On May 22, 2024
Local News

Jimmy LeSage, age 74

By Karen T. Bartlett—Jimmy LeSage

Jimmy LeSage, 74, founder and director of New Life Hiking Spa in Killington passed away on the morning of May 12, 2024, at VITAS Hospice in Naples, Florida, of natural causes with his devoted wife, Kathleen, by his side. While many knew him as the founder and director of New Life Hiking Spa in Killington, Jimmy cherished most his role as a father to his beloved children, James and LeAnne. He leaves behind his wife of 21 years and their two children as his enduring legacy.

James “Jimmy” LeSage, Sr., was born in Stoneham, Massachusetts, on Jan. 21, 1950. He moved to Panama City, Florida, at age 6 and lived there until he attended Florida State University. After graduating from FSU in 1972, he moved to Vermont to be a teacher but instead worked as a chef at a ski hotel. During this time, he conceived the idea of utilizing the ski hotel’s downtime in the summer as a hiking retreat for vacationers.

In 1978, Jimmy established New Life Hiking Spa in Stratton, later relocating it to the Inn of the Six Mountains (now Killington Mountain Lodge) in Killington in 1990. For over 40 years, Jimmy LeSage, M.S., served as the director of New Life Hiking Spa, where thousands of guests sought solace from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Guests joined Jimmy in the Green Mountains of Vermont to hike, indulge in healthy food, receive massages, practice yoga, and simply “chill out.”

Through a holistic blend of hiking, fitness activities, and the rejuvenating Vermont landscape, Jimmy’s “hiking spa” garnered multiple accolades as the No. 1 spa by Spas of America. His dedication to empowering guests on their wellness journey solidified his status as a pioneer in the industry. He was recognized as one of the original “Pioneers in Destination Spas” by Spafinder in 2011 and was honored to have New Life named the No. 1  destination spa in America by Travel+Leisure Magazine in 2016, a feature showcased on the Today Show. He authored “New Life Hiking Spa’s 40 Years of Authentic Wellness” in 2018 and “New Life Guide to Healthy Eating” in 1995. 

Though New Life Hiking Spa closed as a casualty of the pandemic, Jimmy’s impact from 1978 to 2019 will continue to resonate.

Jimmy earned a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Bridgeport, studied nutrition at Harvard University, and explored a wide range of bodywork treatments, including rolfing, polarity, and acupuncture. His education in bodywork and nutrition took Jimmy around the world, from India to the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.

While engrossed in his career, Jimmy divided his time between Vermont (May-October) when New Life was operational and Naples, Florida (November-April). He met Kathleen in Naples, and they married in 2003. He often expressed that fatherhood brought him the most joy in life. He took pride in raising his children, James (born 2004), and LeAnne (born 2007), alongside Kathleen.

Jimmy is survived by his wife, Kathleen, and their two children, James and LeAnne, of Naples, Florida; thousands of friends he made at New Life Hiking Spa from around the globe; many lifelong friends and family from his hometown of Panama City, Florida, including his sister, Susan Watkins; niece, Brandi Watkins; brother, Michael Suggs; sister-in-law, Angie Suggs; nephew, Gabriel Suggs; and dear lifelong friends, Brian and Beverly Dusseault.

His wife, Kathleen LeSage, son, James LeSage Jr., and daughter, LeAnne LeSage, will be hosting a celebration of life on Monday, July 8, 2024, from 1-4 p.m. at the Mountain Top Inn and Resort in Chittenden, Vermont. Please join in to celebrate Jimmy’s life and the impact of this unique, kind man. Donations can be made to cherish Jimmy’s memory with the Green Mountain Club at 4711 Waterbury-Stowe Road, Waterbury Center, VT 05677.

Remembering Jimmy, let’s fondly recall his cherished words: “It’s all good!” Picture him now, hiking the hills of heaven with that same boundless energy. So, let’s lace up our boots, step into nature, trek onward, and keep his vibrant spirit alive with every step we take.

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