physiotherapy, reflexology, acupuncture, massage, manicures, pedicures, facials, waxing and body treatments.

I was on a weekend getaway with the "Beauty Package" in mind. My goal? Arrive as a princess and leave, morphed into a queen. Could such miracles really happen?

My first appointment was a full body massage during which knots and tension simply dissolved. Is it possible to drift off as every inch of your flesh is being pummeled? Yes, it is. I felt like a melting piece of taffy. My second massage, the next day, was entirely different - gentle fairy strokes, followed by a facial and the world's best pedicure after which I seemed to walk on air.

Remarkably, I was not a complete sloth during my stay. The fully equipped gym seduced me into a couple of workouts and the 7:30 am pre-breakfast walk certainly nurtured my newly acquired outer glow with an inner energy for the rest of the day. Beauty and virtue in a weekend package. What more could one ask for? Food, of course.

Since all meals and programs are tailored to individual needs, every guest is asked to fill out a questionnaire detailing their likes, dislikes and any health or medical issues. I opted for spa cuisine over traditional ranch cuisine to see if I would feel deprived. I didn't. The mouth-watering meals made my at-home suppers look like starvation rations. But what really left me in awe was the calorie count that accompanied each dish.

How so much, great tasting food could 'count' for so little befuddled the mind: a chicken entree at 342 calories; and the pasta primavera? A meager 272. Even the French toast at breakfast was created as diet food!

I certainly learned something about nutrition that weekend and how The Hills works such wonders. Its staff is dedicated to educating clients about healthier lifestyles, whether it is fitness, nutrition or wellness and they provide such a caring environment, it's easy to see why people depart calm, happy and determined to return. As for this little princess? Suffice to say, she left The Hills feeling a miracle had happened. Need I say more?

If You Go:

The Hills Health Ranch
Box 26
108 Mile Ranch, BC
Canada V0K 2Z0
Tel: 250-791-5225
Fax: 250-791-6384
Email: thehills@bcinternet.net
Web site: www.spabc.com

Hosts: Pat and Juanita Corbett

By car: From Vancouver. A six hour, 480 kilometer drive
By air: From Vancouver. Air BC services nearby Williams Lake several times daily.

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