Tessa Lauren & Ascend Adventure Wellness (July 2017)
Tessa Lauren of Ascend Adventure Wellness combines hiking in the outdoors with massage in nature.
It goes without saying that Western North Carolina residents and tourists prize the outdoors, not only for its adventure potential but also just for the sheer beauty and comfort. It is probably equally obvious that this region, Asheville in particular, boasts numerous spas and wellness centers, with people eager to promote both their mental and physical well-being. What’s not common, however, is the literal intersection of these two notions.
Enter Ascend Adventure Wellness, launched earlier this year by Tessa Lauren as a means of offering all-inclusive, rejuvenating experiences that combine hiking in the outdoors with massage in nature.
“I believe there is a renewing quality to connecting with nature,” explains Lauren. “When we detach from the hum of constant electronics and take the time to hear the sounds of birds or a bubbling brook, we are renewed in a way that only comes from the outdoors.”
Lauren initially began her career with AmeriCorps’s National Civilian Community Corps, serving on projects in the Southeast. She later worked in Atlanta as an Outward Bound instructor, ultimately moving to Western North Carolina to be a mountain instructor for the North Carolina Outward Bound School; she instructed for both Outward Bound and the American Adventure and Service Corps.
“I led students through backpacking, climbing, and white-water canoeing as a means to gain both technical and interpersonal skills,” says Lauren. “Through those programs, students were faced with challenging situations and offered the support to learn to overcome them.
“I enjoyed my time teaching those skills to students, and when I changed careers to the wellness industry, my focus changed to find new ways to offer a different experience in nature. I felt that both challenge and nurturing were important—as a society, we had gotten so great at challenging ourselves outdoors, but there was still room to grow for seeking nature as a restorative source.”
To that end, Ascend leads clients on trails featuring mountain views (memo to self: bring camera), waterfalls, and the intimacy of forest settings; provides a picnic lunch; and then finishes the day with spa treatments customized to the clients’ wishes. (A strong protective canopy is brought in case the weather turns unpredictable outdoors.) It should also be noted that the trips are intended as “day-cations” for adults; currently, only clients 18 and older are eligible.
As the photos accompanying this article clearly suggest, the Ascend experience is considerably different from that of the usual indoor spa setting. Lauren is quick to point out that, as Ascend occupies a very unique niche, educating the public about what her business offers can be a challenge, at least initially. “Because this business is truly one of a kind, it has been challenging to work within certain industry standards. We are not just the spa industry or the outdoor industry—we are both. So sometimes we have to think outside the box on certain business related needs.”
“Our immediate plans,” she continues, “are to build a solid product our clients will absolutely adore. We are a small company by choice, and would like to always provide the highest quality experience to our clients. Moving forward, we are researching overnight trips, as well as Adventure Wellness trips abroad.
“Everyone we have spoken to has been very supportive and excited about what we are doing. We often hear, ‘I can’t believe that didn’t exist already! I want to go!’”
Pull on your hiking shoes and get ready to head outdoors!
For more info on bookings, rates, and FAQs, visit Ascend at AscendAdventurewellness.com.
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