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The Omni Grove Park Inn: Preservation of a Destination

A historical wonder, tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina sits The Omni Grove Park Inn. Omni Hotels and Resorts owns the once independent hotel, but the brand works to enhance each hotel's current attributes, while incorporating the local environment rather than stamping a cookie cutter ideology onto each of its locations. In their mission statement, they stress their vision to put "soul" and "authenticity" into each individual property by "proudly opening doors to the true spirit of a destination."

Omni Park Grove Inn at twilight
Photo courtesy Omni Hotels & Resorts.

History of The Omni Grove Park Inn

Preservation is one of the most important things we can do to sustain our environment. The Omni Grove Park Inn is the epitome of preservation, as the 1913 structure has only been enhanced over the years, not torn down. The same boulders hauled in by mule-drawn wagons still set in place as a glorious reminder of the hard work 400 men put in for nearly a year. You can take a history tour and learn about the building and the century-old artifacts that line the halls.

After ascending up a winding drive, a short distance from downtown, the inn magnificently reveals itself through a cascade of mountain trees and foliage. History oozes from its pores, although the structure fits seamlessly in our current time period, due to its naturalistic build. At the time of its construction, the hotel was proclaimed to be "built for the ages" and this has remained true.

Omni Grove food
Photo by Karyn Wofford.

Dining at The Omni Grove Park Inn

Serving up local ingredients in their restaurant dishes, the Sunset Terrace is an outdoor dining option on the stone patio looking out toward the mountains. The Spa Cafe offers wellness smoothies and healthy fare at the entrance of their award-winning spa.

Several other restaurants and lounges are sprinkled throughout the elaborate halls, but Blue Ridge was the showstopper, serving a variation of farm-to-table buffets throughout the day. House-made donuts, a yogurt bar, grits with tomatillo sauce, fresh pressed juices, pancakes, frittatas, made to order omelets and a variation of cereals barely tip the culinary iceberg of Blue Ridge's locally-fueled breakfast display.

We also enjoyed stopping by the rustic lobby, complete with two gigantic fireplaces and mountain views, for late night drinks, local pickled veggies and an intricate cheese plate sourced from the Asheville area. Omni Grove falls in line with the prevalent "local" food presence in the town.

Omni Park Grove outdoor spa
Photo courtesy Omni Hotels & Resorts.

The Timeless Spa

Woven throughout a cavernous lower level of the hotel is their Mediterranean-style spa. By its cave-like look, complete with stone, tunnels, a fiber optic star ceiling and antique tiled steam room, you'd think this wellness wing existed before the hotel itself. However, it was an addition completed years after the initial structure was built.

Two massive, mineral-based, indoor pools accented with waterfalls, ambient color changing lighting, hot tubs, underwater music and extravagant rock features serve as the spa’s central hub. An outdoor pool, complete with yet another fireplace, allows guests to relax and watch the sun set while taking a soak. Gender separated areas offer detoxifying saunas, steam rooms, contrast pools, herbal teas and natural snacks. 

Multiple therapies are available, including massages with aromatherapy, wellness wraps with volcanic clay and local sourwood honey and Himalayan salt detoxification. The fresh mountain air is also thought to have healing attributes, and is what drove the hotel's founder to the area in the first place, in the early 1900s.

Helping the Community

When a room is booked, a portion of the proceeds go toward feeding less fortunate families through Feeding America. "In one year, nearly nine million meals have been donated to help Feeding America provide nutritious meals for food banks to feed children, families and seniors in communities across the United States," says the Omni Hotels and Resorts site.

Employees are also encouraged to volunteer at food banks and pantries in their local community. 5,000 nationwide employees donated 7,000 hours of their time over the past year.

sunset over mountains
Photo courtesy Omni Hotels & Resorts.

Flourishing in Eco-Tourism

The travel industry is becoming increasingly aware of eco-tourism, and that people prefer an authentic experience built around the community in which they are visiting. Vacations become enriching rather than simply an empty experience at just another hotel room with commercial gimmicks and corporate food.

The Omni Grove Park Inn provides incredible surroundings that blend into nature, a first-hand look into history and culinary experiences that let you truly experience life in the Blue Ridge Mountains. As we watched the sunset from the back terrace, I simultaneously felt truly connected with history and nature; moments like these display a glimpse of the deep importance of preservation on every level.

