At Civana Carefree, Wellness is What’s On Your Plate

CAREFREE, AZ—Wellness brand Civana Carefree has a new chef and he’s ready to make his mark in the kitchen and on the plates of health-focused guests.

Justin Cline Macy, the former executive Chef of Miraval and co-author of Sweet & Savory Cooking and contributing author of Mindful Eating, was attracted to Civana’s emphasis on the interconnectedness of the mind, body and soul.

His depth of expertise includes 15 years of culinary experience training under the guidance of legendary spa cuisine innovators Chef Cary Neff, Bill Wavrin, and Chad Luethje.

Launched in March here at the former Carefree Inn, the brand has steadily been building its roster of wellness executives, and Macy is the latest addition.

In a Q&A with Hotel Business, Macy details how he will create conscious cuisine that empowers guests to live and eat well.

Briefly, please share your wellness philosophy and how you implement it into the meals you create at Civana Carefree.

My sense of well-being is defined by how present I am in the moment. My daughter teaches me that every single day. While that is nourishment for the mind and soul, eating fresh local food is how I care for my body. Civana is all about the interconnectedness of the mind, body and soul especially as it relates to the environment and community, which is why we source our food locally and sustainably.

How do you define wellness in terms of cuisine?

Throughout all cultures, food has always been at the heart of celebrations—breaking bread together and sharing laughter. At Civana Carefree, we understand that wellness is an emotional outcome and nutrition is one of the pillars of our wellness culture. So, we do everything to ensure that our food is vetted in terms of nutritional and caloric value, as well as ingredients that are natural and GMO-free. And, the food also needs to be delicious, nourishing and memorable.

Tell me about what led you to Civana? What attracted you to the brand?

A friend reached out to me and said I needed to look at what Civana was doing and that I would be a good addition. Walking the property, sleeping in the newly renovated rooms, having dinner in Terras and breakfast at Café Meto, experiencing the mission of what Civana offers its guests—everything resonated with where I wanted to be and what I want to be a part of. For the first time in months, my wife and I sat on the patio at Civana and just talked to each other while watching the sunset. That wellness exercise in itself is so simple and something everyone can do. The energy and atmosphere at Civana invites that.

With your varied background and expertise, what do you hope to bring to this role?

I hope to continue to elevate the quality of the dining experience with creative vegetable-forward cuisine, while still featuring bold proteins and keeping everything as locally sourced as possible. My main goal is to create a dining experience at Civana that will help many people model it at home so it becomes a staple in their everyday life.

Please share a couple new initiatives happening under your direction?

I inherited a great team of cooks who are eager to learn something new. I am working with them on understanding what farm-to-table cooking is all about. That includes understanding what ingredients are in season and utilizing those for the dishes.

We are also looking at offering cooking and juicing classes, and chef’s table and wine dinners that are not only for our in-house guests, but for our local residents as well.

We will be creating kid-friendly treats that are vegetable- and fruit-based that kids and parents will love. We’re also working on a cocktail menu that utilizes all of our fresh juices.

How will you infuse new energy into the program?

I’m a risk taker. I work well under pressure and have a lot of fun with it, especially on the food side of things. I’m looking at the menu we have now, which is amazing, but I need to take it to the next level with my staff and that in itself will create the buzz.

What’s on the horizon for guests and the culinary team at Civana?

There’s so much. We recently opened Café Meto, which is across from our 29-room, 22,000-sq.-ft. spa set to open in December. While Terras is about choice (grass-fed meats, wine, desserts), Café Meto offers a purer menu of breakfast bowls, salads, wraps, smoothies, freshly squeezed juices and locally roasted coffees. We already offer up to nine daily classes complimentary to guests from all types: yoga, hiking, spin, TRX, juicing, art and meditation. And, we continue to grow our program of classes. So when this solar-powered spa with water harvesting opens, it will complete the wellness experience we offer guests of all ages.