Man of the Ranch

When Canyon Ranch opened in 1979, I believe I was the only male owner in what was loosely referred to as the “spa” industry. It was led by amazing, trailblazing women, and catered to a 99 percent female clientele.

I approached the arena with respect, passion and an all-inclusive vision in mind.  

Because I had been a real estate developer for the previous 20 years, people might have assumed that building Canyon Ranch was just another business decision for me. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Enid and I were driven by a vision to create an all-healthy environment that we could live in and share for the rest of our lives. I had had my Aha! moment in California at The Oaks at Ojai – a typical spa or “fat farm” for that day – when I discovered the power of healthy living. Our plan was to take that concept to a broader and deeper level, where guests’ interests were supported by every staff member, and profound change was possible. We were determined to go well beyond weight loss to allow for each person’s openness to fitness, nutrition and overall lifestyle. And we needed to make the Ranch a beautiful, healthy, fun vacation that anybody could enjoy – including a guy like me. An original thought back then!

From our earliest planning, we included a wide range of activities, programs and facilities to appeal to men as well as women. Our tennis, handball, squash and racquetball courts alone set us apart from the old fat farms.  We wanted everyone to understand we were different.

One of our earliest decisions was never to use the word “spa” to describe the Ranch. “Fitness resort” better described us and, we believed, had broader appeal. As it happened, we had to give up on that purist approach when the media started touting us as a groundbreaking “spa.” Then the readers of Condé Nast Traveler regularly voted Tucson and Lenox as Best Destination Spa throughout the ‘90s. That voting category doesn’t exist anymore, but we became famous as a “spa” as well as a health resort. I can live with that! Whatever you call us, we’re about helping everybody feel fit and vibrant for life. Is there a man alive who doesn’t want that?

Eating their words

Thousands of men have visited Canyon Ranch over the years and have been astounded by everything they discover here. Certainly the food is far better than they often expect. We are not about deprivation here!

To be honest, our original menus provided a Spartan 750 or 800 calories a day, which was the quick weight loss mode of the day. But who can live on that long term? Exercise and nutrition science evolved in the mid-‘80s, and we were glad to change along with new knowledge and research. Our nutritionists and chefs geared up toward 1,500 to 1,800 calories a day for slower weight loss. It’s a healthier, more sustainable approach, and the food is fantastic. We’ve won many culinary awards over the years and have been credited with inventing “spa cuisine.” I'm happy to say that no man goes hungry at Canyon Ranch. Many thousands of people use our cookbooks at home because the recipes are so fabulous.

Aside from the food, guys are often surprised by our ever-growing list of sports, outdoor activities and fitness choices. Plus, they discover that tranquility, relaxation, and letting go of everyday stress are pretty terrific, too. Most importantly, in my opinion, they get a chance to focus on their health for a change. That’s a big deal for men who often take better care of their cars and their businesses than of their own bodies! 

Statistics consistently show that men are negligent about screenings and preventive care. At the Ranch, they can give their health all the attention it deserves, spending plenty of quality time with a team of integrative professionals who will help them eat better, grow fitter and feel better for life. A positive goal for anyone.

Never a dull day

I actually believe it’s impossible to get bored at Canyon Ranch, because there are endless possibilities to explore every time you visit, every day you’re here. I’m a good example of that. After 35 years of living in an environment that’s all about mind, body and spirit, a recent health incident caused me to look at my own relationship to spirituality in a new way. For many reasons, I was finally ready to embrace it more fully, and it’s brought much more meaning, resiliency and acceptance into my life. Who knows what experience will inspire me in the future?

Men who think the Ranch is just another spa vacation for pampering are thrilled by what they find here. We keep that in mind in all our decisions and offerings, so it’s truly a place for everyone. We love being known as “the best spa known to man!”