RANCHO SANTA FE, CA—In terms of health and wellbeing, things aren’t always what they seem to be. Epigenetics—the study of biological mechanisms that can turn genes on and off—in awareness and practice can be empowering for guests who wish to take action toward preventing or healing an illness and improving their overall health.
The Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, Southern California’s only Relais & Châteaux property, has partnered with the Lifewellness Institute, a wellness center in San Diego, to provide a customized and integrated program called the Wellness Collective—centered on epigenetics—to help address the wellness concerns of hotel guests.
“It was previously thought that genes were fixed for life. However, sequencing of the human genome has taught us that genes can change in response to how we care for ourselves. Epigenetics refers to features that are on top of or in addition to the traditional genetic basis for inheritance,” said Kristi Dickinson, director of spa & wellness, Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa. “These are factors that alter how genes are expressed without altering the underlying DNA sequence. Unlike the underlying genome, which is largely static within an individual, the epigenome can be dynamically altered by environmental conditions.”
Don’t blame it on the genes. Dickinson explained there are certain lifestyle factors within an individual’s control, which influence the epigenome: movement and fitness; attitude and perspective; nutrition and toxicity; sleep and respite; relationships and connection; and stress and balance. “By educating our clients on the importance of these lifestyle decisions and giving them practical tools to incorporate in their daily lives, we can make a serious impact on their longevity and ability to thrive,” she said.
When Dickinson met Dr. E. Lee Rice, CEO of the Lifewellness Institute, she knew they needed to work together. They shared a passion for wellness, and there were also synergies in their business models.
“Dr. Rice understands the body-mind connection in a way that Western physicians rarely do. With more than 30 years of experience as a family and sports medicine physician, Dr. Rice is one of the premier medical experts on wellness, both in the United States and internationally,” she said. “We wanted to partner with a physician to have a strong foundation in science for our program and access to advanced medical tools, but Dr. Rice was the obvious choice given his relationship-based style, values and a deep connection with his patients.”
As a participant in the program, guests will encounter intimate workshops lectures and activities, fitness offerings, master bodyworkers, and healthy cuisine. In addition, the wellness program includes:
- A Personal Wellness Advisor
- All meals, crafted exclusively for retreat guests
- Daily 90 minute spa therapy customized to your individual needs
- Daily private fitness, meditation or mindfulness session
- Daily cold pressed juice delivery
- Daily amenity
- Wellness Collective gift
- Unlimited access to spa facilities and fitness classes
- Preserving the fun and lively spirit of the resort was important in the development of the Wellness
- Collective, Dickinson noted, adding that there’s a focus on flexibility and enjoyment.
“Rancho Valencia has always been about living life to the fullest and fun. Our guests are athletes and fitness enthusiasts, but they also enjoy good food and wine. They are looking for a break from the hustle and bustle, but also to enjoy themselves,” she said. “We didn’t want guests to feel deprived or overscheduled. I personally design the experience for each and every guest, ensuring the best treatments, trainers and therapists for their goals. I have a background as a massage therapist and yoga instructor. My deep understanding of human physical and emotional needs informs the experiences we offer to our guests.”
To get the most out of the program, guest who are looking for a general reset may wish to try the general wellness packages offered throughout the year. For guests with specific goals, Dickinson recommends they attend during a Focus Week—movement and fitness; attitude and perspective; nutrition and toxicity; etc.
“Our foundation is in science. Understanding the ‘why’ and direct connection to disease prevention helps motivate our guests to live the wellness lifestyle,” she said. “Our Wellness Collective retreats have a strong educational and practical aspect, so our guests leave not only feeling inspired but also confident that they can integrate these new ideas into their daily routines. There is also plenty of time to pause and just be, which is also very important to self care.”