Founder and CEO Marsha Ralls launched The Phoenix Wellness Retreat in 2018. Her goal was to create a space for personal inspiration, growth and life transformation.
She is a leader in the hospitality, wellness and fine arts spaces, a certified yoga instructor and mindfulness coach. Drawing together her knowledge of fitness, nature, and art, Marsha designed a place for people to reconnect with their bodies, hearts, consciousness and the natural beauty of the world around them.
From an early age, Marsha understood the power of community. Bringing like-minded people together has been a driving force behind every role she has taken on, from fitness instructor to single mother, global art dealer, entrepreneur and beyond. Marsha lives by the credo we are stronger together and create more impact when our purpose and vision align.
Before turning her attention to wellness, fitness and empowerment, Marsha made a significant impact on the Washington, DC, area, serving as a Commissioner for the Arts and Humanities under three mayors. Her legacy in Washington may well be the curation of 4,000 works of art for DC’s Marriott Marquis Convention Hotel.
Marsha’s string of successes includes serving as the President and CEO of Closed Monday Productions LLC, a company dedicated to advocating for the arts and consulting with entrepreneurs from across the world. She founded the internationally recognized global art advisory group, The Ralls Collection, Inc. She has curated over 449 exhibitions with prominent artists, including her mentor, Robert Rauschenberg, Ellsworth Kelly, Annie Leibovitz and showcased the work of five National Geographic photographers in the visual exploration “Cultures on the Edge.” This chronicle of traditional cultures was also shown at the United Nations.
Marsha has been recognized by multiple organizations for her commitment to entrepreneurship and community service. She was honored as National Woman of the Year by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in 2001, Entrepreneur of the Year in 2008 by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship and Enterprising Woman of the Year in 2019 by Enterprising Women.
She has been a servant leader and member of the global Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) for almost 25 years. Recognizing the need for women to support women in business and beyond, Marsha founded MyEO Women of EO in 2014. The EO US East region awarded her the Living Beyond Yourself award for those who display exemplary leadership and service. The Washington Business Journal noted Marsha in “Women Who Mean Business” as one of the top women business leaders in DC. Through her membership in the Economic Club of Washington, DC, she has served as a mentor for college students. She is also a member of the Conscious Capital Senior Leadership Network. Since coming to Asheville, she has joined the Director’s Forum and Collector’s Circle for the Asheville Art Museum.
Marsha founded The Phoenix with a desire to elevate humanity and give her clients the opportunity to slow down and pursue their dream of good health and well-being. Her door is always open to guests who would like to stop by to share their experiences at The Phoenix.
Ofri Gilan is a world-class chef who has chosen to focus her impressive talents on healthy eating. After growing up on a kibbutz in Israel where she worked in the communal kitchen preparing meals for 700, she financed her world travel by working as a chef. It was only after she moved to Australia that she came to fully appreciate the richness of Asian cuisine, now one of her specialties. After earning a master’s degree in Urban Design from Harvard University, she changed paths to follow her true, life-long passion: food, nutrition and helping people adapt their lives to create more mindful eating practices. Today, she infuses her dishes with flavors from the Mediterranean region, the Middle East, Morocco, Spain, southern Italy, the Balkan Turkish area, Lebanon, India, Thailand and China. Chef Gilan’s meatless meals are spiced to perfection—and never boring!
Jennifer Pharr Davis is a nationally recognized speaker and record-setting hiker who partners with the Phoenix Retreat to make educational presentations, lead hikes and facilitate outdoor team building activities. Jennifer has covered over 14,000 miles and explored trails on six different continents. She has hiked the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail three separate times, and in 2011 set a record by completing it in 46 days – an average of 47 miles per day.
As a mom to two young children, Jennifer has backpacked 700 miles in her second and third trimesters, hiked across the state of North Carolina while nursing her son, and set foot on a trail in all fifty states with her daughter. Jennifer is the author of nine books and the owner and founder of Blue Ridge Hiking Company. She has been recognized as a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and currently serves as a member of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition.
Joel is a licensed Massage and Bodyworks Therapist with 13 years of experience in massage therapy. At the outset of every session, he collaborates with the client on a full evaluation of both occupation and lifestyle and defines their goals in seeking massage therapy. The resulting program is tailored to the specific needs of the client, whether it is pure relaxation, improved body dynamics or focused massage to alleviate a condition.
Joel’s specialties are deep tissue massage, modern Cupping therapy and Thai massage. He also employs Swedish and deep tissue therapies to relax the body and target areas that are overworked or congested, enabling the body to move and operate with more fluidity. Cupping helps increase circulation and lymphatic flow and can break up adhesions in soft tissue with inverse pressure, which acts as a complement to the deep tissue work. Joel approaches each client with a holistic approach to helping guide their bodies towards a state of balance.
Joel trained at Potomac Massage Training Institute in Washington, DC. He also traveled to Chiang Mai in Thailand to study Thai massage. After training in Modern Cupping Therapy with renowned Cupping expert and author Shannon Gilmartin, he assisted her in the training of others. When not changing lives with massage, Joel works as a professional actor, acting teacher, movement consultant and choreographer. Joel credits his understanding of the demands we place on our bodies and what we need to do to create and maintain balance to his 22 years in the theatre.
David is a 2004 graduate of the Florida School of Massage and holds a bachelor’s degree in Health Education from the University of Florida. He is a Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist (LMBT) and holds a Reiki II Certification.
