On a clear, spring-like morning in March, I left over-crowded New York City and set off for the middle of nowhere. My destination was western Utah, where I would explore and conquer the region’s majestic red mountains. Upon landing in Salt Lake city, I caught a brief glimpse of the breathtaking ice-capped cliffs before taking a short shuttle to my final destination, the Red Mountain Resort in St. George, nestled in the foothills of Snow Canyon State Park.
Let me say that I was in a in a fairly prejudicial state of mind; Red Mountain Resort is a spa/health resort, and, spa dining is typically associated with the bland and the flavor insensitive. Yet, as the hours and days unfolded, I was to be proven wrong in my assumption.
My first dinner at the resort proved to be a revelation of sorts. The plate placed before me was a nicely balanced, perfectly cooked pork ensemble with a supporting cast of seasonal and local vegetables and fruits. Everything had bite, just enough to know that it was cooked fresh rather than from a can or box. To say I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement. I was rather thrilled at having had a proper dinner before the full-day hike in neighboring Zion National Park, Utahnal Parkthrilled at hav which I had signed up for from the list of guided tours that the resort arranges.
After rolling out of bed at the crack of dawn, I sluggishly stepped outside only to be slapped awake by the nip in the air that I had not dressed for. I made a run for morning sustenance, almond milk and housemade granola with a deeply satisfying crunch of nuts that the hotel served without a blink when I requested it.
I then joined my intimate group of three, including the guide, that was hiking the Canyon. I have been on several somewhat treacherous hikes in the past, but none had the powerful resonance of my experience hiking in Zion.
There were moments during the hikes when I looked up at the face of the mountain ahead and felt the space between us contract and stretch at the same time.
Back at the resort, the rejuvenation continued with spa experiences from body wraps and scrubs to massages. By the time I was done, I felt like I had been born anew, as had my raging appetite. Though the restaurant had already closed, guest services staff still arranged for a full three-course meal to be delivered to my room.
The next day, armed with a rented bike, I set out to explore the area, only to get lost very quickly amidst the beauty of the place. At the end of the road, I stood for a long time breathing the fresh desert air deeply and marveling at the expanse of the empty plateau in front of me and feeling very serene.
Back at the resort kitchen, I had a chat with executive chef Chad Luethje over a lunch demonstration that revealed the secret behind Red Rock theun-spa-like” dining experiences. As I predicted, everything had been made from scratch. That alone is somewhat unique within the industry, and it makes the food healthy and wholesome without losing flavor.
That afternoon, I cycled to Snow Canyon State Park, where I attempted a challenging bike ride along one of the mountain’s paths. At the end of the trail, I hiked up one of the several dunes in the area. This may be desert land, but these dunes were anything but shifting sand. The elements had packed the soil in over the centuries, creating ridged mountains that travelers could easily climb up. Once at the summit, it is easy to get lost in the beauty and expanse of the glorious mountains that are awe-inspiring and enthralling. Surrounded by the grandeur, I did not feel small or inconsequential; rather I felt encouraged, emboldened, empowered, and a powerful surge of confidence.
Coming back to the resort for my final dinner before heading back to the city, I could not help but reflect on the role the resort itself had played in my experience of the region. Charged with nutritious and wholesome meals, I was armed with a streak of excitement to explore as well as the strength to take on the challenge of any activity.
To be clear, the Red Mountain Resort is not, and, will never be, the spot for transcendental food experiences, but it doesn’t need to be. Transcendence abounds just outside in the canyons. What it does offer is a truly rejuvenating place of rest with a fortifying and nutritious menu that draws on the surrounding land for its strength and depth of its tasty offerings.
Disclaimer: I was invited to stay as a guest of the resort, but have received no compensation. All views expressed in this article are my own and have not received any incentive or remuneration to do so.