Wellness can mean many things: Relaxing with a hot stone massage, meditating in lotus position, a strength-building Pilates class complete with personal instructor and specialized machines. Whatever your definition, Aquidneck Island is an epicenter – which is why Newport Wellness Week draws such crowds, even in frigid January.
“It functions like Newport Restaurant Week,” says Meredith Nordhem Ewenson, a Newport-based yoga instructor and essential oils purveyor. “Businesses can participate in any way they want. It’s a great opportunity for them to collaborate and create special events.”
Meredith also oversees the week’s most visible advent, the Newport Wellness Week Marketplace. Collaborating with Discover Newport and the Newport Marriott, the Marketplace is a bazaar of 40 vendors and up to eight different “healers,” who furnish visitors with samples and demos from their diverse specializations. For one day, you can try a little yoga, a bit of barre, settle into a chair massage, or have your Tarot cards read. You can also expect live music and a cooking demonstration, among other surprises.
“The idea came organically,” says Meredith, who has spearheaded the marketplace since it started in 2018. The initial brainstorm came during a lunch with Catherine Farrington, vice president of marketing at Discover Newport. “We were just kind of chatting, and I don’t even remember how it came about, but we felt that having a physical event to anchor the week would be a great addition. Each business will do its own promotions. But having an event in-person, people can be face-to-face with these small, often one-person businesses.”
The marketplace is a boon for wellness enthusiasts, but it’s also a great networking event for professionals who don’t often cross paths, even in an intimate community like Newport. Meredith has received a lot of positive feedback, mostly from wellness experts who found themselves communicating – and even collaborating – with newfound colleagues.
“I thought was a great, not-entirely-purposeful by-product,” Meredith reflects. “Before, they hadn’t really talked and connected and gotten to know each other. It’s more than a vendor event. It’s more like a community gathering place.” Newport Wellness Week takes place January 18-25; the Marketplace takes place January 19 at the Marriott Hotel, Newport.