With June’s Get Fit for Summer Giveaway (Have you entered yet?), it is Spa Week’s goal is to bring together three of the country’s premier wellness brands in an effort to continue to change the world into a healthier place. Whether it’s fighting stress at the spa, swapping snickers for salads or sweating at gym, we all believe that a well-rounded lifestyle is necessary for optimal health and happiness. By bringing the collective specialties together of Spa Week, Jillian Michaels and Golden Door to create the Get Fit for Summer Giveaway, our goal is to promote a positive solution to today’s American health epidemic, one person at a time.
One lucky winner and a guest will receive a two-part wellness package. The first part includes a 4-Day stay for two with private accommodations at Golden Door Spa (a $9,500 value) including: Luxurious spa treatments, fitness classes and gourmet meals. The second part is a 6-month FREE membership to Jillian Michaels‘ online weight-loss and wellness program, Jillian’s bestselling book, Unlimited and $175 Worth of SpaWeek Gift Cards to relax body and mind at his/her choice of over 3,500 spas nationwide.
To learn more about the spa retreat, we got a chance to sit and chat with Jennifer Hart, a representative from Golden Door in Escondido, CA to learn what puts this resort on the top of everyone’s bucket list.
Spa Week Daily: Why how did the spa come to be known as world-renowned Golden Door?
Jennifer Hart: Golden Door Spa is the first-ever fitness spa noted for devotion to the balance of body, mind & spirit with one of the most inspiring, innovative and high-energy fitness programs in the spa world today. It has a rich history that starts in 1959, when Deborah Szekely realized her dream of creating a transformational Zen-influenced spa, serving a small number of guests with a 4:1 ratio. She was a pioneer in comprehensive wellness and other spas have looked to Golden Door for inspiration and education. It received a lot of praise from Hollywood because actors came to Golden Door to renew & revitalize before a big movie role.
Is there a secret history/background to Golden Door that the general public in unaware of?
It all started with Deborah Szekely and her husband, Edmond Szekely with the founding of Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Baja California. They learned a lot by starting there as a health camp, pitching tents for $17.50 back in the 40’s. Things of course grew into what Rancho La Puerta is today and then Deborah decided to create a more luxurious and service-oriented spa, along with a comprehensive & progressive fitness program. Many Hollywood producers and directors stayed at Rancho La Puerta and they were excited for Golden Door Spa, which was closer and where they received much more service and pampering. Hollywood studios and managers paid for actors to get fit and become rejuvenated at Golden Door and most of the early guests came from Hollywood.
Where did the actual, physical Golden Door come from? Who created/crafted it? Was it a gift, a splurge?
The physical Golden Door was made in Tijuana, Mexico. Deborah knew of a woman who made brass boxes there and was directed to an artisan. Deborah did a sketch on butcher paper and the artisan hammered the brass & copper design of two intertwining trees – the Tree of Life. Semi-precious stones were added and the golden door, which stands over 50 years later, was created.
Tell us about Deborah Szekely and the ancient Honjin inns of Japan… How did Japanese culture end up in SoCal?
Deborah was very interested in Zen philosophy. She read many books on it and also loved gardening, which interested her in Japanese gardening. As soon as she realized she wanted to create Golden Door, she immediately knew it would be a replica of a Japanese Honjin Inn. The philosophy of honjin inns and Golden Door is the same – renewal. Deborah went with architect Robert Mosher and stayed in Japan for several months, bringing back an understanding and commitment to Japanese design. All sculptures and pieces within Golden Door are authentic, dating back to the Edo period. The property is a living antique. Takendo Arii from Japan (who moved to the states) designed the four courtyards – Azalea, Bell, Camellia and Garden that incorporate Japanese philosophy and tradition.
What can one expect during a traditional 7-day stay at the resort?
