Great Wellness Getaways Podcast

The Great Wellness Getaways Podcast, with host Cheryl MacKinnon, features interviews and reviews from around the province with the people who know what is trending in wellness travel – from clean eating dining, year-round indoor / outdoor wellness activities, and mindfulness retreats to what to wear and take with you on your wellness getaway!

Episode 8: Ice Cream and Other Small Indulgences During a Pandemic

with Walt Judas, CEO & President, Tourism Industry Association of British Columbia

COVID-19 has all but decimated tourism in British Columbia. While industry stakeholders are known for their resourcefulness and resiliency, the unimaginable loss in revenues, staff and in some cases, the return to operations as a direct result of the pandemic could never have been imagined in January 2020.

Global travellers are no longer, the meetings and convention guest is paused indefinitely and the cruise industry which has delivered millions of dollars into cities like Vancouver and Victoria is not returning for at least three to five years from now.

Join me, Cheryl MacKinnon, and my special guest, Walt Judas, CEO and President of the Tourism Industry Association of British Columbia for a candid conversation of what’s really going on behind the media coverage of the Summer of 2020. And yes, we do touch on how Walt and his family are striving to be well through these extraordinary times. Ice cream plays a major role.

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Episode 7: Travel to Wellness in Thompson Okanagan, British Columbia

with Ellen Walker-Matthews, Vice President, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association

A favourite getaway for recharging is to the Thompson Okanagan region of British Columbia. Lakes for a quiet paddle, ski hills where the fresh mountain air invigorates, a desert with vistas to calm the mind, to wineries where a small indulgence can stimulate your palate, the area is a haven for all things wellness.

Joining me with an update on how tourism stakeholders have been doing through the pandemic is Ellen Walker-Matthews, Vice President of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association. Ellen and her team have pivoted from being the marketing agency for the region to being the key resource for industry to engage with for everything from government support to mental health during the pandemic. Savvy and engaging, Ellen shares what is happening with one of the leading destination marketing organizations in the province.

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Episode 6: Be prepared then head for wellness… Harrison Hot Springs

with Robert Reyerse, Executive Director, Tourism Harrison

How things have changed since we launched the Great Wellness Getaways site in late November 2019. Opening with podcasts describing a ‘natural high’ wellness getaway only 90 minutes outside of Vancouver, we would never have imagined the changes that lay ahead.

In this episode, we welcome back Robert Reyerse, Executive Director of Tourism Harrison Hot Springs to share updates. Good news is, Harrison Hot Springs and its surrounding communities of Agassiz, Harrison Mills, and Kilby are as inviting as ever. The pandemic of COVID-19 has certainly changed the protocols of health and wellness when visiting, but it sure hasn’t taken away the wellness experience of a day or two spent revelling in such glorious surroundings. Hiking, biking, kayaking on Harrison Lake, forest bathing to dining on fresh and local bounty from farms dotting the area’s rich agricultural landscape.

It’s been a good summer, yet the hope is it will continue into fall and winter. Because there’s nothing like walking the lakeshore on a brisk autumn day too. More at

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Episode 5: Tourism Recovery is Possible By 2023

with Rick Antonson, former CEO of Tourism Vancouver

Rick Antonson, former CEO of Tourism Vancouver (he retired after 20 years leading this world-class DMO), NY Times Bestselling Author, Global Speaker and visionary joins Cheryl for a robust conversation about the future of tourism.

Rick’s recent Opinion piece featured in newspapers and online highlights the reality of where tourism and hospitality sit today, and yet ever so positively, where it can be only three short years from now. Citing the work needed to done collaboratively with all levels of government, leading Destination Marketing Organizations, and more, Rick’s keen insights are encouraging and thought-provoking. Slowing down, becoming better guests and better providers of goods and services are healthy considerations for one and all.

Our collective wellness is dependent on it.

