There is something fresh brewing at the JW Marriott Desert Springs. Not only are they underway with a multi-million dollar renovation, but wellness is now being served to their 1,200 employees, local visitors, and international guests.

The team leading the charge includes internal nutritionist Regina Basterrechea and Executive Chef Peter Smith who have incorporated changes in the employee cafeteria, in-room dining, and most recently, the Spa Desert Springs Bistro.

Starting with their own. “Food is the foundation of health and education is key,” says Basterrechea who works with each department from housekeeping to hotel management. “There is so much temptation and we are working hard to inspire our employees to take better care of themselves and to make better choices.”

The associate program includes healthier offerings in their cafeteria, incentive programs, and free exercise classes. Granola, yogurt, and fruit were added for breakfast and a Fresh Bowl program offering a variety of lean proteins (including tofu) with vegetables over brown rice or sprouted grain. The response has been very positive.

Basterrechea is conducting a voluntary10-day detox plan open to all employees using Mark Hyman, MD’s, book Food What the Heck Should I Eat? to help deduce conflicting information on what are truly healthy choices. They are also launching a six-week weight maintenance contest after Thanksgiving to help keep focus through the holidays with healthy prizes given away at the end.

Each department has a daily meeting on working together and improving guest experiences which is the perfect opportunity for Basterrechea to present her programs and encourage participation. “Each group has its own personality,” she says. “The housekeepers start their shift with calisthenics to lift their energy so the nutritional education fits right in.”

“Our employees work hard and they love their comfort food,” adds Chef Peter, formerly the director of global culinary for Marriott International. “They like to grab a cheeseburger and fries because they know this will satisfy their cravings, but the more Regina works to educate them about satisfying options that can further help sustain their energy throughout the day, they’ll start making healthier choices.”

Free employee exercise classes include morning strength, sculpt and stretch and evening yoga and spin. A walking group is also in the works; meanwhile, management continues to walk the walk. During a full staff meeting Human Resources Director Mike Bills led everyone through a three-minute meditation and talked about how the practice is enhancing his life.

National initiative for healthier room service. In June of this year, the JW brand launched the JW Wellness initiative to feature healthier options on 70% of their in-room dining menus. The program was launched nationally to their 39 properties including Desert Springs.

New on tap are fresh juices to order, smoothies, and better balanced breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus offering more vegetables, smaller proteins and less processed carbohydrates.

Wellness abounds at the Spa Desert Springs. The beautiful amenities at the resort’s world-class spa were designed for wellness and this quarter their spa menu gets a face lift with nutritional meals by today’s standards created with organically grown and locally sourced ingredients.

“The new menu offers something for everyone with items that are balanced, nutritious and honestly seasoned while being satiating and satisfying at the same time,” says Basterrechea. “Where many consider an acai bowl healthy, it can also be full of sugar. So we’ve created a parfait version that includes the nutritious fruit along with Greek yogurt, nuts and seeds to balance it out.”

Popular dishes like tabbouleh are made with quinoa (a seed) versus the traditional bulgur wheat and optional protein; vegan and gluten-free offerings are also available.

The resort’s restaurants, Rockwood Grill and Mikado Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar also offer a variety of healthy ingredients along with vegetarian and gluten-free options. This fall Chef Peter’s new T&T Innovation Kitchen will also open with a focus on whole organic cuisine. The stunning space will offer 5-9 course meals and Chef’s choice menus which will change weekly.

Desert Health commends the JW Marriott Desert Springs for their focus on wellness internally, as well as for their guests. If you haven’t visited lately, plan a dinner or escape to their spa for a memorable – and rejuvenating – experience.

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