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The Wellness Questionnaire with Holistic Umbrella’s Mackenzie Vath

Get to know industry insiders with a look at their personal wellness thoughts, philosophies, and practices.

Mackenzie Vath is director of wellness and sustainability for Pacific Hospitality Group, where she oversees the wellness and sustainability efforts of the group’s 11 properties, including wellness destinations, such as The Meritage Resort & Spa, Estancia La Jolla, and Pasea Hotel & Spa. She has long struggled with health issues ranging from imbalanced hormones and insomnia to depression to debilitating anxiety. In 2009, Vath was diagnosed with Lyme Disease, which led her to become her own health advocate. While on her own journey to improve her health and better manage her Lyme symptoms, she discovered the importance of having support and guidance. Inspired by what she had learned, she founded Holistic Umbrella, an organization that provides a holistic approach to balancing health, wellness, and spirituality through one-on-one coaching and health and wellness retreats, in 2016. Vath has a bachelor’s of science in health and wellness from Purdue University and a Women in Leadership Certificate from Cornell University. She is also a Certified Health Coach from the Institute of Integrated Nutrition, a board member of GSN Planet, a member of the Global Wellness Summit’s Women in Leadership Initiative, and has her 200-hour Yoga Teacher Certification from YogaWorks.  Here, she shares some of the ways she strives to incorporate wellness into her own life.  

What does wellness mean to you?

Wellness has many meanings. For me, wellness is about quality of life and balance. The daily choices we make to support and promote healthy living is wellness. Making choices in moderation and finding synergy in our daily routine will support consistency and ultimately success with our wellness journey. Health and wellness are truly about becoming the best version of ourselves.

What are your favorite things to do to maintain your personal wellbeing?

Getting outside. I get energy and life force from the sun. Whenever I feel tired or down, I get outside even just for a quick stretch or a few breath cycles. I focus on the sounds in nature even though I live in a very developed city area. My ears tune into the singing of the birds or the wind on my face. The sense of nature is soothing, calming, and brings me happiness. It’s essential for personal wellbeing.

What is your favorite healthy beverage (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), and do you have any insider tips for preparing it?

After a long day of work, I do enjoy a nice beverage outside on my porch. My husband is quite the mixologist and knows I don’t want a sugar bomb of a cocktail. My go-to is called a gold rush. The ingredients are simple: whiskey, lemon juice, and honey. Yes, I do love myself some honey. I also like to use Pressed lemonade juices as mixers. They are sweetened with monk fruit and have natural pressed fruit juice. They’re not too sweet, which I prefer, and the flavor is on point.

What is the best piece of wellness advice you have ever received and from whom?

I would say the best piece of wellness advice I’ve received was one word: Moderation! When it comes to personal wellness, we have many choices to make. Do we choose to gain more physical activity in our day, add a few heathier options to our nutritional intake, or maybe just find some “me time” to decrease anxiety and stress from the high demands of our busy lives? We must take every action and every day in moderation. Life throws us a million different pivots. If we are extreme on one level and not on the other level, it is easy to get thrown off our routine. Therefore, if we breathe through the pivots and take wellness in moderation, we are more likely to stay consistent, and stress will not have the same opportunity to take us off kilter.

Do you have a secret health or wellness tip you would like to share?

I would love to share my must-do wellness tips. Skin health: First thing in the morning, wash your face with very cold water, as cold as you can handle. Work up to doing an ice bath for your face. Follow that up with a mist hydration. Rose water is a great choice, followed by a clean SPF. Digestive Health: Take two capsules of magnesium nightly to keep the bowels regular. It’s perfect for travel, too, as many of us are off our bathroom habits when we’re on the go. Probiotics and prebiotics are a must even for healthy people who eat perfectly balanced diets. Stress and the environment still have an impact on our gut health. Extra good bugs never hurt anyone. Mental health: Start a gratitude journal. I use an app called Gratitude, and it sends me daily reminders and prompts. You can add pictures and just write a few words to promote positive thoughts and flood the brain with happy hormones. Last tip: Disconnect! Do a full 24 hours without social media, TV, news, texting, the whole bit. These are all new inventions and have a huge impact on how we live our lives, grow, think, react, and feel. It’s endless. I encourage you to really find just one full day to disconnect. Doing that has changed my life. It may sound easy, but it’s not.

What is your favorite place for a healthy vacation or escape?

Because I’ve worked in the hospitality space for the past 10-plus years and grown up in hotels my entire life, vacations are not typical for me, as I travel frequently. When I visit hotels, my brain is relentlessly working. How can the property improve customer service? Be more sustainable? And implement wellness practices? I take notes on my phone and share with their management team at a later date. The only way I can escape and quiet my mind is when I’m camping. My husband and I have a 35-foot airstream trailer, “The Bullet,” and we love to take it camping all over California. With the kids, plug-in campsites are great, as they have pools, restaurants within walking distance, extra bathrooms, games, and more. But sometimes we just need to totally unplug and be off the grid. That’s when we dry camp either in the desert or at our friend’s place in San Diego County. I encourage couples to unplug as often as they can and authentically connect—that is a true escape. But I know many of you want some good recommendations and with my ongoing travels, here are a few of my favorite places to vacation and get a touch of wellness in:

Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa (CA)

Equinox Hotel (New York City)

Fuji Kawaguchiko Onsen Hotel Konansou (Yamanashi, Japan)

Faena Hotel (Miami Beach, FL)

The ESPA at the Intercontinental London

The Spa at Encore (Las Vegas)

Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort (Kauai, HI)

What wellness-related books or authors do you recommend, and why?

I am a collector of books, in general. In fact, I have enough books to fill a small library. I’ve authored a few books, as well, but they’re not wellness related. My favorite wellness-related books generally come from leaders in the wellness community. Here are a few I recommend:

What brings you joy?

Truly the one thing that brings me joy when it comes to my business is improving people’s lives. Seeing the smiles and joy on their faces when attending my retreats—that’s when I am fully fueled and what I am doing is what I am meant to be doing.

About The Author
Heather-Mikesell-author-1

Heather, co-founder of Well Defined and the former editor-in-chief of American Spa, is an award-winning journalist and content strategist, skilled in writing, copyediting, and media relations. She is also a freelance writer and has contributed to Elite Traveler, Islands, Kiwi, Luxury Travel Advisor, Organic Spa, Porthole Cruise, Travel Agent, abcnews.com, jetsetter.com, outside.com, and wellandgood.com, in addition to various custom publications. She is frequently called upon to comment on various spa and wellness trends for various media outlets.