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Healing with Sound

“What intrigued me about sound healing is its non-invasive and gentle nature, complemented by its profound effects,” says Mags Zywica, the co-founder of Me Time Away, a premium well-being booking platform that makes booking retreats that suit individual needs a simple process. “Whether used in conjunction with other healing practices like meditation, mindfulness sessions, and gentle yoga practices, or as a standalone approach, sound healing offers versatility and adaptability to suit different individuals and situations,” explains Zywica.

These healing practices can be traced back throughout the years among various cultures from around the world. However, the profound effects of sound healing can now be seen and studied on a cellular level. Letizia Silvestri, the founder and chief healing officer at Altha, a team of experienced sound healers who host events and retreats centered around the concept of healing with sound and vibrations, explains: “to understand how sound can interact with the body and to create change, one must understand what sound is. Sound is vibration. When certain healing frequencies (e.g. 432 or 528 hertz) interact with the body, they raise the vibrations of our cells, bringing them into a restore and repair state.”

The ancient belief that sound could heal was often practiced throughout Greece, China, Australia, and elsewhere, but was difficult to prove. A connection between sound and healing was also made in America in the 1890s when music was believed to improve blood flow and mental clarity, and has continued to garner interest since. “Music therapy was also used during the 1940s to rehabilitate soldiers returning from World War II,” says Silvestri, who has tried nearly every natural remedy over the years from meditation, yoga, and breathwork to tapping and hypnosis.

A sound healing session can look different depending on the overall goal. Some sessions consist of large gatherings of people, or there are more personalized, one-on-one treatments. However, most sessions include a specific set of tools and frequencies. Depending on the healer, a session can feature a wide variety of instruments that include gongs, alchemy and crystal singing bowls, Tibetan bowls, ocean drums, rain sticks, shakers, hand drums, water, air, fire and earth chimes, flow chimes, and more. The overall process is simple. The client finds a resting position and is surrounded by sound instruments and then immersed in healing frequencies. These instruments are often incorporated into meditation and yoga classes as an additional comfort or way to relax, but there are also more intense therapies that are more focused.

Sound baths are fully immersive treatments that can have a profound effect on the client and many have described them as spiritual experiences that are often extremely emotional and uplifting. The effects often help clients sleep better, ease anxiety, and lift their moods. “It’s called a bath because the sound waves wash over you as you relax and enjoy the melodic journey,” says Silvestri. “The harmonics and frequencies effortlessly lull your mind into a deep meditative state, while the healing vibrations revitalize your body and help release tension.”

For Zywica, the very first experience with sound healing was enough to convince her of the positive, lasting effects. She describes the initial strike of the gong to be resonating and immediately feeling her body release stress and anxiety. “An hour later, I left the session feeling deeply relaxed and calm, and that night I slept soundly, experiencing a level of tranquility I hadn’t felt in months,” adds Zywica. A transformative experience such as this is quite common for those exploring sound healing and has ignited a passion for the practice around the world.

The wonders of sound will likely continue to be further explored for years to come. “As humans, we turn to music and sound at many different times — celebratory, emotional, and spiritual. Sound healing stood out to me as a powerful healing modality because music can take us on a journey to the depths of the soul,” says Gibson.

It’s no surprise that wellness retreats and spas are incorporating more music and sound practices into their itineraries as the benefits continue to grow and gain attention as an accessible and simple, yet profound method for healing the body and mind.

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Ritual Rooms

By Ritika Jain

When you think of luxury, you don’t often think of rituals and routines. However, in the aftermath of years of isolation and uncertainty, people are striving for a sense of routine and community in their day-to-day lives. In response, luxury residences are starting to create shared spaces bathed in lavish details for residents to connect and spend quality time. These spaces are called “Ritual Rooms,” which promote regular gatherings among residents within the building itself, often complete with lavish features and striking views. Rooms of this kind are popping up in upscale condominiums in Florida, including The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Estero Bay and Nexo Residences, North Miami Beach.

The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Estero Bay is a towering structure in Southwest Florida with two-, three- and four-bedroom residences and overlooks Florida’s first aquatic preserve, Estero Bay. In order to make use of South Florida’s gorgeous sunset views, it now boasts a Sunset Lounge designed by New York-based interior design studio Meyer Davis, complete with a bar and double-height glass surroundings. Craig Klingensmith, vice president of London Bay Development Group, shared with The High End the inspiration behind the Sunset Lounge and what they hope it will accomplish.

The Sunset Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Estero Bay was<br />
designed to promote a sense of community among residents with a<br />
casual yet luxurious elegance that echoes the existing landscape.

“The concept for the Sunset Lounge came about from the desire to incorporate a large, centrally located area that would unite the two residential towers and would also present an opportunity for residents from both buildings to come together to enjoy the amenity spaces,” explains Klingensmith. The room itself boasts an understated yet luxurious design with the use of natural materials, which were inspired by the natural surroundings of Estero Bay.

With floor-to-ceiling windows, the Sunset Lounge invites expansive views of an outdoor deck overlooking three pools, a lagoon with floating-like pavilions, the Saltleaf Marina, and stunning vistas of Estero Bay. Along with a dreamy visual backdrop, the room presents opportunities for gathering with the ornate bar and a Demonstration Kitchen, “where residents can gather for a cooking class, or where some of Florida’s very best chefs can come in to prepare award-worthy meals.”

Luxury residences are starting to implement gathering<br />
spaces in their buildings to promote routine gatherings<br />
among residents.

Klingensmith expects the Sunset Lounge to be a hit among residents, as it will act as the central gathering space between both towers. The brand’s commitment to providing the epitome of luxury living alongside a sense of community is reflected not only in this room, but in all 36,000 square feet of interior amenities. “Each of these unique spaces is elevated with the brand’s hallmark of providing personalized and high-touch service that makes all the difference to enhancing everyday life.”

