They see it all the time: Otherwise healthy executives who can expertly manage the complexities of running major companies, yet they can’t quite kick a coffee habit or tackle their worsening sleep cycles.
Like a business in turnaround, they require an opportunity to reset patterns, set smart goals and capitalize on assets. Identifying the need, savvy health spas have realigned their mission, pivoting from a body-centric focus on skin care and weight loss, to more spiritual and psychological concerns such as stress reduction, creativity, productivity and even sleep.
In today’s distraction-a-minute world, spas have become places to reset and readjust. Some have developed customizable programs that can blend an idyllic vacation getaway with a habit-busting, results-oriented wellness boot camp.
At Canyon Ranch, the goal is to balance the physical with the emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual. The resorts in Tucson, Ariz., and Lenox, Mass., offer the “Executive Health Program,” two- and four-day immersions that offer complete physicals, tests for cognitive, memory, hearing and pulmonary function, and even mind-body personal training through yoga, tai chi, qigong or meditation. (The Miami location features a condensed version.)
“The healthier you are, the better you are at your job,” said Canyon Ranch spokesperson Meredith Ford. “It’s not just looking the part, but being physically able to perform better.” Ford said the Executive Health Program aims to have clients say, “I am going to succeed because I am getting sick less often, and my brain is sharper because I am exercising and eating better.”
As executives begin to embody the program’s wellness ethic, the effect often trickles down.
“The wellness movement starts at the top and becomes a kind of corporate culture,” said Ford.
On the edge of Los Angeles, the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village has uniquely combined a luxury hotel with a comprehensive medical clinic that offers everything from dentistry to radiology--even state-of-the-art body composition and metabolic tests. Applying the same kinds of five-star hospitality to medical care, the hotel’s California Health and Longevity Institute aims to provide a holistic health overview and the strategies and facilities to implement it.
The 9-year-old center has become popular as a convenient and private destination for executive and celebrity physicals, and not just because the waiting rooms are as elegant as the hotel suites. Four Seasons spokesperson Allison Webb said the center’s “medical concierge” services coordinate care across a range of specialists who communicate their findings and strategies to provide clients with a comprehensive wellness strategy.
“Time is almost more of a luxury than money, especially for the types of people who come to our program and want to take control of their health,” Webb said. In one wing of the hotel, clients may meet with a dietitian and personal trainer who can design nutrition and exercise plans to lose a targeted amount of weight. Or they may see physicians who can assess heart health, measure bone density or even run diagnostic MRI or ultrasound tests.
When the day is done, clients may retreat to a plush suite, a 40,000-square-foot spa, a pristine gym, a cooking class or serene indoor and outdoor pools. For meals, every restaurant offers a wide range of high-nutrition meals and snacks.
“It’s not like you check in, do your program and then you open the mini bar and it’s, ‘Oh, boy!’” said Webb. “We make sure that people leave here with some practical tools and resources that they can implement in their own lives. That may be as subtle as using less sugar or oil to cook, or learning stretches that help you with a chronic injury.”
The hotel recently partnered with the Malibu-based Ranch at Live Oak to offer the “Ranch 4.0” a four-day program of exercise and weight control. Participants reside at the hotel, embark on hours-long hikes and exercise sessions and dine in an elegantly outfitted greenhouse on the property. The Malibu location offers a similar 7-day program.
Against the pink-tinted Topa Topa Mountains around Ojai in Central California, the Oaks at Ojai has evolved into the kind of executive retreat where a woman can get away--alone--and clearly and comfortably focus on her health and wellness.
As the demands on women (and nearly 95 percent of guests are women) have changed, so too have the therapies that the spa offers, said Cathy Cluff, president and CEO of the Oaks.
“We are teaching people the tools for work-life balance, and how to not live a fear-based life or feel overwhelmed,” Cluff said. “A lot of our clients almost need permission to slow down.”
Toward that goal, the Oaks creates an environment where patrons have to make no decisions--not what to eat (all meals are healthy), when to work out (sign ups aren’t required) or what to wear (it’s completely casual).
The spa has added a focus on spiritual and emotional health, with programs on stress management, life coaching, and for the uninitiated, techniques for social media and new kinds of exercise. Zumba, anyone?
Such programs are often better medicine than a more traditional approach, said Dr. Jim Nicolai, who is the former medical director of the luxury wellness resort, Miraval Resort & Spa in Tucson.
Now in private practice in Tucson, Dr. Nicolai often prescribes the life-changing spa programs to his patients.
“Many of us don’t do what we need to simply because it’s not a ‘must,’ it’s a ‘should.’ The kind of environments at spas not only address a particular issue with an expert team, but they also can give you an ‘aha moment’ that provides enough insight and motivation to really address a hurdle.”