July 3, 2017 – Santa Cruz County’s newest and largest hospitality venue is nearing completion in the redwood forest above Scotts Valley. With capacity to house 375 guests a night and feed them three healthful, vegetable-driven meals a day, the 1440 Multiversity aims to attract a different kind of visitor—one looking for experiences, knowledge and personal growth.
A jam-packed lineup of instructors includes celebrities like Elizabeth Gilbert and Alanis Morrisette; world-class experts on meditation, yoga and psychology; and a variety of food-related classes.
Formerly the campus of Bethany University, the property and buildings have undergone a massive $47 million renovation since being acquired by founders Scott and Joanie Kriens four years ago.
Scott—chairman of Silicon Valley’s Juniper Networks—and his wife started the 1440 Foundation in 2010 “around the belief in a whole world of learning inside of ourselves.” He says a career in IT led him to the realization that “the internet connects you to everything except yourself.” 1440 stands for the number of minutes in a day.
In 2013, the couple came across the vacant 75-acre Bethany property, which had closed in 2011 and sat like a ghost town at the edge of Scotts Valley. Their big question of “where can we make a better impact than just grant making?” says Scott, was answered while eating sandwiches onsite in what is now referred to as “The Cathedral”, an outdoor amphitheater in the middle of redwoods. They began construction in 2014.
Three years later, Phase 1 of the project is almost complete and has been welcoming guests since Memorial Day for the intensive workshop schedule already planned well into 2018. There are 375 beds available to sleep in, from luxurious suites to single rooms to bunk style lodging. There is a fitness center, a chapel that has been turned into an open learning space and retail shop, an auditorium, a Healing Arts center, indoor and outdoor classrooms, 4 miles of hiking trails and countless features that elevate the 1440 premise of rest, recharge, integrate, relate.
“We talk a lot about authenticity and what’s real, which means building with real stuff,” Scott explains. This is evident in the slate, stone, copper and ancient redwood and pine used throughout the campus to create beautiful craftsman style buildings, reminiscent of Yosemite’s Ahwanhee Hotel.
Natural materials and techniques, such as using walnut shells to air blast the pine walls and ceiling of the former chapel before applying oil treatment to restore the original luster, is just one example of the long list of artisan details here. There is a 40 million year old mollusk fossil near the front door of the reception area, there is a chakra-themed glass sphere and colored liquid art installation, and custom iron railings crafted by a master builder named Tony from Indiana.
A massive wall of vintage clocks greets you inside Common Grounds, a coffee shop featuring Verve coffee, Leo Leo gelato from Paso Robles, Heather’s Patisserie and Casa Nostra baked goods, as well as a variety of other snacks and drinks for purchase.
And then there is The Kitchen Table, where 27-year-old executive chef Kenny Woods is enthusiastically playing around with our local bounty. He counts himself as one of the lucky people who knew from the get-go what he wanted to do, ever since “sitting on a stool” in the kitchen and cooking with his grandma.
This young chef from Tucson has an obvious passion for food. Aside from a childhood interest, he continued to stage every summer in San Francisco restaurants to gain professional experience. The gigantic cafeteria-style space seats 275 inside and close to 200 outside on the sunny patio, and the “plant-based” menu changes every meal, every day. On a Wednesday in late-June, lunch featured a cold coconut and squash soup with cilantro, orange glazed chicken or tofu with forbidden black rice, roasted radish, bok choy, basil and mint, or the “Chef’s Grill” octopus tostada with quinoa, charred corn, black beans, cabbage and tomato.
Some would see the constant menu planning as a challenge, but Woods sees it more of an “open script” where he is “free to plug and play” with whatever is in season or inspiring. His biggest problem at the moment is finding local farmers to deliver their goods, as the distribution channel to our local produce supply is more focused on farmers’ markets and direct sales. He relies mostly on Coast Produce, with some produce from Route One and Serendipity Farm as well.
Across the campus is a huge, open hillside Teaching Kitchen, that will be completed next month. It will feature steel raised herb beds, twelve student stations with cooktop ranges as well as separate chef instructor stations, and above it will be a large orchard.
Most of the classes scheduled for this space focus on nutrition and healthy living, with titles such as Eating Clean with Chef and author Amie Valpone, Well Nourished, using mindfulness-based eating and meditative practices with Andrea Lieberstein or The Paleo Experience with Harvard-trained physician Akil Palanisamy, author of The Paleovedic Diet, and Michelle Tam, New York Times best-selling author of Nom Nom Paleo. You can also join Max Lugavere and medical doctor Paul Grewal for a week of working out and custom-selected brain-optimizing meal selections in the session called Biohacking Your Brain and Body or apply the latest nutrition science to your life in the class Food as Medicine, led by The Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s founder and executive director James S. Gordon and integrative nutritionist Kathie Madonna Swift.
These are just the food-centric classes, sprinkled throughout the 130-page catalogue of “Immersion Workshops for Integrated Living”. At this point, to experience any of this will require an overnight (or several) stay here, which includes food and a variety of classes.
So for us locals, the idea of just dropping by for a yoga class or spa treatment is not an option. However, the ultimate reason behind this rule is to really deliver a regenerative retreat for people, to set aside your daily urgencies and be “in a place where you can leave with something that might make a difference back home,” says Scott. That takes a little more time than a 55 minute massage. So start planning a stay-cation in Scotts Valley soon.
For more information contact: www.1440.org
Amber Turpin is a food writer and baker who homesteads in Ben Lomond.