Rick’s latest book, a NY Times Best Seller, is “Walking with Ghosts in Papua New Guinea” (coming in paperback). To learn more about Rick please visit

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Episode 4: Year-Round, Just Breathe

with Eric Towne, Sales & Marketing Director, Harrison Hot Springs Resort

For over 100 years, guests have been visiting Harrison Hot Springs Resort for the healing powers of its five hot mineral pools and the serenity of its natural and man-made gardens, for what generations of Lower Mainlanders – your parents and grandparents – might have called “rest and relaxation”.

Today, this resort and spa on the waterfront of Harrison Lake continues to pull in guests who want to recharge and unplug for a day or two, or more. It’s as simple as unwinding while enveloped in the warmth of the hot springs, letting your mind and body release built-up tensions, or engaging your mind and spirit in outdoor adventures such as golf, fishing, hiking and yes, even a little skiing should you feel inclined. It’s much easier to breathe deeply when you’re relaxed.

Eric Towne, Harrison Hot Springs Resort’s Sales & Marketing Director, shares his insights on why modern travellers continue to love this iconic BC resort and its wellness offerings.

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Episode 3: Real Relaxation

with Kerstin Auer, Director of Marketing and Sales, Echo Valley Ranch & Spa

Think about the last time you turned off your digital ’stuff’ and felt a calm sense of being wash over you. Or when you last leaned against a fence or rock, to simply breathe in deeply, relax and enjoy the beauty of nature. Can’t recall the last time you had the chance to just “be”? Then join us as we speak with Kerstin Auer, Director of Marketing and Sales with Echo Valley Ranch & Spa, located in the rolling hills and valleys outside of Clinton, British Columbia.

Kirstin shares how easy it is to make the switch from digital to real. A wellness holiday at Echo Valley Ranch & Spa is adventure and wellness, naturally. It’s what the Ranch likes to call Real Relaxation. They pretty much guarantee you will feel it the minute you arrive – the intangible luxury of natural surroundings creates an experience unlike any other.

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Episode 2: Winter Peace & Serenity

with Ted Swaine, General Manager, Sandpiper Resort – Rowena’s Inn on the River

Surrounded by one of nature’s purest settings – skyscraping cedars and a gently flowing river that slips by the doorstep of the Inn and its cabins – one can’t help but feel awash in peace at the Sandpiper Resort. Cares and woes of the world seem so far away as you breathe in the heady scent of the forest. There’s nary a sound other than the feathery swish of eagle wings soaring overhead and suddenly, this is all that matters. And oh, those eagles. As dusk settles, 100s of them search for their perfect roost in this astonishingly beautiful setting located in Harrison Mills, British Columbia.

General Manager Ted Swaine has been with the Sandpiper Resort for well over 20 years and yet his passion for this place and its people – there are four First Nations in this community who share the land with the recent settler – seems more engaging than ever. Ted shares a bit of the resort’s history and how a wellness getaway can be found in the subtleties of this remarkable year-round experience.

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Episode 1: Forest Bathing, Fishing & Fa La La La La

with Robert Reyerse, Executive Director, Tourism Harrison

Outdoor experiences communing with nature’s bounty are the touchpoints of a rejuvenating getaway. For decades, Harrison Hot Springs has invited Vancouverites and international travellers alike to let go of stress through the renowned healing powers of mineral rich hot pools. The resort offers a multitude of other wellness adventures, from forest bathing in the lush rainforest nearby, to spending time on the Harrison River in search of the mighty sturgeon while learning about the Sto:Lo Indigenous culture, to hiking local mountain tops, or simply ‘flat biking’ (as Robert Reyers, the Executive Director of Tourism Harrison, frequently enjoys). And as Robert shares, it’s about enjoying the health benefits of being outdoors any time of the year, that truly matters at the end of the day.

The rejuvenating bounty of the landscape in this very special location is further complemented at the holiday season with the annual Lights by the Lake, where the sparkle of the holiday lights against Harrison Lake invites you to reflect and ponder a new year, a new decade.

Join host Cheryl MacKinnon and Robert as they share why Harrison Hot Springs is one of BC’s absolute best ‘backyard wellness getaways’.

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