3 Reasons Why Water Is a Magnificent Natural Healer

It’s amazing that water makes up an average 60 percent of the human body, but society often forgets water’s capacity for natural healing. Instead, people consume artificially flavored water, energy drinks, soft drinks, sparkling soda and coffee over pure water — and that’s not the fizzy, bubbly kind, either.

flowing stream and glass of water
Photo by Adobe Stock/arttim.

From the world’s ecosystems to the human body, water is an intrinsic element of our existence, and metaphorically it has been used to represent emotions and spirituality. Water affects the body, mind and spirit as a magnificent catalyst and a natural healer. Here’s how.

1. Water Keeps the Environment Healthy

Though organisms may thrive in interesting environments that are toxic to humans, space explorers have looked for life on planets that are not too hot and not too cold. That “Goldilocks Zone” makes a planet a potential host for the life-giving powers of water. Humanity has equated water with life for ages.

Water changes the face of the landscape, breaking down boulders and shaping mountains. It may look like features of landscape disappear, but the Earth is constantly evolving and changing, as both energy and matter are neither created nor destroyed.

Remember learning about the various types of clouds? Don’t worry — there’s no quiz, but there are typically eight types, from what we see terrestrially all the way up to the stratosphere.

When it rains, it pours — and through the process of evaporation, the water cycle keeps the environment healthy. The majority of water evaporated from the sea returns as precipitation, and roughly ten percent falls over the land as precipitation. In the process of evaporation, a water molecule will spend nearly ten days in the air.

If there was no precipitation runoff or groundwater discharged via aquifers, the oceans would be virtually empty.

2. Water Is Vital to Human Health

Water is vital to human health, especially for the brain, which is composed of 75 percent of water. The effects of dehydration are harmful to all parts of the body. The human brain needs water for proper processing of thoughts and storing memories. As your endless train of thought can attest, the brain doesn’t stop running. The ecosystem of the body fails without water.

Consider what happens when we dam up our natural water sources to control and consume the flow. A river whose flow has been blocked with begin to weaken and its ecosystem will start to fail. Waste backs up. Where there is water, there is life.

Similarly, for human beings, the body’s organs shut down when no water is available. This vital element acts as a lubricant for digestion and helps your gut absorb proteins and nutrients. Without water, the body can’t boot out pollutants or toxins, increasing the body’s odds of experiencing skin disorders, digestive disorders, allergies, high cholesterol and even cancer. Those hunger pangs in the body are likely a craving for water. So, before you kick back with a coffee, drink a glass of water.

When part of the body breaks down or is wounded, water is there to help heal it. For example, water has the ability to heal a shoulder replacement. In one case study, physical therapists used a pool as a healing environment for shoulder rehabilitation and the patient regained 100 percent functionality, claiming his abilities were better than they were 20 years prior.

Hydrotherapy is useful for many patients to regain mobility — especially elders who have a greater range of motion in the pool. Those water gymnastics classes do their job! And if your health improves and you feel like the real swan of Swan Lake, why not?

3. Water Is Nurturing to the Soul

Priests of various faiths bless water to make it holy and children are christened after birth for “purity.” Myriad cultures used natural springs and manmade baths as healing and worship centers, such as the Celts, Greeks and Romans. For example, Sulis was a Celtic water deity of healing found in woodland springs. The Greco-Roman view of bathing was a way of leading a spiritual and clean life and get their party on, too. Water has long been associated with spiritual healing and rejuvenation.

Don’t you feel amazing after you take a long, hot shower or soak your stinky, aching feet in Epsom salts after a long hike? Thought so.

You can make bath time a more soothing and spiritual aspect of personal self-care by adding herbal oils or candles to the experience. Take a little longer than usual and soak in the tub, closing your eyes and focusing your breathing. Let the relaxing power of water nurture your inner self.

From the outer world to the inner body, mind and soul, water is a magnificent natural healer. It cycles from the oceans to your tap at home, to drink and nurture your vital organs. It also soothes your mind and spirit — whether by way of a priest’s blessing or a hot soak in the tub after a long day.

Water is at the center of life — so drink up, be healthy and merry!

5 DIY Remedies to Keep Bugs Away This Summer

Insects and bugs are a common problem during the warmer months of the year. Attracted by various food sources, from crumbs to your pets, insects like ants, mosquitoes and wasps can make your life miserable once they invade your home and garden.

