Moving Mountains: Maximize Your Next Fitness Vacation

Wellness tourism is booming, and according to the Global Wellness Institute, it's growing at a rate double that of the general tourism industry. The reality is, people are prioritizing their health while traveling, and they're looking for travel experiences that help maximize their well-being.

In some respects, this is nothing new. A Colorado (or New Mexico, or Utah) ski trip has always prioritized activity as a cornerstone of the experience. Clearly, skiing and snowboarding are excellent opportunities to get outside and burn serious calories. But what's changed in the last 10 or 20 years is the desire for travel experiences that are custom-tailored to the traveler, providing everything from healthy meals to activity planning to spa services. Often, these experiences are provided as retreats, tours, or all-inclusive spas. While incredibly enjoyable, the downside is that they still limit the traveler to the foods and programs provided directly by the resort or guide. 

To answer the call for truly customized fitness vacations (people want everything customized, it seems), some vacation rental companies are providing a full-service experience. Moving Mountains, a catered ski chalet and vacation rental company located in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, is one such company breaking the mold of the wellness tourism industry. It's like a high-end Airbnb meets a personal assistant, personal chef, personal trainer, and personal mind-reader.

If you've ever seen the Bravo TV show Timber Creek Lodge, it's kind of like that...but in Colorado. If you're considering an active vacation in the Rocky Mountains, here's what you can expect at Moving Mountains.

High-End Lodging

moving mountains creekside chalet
Moving Mountains

Moving Mountains isn't a resort or a hotel, it's a vacation rental service. Rather than booking a single room, you're booking a high-end house or condo. This is a great option if you're traveling with a group of friends or a large family, especially since each property includes a full kitchen, multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, and often additional amenities, such as hot tubs, outdoor grills, and game rooms.

One obvious health benefit to staying at a vacation rental is its full kitchen. Rather than feeling limited to restaurant meals, you have the flexibility to purchase groceries and prepare your own food at home. This is particularly nice if you have dietary restrictions that make eating out more challenging.

Of course, these properties come at a cost, so they're probably not appropriate for anyone traveling on a limited budget, unless, of course, you're able to split the expense with a group of friends.

Activities Concierge

snowboarding steamboat
Chloe Matelski/Peach Veil Photography

The Guest Services department at Moving Mountains is what takes the company from a standard vacation rental company into the realm of full-service wellness tourism. For instance, their connections with other organizations in the area help them secure the best possible deals on lift tickets, gear rentals, and lessons at Steamboat Resort, which they can wrap into the price of your stay.​

They're also able to connect you with guides for activities like ice climbing and snowshoeing, and they're happy to help you decide where to hike or bike in the area. The company's CEO, Robin Craigen, is an avid snowboarder and cyclist, and he says, "Howelsen Hill and Emerald Mountain in the heart of downtown Steamboat offer all the hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and intro backcountry skiing you could ever ask for." Basically, if you need any advice or ideas for how to get active during your trip, Moving Mountains has the hookup.

And this goes beyond fitness-focused activities. If you need a restaurant reservation, they'll make it for you. If you want to book a post-ski massage at The Spa at One Steamboat Place, they'll set you up. And if you want someone to deliver groceries to your vacation rental, they'll take care of the shopping for you.

Catered Meals

catered meal
Laura Williams

In addition to grocery delivery, Moving Mountains offers two other in-house meal service options. First is the V.I.P. Catered Chalet Experience, which includes a personal chef who customizes breakfasts, snacks, and dinners based on any and all dietary restrictions.

This full-service option also includes daily housekeeping and limo service. So, as you might expect, it doesn't come cheap. But if you have the money to spend and you like the idea of being waited on hand and foot while traveling, it's worth the splurge, giving you the flexibility to spend your time on other things, like going stand up paddleboarding, or spending an extra hour lounging in the hot tub.

But if paying for an in-house chef for your full stay is out of the question, there's also the option to employ a personal chef for a night or two. As with the catered service, the chef comes in to cook, serve, and clean up a healthy, customized meal for you and your party. It's an awesome way to kick back the night before your vacation is over and really enjoy your final evening away.