The Nexo Residences over in Miami Beach, which is slated to break ground in 2023 with a two-year construction period, is jumping on this trend with a Rooftop Observatory Deck to utilize in the nighttime. It will feature a telescope for stargazing; a summer kitchen with a large grill, mini fridge, and wine cooler; a long dining table for residents to socialize; and cozy seating arrangements around fire pits.

Rooftop in Miami

According to the team, the concept behind the Rooftop Observatory Deck is “to offer residents an intimate gathering space that would seamlessly merge indoor and outdoor living, as well as showcase the beautiful Miami skyline.” The location of the building allows access to 360-degree, panoramic views of Miami’s most scenic skylines, including those of Aventura, Sunny Isles, and North Miami. It will provide residents with an opulent yet tranquil space to host gatherings and connect with one another while also promoting an appreciation for the natural landscape.

The integration of outdoor amenities within residences not only offers a sense of community, but also a variety of benefits to your health and well-being. “Humans have an innate desire to want to be close to and surrounded by nature. Studies show that outdoor spaces are essential to everyday life and promote health and happiness. Offering residents outdoor amenities allows people to feel connected to nature while promoting a sense of well-being,” says the team.

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Health in the City

By Camilla McLaughlin

In 2019, the Global Wellness Institute called out urban wellness resorts as a future trend. Then the pandemic changed everything. Or so it seemed. Today, urban wellness appears even more prominently on the horizon. And a growing number of interest groups, developers and placemakers are taking notice. The trend has broadened beyond urban resorts. Now, Beth McGroarty, vice president of research for the Global Wellness Summit, says it’s “about how more affordable, democratic access to wellness is hitting global cities.”

Along with new urban resorts, multiple plans are underway for parks and new green enclaves in cities. In Europe, German-based Therme Group is working to bring an ancient bathing tradition to major cities. Urban resorts, many dedicated to wellness, are on the drawing boards of major hospitality brands. And increasingly, urban parks are valued for health benefits and social capital.

Turning Tides Festival

“Back in 2019, we predicted wellness resorts would expand beyond their exotic, far-flung destinations and hit more cities. Then the pandemic hit, and the urban wellness resort, a trend with powerful pre-pandemic momentum, felt on hold,” explains McGroarty.

Now, new chapters in the urban wellness story are being written, and for 2022 the concept has morphed beyond urban resorts. Instead, new urban parks and enclaves of green, a course planners and the Urban Land Institute have been promoting for more than a decade, expand the concept. “The trend is about how more affordable, democratic access to wellness is hitting global cities,” says McGroarty.

Urban Bathhouses and Wellness Playgrounds, one of eight trends the Institute cites for 2022, explores the many ways cities are being redesigned. McGroarty explains: “It lays out how urban landscapes are moving away from cars, pollution and endless consumerism to develop more green and communal spaces; how new man-made beaches, free pop-up wellness and fitness classes, and even water sports are now hitting unexpected cities such as New York, Paris, London, Sydney, Madrid and Tokyo; and how an urban bathhouse renaissance is underway.”

Wellness on the Tide

In the U.K., The Tide, London’s first-ever elevated riverside linear park, is a new hub for fitness and wellbeing on the Greenwich Peninsula (one of the World’s Greatest Places 2021 per Time magazine). A 5-kilometer running/walking track follows the water’s edge. Outdoor meditation pods, wellbeing workshops, and a gym make it an ideal place to walk, run, meditate or join a yoga class with an unbeatable riverside view. There is also an impressive public art trail with significant sculptures by Damien Hirst, Allen Jones and Morag Myerscough.

Therme Group already has water-wellbeing resorts in three German cities and Bucharest. Expansion targets include the U.K., Europe, Asia and North America. Under development are projects in Glasgow, Bad Vilbel, Frankfurt, Toronto and Manchester. “The Manchester property coming in 2023 reveals just how far beyond a ‘water park’ this urban wellness resort is,” shares McGroarty.

Set on 28 acres, it features 25-plus pools, an all-season urban beach, more than 30 saunas/steam rooms (and Sauna Aufguss performances), 1,500 trees and “living” water slides, fitness and yoga classes, a big urban vertical farm and arts programming. These parks “attract thousands of people a day, partner with hotels for those traveling, and represent a very different, super-affordable version of an urban wellness resort,” explains McGroarty.

GWS Trend
GWS Trend Gym

Upscale Urban Wellness

At the high end, the urban wellness trend continues at a brisk pace. “During 2021, when the concept of ‘home’ became synonymous with home office, gym, entertainment center, and space to retreat and relax, we saw the growing importance of incorporating flexibility in residential design,” said S.B. Architects President and Principal, Scott Lee. “Flexibility also became paramount for hotels and creating a less-defined program — such as multi-purpose public space and reimagined spaces for F&B, lounge, and lobby — will continue to be advantageous in the future.

Overarchingly, creating opportunities for people to decompress in urban environments, enhancing physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social wellness, and quenching a thirst for the outdoors will be key drivers for architects and designers in 2022.” Big wellness hospitality groups plan to open dozens of properties in the near future.

New properties for Six Senses include Rome later this year; London and Kyoto in 2023; and Lisbon, Bangkok, Istanbul and Shanghai. CEO Neil Jacobs recently discussed a new concept for wellness membership clubs, Six Senses Place, that will be integrated into their urban hotel-residential properties.

Future of Wellness report

Aman is also making major urban wellness moves with new properties slated for cities from Miami Beach to Tokyo. The Aman New York hotel and residences, slated to begin taking reservations in late July, incorporates three floors dedicated to holistic wellbeing and a 25,000-square-foot spa.

