‘Spas and longevity clinics’: private members’ clubs shift focus to wellness | Health & wellbeing

It is Friday lunchtime in the heart of London’s Soho, and tucked away from the bustle inside Mortimer House, guests at the private members’ club Maslow’s are using the basement gym. As they head upstairs to finish some work, they can browse the upcoming events for guests advertised in the lift – a menu that includes breathwork classes and meditation.

Private members’ clubs are changing. Things have moved on from the days of exclusive clubs offering boozy lunches and late-night socialising. Now, those with money to splash want a space to work and meet like-minded people, but also to improve themselves, with an emphasis on health and wellbeing.

Private members’ clubs have hit the headlines in recent weeks, with the Garrick club facing scrutiny after its men-only membership list, which included judges, was revealed by the Guardian. Soho House, the private club popular with celebrities such as Kate Moss and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, also caused discussion when it reported losses of $118m (£92.5m) for 2023. Some claim rapid expansion robbed it of its exclusivity. But some experts say people expect a lot for their money nowadays, with a focus on self-improvement.

Jonathan Leary opened Remedy Place – described as the world’s first social wellness club – in New York in 2019. He notes “a big shift towards wellness” in all industries. “The prevalence of private members’ clubs is a testament to this trend, and to truly stand out and meet their members’ demands, these clubs must prioritise health and wellness.

“It’s not just something I’ve observed – many private clubs and hotels are reaching out to us, seeking to integrate our clubs into their offerings or properties … It’s encouraging to see a global shift towards recognising health and wellness as an essential rather than a luxury.”

The wellness sector is growing rapidly with the industry now worth up to £2.8tn worldwide, according to the Global Wellness Institute. And people are also drinking less.

Leary says: “One statistic I found astounding is that, according to Yelp, from 2022 to 2023, searches for ice baths surged by 521% in one year.” He adds: “People don’t feel good, and they are trying to figure out how to feel better.”

Guy Ivesha, the chief executive of Maslow’s, says its membership has grown “exponentially” since launching in 2017. As well as being a club focused on social needs, Maslow’s also wanted “to satisfy professional and wellbeing” needs, he says. That is why it has a gym and a yoga studio, and hosts talks “from a physical and mental health perspective”.

In March Maslow’s held a talk with Tim Spector, the professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, on rethinking how we eat. They also hold a regular quiet club with breathwork expert Michael James Wong, offering an evening of quiet conversation, promoting meditation, mindfulness and development.

Ivesha says he saw a gap in the marketplace, with private clubs that were strictly “social”, and co-working spaces that were “juvenile and basic in their design and service”. He also “saw all the gyms and thought – what happens if you put it all under one roof”?

The membership ranges from £100 a month (or £80 if you are under 30) for evening and weekend access to facilities, to having a dedicated desk space from £1,200 plus VAT a month.

In Australia, Saint Haven calls itself the world’s first fully integrated private social, wellness and anti-ageing club. It offers a holistic approach to wellness, addressing everything from nutrition and fitness to social connection, mindfulness, recovery, and even biohacking treatments. It even boasts its very own “fountain of youth” – a stone well with purified drinking water.

This month Surrenne, a luxury wellbeing members’ club with a cafe, fitness studios, spa and a longevity clinic spanning four floors, launches in London, with membership costing £10,000 a year. It is part of Maybourne Hotel Group’s new all-suite hotel, the Emory. The site includes a 22-metre swimming pool, with a sound system to allow in-water meditation. Guests can also enjoy a state-of-the-art gym, as well as a yoga and pilates studio.

In the US, Leary says, the trend does not appear to be slowing, with a noticeable uptick in “self-care”, driving demand for wellness-focused spaces such as Remedy Place. “We currently have two clubs, one on both coasts, and plan to open two a year moving forward – one in West Hollywood and one in Flatiron, NYC. However, the overwhelming demand in New York City means we can’t fully meet the need, which is why our third club, Soho, will be opening soon,” Leary says.

“But it’s not just about feeling better,” he says. “Now people recognise the role health plays in their success. Those aiming to excel, perform at their peak and maximise their achievements are investing more time and resources in their health than ever before.”

Leary says the appeal of these spaces is based on the fact that “people are now in search of something more meaningful and unique from their membership club experiences”.

He says: “Individuals are not just looking for a space that introduces them to a new community, where they can connect with others who share similar values, but they are also craving new experiences. These experiences go beyond the standard fare of alcohol and food. They fill gaps in what they need that they can’t get somewhere else. And with the high number of clubs, members are on the lookout for offerings that stand out – ones that might be better than their current clubs, especially if they are considering making a switch.”

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