Rewind to the year 2009. The financial markets were inching toward recovery and, in many ways, so were we. Wellness was a burgeoning trend but had yet to become a thing—much less the $4.5 trillion industry it is today. SoulCycle was in its infancy, the short-lived Master Cleanse Diet was at peak popularity, and destination spas were still the vacation goals of a comparative few.
It was around the time that Rebecca Parekh, then a Deutsche Bank executive and a longtime devotee of alternative medicine and fitness, began drafting a business plan for The Well, a private membership club recently launched in Manhattan, that integrates many facets of self-care under one roof.
“I was looking for something like this in my own life,” she says. “I was in early, out late, and had very limited time outside of business hours to be able to tap into all the city had to offer around integrated and holistic modalities.”
She left her bank job in 2011, became Deepak Chopra’s COO, and along the way, met her like-minded co-founders Sarrah Hallock, an integrated health coach and nutritionist and former brand director of Vitaminwater, and Kane Sarhan, chief creative officer of The Well and vice president of brand at SH Group, a division of Starwood Capital Group. As the plan for a best-in-class social wellness club came together, they assembled a noteworthy roster of advisors that includes Chopra, Starwood CEO Barry Sternlicht, and sports medicine doctor Keith Pyne, DC, whose clients include athletes Alex Rodriguez and Kobe Bryant.
The Well’s concept is based on members having access to the collective expertise of this dream team, best practices by top practitioners, a gathering place for a supportive community, and life-enhancing amenities in luxurious digs—all for a fee of $375 per month (plus a $500 initiation fee). Through an integrated approach, each individual member gets a team that includes practitioners working together to optimize the person’s overall well-being, which can range from addressing chronic health concerns to achieving fitness goals.
Busy urbanites can unplug and connect to a variety of nurturing offerings, including health and nutrition coaching, functional medicine, guided meditation, massage treatments, acupuncture, and clean, organic, farm-to-table meals. At street level, the 18,000-square-foot oasis offers a visual respite from the concrete jungle. Creamy white, curved walls and soaring ceilings provide a serene setting for a tightly curated retail area and The Well Kitchen and Table, with its fruit- and vegetable-lined counter, giving way to banquettes dressed in Hermès’s whimsical Dune textile and flanked by minimalist tables and chairs. Although this area is open to the public, it manages to exude an air of luxe calme, with patrons speaking in quiet tones and staff cheerfully floating about, making all feel welcome.
Designed to mimic the feel of descending into a well, a staircase ushers members downstairs into a placid, inner sanctum, complete steam and sauna, 10 treatment rooms, locker rooms, a private fitness training facility, a meditation dome, and comfortable spaces for intakes with doctors, coaches, and healers. Designer Liubasha Rose of Rose Ink Workshop clearly did her homework, incorporating details that do double duty, like a mesmerizing wall covered in silvery pyrite, reputed to have healing and protective properties, and glass doors to the consultation rooms in chakra-boosting colors.
“We’re not here to tell people what to do or how to live their lives in any way,” Parekh says. “What we’re trying to do is empower our members to take greater agency for their well-being.”
With plans to roll out nine more locations, Parekh and her team welcome mainstreaming of the wellness spa. “The objective is to be the gold standard for wellness,” she says. “There will be a lot of places like The Well over time. But we need more spaces where we can go and be and engage in these services. In the long run, that will result in better quality of life for all of us.” the-well.com