When you hire a professional contractor, exterminating most of these creatures can cost an average of $250 to $300, while termite and bed bug extermination can cost $1,300 to $2,500. Thankfully, you don’t need to hire an exterminator or use a lot of toxic chemicals to deal with the issue; there are many natural remedies you can use to help rid your home of pests.

food and herbs on the grill
Photo by Adobe Stock/
karepa.

Diatomaceous Earth and Borax for Ants

Even finding one ant inside your home can indicate a bigger problem. Ants can eat away at your home, cause foul odors and, generally, be a nuisance. To find the most effective means of dealing with them, you need to know what type of ants you have.

The most common ants found in homes are odorous ant, house ants and carpenter ants. For house ants or odorous ants, mix equal parts borax and sugar and sprinkle it around the areas the ants enter to attract and kill them. For carpenter ants sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth (DE), a lethal dust for insects, made from natural and organic algae-like plants around your baseboards.

Repel Mosquitoes and Flies with Basil & Rosemary

Simply put some fresh basil leaves in a vase or jar with water, then leave them on a table or mantel as decoration. Basil naturally repels both mosquitoes and houseflies, along with looking and smelling great. Add some flowers for a more appealing aesthetic, or decorate the vase or jar with ribbons to blend it in with your decor.

If you’re having a barbeque, and want to keep the bugs away from your guests, just throw a bit of rosemary on the coals to help repel mosquitoes. Rosemary also grows well in gardens as a culinary herb; you can keep it in small pots on your window sill or on your porch to help keep bugs away, while adding its fresh scent to your home.

Repel Garden Bugs with Flowers

Keep your garden and yard free of some of the more annoying bugs by planting any of the following around the perimeter. All of these plants are well-known natural bug repellents that will help increase your enjoyment of your yard.

Citronella Grass
Citronella oil is frequently added to natural bug repellents and the grass it grows from has the same repelling qualities. Plant some around your garden, or simply set a few pots of it out on your porch, to help keep the mosquitoes at bay.

Petunias
Petunias are easy to grow and make a beautiful addition to any yard. Known as “Nature’s Pesticide”, petunias can repel aphids, tomato hornworms, asparagus beetles, leafhoppers and squash bugs. Protect your garden crops by planting petunias around the perimeter          .

Lavender
Lavender has a smell that repels mosquitoes, even as it attracts people. Lavender is perfect for the summer season because it grows best in hot, dry climates. The beautiful purple blooms can also be harvested and dried to capture the scent inside your home for months during the winter, as well.

Make a Jar Trap for Wasps

Wasps are a nasty customer to deal with in your yard or home. If they’ve been buzzing around your house or garden, consider making a jar trap to attract and capture them naturally. Fill a jar with 6 ounces of white vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of salt. Set the jar near the area the wasps are coming from; the more wasps you have, the more jars you may need. Keep the jars in place until you’ve attracted and killed all the unwanted guests.

Before you opt for invasive or expensive methods to deal with pests in and around your home, give these simple, do-it-yourself methods a try. You may find them effective for dealing with minor to moderate infestations. If you find that you need more help, a pest control service may be necessary. To find out more about the costs, be sure to visit the Cost Guides.

T1International: Saving Diabetic Lives

Many misconceptions are associated with diabetes, but it’s a complex condition that predominately affects people in two forms. You have type 1 and type 2; type 1 diabetes is typically caused by an autoimmune response in which the immune system attacks insulin making cells in the pancreas. The cause hasn’t been confirmed and the healthiest individuals can be affected.

It’s Not Only the U.S.

While diabetes is prevalent in the U.S., it’s making a painful mark on countries around the world. It has been speculated that rates of type 1 aren’t high in some poverty stricken countries because people die quickly after diagnosis, since they don’t have access to insulin. Insulin is life: Type 1 diabetics around the world are dying without it.

Say Hello to T1International

T1International is aiming to change the world for diabetics. Their website states that they are “working toward access and affordability of access to insulin, diabetes supplies, medical care and education for all people living with type 1 diabetes.” Awareness is raised through personal stories form type 1 diabetics, statistics and other data, as well as providing knowledge to those supporting the cause through the T1International Advocacy Tool Kit.

T1 advocacy toolkit

Recently, the head of T1International, Elizabeth Rowley, traveled to Uganda to take part in a camp hosted by the Sonia Nabeta Foundation, who also advocates for type 1 diabetics and their need for supplies in in Africa. Elizabeth and Stephen Nabeta began the foundation in honor of their daughter, Sonia Stephanie Clarissa Kyagaba Nabeta, who lost her battle with type 1 diabetes in 2015.