Guests arrive on a Sunday and follow a program of daily fitness activities, hikes, massages, meditation, spa treatments and stretching created expressly for their needs and wishes. No two guests’ programs are alike – each guest receives a consultation and guidance with an assigned personal fitness specialist. Most clothing is provided, so guests never need to worry about what to wear. Each day develops a remarkable rhythm, thanks to the Door’s philosophy of balance and rejuvenation.
There are also presenters that visit each week with leading-edge information and education on health & wellbeing. We have specialty weeks such as: Healthy Nutrition; Healthy Sleep w/our Nutrition Advisor Dr. Wendy Bazilian, Writing from the Soul w/Anya Ushakova-Crain, Culinary Week w/Executive Chef Curtis Cooke, Yoga Week w/Madhu Nanda, Pilates Week w/Karena Thek Lineback, Labyrinth w/Lauren Artress & Water Week w/water-inspired fitness activities. There is also a 4-acre organic garden used for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Many of the herbs are even used in our spa treatments. The week-long schedule builds a true sense of camaraderie and lasting friendship amongst each week’s group, while allowing time to integrate all activities.
What aspects of The Golden Door have stayed the same since the 1950’s?
The program and its essence are the same. There is a balance of working hard and being rewarded for it. Of course the activities have changed with the times because of increased knowledge in health and wellness and Golden Door has always been at the forefront. Yoga has always been offered at Golden Door since its inception.
What inspired the “Staff Bios” section on the website? Who/why does these staff members get highlighted?
Currently our Staff Bios are key people on staff – Trish & Diane. They have been here for over 20 years and are the first people to greet new guests. We will be rotating staff bios so everyone is eventually highlighted.
Why is the San Diego location the best?
San Diego is known for great climate and this location for Golden Door enables guests to be outdoors a lot. Other spas may be within four walls, but a majority of our program is connected to nature and breathing in fresh air. It is also geared to empowering our guests. Golden Door Spa is set among a mountain landscape where important hikes are taken daily by guests. Being outdoors, enjoying the lush greenery and climbing the mountain are important components of our program. The first thing many of our returning guests do is a morning hike. Our mountain of 20 private hiking trails gives them a measure of how far they’ve come since their last visit. It is another tool that helps to empower guests.
Finish these sentences:
One thing no one knows about the Golden Door is…
It changes people’s lives to a degree that amazes them. Many of our guests are returning. Some are on their 50th visit and a few have even hit their 100th visit!
The biggest misconception about the Golden Door is…
It’s a weight loss place. Golden Door has the option of weight loss, but it is much deeper than this. Each program is tailored to individual needs and they are rejuvenated body, mind and spirit. Sometimes that could mean weight loss, but many times it’s a whole new outlook on life and specific tools that they can take home with them to take their life and wellbeing to a new level. Our guests talk about the “Golden Door Glow” because they feel they are glowing after a week at Golden Door Spa.
The best meal at Golden Door is…
That is hard to say. Every dish is delicious and nutritious. Our Executive Chef, Curtis Cooke, chooses ripe vegetables and fruits from the organic garden and it’s always a creative, vibrant, delicious and satisfying meal.
The most popular spa treatment is…
Our Lavender, Lemongrass & Salt Scrub Souffle: Guests enjoy the creamy, fragrant treatment. It’s the crème de la crème of exfoliating scrubs! A combination of detoxifying salts, minerals and clay from the Dead Sea exposes fresh new skin. Then, the body soaks up a whipped delight of lemongrass, shea butter, Brazil and macadamia nut oils and olive oil loaded with antioxidants and multi-vitamins. Then, a spritz of our signature Golden Door Botanical Body Oil with a combination of essential oils maintains the skins new silky, supple texture.
Is the Golden Door haunted?
No, but every guest leaves a little bit of their joy & happiness so there is a wonderful, positive ambiance and energy that is palpable.
Stay in the loop with all things Golden by following the original Golden Door Spa on Twitter: @GoldenDoorSpa, and liking them on Facebook