As part of One Beverly Hills, a planned 17.5-acre lifestyle campus, Aman plans to open a hotel, residences and Aman Club open to residents. Plans for One Beverly Hills create a new vision for urban architecture with flowers and greenery cascading from decks and terraces. The defining feature of this green oasis will be eight lush acres, with 13 curated gardens that will feature native and cultivated Southern California species.

In the U.S., Equinox Hotels opened its first property at New York’s Hudson Yards in 2019, complete with a dizzying array of wellness programs — from biohacking treatments to personal sleep coaching. Expectations are Equinox Hotels will build 33 properties (mostly in key cities) in the next decade, with 15 already in the pipeline.

Urban wellness might be singled out as a future trend, but all these examples illustrate it’s well on the way to becoming a reality.

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Positive Energy

By Marlene Ridgway

In just two years, the first fully carbon-neutral and emission-free resort, Six Senses Svart will welcome guests to stay and explore, all while combating the pollution that the travel industry typically generates.

The 94-room resort will offer adventure and conscientious travelers an incredible way to experience and preserve the unique environment of the Svartisen glacier in Norway. The revolutionized resort plans to take sustainability and energy efficiency to a new level by not only eliminating negative impacts on the surrounding environment from start to finish, but also generating its own energy through solar panels and geothermal wells.

Guests will get an immersive experience where they can enjoy the surrounding landscape guilt-free. “Six Senses Svart aims to become a prototype for the future of sustainable hospitality,” says Jeff Smith, vice president of sustainability for Six Senses.

The eye-catching, ring-shaped resort will combine a futuristic design and technological innovation with earthy, organic materials that use the least embedded energy. The circular green form is tactile, creating a feeling of openness and perpetual consciousness of nature as it gives the building a transparent appearance. The happy side effect is its ability to collect energy from the roof and offer panoramic views and privacy with the expanded distance between rooms.

Svartisen glacier

Preserving and Generating Energy

The resort will be poised above the water and landscape to minimize the impact on the environment, a notion that has influenced every decision about the project along the way. Six Senses Svart aims to demonstrate that carbon neutrality can be not only feasible in a sophisticated development at an eco-sensitive site, but can also be profitable.

The resort will also funnel solar energy back into the running of the hotel, boat shuttle, and energy needed for building, making it possible for the resort to function entirely off the power grid. Such energy-positive buildings could deliver 89 percent of the 45 percent decrease in emissions required to reach the scenario where global warming is limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

To create a self-sustaining travel destination, the resort will employ its own waste and water management, recycling, and renewable infrastructure. The team will work with existing sustainable fishing and farming operations and engage like-minded local suppliers for the restaurants and bars. All of this will make the zero waste dining venue possible where everything from food storage, prep, and dining will be a proactive, sustainable decision. For example, “whatever isn’t eaten fresh from the farm may get pickled or utilized in some other way,” according to Smith.

Kayaking at Six Senses Svart

Health and Wellness

The resort will not simply have a positive impact on the area, but will also prove restorative for guests looking for an authentic and unplugged experience. Outdoor adventures, such as biking, hiking, and horseback riding will entertain guests while the spa and fitness center will encourage even more rest and rejuvenation.

Six Senses Svart will cover the full gambit of integrated wellness, with state-of-the-art equipment and wearable technology assimilation, integrating a specially developed Svart Touch concept that will further elevate the brand’s pioneering wellness approach.

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Making Waves

By Marlene Ridgway • Photos by Rodrigosnaps, Inc.

Picture surfing over the waves. The concept went viral almost as soon as it was announced and is only growing in popularity. We talked with the founder and CEO of Lift Foils to discuss how the unique concept came to be, and some of the challenges along the way.

Nick Leason, founder and CEO of Lift Foils explains that the project has been over 10 years in the making. “I witnessed hydrofoiling in person for the first time when I saw a friend riding one of the first carbon fiber rigs made for kitesurfing,” he says. As an engineer, Leason has always appreciated how things work and inspiration sparked.

From there, he originally launched Lift Foils in his garage in Puerto Rico. “It was magic to see someone flying two feet over the water on a surfboard. It took years of research and development, but the concept went viral once announced, amassing followers and avid riders across the globe.”

Lift Foils made its first prototype in 2015, when the company found a way to apply technology from smartphones, drones, and electric vehicles to the design. Yet, the process was far from simple. “To be honest,” Leason says, “the entire journey has been challenging. From design concepts to team building to manufacturing supply chains, every day is a new challenge.” But, the end result is an impressive feat. Efoils have a truly futurist aesthetic to them, especially when they’re gliding over the water without wind or waves.

The best part about the personal watercraft, is that almost anyone can use them almost anywhere. “Whether you’re a complete beginner or an experienced surfer, the Lift eFoil allows you to craft the adventure that’s best for you with an all-electric, silent motor that glides through any body of water,” says Leason. Standing, kneeling or laying, users control the board with a bluetooth remote with built-in safety features, making Lift Foils simple to ride and enjoyable for experienced or inexperienced users. The company strives to perfect the classic foil lineups and now offers the LIFT3, LIFT3 F, and coming soon is the LIFT3 Elite.

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Feeling the Light

By Camilla McLaughlin

As COVID-19 reset consumer appreciation for all things related to wellness, demand for in-home products from Pelotons to saunas hit record levels.

Lady Gaga is reportedly a sauna fan, along with a raft of celebs, including Jennifer Anniston and Gwyneth Paltrow. Sessions in an infrared sauna, dubbed sauna bathing, are the latest in wellness, and celebrities are not the only ones looking for a boost. Instead of raising the temperature in the air using heated stones or other sources, this modality uses infrared light to create heat within the body and does so at lower temperatures than traditional saunas, which typically are in the 200-degree Fahrenheit range.

