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 13: BC Camping and Lodging

with Joss Penny, Executive Director, BC Lodging & Campground Association

If COVID-19 and the pandemic of 2020 has done any good this year, it has introduced camping throughout British Columbia as one of the best cures for what ails us. This type of travel literally exploded in the summer of 2020, and in fact the numbers are remaining steady into the early fall.

Camping engages all personalities and knows no age limit. Families, especially multi-gen, to couples, the guys and gals escaping for a few days away without significant others, solo travellers and simply good friends who know how to safely explore the spectacular outdoors, each enjoy this amazing way to explore the bounty of ‘beautiful BC’! In fact, RV camping is attracting snowbirds to British Columbia in dramatic numbers this winter as travel down south has been halted indefinitely.

My colleague, Joss Penny, Executive Director with the BC Lodging & Campground Association, tells us why this style of travel has gained such widespread appeal, showing no signs of slowing down in the near future. More at https://www.travel-british-columbia.com/. See you at the lake…

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Episode 12: Embracing Wellness By Living the Slow Life

with Patrick J. Spencer, Marketing Manager, Halcyon Hot Springs Resort

An inspired conversation with Patrick J. Spencer, Marketing Manager with Halcyon Hot Springs Resort to learn what embracing wellness means during a pandemic!

With bragging rights to some of the world’s most restorative hot springs, Halcyon Hot Springs Resort is truly special. The history of the area as a wellness destination goes back over 100s of years as the Resort sits adjacent to Upper Arrow Lake in the West Kootenays region of British Columbia in Canada. Listen in to the history, the opportunities for your well-being, and why this special destination resort should be on your wellness bucket list!

Learn more at new.halcyon-hotsprings.com.

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Episode 11: Let’s Welcome Canada to Canada & Other Bucket List Stuff!

with Deb Ryan, Air North

An engaging conversation with a great lady I call the unofficial ambassador for Canada’s Yukon Territory! Deb Ryan of Air North, Yukon’s airline, will have you spellbound, then daydreaming about places to discover in this great land and in fact, all across Canada.

Territories to provinces, each holds nuggets of wonder that are unique with many a local’s best kept secret. The Yukon Territory is such a place. Deb and her husband, Joe, have spent over 40 years living here, raising their family while growing the territory’s own air carrier.

Pandemic update? Not only did Air North immediately create innovative health and safety protocols on the ground and inflight – their attendants wear flight jumpsuits specially created for the pandemic – they have maintained their authentic hospitality from check-in to take off!

Learn more at www.flyairnorth.com.

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Episode 10: A Rainforest Recharge to Rest and Rejuvenation Exploring Indigenous Culture

with Keith Henry, CEO, Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada

Join me with my guest, Keith Henry, CEO of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada as we talk health and wellbeing for the Indigenous tourism sector across Canada.

Our country has some of the most interesting and culturally diverse tourism providers within Indigenous communities, from province to province and within each territory, than anywhere in the world. Since 2014, the sector has seen unprecedented growth in all Indigenous tourism offerings, resulting in new job creation, increased GDP from $1.4 billion in 2014 to nearly $2 billion in 2019, and increased market and export readiness from 65 to over 130 Indigenous owned businesses within only three short years.

The impact of COVID-19 has greatly affected this growth, and the opportunities it held, yet Keith and his team are working tirelessly to provide support both financially as well as emotionally to its members. This is a candid, engaging conversation on what this looks like in the next 18 months. Learn more about Indigenous cultural experiences as a Great Wellness Getaway here.

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Episode 9: Fishing, For Solutions and More

with Ingrid Jarrett, CEO & President, BC Hotel Association

With leadership roles in globally recognized companies such as Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, Boutique Hotels & Resorts of B.C., Watermark Beach Resort, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, Destination British Columbia, and Canadian Vacation Ownership Association, Ingrid Jarrett has a stellar career path with tourism entities in British Columbia. Ingrid’s passion for people and place, complemented by a high level of confidence, integrity, and well-honed leadership skills means her role as the first woman to lead the BC Hotel Association as CEO and President in its 103-year history puts the Association in very good hands.

Wellness and wellbeing are top of mind with everyone now. COVID-19 has hit hoteliers and resorts especially hard with recovery being touted as far out as 2025 and onwards. Join me and Ingrid as we touch on the severity of the forced closures, loss of staff, and more. Yet, as always, we get to positive solutions that might help the recovery happen sooner so the industry we both love so much will soon be well to once again return to its glory.

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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 www.tourismharrison.com.

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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 www.rickantonson.com.

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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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