Having practiced massage for 10 years in physical therapy, chiropractic and spa settings, David has developed a technique based on the principles of Ortho-Bionomy, a reflex-based approach to unlock the body’s own self corrective intelligence, and Tai chi, a meditative martial art. The result is a blend of luxurious spa massage mixed with the specificity and effectiveness of clinical massage. His extensive experience as a massage therapist has taught him to listen closely to both what his clients say and how their bodies react, enabling him to treat acute and chronic injuries effectively and gently.
David and his family recently moved to Asheville and are loving being close to nature and the “awesome vibe” of this unique community.
Truth-I has been studying Taoist energy cultivation and holistic health since 2002. Between 2006 and 2012, he served as a trainer at the world-renowned Ashram Health Retreat, assisting over 2,200 of America’s leaders move forward on their journey of wellness. His philosophy of three pillars of physical health—diet, exercise and meditation—alongside his knowledge of qigong, yogic breathing practices and Chinese medicine allows Truth-I to share comprehensive perspectives on thriving! He and his wife Aradhana comprise the “folk-hop” band “I, Star,” and are owners of Asheville’s Silvermoon Chocolate.
As a sound practitioner, Myan guides clients on a deep dive into their inner world using breath and sound. She weaves soundscapes to provide a journey into deep relaxation and introspection through the use of drums, chimes, rattles and singing bowls. As the instruments bathe the client in a reverberation of sound waves, a space is created for the outer world to dissolve and the inner world to come into focus. Sound is a powerful tool for activating the body’s innate healing wisdom and harmonizing the mind, body and spirit. Each sound bath is designed to promote deep relaxation, enhance self-awareness, and activate healing transformations from within.
Renee Manning is passionate about helping people slow down and relax, so they can live with strength and grace. She is the founder of Vacation Yoga® and a global trainer/facilitator for entrepreneurs and CEOs. In her workshops and classes, she helps students feel comfortable, accomplished and happy, which is a pathway to growth and self-discovery. She teaches movement, breathwork and energy empowerment in an accessible way that helps students connect deeply with themselves, creating experiences that lead to lasting impact. Results include improved physical strength, flexibility, focus and gratitude.
She received her RYT 200 (a certification indicating she is a Registered Yoga Teacher who has received 200 hours of training) in Alexandria, VA at 532 Yoga and completed Power Yoga for Sports Teacher Training to support athletes. She is also an author; her gratitude journal BEST: The Ultimate Journal for Beginners is currently available on Amazon. Renee holds a Bachelor of Arts from University of Dayton and a Master of Arts from Creighton University.
Jen Mazer, the “Queen of Manifestation,” is a sought-after transformational speaker and coach. She teaches people how to manifest their biggest dreams while making an impact on the world. She is known for her signature Manifestation Masters Program and Private Success Coaching. Jen loves working with entrepreneurs and high level CEOs, helping them manifest true happiness in all areas of their lives. Jen’s guidance has helped make the dream of the Phoenix Wellness Retreat Asheville come true.
She’s the author of Manifesting Made Easy (Simon & Schuster), and Co-Founder of the board game Sparked. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Fast Company, New York Magazine, Real Simple, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, ABC and more.
Carmen uses the diagnostic techniques of Chinese medicine to detect imbalance or disharmony in her clients. To bring the mind, body and spirit into harmony and facilitate healing, Carmen inserts tiny needles into various points along the body. The resulting energy flow promotes wellness and fights disease. National Institutes of Health (NIH) studies have shown that acupuncture is an effective treatment alone or in combination with conventional therapies to treat a multitude of illnesses, including pain, stress, anxiety, depression, digestive disease, and organ-related issues. Carmen believes in the power of intuition and compassion to guide the treatment, enabling her to provide the most aligned treatment for you. She is a graduate of Miami University Ohio with a Bachelor of Science and received her acupuncture training at the Daoist Traditions College of Chinese Medical Arts in Asheville, NC.
A good garden design is one that speaks to the natural elements and to those who will grace the space with their presence. In each of her garden designs, Bonnie considers the foundation or history of the space; the function of the space; harmony among its elements; and the visual aspects of color and textures that will affect the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of those who dwell in the space.
Bonnie was mentored for over 15 years by acclaimed landscape architect designer Gordon Riggle, the creator of many of the gardens in Washington, DC’s Georgetown neighborhood and the gardens of lifestyle guru and actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s Hamptons compound. Bonnie is continuing her education through the Oxford College of Landscape Architecture and Garden Design program.
After over 25 years in association marketing and communications, Gigi struck out on her own with Jarvis and Associates LLC, a consultancy located in the Washington, DC area. Prior to that, she held the position of Vice President, Content and Marketing for the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, where she had the pleasure of collaborating with The Phoenix Wellness Retreat Asheville Founder Marsha Ralls.
Gigi is a graduate of Emory University in Atlanta and received her master’s from the Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. She earned the Certified Association Executive designation from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) in 2015. In 2020, she was appointed to the Fairfax County, Virginia Small Business Commission.
Growing up in the mountains of Asheville, Dricana learned to identify and harvest healing herbs. She can identify hundreds of plants and has been trained in ethical wildcrafting, flower essences, traditional Chinese medicine and energetics. She is a trained herbalist with 1800 hours of study, application and apprenticeship. She hosts local plant walks and creates curative natural products for those in need. At home, she has over 120 houseplants and a flourishing herb garden.
In addition to her work with herbs, Dricana is a social media professional with over five years of experience promoting local businesses. She acts as the trusted assistant to The Phoenix Asheville Founder Marsha Ralls and handles a wide variety of duties at the Wellness Retreat.