While they lack the lore and romanticism associated with their Scandinavian peers, saunas using infrared light instead of thermal heat are gaining advocates and a growing share of wellness dollars. By mid-2021, Sunlighten, a manufacturer with a 20-year track record, reported that overall sales nationwide were up more than 60 percent over 2020’s record. By mid-summer, sales were up 30 percent in California, Texas and Florida. Even industry veterans such as Sunlighten founder Connie Zack were surprised by these increases in warm-weather states.

Anyone who has spent time in the sun has experienced infrared. Approximately 52 to 55 percent of sunlight consists of infrared rays. On the electromagnetic spectrum, a continuum of light waves organized by how they interact with matter, infrared falls just below red, the last visible light on the low end of the spectrum. The term refers to a range of waves — near, mid and far — determined by the wave size, frequency and amount of energy. Near infrared is the shortest wavelength and is credited with skin renewal. Mid is believed to reduce inflammation and promote healing. Far infrared penetrates deeper and even helps burn calories and promotes relaxation.


Although traditional saunas have long been considered restorative, infrared is purported to be more than just a feel-good experience and is credited with a range of effects, including boosting immunity and aiding in muscle recovery, according to the industry. While many infrared saunas just use far infrared, some combine all three waves, which manufacturers say enhances e­fficacy.

“We were the first sauna company to combine carbon and ceramic to create a superior infrared wavelength that deeply penetrates your body. The ceramic/carbon combination is unsurpassed in providing superior detoxification, stress-reduction, immunity boost, relief of joint pain and muscle soreness, relaxation and a host of other health benefits,” says Bruce Weinberg, director of marketing for Clearlight Infrared, manufacturers of Jacuzzi brand saunas.

Clearlight units also cancel out all electromagnetic fields, energy waves with frequencies below 300 hertz per second. Sunlighten, according to Zack, used clinical studies to determine how to combine all three wavelengths to bring the most benefit and also how to incorporate six different wellness benefits into the programs built into the saunas.

A typical 30-minute infrared session raises core body temperature approximately 3 degrees, an effect similar to a cardio workout. Manufacturers tout a number of benefits, and there is some research to back up these claims. In some countries, infrared is seen as therapeutic. “In Japan, infrared sauna is an accepted and standard therapy of heart disease and is even prescribed, because it is shown to improve the function of the cells that line the arteries and their blood flow,” explained Joel Kahn, MD, a cardiologist and clinical professor of medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine.

Residential units are available in a range of sizes and configurations and are typically fabricated using Eucalyptus, Western Red Canadian Cedar or North American Basswood. Placement outside the home is also an option. Sunlighten also makes a portable unit that accommodates a single user, as well as a handheld device that directs rays to a specific place on the body.

The bottom line: It’s hard to discount the feel-good effect users report.

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High-Tech Fitness

From high-tech gadgets to digital exercise classes, technology continues to change the way we work out.

Tonal is an all-in-one fitness system that uses machine-learning to curate a personalized workout.

Whether you’re at home or visiting the gym, technology plays a crucial role in modern-day fitness. Fitness studios and gyms across the world have embraced technology — like virtual reality or integrated LED lighting — to create innovative, immersive workouts.

As the fitness industry continues to adapt, the home workout evolves even more rapidly. With virtual kickboxing classes, adjustable dumbbells, or comprehensive fitness apps, there are thousands of ways to work out from the comfort of your own home. “Technology has allowed the convenience of an at-home workout,” says Chris Stadler, CMO of Tonal. “At-home fitness equipment gives people a lot of time back, and time is increasingly our top commodity.”

While technology may decrease the need for face-to-face contact with a trainer, it offers a level of unmatched personalization. Technology can curate your fitness plan, track your form as you run, and adjust your weights digitally as you work out. “At-home fitness technology has evolved to meet consumers where they are and on their own terms,” says Amanda Murdock, director of fitness at Daily Burn. “Working out from home allows people a new level of convenience and customization when it comes to meeting their fitness goals.”

Live-Streaming Fitness 

Digital workout videos — particularly live-streaming fitness classes — are a great alternative to guided, group fitness instruction. Working out alongside a
personal trainer in real time adds a level of personalization and comfort to a workout. Programs like Daily Burn make it easy to get the workout you want when you want. “At home, you can find any type of workouts that work best with your schedule and at your specific level,” says Murdock. There are many ways to stay active — whether it’s with Pilates, yoga, or high-intensity interval training. “Streaming and on-demand fitness programs like Daily Burn allow more people to begin their fitness journeys without a sometimes-pricey gym membership or access to boutique fitness classes.”

Total-Body Workout Machines 

High-end technology allows for a superior workout with much less equipment. An innovative, compact device can remove the need for a room of exercise machines or a basement filled with big, bulky weights. Tonal uses digital weights that can be adjusted easily by a single pound — making for a more precise workout. Smaller than a flatscreen TV, the device makes thousands of calculations a second to deliver up to 200 pounds of electromagnetic resistance. “Tonal will know you better than any personal trainer would at a fraction of the price,” says Stadler. “We’ve seen Tonal completely change people’s lives and their fitness routine. It takes all the guesswork out of strength training.”

If cardio is more your speed, there is Peloton — another well-known, high-tech, total-body exercise machine. Whether you prefer the Peloton Bike or the Peloton Tread, the built-in touch screen and sound bar will make it easy to immerse yourself in the live-streaming workouts.

A subscription with Daily Burn offers digital workout classes and live-streaming fitness.

