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CEO reveals the real skinny about Golden Door's changing spa scene

Kathy Van Ness, the relatively new CEO of the Golden Door in Escondido, Calif., one of the world’s most prestigious playgrounds for plutocrats seeking fitness, sent former guests a message recently explaining what’s going on the spa since new owners took over nearly a year ago. Her email sounded hopeful that, while improvements are underway, the basic (and wonderful transcendental philosophy of the original founder, Deborah Szekely, will remain untouched, with a few nips and tucks here and there. It also assured that the weeklong, live-in program will continue to bring benefits to mind, body and spirit.

Us regulars will always love the way it was at the Golden Door
Richard Pietschmann
Serene Japanese sand gardens set the transcendental mood at the Golden Door
Richard Pietschmann

Here’s an excerpt of Kathy’s summer email, “Summer arrived with our first breakfast at the top of our mountain. After a hike up the mountainside through early morning mists and cool ocean breezes, our guests—already eagerly anticipating their reward—followed a path lined with purple Jacaranda to find a table by the lake heaped with warm muffins, bowls of fresh berries needing no sugar to sweeten, and omelets made of eggs fresh from our Golden Door hens. Satisfied and thankful for the chance to dine in nature, a walk on the Gratitude Rock Labyrinth seemed the perfect beginning to the day and the week.”

Renovations have begun with Victoria Hagan, NYC, leading the creative team. Subtle and tasteful designs will restore the Door’s beautiful Zen essence with a burst, here and there, of unexpected color and pattern. Each guest room has been carefully re-designed. A new guest lounge across from the Boutique will be the perfect spot for reading and sipping a cup of soothing herbal tea before bed. During the day and after dinner, it will serve as our new speaker venue. The lobby and dining room will become artfully intimate. The spa is reborn with an extraordinary collection of new formulations and treatments designed exclusively for the Golden Door. A new arbor, fence and a fountain brought back to life makes the garden dining experience even more special. Dragon Court is fresh with new floors for yoga and now has its very own dragon sculpture guarding the entrance. We took our time to see what needed to be done and our goal was always to remain authentic. The property’s historical art has been carefully preserved, restored and surrounded with warm and quiet tones. We know you will enjoy this long awaited fresh appearance”

Kathy further stated that the completion date is scheduled for the end of September and that the Door will offer a one-time, Women’s 3-Day Stay with arrivals on October 5th and departure on the 8th.

Fall will also usher in Men’s Camp Weeks n September 9th although there’s only a few few spaces left. Additional Men’s Camp Week has been added for 2015. Men’s Camp is a chance for business leaders to escape the daily decision-making and find a space in time where everything is planned for them and each individual wellness program is customized to improve vitality and health. In today’s world, both men and women should take the time to develop a plan to live a longer life with healthier habits. Each Golden Door guest can take home a personalized exercise routine and nutrition plan along with a body newly free of several inches and pounds.

Women’s Cosmos Week begins October 19th. The new website launched in May 2014 and August is LAUNCH MONTH Skin Care collections and Boutique offerings including a much-anticipated assortment of Golden Door logo infant’s clothing, elegant fine jewelry and a home store filled with unique specially-selected decorative pieces. A culinary line will open at Jimbo’s with former Golden Door chef Michel Stroot (one of the most popular and creative chefs to ever man the spa’s kitchen) in-store for live demonstrations. The culinary products include non-GMO, Organic, Soy- and Gluten-Free preserves, marmalades, rices, soups, teas, and spices.

So for all your former Golden Door guests or those who heard about the changes and were curious, that’s all the news we have for now. Looks like it’s heading in a healthy direction. Some of us regulars, however, will never forget the old facility.

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