The Spa of The Future winner announced at The Global Spa & Wellness Summit is aimed at teenage girls. But there's a spa of the future for me and other "highly educated women age 35-54". Conceived by the team from Cornell University, Mente creatively combines spa, moderate exercise and intellectual enrichment in a civilized, social environment.
Many of women the team interviewed are turned off by the loud, competitive, hyper-body-focused, mindless experience in modern gyms. Even the high-end gyms like Equinox cater to the twenty-something/early thirties crowd, one person said, and they're "always blasting music, forgetting that there are older members too."
This crowd wants a quiet, elegant place to unwind and relax while they exercise after work. They also want to learn and engage in personal development -- a staple of the destination spa experience.
Monthly Fee Gets You "Spa Dollars"
Mente members would pay a monthly fee to enjoy movement classes like yoga, dance, Pilates, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and Stretch. Members earn $30 in "spa dollars" each month towards treatments in the Sanskrit-themed spa, where some services include "guided meditations" with a recorded voice.
Free bi-weekly seminars feature wellness topics like healthy sleep, posture, stress-reduction, healthy eating. Monthly topics would include literature, art, architecture, science, history and travel.
The design includes three movement studios, a spa with eight treatment tables, offices for consultations, and a library-like lounge. At Mente one can sit by the fire and have tea, meditate in the Tranquility Room or take watercolor classes with a local painter. Other "brainy" solutions: online videos allow members to access classes wherever they are and a unique spa store offers everything from yoga gear to curated literature selections.
Aimed At Wealthy Women
Mente would be ideal for communities with "yoga-active suburbs with population above 50,000, median household income greater than $75,000, high percentage of Bachelors and Masters degrees, and a median age of 35 and above. Ideal places would include upscale shopping streets or malls in Bethesda, MD, Palo Alto, CA, Greenwich, CT, Scarsdale, NY, and Maplewood, NJ.
This sounds like the place for me -- but it is lacking the gym equipment that women at traditional gyms use to maintain aerobic fitness and do their strength training. A good solution is to walk or run outside and use free weights at home.
Mente most closely resembles Exhale, which combines yoga and other exercise classes with spa and wellness services. Mente takes things a step further, with more lectures and public space for relaxing. The only thing I'm not sure about is the recorded meditation voice. It would have to be really wonderful to overcome a "canned" quality.
The student team who developed Mente is Mariko Fujiko-White, Andrea Menotti, Hamid Pezeshkian and Yuliya Teterina. They were advised by Professor Mary Tabacchi.
Photo courtesy of Cornell University.