Fitness Apps 

Modern-day technology has led to the creation of countless fitness and health apps, making it easier to work out from home. “Gym time can be hard to find, but more often there is time for a quick workout at home,” says Lisette Fabian, co-CEO of 8fit — a holistic health app that offers a number of fitness plans. A quick self-assessment on 8fit will help to match the user with a fitness plan, and interactive elements help to further predict your preferences and needs. “Apps like 8fit are providing a very personalized experience, so that the user gets the best results possible,” says Fabian. The app curates fitness plans that consist of 6 workouts — from yoga to boxing — within a 2-week period. Users also have access to healthy meal plans, as well as self-care guidance, stretching exercises, and sleep meditation.

Virtual Reality 

High-tech fitness, like the power of virtual reality, is a great way to create an immersive, full-body workout for those who bore easily while exercising. The world’s first virtual reality gym, Black Box VR pairs virtual reality technology with resistance training, gaming principles, and high-intensity cardio to redefine your workout. Step into a Black Box room with a customized headset, where your fictional reality will come alive. “We are big believers in pairing the immersive power of virtual reality technologies with modern exercise science principles to help people stick to their fitness goals and ultimately level up their lives,” says Preston Lewis, CCO and co-founder Black Box VR — which has its first boutique gyms in San Francisco with plans to expand. “Innovations in the technology will also drive prices down, allowing Black Box technology to be accessible from the comfort of your own home,” says Lewis regarding the future of Black Box VR.

Fitness Trackers

Fitness trackers and watches have made it easier to work out on your own without the help of a trainer. Whether you’re biking, running, or swimming, devices like Moov Now can track your form, offer encouragement and suggest improvements.

High-tech equipment like the Bowflex adjustable dumbbells make it easier to workout at home.

Adjustable Dumbbells

Whether you don’t have the space to store a full set of weights or you simply love the ease of high-tech fitness, it may be time to invest in adjustable dumbbells. The Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells will replace 15 sets of weights; technology allows the dumbbells to easily adjust from 5 to 52.5 pounds. Users can quickly modify their resistance and gradually increase strength while using the app. “Right now, adding structure is more important than ever — especially when it comes to staying active,” says Tom Holland, Bowflex fitness advisor. “It’s vital for your well-being to establish healthy habits now, which is where technology steps in to support.”

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Sweet Sustainability

Some of the world’s finest hotels have accepted hundreds of thousands of new guests: honeybees that reflect a commitment to sustainability.

In an era when chefs and consumers are obsessed with conscientious sourcing and sustainability, restaurants are turning to local artisanal producers of cheeses, vegetables and meats. For a natural, sustainable sweetener that cannot get more local, luxury hotels around the world are converting rooftops into honeybee farms, a movement embraced by environmentalists and hotel guests alike.

Author Leslie Day, a naturalist who is passionate about her native New York, has spent a career documenting the city’s birds and trees. Her 2018 book Honeybee Hotel chronicles the rooftop garden and beekeeping operation at Midtown Manhattan’s Waldorf Astoria hotel. The book is a loving celebration of the iconic hotel, now undergoing a $2 billion renovation, and the natural world that doggedly prevails in the Big Apple.

Dr. Day — she holds a doctorate in science education from Columbia — was inspired by the Art Deco property’s conversion of its 20th floor rooftop into a bountiful garden and honeybee farm in 2012. The transformation not only enhanced the hotel’s culinary offerings, but brought together a community of humans to care for colonies totaling approximately 300,000 apis mellifera honeybees. Pleased to see other hotels emulating the Waldorf Astoria’s efforts, Day suggests, “This is a strong statement that a hotel cares about the environment and cares about the ingredients they serve their guests.”

Mandarin Oriental Paris

Ojai Valley Inn

Day reports bees thrive in urban settings and notes even Manhattan is surprisingly hospitable to bees. “Before the chefs and staff put in the garden, the bees would fly to Central Park — about a beeline of a mile away from the Waldorf Astoria — to forage on flowering plants,” reports Day. “The city offers a veritable feast for pollinating animals,” she insists. A strong proponent of urban beekeeping, Day observes, “City beekeepers develop a relationship with these amazing little animals and help them stay healthy by monitoring the hive throughout the year.” She says of the challenging hobby, “It’s a relationship that brings you close to the natural world, even in an urban environment.”

David Garcelon, the chef Leslie Day features in Honeybee Hotel, arrived at the Waldorf Astoria after previously nurturing bees at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto. His beekeeping at the Royal York, starting in 2008, was the genesis of a worldwide “Bee Sustainable” program adopted by more than 20 properties in the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts organization. Now hotel manager at Fairmont Banff Springs, Garcelon is attempting to overcome a restriction of introducing honeybees, a non-native species, into Canada’s Banff National Park.

“It’s not often you’re able to do something groundbreaking in a hotel over 100 years old,” recounts Garcelon of his bee program at the Waldorf Astoria. “There was a great deal of excitement when we added the hives, a lot of ‘buzz’ in the media as well,” he says. “However, the most rewarding aspect for me was seeing the look on guests’ faces when we told them we produced our own honey in Midtown Manhattan, then being able to take them to see the hives,” explains Garcelon, who appreciates any ingredient that has a story to tell.

Thanks in part to Fairmont’s aggressive program, the practice of hotels caring for honeybees is not confined to North America. In London, 350,000 bees reside on a third-floor garden at St. Ermin’s Hotel and in Paris, the very chic Mandarin Oriental — it is located on the fashion-forward Rue Saint-Honoré in the 1st arrondissement — has been honeybee-friendly since 2012. The honey produced by those Parisian bees is used in the hotel’s various restaurants and bars, including the Michelin two-starred Sur Mesure under the direction of chef Thierry Marx.

