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Destination Wellness

Estes Park welcomes a new type of traveler: the medical tourist.

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Tourism isn’t a new concept for Estes Park: As the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, the town has long attracted scenery buffs, hikers, and climbers. But early this year, the hamlet will break ground on a development adjacent to the iconic Stanley Hotel, this time to welcome a new type of visitor: the wellness tourist.

The project, called the Estes Park Medical Center Wellness Center at the Stanley Hotel, is a joint venture between the med center and the Grand Heritage Hotel Group, with help from the University of Colorado. Set on a $1.65 million plot of land, it won’t be your typical health club. Instead, fund-raising is underway to combine a boutique hotel and a 15,000-square-foot health and fitness facility with the intention of creating a hot spot in the state’s nascent wellness tourism industry, which targets travelers who are looking for a wellness overhaul and a vacation experience.

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Whether their goals are losing weight, improving a marathon time, or managing the effects of chronic illness, visitors can book wellness packages (starting at $3,500 for four, seven, or 14 days) customized by a team of trainers, dieticians, physical therapists, transformation coaches, and physicians. Itineraries might include activities like hiking, biking, trail running, using the on-site pool, snowshoeing in the park, and undergoing biometric and physiologic testing—plus free time for leisurely portions of the trips. State officials hope the project (scheduled to be completed in 2016) will not only be a boon to the local economy after the devastating 2013 floods, but also cement Colorado’s reputation as a wellness-savvy destination.

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