Celebrate, Create, Inspire
By Josh Corman

SPAS HAVE LONG SOUGHT INNOVATIVE WAYS to expand their offerings in a manner that allows guests to partake in experiences that activate the senses and reinforce values—creativity, exploration, reflection—that so many in the industry hold dear. This summer, Miraval resorts debuted a new initiative called Celebration of the Arts, which involved hosting artists in residence at each of their properties and introducing a selection of art-based offerings that allow guests to connect with their own creativity in different ways. At the same time, the artists in residence worked on property, painting murals that beautified the properties and, in the words of Miraval Director of Brand and Marketing Dina Fenili, “ invite guests to explore the meaning of art.”

In many ways, Celebration of the Arts is a natural extension of the Creative Expression workshops that have long afforded Miraval guests the chance to practice mindfulness and presence through a variety of experiential art offerings. Miraval invited three artists—Lucinda Hinojos, Sadé Lawson and Jesse Tobin McCauley—each of whom is local to one of Miraval’s three locations, to learn about Miraval and its ethos. The artists then created mural designs tied to the practice of mindfulness. Says Fenili, “Each [mural] had a different and special meaning, inviting guests to think about the intersection of art, nature, mindfulness and the community each resort is in.” Each artist crafted their mural in an area of the resorts’ properties where they could both beautify the space and “ultimately spark joy in our visiting guests,” Fenili says.

Guests were invited to observe each of the artists’ processes as they painted the murals, and additional art-centric programming gave them the opportunity to explore their own creativity. At Miraval Berkshires, guests got intentional about their goals in the resort’s Manifest Your Desires: A Vision Board Creation Workshop, while others connected to their bodies through a clay creation course called The Way of the Wheel. In addition, guests are invited to reflect upon four questions written on chalkboards opposite Jesse Tobin McCauley’s colorful mural: What is your intention? What brings you joy? What are you grateful for? Who do you share your gratitude with? The mural and questions enliven the tunnel—now known as “The Mindful Passage”—that connects the main grounds with Meadowview Farm & Barn.

For McCauley, the unique opportunity to help guests connect with art and themselves is a natural extension of art’s key role in her life. “I come from a very creative family who put an emphasis on the importance of having an art practice,” McCauley says. Inspired by buildings, nature and fashion, McCauley’s art is filled with vibrant color, abstract shapes and bold graphics, and her mural at Miraval Berkshires is no exception. She hopes that her work will do for guests what art has often done for her. “Art offers a chance to reconnect with the childlike wonder of the world, to experience calmness and fun through shape and color. I want guests to be surprised and automatically smile when they happen upon my mural in the tunnel—to not think, to suspend worry about wondering what it is and to just enjoy the colors and shapes and how they make [them] feel,” she explains.

Each of Miraval’s properties have been enlivened by the murals that now decorate their Arizona, Austin and Berkshires locations, and the guest response has been fantastic, according to Dina Fenili. “The feedback from our guests has been wonderful so far! We are so happy to share that guests who experienced Miraval Arizona’s Celebration of the Arts in July felt that Miraval provided a safe space where they could open up, connect and share their thoughtful reflections….”

Though most spas may not have the space available to dedicate to the creation of a large mural, Miraval’s Celebration of the Arts illustrates the ways in which programming focused on mindfulness and self-care can inspire guests and reinforce the importance of creativity and reflection for their guests. Spas seeking to expand class offerings or simply put a new twist on traditional mindfulness and meditation practices may find ways to incorporate the artistic process into guests’ experiences.