The Mandarin Oriental’s legendary beekeeper, Audric de Campeau (pictured with his companion on the rooftop of the hotel on page 26), has also introduced beehives to iconic Parisian monuments like Les Invalides and Musée d’Orsay. “Bees are an important part of the pollination cycle and often thrive in urban environments such as Paris, which has been a pesticide-free zone for the past ten years,” explains Mandarin Oriental’s general manager Philippe Leboeuf. To help restore the decreasing honeybee population and to contribute to biodiversity, the hotel maintains two rooftop hives hosting 100,000 Buckfast honeybees, a breed that adapts well to city life.

“Due to the specificity and the diversity of Parisian flowers, the Mandarin Oriental honey has a unique flavor, rich and complex,” reports de Campeau, describing it like a master sommelier. “It has a powerful and persistent scent of red fruits, and tastes wonderfully round in the mouth, with a bright, fresh finish,” he assesses. In addition to chef Marx and pastry chef Adrien Bozzolo, bartenders use the house honey in a cocktail of Champagne, yuzu liqueur and jasmine tea.

  Most people outside the state are unaware of it, but Utah is known as the “Beehive State,” and the Waldorf Astoria Park City continues the practices of its flagship property in New York. Master beekeeper Debrah Carroll, who also serves as kitchen manager at the hotel’s Powder restaurant, maintains approximately 60,000 honeybees adjoining the onsite herb garden. Looking to become more sustainable in its food practices, the Waldorf Astoria initiated the program in 2014, complementing its emphasis on utilizing local ingredients. “The local sourcing is plentiful in our mountains, but we also wanted to have something, literally, from our own backyard,” explains Carroll, who concedes Utah’s dry climate presents challenges for beekeeping.

Carroll reports guests respond well to the uber-local honey, particularly when presented in the honeycomb. “The Waldorf Astoria honey has a wonderful wildflower flavor that works in various dishes and cocktails,” says the master beekeeper, citing seasonal fruit plates, salad dressings, candied pecans, and cheese or charcuterie boards, as well as a signature cocktail called the Astoria Tonic. VIP guests are treated to tours of the hives and garden, dressed in protective gear.

Dedicated to educating people on the virtues of beekeeping, Carroll reveals some extraordinary facts about honeybees that engender a greater appreciation for the house-made honey hotel guests drizzle into their tea. For instance, it takes 12 honeybees an entire lifetime (which is typically six to seven weeks) to generate a single teaspoon of honey, and in order to create a pound of honey, a hive of bees must travel 55,000 miles.

One might not expect 4,200 acres in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains to be a magnet for sophisticated epicureans, but Tennessee’s Blackberry Farm most certainly is. Almost everything that arrives on the dining table is produced on the premises, and that includes honey overseen by farmstead manager and beekeeper Dustin Busby, whose resume includes celebrated restaurants The Fat Duck and The French Laundry. He manages at least seven hives of European honeybees with access to tulip poplar, wildflowers and sourwood.

Most prized is the honey from sourwood tree blossoms, known for its sweet and spicy qualities, a hint of anise and agreeable aftertaste. Busby explains that factors such as time of harvest, weather conditions and even the specific portion of the hive from which the honey is extracted can influence taste. He is constantly developing new recipes for using the honey in the resort’s preserve kitchen and recently created a blueberry-elderflower jam using the house-made honey in place of sugar.

“Seeing the hives and talking about our bees are part of our garden and farmstead tours,” reports Busby. He adds, “More involved tours of the bees, including suiting up and looking at the hives or even collecting honey, are conducted from time to time on special request from guests.” Blackberry Farm honey is one of the many artisanal food products sold directly to hotel guests.

Blackberry Farm raises virtually everything served at the resort, including house-made honey.

Honey produced at Ojai Valley Inn reflects the flavors of lavender, avocado, and citrus. 

The Ojai Valley Inn is just 80 miles from downtown Los Angeles, but feels like another world. From its 220 acres in an idyllic coastal valley, guests enjoy access to the ocean and vineyards, as well as championship golf on site. The Farmhouse — this is a culinary event center directed by acclaimed chef Nancy Silverton — reflects the Inn’s commitment to food and wine. Guests who tour the retreat’s apiary in protective suits enjoy tastings of different honeys whose flavor profiles result from pollination of local plants like avocado, lavender and citrus.

“We’re extremely proud of our beekeeping program at Ojai Valley Inn, not only because it provides us with an amazing estate-curated product that we can offer our guests, but also because we believe strongly in good stewardship of the natural resources of the Ojai Valley,” reports executive chef Truman Jones. Emphasizing the positive ecological impacts yielded through the care of those prolific pollinators, he adds, “It gives us a huge return on our efforts by propagating the flowers and various fruits of the Inn and the entire Valley.”

In San Francisco, nearly a dozen hotels maintain rooftop beehives, including the Clift Royal Sonesta, which uses honey from its “Bee Sanctuary” in craft cocktails at its legendary Redwood Room. The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, ranked among the world’s finest resorts, has also developed a strong apiculture program and Philadelphia’s Sofitel at Rittenhouse Square accommodates 480,000 honeybees on its rooftop garden, showcased in dishes at the hotel’s Liberté Lounge.

The beekeeping operations at these luxury hotels are an offshoot of an urban beekeeping movement that has become trendy in the last 20 years. The tasting notes of backyard honeys, sometimes sold at farmers markets and gourmet shops, mirror the flora of an area, even a specific neighborhood, much like a wine reflects its vineyard’s own terroir.

In addition to mesmerizing guests, keeping bees at hotels helps alleviate a crisis-level decline in the honeybee population that threatens entire ecosystems and adversely impacts food production for a hungry world. Master beekeeper Debrah Carroll reports that 80 percent of all flowering plants must be pollinated to survive, and that more than a third of the world’s food supply is dependent on pollination by insects like honeybees.

Addressing her nostalgic Waldorf Astoria, scheduled to reopen in 2022, naturalist Leslie Day comments, “I’m very hopeful the new management will read my book and bring the bees back.”

