Signs of spring and summer are upon us, cabin fever has set in, and I know all of us are excited to get this pandemic behind us.
For many of you reading this, a vacation to New Life Hiking Spa is the last thing on your mind right now but there are many people who have sent us messages and texts wanting to know how we are, how the staff is doing and when New Life will open again. We always have felt we are more than just a wellness retreat, we are a place where lifelong friends have been made and we appreciate each and every one of you. Your messages and concern show just how connected we all are, even when we are not open for the season.
This coronavirus has been a whirlwind. But, everyone at New Life is faring pretty well. The Killington/Rutland community is a community that comes together in a time of crisis. That was proven during Irene in 2011 and is very evident right now.
The travel and tourism sector has taken a hit, but my goodness, when this thing is over, who doesn’t want to come to Vermont’s fresh air and do some hiking? We look forward to that day. However, we have many challenging months to get through between now and then.
First and foremost, I completely agree with the Vermont Governor and the social distancing guidelines he has put in place. Some restrictions have started to be loosened, however, there are many restrictions still in place for the foreseeable future hospitality/wellness/etc. New Life Hiking Spa is more than just renting a hotel room and the current restrictions have confirmed we need to skip this season. We take an average of 40 guests on three or four different hikes every day. We use our 10 vans on a daily basis to bring our hiking guides and guests to that day’s hike. We also are considered a food establishment because we serve our guests three meals a day. We offer yoga classes and other classes in the afternoon. Lastly, we have a spa and have 5 therapists providing massage and body work every hour on the hour each afternoon and evening.
Enough about what we are (because you probably already know what we offer in our vacation packages).
As a seasonal vacation retreat, we are only open for 20 weeks a year. Currently, lodging establishments are not able to take a reservation for any night before June 15. That cuts into 20% of our season. Once hotels do open again, there are numerous other specific guidelines that affect our daily operation. For instance, no more than 2 individuals can occupy a vehicle when conducting work (this does away with bringing our 7 and 12 seater vans to the various daily hikes). Additionally, all employees must observe strict social distancing of 6 feet (this affects massages and classes). Currently, the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail are closed and we are not sure when they will reopen. The most recent Executive Order by the Governor states, “Gyms, fitness studios, salons, spas, and other similar businesses and the retail operations that support these businesses should cease, including employee-to-employee interactions within the business. The Phased Restart Work Safe Guidance does not allow these businesses to resume operations.” (This information was released on Friday, April 24, 2020.)
As a consequence of the coronavirus, we have been notified the planned renovations on the hotel will not be happening. However, with the restrictions in place on so many aspects of New Life Hiking Spa, we are sticking to the plan to stay closed for the season. So, to all the “wishful thinkers” out there who are wondering if we will reopen even for the last few weeks of the season, the answer is (unfortunately), “No”. There’s just too much uncertainty and we want to be 100% positive we can give our guests an experience that keep so many of you returning year after year.
In March, we refunded all deposits for the 2020 season. Many similar retreat type vacations are keeping deposits on hold to use for a future stay. As a seasonal retreat, we felt it was only fair to do a complete refund and start fresh with 2021. There are a lot of things that can happen between now and next spring. There are bound to be changes in the health, wellness and hospitality field that will change it forever, post coronavirus. Will we reopen for 2021? Yes, we are planning on it. Will New Life Hiking Spa look different in 2021? Most likely. We are planning to have the information on our website for the 2021 season in January.
Since we started in 1978, this is the first season we have ever skipped! Many of our guests leave from their stay with us with a New Life T-shirt or water bottle. We thought it would be apropos to offer a commemorative season facemask.
We recently received a package of New Life shirts from the 80’s sent to us by a friend of New Life who was cleaning out her closet, so obviously, people keep their “New Life merch” for decades. For those of you who are really missing coming to New Life this year, feel free to order a mask. Hopefully, this will be the only year we have them. It could be a collector’s item! 🙂
The masks are on a fundraising platform, because that is the only way we could order a small batch and have them shipped directly to you. We priced the facemask at the lowest price the site would allow us. We need 125 to be ordered in order for them to be printed. If we do get to the 125 facemask order mark, we will in turn donate $250 to the Vermont Foodbank.
Stay well, New Life friends!
Go ahead, order one! We all need to wear masks this summer anyway!
- A few other items regarding the mask:
- Orders must be placed by May 1st.
- Black is the only color option we were given.
- Shipping & tax are additional.
- There needs to be a total of 125 ordered for the order to be processed. If we do not get to 125, those who ordered will receive a full refund.