Again, this is an especially nice option for individuals following a strict or restricted eating plan because you don't have to worry about the complicated ordering process at a restaurant. Rather, you can communicate your needs to the chef in advance, and come up with a satisfactory menu that's tailored to your needs.

Grocery Delivery

Grocery delivery is quite possibly one of the best wellness-related benefits that Moving Mountains offers. It's hard to keep your nutrition in check when you're traveling, and no one wants to spend part of their vacation shopping at the grocery store. The fact that you can call ahead, put in your grocery order, and have your groceries delivered to your vacation rental before you even arrive is pretty phenomenal. This means you can plan your meals in advance and stick to your regular eating patterns without missing a beat.

Comparing the Moving Mountains Experience to Other Wellness Vacations

ice climbing
Chloe Matelski/Peach Veil Photography

Having enjoyed wellness travel to several spas and retreats, I have to say that the Moving Mountains experience allows for the most flexibility in terms of planning and activities. This is especially nice when traveling with a larger group.

For instance, some resorts and tours don't allow children under a certain age to attend, particularly at higher-end, adult-focused spas. This is a problem if you want to plan a family trip. Likewise, most fitness vacations provide basic hotel rooms as lodging, rather than vacation houses or condos. These rooms may be nice, but with few exceptions, they don't allow you to cook or prepare your own food, forcing you to plan your schedule around the retreat's dining hours or off-site meals. Again, not a terrible thing, but it can be limiting.

Similarly, most spas and retreats have pre-planned classes and hikes scheduled into the day. You can choose whether to attend, but if you don't attend, you can't necessarily go "off book" and schedule something away from the retreat...at least not with the help of the retreat company itself. With Moving Mountains, the Guest Services department is happy to schedule any activity or event you want to try, but they're not personally invested in providing activities for you. This means you're not limited by what they offer or when they offer it. Depending on your goals or preferences, this could be considered a positive or negative thing.

In the case of my trip, we were able to go night skiing the first night we arrived before preparing our own in-house meal after coming in off the slopes. The next day we hiked and went ice climbing in the morning, headed to the hot springs in the afternoon, then enjoyed a very nice, leisurely meal at The Laundry that night. Our final day in Steamboat started off with snowboarding during the day, then finished with a relaxing evening in the hot tub while a personal chef prepared a three-course meal for dinner. We ate when we were hungry, slept when we were tired, and spent lots of time getting active, all on our own schedule and terms. It was one of the most active and most enjoyable vacations I've ever experienced, and while Moving Mountains didn't plan all the details, they did facilitate everything we did.

Essentially, Moving Mountains flips the script. They put the power in your hands to plan your own wellness vacation, but then they take over the hassle of scheduling and arranging the details. It's really the best of both worlds.

The main challenge, of course, is the cost. High-end rentals, particularly large vacation homes in winter meccas like Steamboat Springs aren't cheap. But then again, high-end fitness resorts aren't cheap, either. Ultimately, it all comes down to expectations and priorities. If you want to plan your own vacation activities, then let someone else organize the details, using a company like Moving Mountains is the best possible option. If, however, you'd prefer to show up at a retreat and follow whatever activities are already on the schedule, that's a great choice, too.

Who Moving Mountains Is For: 

  • Individuals with high expendable incomes. You have to be able to afford the cost of a high-end vacation rental and at-your-beck-and-call guest services staff. 
  • Large groups or families. The Moving Mountains experience is particularly nice for families who want to stay active on vacation, or large groups of friends. When you can split the cost of the rental and meal service between multiple parties, it becomes much more affordable. Plus, the flexibility of activities and meals is especially nice when you have many people with different needs and expectations. 
  • Anyone who wants an especially nice vacation. If you're saving up for one killer trip, Moving Mountains is a great way to go. Just be careful - if you enjoy the experience once, you'll probably be spoiled for life. 
  • Individuals who want to plan their own activities. If you're not a fan of following a pre-planned retreat schedule, or if you really like to spend your vacation seeking out lesser-known activities and events, using a full-service vacation rental company is a great way to go as they can help you find and schedule the activities that are most important to you. 

Lodging was provided by Moving Mountains. All experiences and opinions are my own.

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