Honey from the rooftop of the Clift Royal Sonesta is incorporated into cocktails at the historic Redwood Room.

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Safe & Sound

When it comes to kitchens, the popularity of all things smart and sanitary is soaring, as consumers gravitate toward antimicrobial features.

Almost a sous chef, innovative, hands-free faucets such as U by Moen fill pots with exact amounts of hot or cold water or anything in between.

Seemingly overnight, touchless faucets, easy-open drawers and an ever-growing array of kitchen tech morphed from “nice-to-have” amenities to “must-haves” as the desire for cleanliness and safety eclipsed convenience.

Indoor air quality, purified water and clean surfaces rank high with consumers. Before the pandemic, interest in wellness at home was on the rise; now, amenities that bring a hygienic benefit, particularly in the kitchen, top wellness demands. A desire for simplification with easy-to-clean cabinets and counters along with healthy living are micro themes expected to steer product development and design in the future, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association.

Even trusted materials such as wood, cork and brass are now considered for their capacity to shed germs or resist contamination. “All our faucets are solid brass construction and therefore, by the very nature of the metal, have additional antimicrobial properties,” points out Noah Taft, senior vice president of marketing and sales at California Faucets, noting the benefit of brass over less costly materials

Pure Water

As the desire for healthy homes builds, so does interest in water quality. Filtration has become an important focus, according to experts at Kohler, who say more than 75 percent of customers already take measures to filter their drinking water. In January, Kohler introduced a four-stage reverse osmosis purification system designed to fit in the cabinet under the kitchen sink. The system reduces contaminants, including lead, mercury, chlorine, bacteria, virus, arsenic, copper, fluoride and more. With a capacity of 27.5 gallons per day, it would replace approximately 200, 16.9 oz. bottles of water.

Water Appliance

Sinks used to be, well, just sinks, until Rohl and other manufacturers elevated the status to “water appliance.” According to estimates, the kitchen sink used to be frequented 10 to 30 times a day. Now, after weeks of sheltering at home and a hyper-focus on handwashing, the sink is getting more use than ever and receiving lots of scrutiny regarding design, ease of use and even appearance.

“Kitchen sinks and faucets are on the front lines of keeping a home clean and safe — used continuously for food preparation, hand and dishwashing,” says Edyta Drutis, director, brand and communications, at Blanco North America. Blanco’s Silgranit stone-like sink material is nonporous, resistant to stains, scratches, chips, acid and heat. Acting as a shield against dirt and contaminants, it reduces bacterial growth by 98 percent. The hydrophobic surface pushes away dirt and water, so it drains easily and cleans with soap and water or baking soda.

When it comes to sinks, bigger continues to be better. Even before the pandemic, experts at the National Kitchen and Bath Association noted increased demand for large sinks to accommodate tasks as diverse as washing fresh produce and jumbo pans, to babies and the
occasional pup.

More Power Per Drop

Look for faucets designed to do more than deliver water. Lenova introduced a model that takes washing produce or the dog’s bowl to the next level by integrating ozone into the flow. Recognized as a safe, non-toxic way to kill viruses, bacteria, mold, yeast and algae within seconds of contact, aqueous ozone has been extensively tested and clinically proven, according to Lenova. Not only does it sanitize surfaces, but it can be used to wash produce, and it even removes pesticides. 

Adding more cleaning power to each drop, particularly for sprays, is another objective for manufacturers. Kohler recently introduced options such as a faucet sprayer with nozzles aligned to create a forceful blade of water to sweep away stuck-on food. Another, a soft spray, preps berries without bruising. Moen optimized its sprays to deliver 50 percent more spray power while containing the splash — great for messy pots and messy hands.

Look Ma, No Hands!

Touch-free faucets have been around for a few years. In the first versions, sensors would activate the flow in response to a motion. Then, voice control was added. The most recent innovation enables homeowners to activate faucets via Alexa or Google Home. Turning the water on and off is only part of what U by Moen — a Best of KBIS 2020 winner — delivers. Instead, it can fill a baby bottle with just the right amount of water at the right temperature or load a pasta pot with precisely four quarts of hot water, freeing the cook for other tasks. Metered dispensing ranges from one tablespoon to 15 gallons, and temperature commands can be exact degrees or merely hot or cold. “Baby bottle” and other customizable presets simplify commands.

Hard As Glass

“Glass tiles are not porous and do not possess characteristics that allow or promote the growth or life of microbes, bacteria, or germs,” explains Jim Stevens, brand manager for Lunada Bay Tile. “Keep in mind that the grout between each tile is porous and does not have these same characteristics. However, grout is usually set down, below the top surface of the tiles, so direct contact is less likely. And grout could be sealed with an antimicrobial sealer to create a safe and sanitary surface.”

Glass tiles, which are nonporous, also mesmerize.

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Nap Bars

Khaliah O. Guillory, Owner of Nap Bar

A new set of businesses aims to help a sleep-deprived society relax and rejuvenate.

Nap bars. Upon hearing about this concept, various images come to mind, from a series of bedrooms with designated time slots for napping, to a pillowy oasis set in the clouds. While some ideas are more fantastical than others, the meaning behind many nap bar businesses and their missions is far more down to earth.

Whether naps are offered as a complimentary service or finely curated in a luxury setting, the importance of sleep has been reinvigorated by companies like these who know that the benefits of napping are nothing to sneeze (or snore) at in today’s world. 

In recent years, with the rise of globalization and businesses running 24/7, productivity can and has for some time become a priority. Maria Jose Hernandez of recharj, a meditation studio headquartered in Washington, D.C., says the needs of the human body should take precedence, however. 

An avid lover of naps since childhood, Guillory developed her company as a way to keep herself from “taking naps in [her] car.” 
Photos courtesy Nap Bar.

