Oh boy. A little background: Three of us went to the Green Valley Spa and resort looking for a few days of relaxation, sun, some opportunities for fitness, spa treatments and great food - to reference where we've been before, check out The Solstice Spa in Leavenworth, WA and the Golden Door Spa at The Boulders in Scottsdale, AZ. We could not have been more wrong and I wish we had read more of the poor reviews on Trip Advisor before booking this vacation. The website was very deceptive about certain things. For reference, we paid $2000 for three nights, four days, all-inclusive (except spa treatments), with a AAA discount.
So you don't think it was all bad, I'll list what was GOOD first:
We stayed in a Grand Suite and it was really lovely, a private patio with lounge chairs and a teak dining set, beautiful bedrooms with 4 large queen beds (so no one was sleeping on a pullout or sharing beds), the bathrooms were gorgeous, cute kichenette, Starbucks coffee, tea, popcorn, generous (HUGE really) samples of the spa skin and beauty products, TVs in the bedrooms and living room, gas fireplace (we didn't use), free wifi that carried out to the pool, luxurious linens. The only negative about the room was the odd and outdated furniture in the dining/living area - totally incongruous with the rest of the suite.
The Service Staff: Really very nice people, Andy picked us up and dropped us off at the airport in St. George. Our server in the "dining room" was Michael - very sweet, charming and we really felt that he went out of his way to make sure we were taken care of, including packing us a "to go" bag to take to the airport with us on the way out. The housekeeping was also very good.
Hiking: The single BEST part of the trip and the only thing that didn't cause us to pack our bags and leave (that and the exorbitant $ we had already paid). Mark and his guides were wonderful, they tailored the three hikes we went on to our skills/abilities, increasing the fun and climbing/scrambling each day. There were always a good ratio of guides to hikers and we had the entire morning to hike (we've heard that other area resorts restrict their hikes to two hours). We would hire Mark and his crew again if we ever come back to the St. George area.
Spa: My treatment was nice - a 50 minute hot stone massage. As good as any massage I've had (except at the Solstice Spa) More on the spa later.
Food: Oy. Ummm fresh veggies, good soups and salad dressings, wine list was OK but appreciated the fact that wine was available at all. They told us "ask for anything and we'll do it" but that was if it fell within the constraints of the "Program"...so...yeah. Breakfast definitely the best meal of the day due to content and having the choice to pick your meal.
General Premesis: Surrounded by tons and tons of wonderful roses - would have like some information on the different varieties - two of the swimming pools were 18 and over (so they were quiet!), shade was also available at both pools and the lounge chairs were really nice, always towels there, well maintained grounds.
The Bad: There's a lot (thus the 2 star score)
General Premesis: very random decor some of it very shabby (and not "shabby chic"), the dining room in particular was horrible and felt like an out-in-the-woods retreat center cafeteria NOT like a spa/resort restaurant. The overall decor was a mish-mash of south beach sun porch, mexican villa, navajo pueblo and...Italian? Pick a style and stick with it and for the money we paid, it had better look nice (again...reference The Boulders). Also, you walk out of the back of the lobby (by the spa) and stare straight into iron-barred "Splash Town USA" or some such really yucky looking pool/entertainment complex for kids and for people staying at the not-nice-looking white condo buildings right next door. No effort is made to camoflage this area from the rest of the "resort" - no wall, no plants, no nothing. The rec room in the basement is also very "1970's basement/ping-pong room". The only thing missing was shag carpeting. Just weird.
Food: Do not be fooled - this isn't "spa" food. It's "diet food". And there is a difference. My friends and I are very good cooks and also consider ourselves knowledgable about fitness and nutrition (one marathoner, one Preventive Medicine/Public Health physician). This diet was ridiculous. You had two choices for lunch and two for dinner. Chicken or Fish? Fish or Chicken? No sugar, no salt, no fats (so nothing was cooked with EVOO for example). Some of the dishes were downright awful. Two grains - rice or quinoa. They prided themselves on making each meal around 500 calories...except for someone who has just done a 4 hour vigorous hike, 500 calories is not nearly enough. Michael took pity on us and added extra frozen yogurt to the "dessert". The chef prided himself on putting a lot of food on the plate with few calories...the problem is that when you learn to listen to your body so you stop eating when you're full, and you're full after only ONE chicken breast, now you either clean your plate but feel stuffed and uncomfortable or you eat half and don't get enough calories.
We did not come on this vacation to lose weight, yet we had NO options besides a 1000-1200 calorie per day "diet". Oh...wait..we did have options - we ordered Pizza Hutt delivery after dinner the last two nights we were there. (when you pull up the store locator, its the one that ends in x1201). Although they had snacks out during the day, the eating times were very restrictive. And the quality and type of food was not commensurate with the price we paid for the all-inclusive.
