Last night, I went to the grand-opening announcement of Miraval Living in Manhattan. I so love the idea of spa living. The thought of owning an apartment in a high-rise and living with people who share my love for a healthy lifestyle is so appealing.
I dream of living:
Where a state-of-the-art gym and exercise facility as well as a beautifully designed spa are available around the clock.
Where world-class health education programs are the norm.
Where there is a healthy cafe serving organic breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks similar to Miraval Conscious Cuisine.
Where the pool is free of chlorine and there is a garden terrace with plants and space, fresh air (at least as much as possible in New York), and perhaps programs whereby apartment owners can travel to spa destinations together throughout the world – including Miraval at times.
And where Miraval in Tucson’s famous concept of “mindfulness” is what everyone in the community would be striving to achieve – and where we could all help each other progress on that path. Even if it isn’t the Arizona desert, home to the original Miraval Resort, at least we would all try to incorporate as much of its serenity as possible while living in hectic New York City.
But I unfortunately did not see what I had envisioned last evening.
To be fair, the structure isn’t renovated yet, and there was only one floor of uninspired “models.” But I had an uneasy sense that something is wrong here. My gut tells me that somehow Miraval wasn’t involved enough in the plans and that a second-rate real estate company might have presented their interpretation of “Miraval in New York” and missed the mark.
Wyatt, the “self-actualized cowboy” who runs Miraval’s ingenious equine experience in Tucson, was there and spoke for about ten minutes (with a beautiful horse by his side). But ultimately, even he didn’t relieve my anxiety. Although his words of truth stung almost as poignantly as they did when I stood with him on the desert ranch at Miraval in Tucson, as soon as he and the horse left the tented cocktail party Miraval seemed gone. And while touring the model apartments (which I have a hard time believing were designed by anyone who understands the spa lifestyle), gloom set in for me. I fear that the target market of Miraval enthusiasts will not relate to what has been conceived here in New York as spa living. And that makes me so very sad.
I hope I am wrong. I have been a champion of spa-lifestyle living ever since the concept emerged a few years ago. And I still think spa living in New York City could be a home run. I myself live in a high-rise apartment building that incorporates some healthy-lifestyle amenities. In my view, it wouldn’t be that difficult to go further in that direction and have the Miraval vision come fully to life. Perhaps it is early enough for changes to be made, and perhaps the smart folks at Miraval will recognize the need for them to tighten the reins of this project and create what we all imagine will truly result in inspired, healthy living.
As I have said in many interviews when asked about spa living communities, the essential thing is that the people developing a spa lifestyle community should be folks who truly understand the spa lifestyle – not real estate people. Running a spa may not be rocket science, but it is nuanced, and only a handful of super-successful destination spas in the world have truly found the magic. And translating the magic to a new setting will require total commitment to the original vision. It will take a multifaceted understanding of how to interpret the original vision in meaningful ways for a new setting. And it will take communicating this in a way that leads people to trust that it will be worth investing their dollars – and their lives.
I look forward to watching this development and am pulling for it to become a winner.
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