“Science has proven that sleep is how you are able to learn, retain memory — all these functions that we need to be productive.” 

Many nap bars and sleep-oriented businesses have been developed by busy business professionals and entrepreneurs who found themselves suffering from sleep deprivation or sleep-related issues. For example, Khaliah O. Guillory was working at a Fortune 500 company and struggled with getting restful sleep when she was inspired to open Nap Bar in Houston. An avid lover of naps since childhood, she developed her company as a way to keep herself from “taking naps in [her] car,” and engage other young professionals to rest, relax and feel rejuvenated through a curated, white-glove napping experience.

Top: Zen – Bar à Sieste Weightless Chair and VR.

Photos courtesy Zen – Bar à Sieste

Christophe Chanhsavang and his wife, Virginie, have had similar trials and tribulations. From Virginie’s corporate work hours to Christophe’s long hours of study, he realized from his experience working in the UK, China and Greece how much the concept of wellness was nonexistent in the French society. To avoid taking more naps in the office bathroom, Chanhsavang says they founded Zen – Bar à Sieste in 2011 in Paris and have since approached wellness from a holistic perspective by promoting sleep, nutrition, physical activity and mental health. 

Professionals in the wellness industry have noted and continue to highlight the importance of sleep, which in turn has led to research and results into the benefits of napping. Guillory offers facts that have helped fuel the educational aspect of Nap Bar, including a NASA statistic that suggests shorter nap durations are better for reducing the impact of sleep inertia, a physiological state of impairment that affects cognitive and sensory-motor performance.*

Mauricio Villamizar, CEO of Pop & Rest in London, takes these findings a step further, noting how a lack of sleep can ultimately lead to disruptions in workflow. “Sleep deprivation is linked to lower productivity at work and it’s one of the main drivers of absenteeism … in the workplace. If we translate this into working days, we are looking at around 200,000 working days being lost each year in the UK only. In terms of economic consequences, it’s around £40 billion, almost 2 percent of the UK’s GDP,” Villamizar says.

Wellness overall has seen a resurgence in strength from businesses like these, as health has come to be the utmost priority of nations around the world. And just like there are many types of methods of getting and staying well, there are a variety of ways to nap.

Pop & Rest is a London-based wellness startup that connects locals and travelers with sleep and meditation pods, offering clients safe and secure spaces to unwind, rest, and work peacefully. According to Villamizar, customers can visit one of the company’s various locations throughout London and become immersed in a calm environment where the pods are situated.

“Once you are inside, your pod will be like a box that features a single bed, small table, along with accessories to change lights, music and the aroma,” he says, noting that everything is built to ensure the best relaxation experience. The pods are movable and soundproofed, and only require a power supply and WiFi connection to function, an enticing offer for companies looking to purchase these pods for their own offices.

The aforementioned Nap Bar curates a luxury napping experience for customers, which Guillory says is ensured by engaging all five senses. For sight, all of the custom suites are outfitted with mood lighting that is adjustable; for taste, a duo of raw juice shots are offered with rich nutrients and ingredients that aid in relaxing the body pre-nap, and waking it up post-nap; for hearing, exclusive brain waves are curated for each client and played inside suites that increases the release of melatonin in the body by 97 percent; and for smell, an aromatherapy pillow mist infused with lavender is available.

recharj – D.C. meditation room and class.

Photos courtesy recharj

Pop & Rest sleep pod for napping.

Photo courtesy Pop & Rest.

The final sense, of touch, goes a step further, as all suites include an organic, locally sourced mattress, linens and sheets, and each room is painted with toxin-free paint. All of these inclusions are accompanied by a full-service concierge who will guide customers through the experience and help them on their wellness journey

According to Chanhsavang of Zen – Bar à Sieste, wellness is the future of humanity, a future he aims to advance with the Siesta Bar, which combines technological and traditional means of treatment for sleep deprivation. For nap services, customers can choose from a luxurious memory foam retreat, a zero-gravity massage chair or a Shiatsu bed; for aiding in relaxation and overall wellness, complimentary services include massages, virtual-reality meditation and even a fish spa.

As a meditation studio, recharj has been offering premier restorative practices to help clients, which includes the use of power naps. According to Hernandez, during open hours these power nap sessions are curated to be 25 minutes long and offered in large Yogibo chairs, a favorite for many. “A client once described them to me as if you’re laying down in a cloud,” Hernandez says, which only adds to the whole-body experience.

Binaural beats are also incorporated into the nap session, a type of music melody that registers at different frequencies that are meant to relax your body and get it ready for sleep. Overall, the studio aims to bring a sense of relaxation as well as mindfulness through meditation to its clients. “We offer workshops about mindful leadership, mindful communication and mindfulness in general,” Hernandez says, which in turn helps clients learn ways to de-stress and regain focus on whatever tasks lay ahead.

Unlike the typical fad that comes and goes, wellness is rooted in a deep need for comfort and stability. As we write this, we’re in the midst of a public health crisis, and brick and mortar locations may not be open. But there are ways to implement the wisdom of these businesses from your own home. Studios like recharj continue to offer online meditation classes, in an effort to keep a consistent schedule that is based solely on keeping well. And though the future is uncertain, businesses like Pop & Rest, Nap Bar and Zen – Bar à Sieste continue to work and create solutions for customers, from promoting online educational sessions and tips to developing applications, products and services for when businesses are fully up and running.

“Wellness is not just a fashion, but a fundamental trend in our societies,” Chanhsavang asserts. “Hopefully the nap services and related businesses will become a game-changer in the hospitality industry.”

*Source: NASA conducted a study on sleepy military pilots and astronauts and found a 26-minute nap increased productivity by 34 percent and alertness by 54 percent.

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