Rowley and her travel partner, Gavin Griffiths, were able to inspire not only hope in the camp’s attendees, but a passion to push for change. With the Advocacy Tool Kit, Rowley spent several sessions explaining how to effectively fight for the things they need to survive. Their current goal is to constructively create a plan to get the government to commit to providing one daily syringe to each diabetic by the end of the year. Ugandan diabetics depend on donations, which can often be uncertain, and syringes are a crucial part of care. T1International made a profound impact in Uganda and continues to do so in other areas.

Type 1 Diabetes Around the World

Low income individuals in Bolivia often die as they do not have access to proper healthcare. Patients wait in long lines to see doctors; natural remedies are often used in place of insulin, leading to severe complications and death. Much of the insulin in Bolivia has been smuggled in and sometimes is of poor quality, which also causes complications.

Venezuelans have little to no access to insulin or blood sugar strips. Parents of diabetic children will opt to not inject insulin when they are unable to test blood sugar. Too much insulin could cause a life threatening condition known as hypoglycemia, but high blood sugar can result in death as well. Unfortunately, it’s a lose-lose situation.

Thailand is praised for having a great healthcare system, and they do have great healthcare that is accessible to those who work. But there is little education of what type 1 diabetes is, therefore the care is inadequate. People die because the disease is not understood. Advocacy can prove to be extremely important in these places because it helps create a knowledge base and understanding.

Even in the U.S., diabetics aren’t getting the insulin they need because of astronomical prices. Here, in our own country, people are dying because of this.

T1international group

Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a United Nations document drafted by diverse individuals worldwide, in effort to set a standard of principals in which our world should live upon. “It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected and it has been translated into over 500 languages,” states the UN’s site. Article 3 in this document reads, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” The right to life; we all have the right to life. To me, it seems we are stripping type 1 diabetics of the right to live by denying them a medication they cannot live without.

In 1921, Frederick Banting and Charles H. Best discovered insulin and handed the patent over to the University of Toronto, and ultimately Eli Lilly, because they wanted it to be distributed to everyone who would need it. Their intent was not to make money, but their fears are now a reality; many diabetics don’t have access.

People have been spreading the word through the #insulin4all tag and by signing the T1International charter. The charter shows how many supporters stand behind diabetic rights and can be an influencer in making big changes in governments. Five key rights that diabetics need to live a full, healthy life are:

1. The right to insulin.
2. The right to manage your blood sugar.
3. The right to diabetes education.
4. The right to healthcare.
5. The right to live a life free from discrimination.

By simply educating yourself on the matter, sharing the #insulin4all tag and signing the charter, you are giving diabetics everywhere a fighting chance.

Photos courtesy T1International.


Karyn WoffordKaryn Wofford is a type 1 diabetic, EMT and Certified Wellness Specialist. For years she has educated herself on wellness and natural, wholesome living. Karyn’s goal is to help people be the healthiest they can be while living fun, happy lives.

A Brief History of the Summer Solstice

Summer is, officially, here! Although school has been out for some time, June 20th marked the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer as we know it. Also known as Midsummer, the summer solstice has been celebrated and honored by civilizations throughout history.

The ancient Greeks and Romans celebrated with feasts and, in both cultures, the solstice aligned with some of their most prominent festivals—the Olympics in Greece and the festival of Vestalia in Rome. The Native American Sun Dance represents this changing of seasons and other early indigenous tribes often built their important structures during solstices. Some pagan traditions believed that certain plants, such as St. John’s wort, roses and rue, possessed different, beneficial properties if picked on the year’s shortest night.

stonehenge with bright sun
Photo by Adobe Stock/andrewmroland.

So why do we continue to celebrate this ancient holiday?

Like many of our modern traditions, the summer solstice was also married to religious calendars during the rise of Christianity. Throughout Europe, what pagans called the solstice became St. John the Baptist’s Day.

In recent years, studies have been conducted to determine whether humans are happier when the days are longer and have more hours of sunlight. One specific study looked at the tweets of 2.4 million people across the world. The researchers discovered that, based on the content of tweets, people were more positive when the summer solstice was approaching, lengthening the hours of daylight. (Learn more about how vitamin D can improve well-being.)