NONE of this information was clearly delineated on the website, neither was the appearance and condition of the dining room - we all brought dresses to wear to a "nice" dinner one night...poor dresses! They just stayed in the suitcase!
Activities: much, much fewer classes were offered than the website indicates - and some that were offered apparently didn't happen. We're not into the meditative side of things so the only "activity" we did was hiking (SUPER AWESOME!) and one of us did an Aquacize class which was kind of fun.
Spa: Cost of treatments was on par with some of the nicest spas around (do I need to say it a third time...The Golden Door at the Bouldrs) but the aesthetics were more akin to My Grandmom's Conservatory in Southern Alabama. Just plain weird. And YES...the aesthetics MATTER when you're paying as much as we did. They asked ZERO health questions before initiating our treatments...have you EVER been to a spa that doesn't ask your basic medical history, if you're pregnant (one of us is), if you have any allergies?! Believe all you want in the spiritual homeopathic side of medicine - I don't knock it. But, it doesn't replace needing to know the actual medical history and needs of your clients. They demanded that you take a "germicidal" shower before your treatment and the implication was that you were to remove ALL your clothes for your treatment. I have no problem with that - I had been hiking all morning and it was nice to clean and exfoliate before my massage - but "germicidal"...could you find a more off-putting word?! Semantics matter! And some people aren't comfortable getting a massage completely naked...(you walked around in robes - no visual nudity)
The Wha? (sealing the two-star deal)
Let's talk about the Spinning Room for a minute - I was so excited to take a Spin class (which actually wasn't offered while we were there). We checked out the spin room the night we got there - the floor, walls and celing were painted black. The only light source we could find besides the BLACK LIGHTS in the ceiling was a FLOOR LAMP. Wha? So creepy.
For some reason, we missed the part on the website that informed us we were expected to eat at a communal dining table (in a dining room surrounded by empty tables that were set up for people to eat at). We ate at the table for our first lunch but then for dinner and the rest of our meals, we wanted to sit together - this was a trip we were looking forward to, to spend time with just ourselves. We were not interested in making new friends or forced small talk over meals. It was a BIG DEAL that we kept insisting on sitting at a table for three - despite attempts by the dining-room staff to not set up that table and get us to sit at the communal table - we held out. And it was clearly not appreciated by the social director. Sorry dude, if I want communal table eating and small talk, I'll go on a cruise.
Finally, the "Program".
Let me start this paragraph by telling you that all three of us are physicians and, between us, we are board-certified in 5 specialties (Preventive Medicine, Internal Medicine/Critical Care Medicine and Pediatrics/Infectious Disease) and one of us has an MPH. In addition to that, we're all in another profession that requires physical fitness - one of us just completed a marathon. The "hCG Program" is complete and utter nonsense. People pay thousands of dollars to come to this place to be injected with hCG and eat a 500 calorie daily diet. This is wrong and, more importantly, it is dangerous. This place preys on the weak, the uninformed and the desperate. The truth people - if you want to lose weight, you need to eat a healthy, balanced diet in moderation (check out "Eat What you Love, Love What you Eat" by Michelle May, MD) or, if you're morbidly obese with obesity related medical problems like hypertension or diabetes, you need to talk to your physician about gastric bypass surgery. The Medical Director of this place has an MD after his name...hey, guess what, so did Michael Jackson's doctor. We researched this guy and while he started out as OB-GYN/REI, he went back and did some sort of training in Preventive Medicine but did not sit for (or pass) PM boards and is not a member of the American College of Preventive Medicine. Credentials MATTER! Anyone can say they are world reknowned...it doesn't mean squat. He is intentionally decieving people with bogus promises and a program that cannot possibly be sustained once they leave the spa - not to mention the dangers associated with starvation (that is what a 500 calorie diet is by the way). I won't even mention the print-out that was posted of how to respond to "the pro-vaccine crowd" - offensive, stupid and irresponsible. Clue number 1 that this guy is a snake oil salesman. But, if you don't believe ME, you think I'm the "Western Medicine Establishment"...google around some reputable sources...like the FDA (or if they're "The Man"), then look at Dr. Oz' website. hCG is nonsense and it doesn't matter how lovely the rooms were or how sweet the staff or how awesome the hiking - I will never spend another penny at this place as long as they promote this kind of crap. So go ahead hCG lovers...argue with me and when, some time in the future, you figure out that you wasted thousands more than we did on the latest fad diet, remember the book I mentioned above...and go talk to your primary care physician
Oh, and BTW - who rated this place from AAA and Travel + Leisure?
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- Also Known As:
- Green Valley Hotel St. George
- Green Valley Spa And Resort St. George, Utah