Canadians are eagerly looking forward to making their 2022 travel plans and as COVID-19 variants continue to circulate, rural outdoor escapes remain top of mind.
Next summer, travellers will have an entirely new reason to make the trek to the vast sandstone monoliths of Zion National Park: the debut of Spirit, a transformative wilderness retreat located at Zion’s east boundary, positioned about one-and-a-half kilometres from the park.
Developed, owned and managed by Zion Spirit Group – a family-owned company dedicated to establishing intentional tourism experiences that promote principles of preservation and sustainability – Spirit aims to evoke a connection to, and integrate seamlessly with, the natural beauty of Utah’s first and most-visited national park.
Sustainably designed suites
Spirit | Leaf Suite rendering
Situated on 1,100 acres, Spirit’s 40 individual suites and homesteads are perched along the eastern slope of the Clear Creek Mountain range, offering exceptional views of some of Zion’s most prominent rock formations: Checkerboard Mesa, The East Temple and The West Temple to the south and Burger Peak to the west. Designed by the internationally regarded Nomadic Resorts, Spirit will host 36 one- and two-bedroom Leaf Suites (800 to 1,100 square feet) and four five-bedroom Homestead Retreats (6,000+ square feet).
Rooted in organic-style architecture and sustainable design, each suite is designed to minimize the impact on the land and existing vegetation. The Leaf Suites get their name from the structures’ leaf-shaped rooftops that feature solar panels and photovoltaic fabric technology exclusively created for Spirit by the award-winning sustainability firm Pvilion. The suites’ expansive, wraparound terraces and oversized window walls offer panoramic views directly into the national park while also maintaining an air of intimate seclusion amongst the surrounding forestry.
Spirit | Wellness Studio rendering
Within the suites, numerous distinct spaces have been designed to encourage
connectivity to mind and spirit. The suites offer a separate living room with a refreshment area, lavish appointments throughout the bedroom and bathroom (including an oversized soaking tub), and a versatile “wellness studio” that can serve as a space for reflection, in-room spa treatments, exercise or simply meditation. Each suite has an adjoining “bicycle base station” which includes two electric bikes and gear for complimentary use for the duration of a stay.
The experience won’t come cheap: nightly room rates are expected to begin at $3,000 USD per night.
Lodging amenities and property features
Located at the heart of the property, an intimate lodge will celebrate and honour the spirit of community. Whether it be through the culinary journey, aquaponic greenhouse, library, observatory, natural swimming pool or the Experience Lounge, every moment and interaction at the lodge will transcend and awaken the guest’s spirit of discovery, connection and community.
Zion Spirit Group, Zion National Park Forever Project, local landowners, conservationists, the National Park Service and the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation are currently collaborating to develop 56 kilometres of biking trails, many of which traverse Spirit’s vast terrain, offering immediate access to the area’s best mountain biking.
The “why” behind the new accommodation
Zion Spirit Group was founded by Elizabeth Rad and Kevin McLaws. McLaws and his family have owned land outside of Zion National Park for 23 years and currently own and operate the nearby Zion Mountain Ranch. It has long been McLaws’s mission to preserve and conserve the land on the east of Zion National Park and thus he and Rad assembled Spirit’s 1,100 acres over the course of the last decade. McLaws and Rad are driven by a shared vision to protect and promote purposeful tourism.
“Having grown up locally and witnessed firsthand how unbounded commercialization and land division can spoil the natural tapestry of a community, the concept of conservation and the importance of protecting the inherent integrity of our environment was introduced to me early on and has been the guiding vision for Spirit,” said McLaws. “We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with this property to set a new standard for gateway communities, one that inspires guests to not only be a part of the land’s continued story, but to become equal stewards of it. It has been so encouraging to see our neighbours band together behind Spirit’s ‘contributive mindset’ mission, which we know will ultimately preserve the Zion experience for generations to come.”
With construction now underway, Spirit will open in two phases starting summer 2022 with the first phase expected to include seven Leaf Suites, kilometres of biking and hiking trails, an employee housing village and the aquaponic greenhouse, which will serve as the resort’s temporary dining and gathering space. The property will open in its entirety in Spring 2023.
To register to be among the first to receive information about the resort and when bookings begin, visit SpiritZion.com or follow Spirit on Instagram at @spiritatzion.