Although the hours of day shorten following this solstice, it’s a time of optimism and new beginnings. Whether you actively celebrate with established traditions, you probably honor it in other ways throughout the season. Bonfires, picnics, barbecues, family cook-outs and other festivities are all essential parts of summer that allow you to enjoy the weather and sunshine before winter rolls back around.

Think you know everything about the solstice? Test your knowledge with a short quiz!

Device Settings You Should Be Using to Save Cash and Energy

phone battery notification
 Photo by Shutterstock.

Want to cut down on energy consumption? From your thermostat and refrigerator to your smartphone and personal computer, these are the device setting hacks that you should know about.

Boost Battery Life

Today smartphones are the most used device. And it’s likely you could be cutting down on your energy consumption costs. Smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S8 plus are already energy-efficient, but can be even more so with a few simple hacks. It’s longtime charge of 11 hours can be optimized by turning off the Always On display. This setting draws a bit of juice that can wear down the battery life, but by disabling it via the Settings menu, you can earn yourself extra battery life. Also, changing your Galaxy S8 plus screen resolution from 2960x1440 to 1440x720 can also work wonders when it comes to extending your battery life.

Disable Notifications

Notifications can get annoying. And these annoying alerts drain energy. Manage your device’s alerts in the settings center and opt for the alerts that you want or need only. Do you really need to know how many likes your latest Instagram post is getting in real time?

Use Sleep Mode Power Settings

Named one of Energy Star’s most efficient desktop computers of 2017, the ASUS MB169 is a portable, lightweight computer that is a simple choice for energy efficiency. But not only is the model itself efficient, it comes equipped with a host of eco-friendly, energy-saving settings to reduce your footprint. One such setting is the MB169’s sleep mode. Rather than turning your system off, then on again, sleep mode, or standby, uses less energy from the outlet than powering down, utilizing the least amount of power necessary. A constantly running PC can run you about $130 per year. Putting it to sleep can save you some coin.

Switch Off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

These two are major energy suckers. Turn them off. When they are on, your phone is constantly searching for a signal to pull from, which drains your phone’s battery and wastes unnecessary energy. For iPhone users, deselect these options in the slide up control center.

Turn Down the Thermostat

Want to save as much as 10 percent on your heating and cooling costs? It’s simple. Turning your thermostat back by seven to 10 degrees for eight hours each day from its normal setting can do the trick. Just switch it back before heading into work, and when you come home, switch it back on, cites the U.S. Department of Energy. It’s that easy. Programmable thermostats, also called smart thermostats or learning thermostats, like Nest or EcoBee can also save you money, plus you can control them directly from your smartphone remotely.

Manage Your Brightness

This should go without saying. Managing your screen brightness, no matter what device you’re using, whether it’s a tablet, computer or phone, can cut energy usage, because you’re not constantly searching for an outlet, and also save battery life. Disable automatic brightness and enable manual control of your display brightness. For iOS users, you can do this by tapping Settings, then Brightness on your device.

Set the Right Temp

Is your refrigerator running? You can save money on your utilities and conserve energy by ensuring that your refrigerator is running at an optimal temperature. Energy Star recommends setting the temperature between 35 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping the door closed and regularly checking the seals can also save money and energy.


Lauren Topor full-time freelance writer and alumna of Arizona State University. Her professional work has appeared in a variety of publications from lifestyle mags to business websites. Follow Lauren on Twitter @laurentopor.

Charity Spotlight: National Women’s Health Network

 

Why They’re Crucial: When we cover personal care and health, we encourage readers to be vigilant about what products they use, their effects, and how they’re made. That’s because poorly regulated or tested ingredients in everything from makeup to headache medicine may potentially cause serious health risks.

The National Women’s Health Network is a nonprofit that has worked since 1975 to help shape policy and support consumer health decisions; monitor the health-care industry and health professions; and provide accurately researched information for women on health issues and consumer safety. The group’s main strategic approach is to analyze important women’s health issues and share their informed understanding in ways that encourage grassroots action, bringing the voices of people concerned about women’s health to decision-makers and industry leaders.

What They Do
• Work to improve access to health care that meets the needs of diverse women
• Provide thoroughly researched answers to common health questions
• Create updates and alerts on policy and product safety information

Did You Know?

More than 80 percent of prescriptions filled in the U.S. are for generic drugs not required to include the same side effect information as brand-name counterparts.

A 2001 study found that eight in 10 drugs recalled from the U.S. market posed a greater health risk to women than men.

Visit the National Women's Health Network