Diary / Wellness / Sep 26, 2022
Inside the New One-Stop-Shop for Wellness
Written by: Julia McVeigh
On a muggy day in late July, I emerged from the Union Square subway station feeling slightly stressed and very sticky. A sheen of perspiration covered my entire body and the threat of a storm loomed, prompting me to scurry quickly to a destination that promised to be neither stressful nor sweaty: THE WELL.
Located just off of Union Square, on 15th Street, THE WELL is a members-only club focused on, you guessed it, wellness. In a city littered with green juice shops, yoga studios and crystal-laden boutiques, a wellness-oriented club isn’t exactly a groundbreaking promise. But THE WELL—which spans a staggering 18,000 square feet—seemed, at least on paper, to be a truly distinctive concept.
Its core promise is to merge an array of traditionally siloed health and wellness modalities (such as integrative medicine, Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda and sports medicine) under one roof, while providing its members with a best-in-class hospitality experience; one that includes a full-service spa, an all-day dining destination and library-slash-salon with wellness-focused programming (October’s schedule includes a talk on the brain-gut connection and a discussion on “the art of forgiveness”).
In short, THE WELL is a one-stop shop for wellbeing; or, as co-founder Rebecca Parekh puts it, “Our mission is to be the gold standard for wellness.”
Parekh—onetime Deutsche Bank Executive and former COO for Deepak Chopra—co-founded THE WELL alongside Kane Sarhan and Sarah Hallock; Sarhan’s business experience is in hospitality (he’s the former Head of Brand for Starwood Capital Group and 1 Hotels) while Hallock brings the marketing chops, having worked with brands like vitaminwater, Bai and WTRMLN WTR. Successful professionals with a keen interest in holistic health, the three decided to embark on a lofty goal of creating THE WELL, a groundbreaking destination for wellness.
As I heaved open THE WELL’s door, the first drops of rain starting to fall, I wondered if the space would live up to the hype. Instantly, my shoulders lowered from their tensed position: Even the sweatiest, most cynical observer cannot deny that the club is breathtaking.
Designed by Liubasha Rose of Rose Ink Workshop, THE WELL’s aesthetic is minimalist-meets-idiosyncratic: Lots of white décor, evocative crystal light fixtures, colorful textiles. Entrants to the club are greeted by a sloping retail area, where products from sustainably minded brands like Saya and Bio Alchemy Olfactive are on display.
Next to the retail space is the restaurant; open to the public, THE WELL Kitchen & Table will begin operating in October. Although menus are still unavailable, the cuisine, “…will be seasonally driven,” says Parekh, “Meant to please both vegetarians and compassionate carnivores alike. We are able to address dietary restrictions, but we aren’t dogmatic—we just want to provide healthy, delicious food and drinks.”
Beyond the public spaces is members-only territory, beginning with the Lecture Library, a bright and intimate room featuring books on loan from renowned yoga teacher Eddie Stern. Adjacent is a Reflexology Room, where an impressive selection of over 50 varieties of plants loom over cushioned recliners. As I observe the area, Parekh notes that it is here where club members can enjoy a foot massage while sipping a glass of wine. I swoon.
I’m completely awash in THE WELL’s serenity as I view other spaces in the club, including its Mindful Movement Studio, home of a robust schedule of classes throughout the day. As I float downstairs, we pass the treatment rooms of THE WELL’s various in-house practitioners. This is the club’s most impressive offering: Members have access to an array of leading Functional Medicine doctors, health coaches and Eastern medicine experts—all of which work cooperatively under one roof.
This, at least in theory, makes it feasible for a member to receive truly comprehensive and bespoke health recommendations. Parekh explains, “We’ve created a complete, efficient and integrated ecosystem that brings together Western medicine and Eastern healing modalities under one roof to spare busy, over-extended New Yorkers from running all over town. Our practitioners communicate and align on customized treatment plans for members—that communication piece helps address what’s broken in most traditional healthcare systems.”
It's a thoughtful approach—and one that’s painstakingly reflected in all aspects of the club. As I walk through the women’s locker room, I notice Dyson hair dryers neatly nestled on the walls, an impressive (and expensive) choice. It’s one that indeed delivers against THE WELL’s mission of being the “gold standard for wellness.”
Parekh acknowledges this near obsessive desire to deliver best-in-class experience for members, noting, “We worked tirelessly to provide the best possible experience for them. We give careful thought to every single detail—from the temperature settings and scent and sounds of certain areas of the club to tactical elements such as the robes and the reflexology room chairs.”
We end our tour in the Meditation Dome, a space inspired by a traditional Mexican Temazcul hut with a hulking, dome-shaped ceiling. The light is soothing and serene; the floor is outrageously soft. Thanks to soundproof walls, the room is absolutely silent. Parekh quietly mentions that the tactile cushion upon which I am sitting (she refers to it as a zafu) is created by Anna Versaci, her friend. It’s apparently hand-stitched from reclaimed textiles and filled with organic buckwheat.
Of course. Is there no detail of THE WELL that isn’t carefully considered?
Breathing deeply, my bottom cradled by this bespoke zafu, I can’t help but feel relaxed, if not downright meditative. Outside, an ominous storm awaits—but here in THE WELL’s comfortable cocoon, the imminent downpour that will soak the city streets feels like it is a million miles away.