Canyon Ranch Lenox (Mass.) Brand Gets a Facelift

By | December 6th, 2017

Now under the leadership of CEO Susan Docherty, the iconic wellness resort has undergone a $10 million renovation with 19 luxury apartments, and has shifted its amenities, now offering an aesthetics center where guests can get Botox, genetic testing, and a doctor-monitored all-night sleep study.

Nearly 40 years after it first opened, Canyon Ranch Lenox (Mass.), the East Coast outpost of the famous wellness resort, is having some serious work done, The New York Times reported.

It has been sold by its founders, Mel and Enid Zuckerman, to a real-estate investment company owned by Texas billionaire John Goff, and is no longer being run by the team overseen by Zuckerman, long a familiar presence on the original Canyon Ranch property in Tucson, Ariz., the Times reported.

The new CEO is Susan Docherty, 55, the first female corporate officer at General Motors. Hiring executives with experience from luxury hotel chains like Ritz-Carlton, she is now turning a family business into a well-oiled hospitality machine. The gift shop sells $900 cashmere throws and boardroom-to-golf-course athleisure. Guests nosh on fancy chocolate bars and rooms have white-noise machines, which help drown out the TV sets of the next-door neighbors, the Times reported.

Perhaps the biggest indication of the changes at Canyon Ranch is the addition of an aesthetics center offering not just Botox but also Juvederm, Voluma and Latisse. “We’re not adding cosmetic procedures, we’re adding confidence procedures,” Docherty said at the Lenox location, a Gilded Age mansion that has undergone a $10 million renovation. “Our product is personal, precise and science based.”

Docherty would like to open Canyon Ranches in Florida and California to attract tourists from South America and Asia. Docherty also wants to extend the brand to the “continuing care retirement community” market, which includes assisted living. “There are a lot of boomers who have not taken very good care of themselves,” she said.

During its peak seasons (summer in Lenox and winter in Tucson), Canyon Ranch charges over $1,000 per night, which includes tasty but spartan food and group fitness classes. The resort has long offered nutritional counseling and services like facials for an extra fee, but Docherty is adding pricey new services, like genetic testing for $299, and is pushing a doctor-monitored all night sleep study, or polysomnography, for $2,950, the Times reported.

“Sleep is sexy right now, it is totally sexy,” she said.

One of Docherty’s big ventures is the development of 19 luxury apartments attached to the Lenox resort, resplendent with white marble and costing in the millions. Eleven units remain on the market, the Times reported.

“I think people are waiting to see if Canyon Ranch is going to change,” said Zuckerman, who was supportive of the project.

By 2014, Zuckerman sold a majority interest in Canyon Ranch to Goff’s Crescent Real Estate Holdings and Goff hired Docherty in 2015. Earlier this year, Zuckerman sold his remaining interest to Crescent and retired, though he and his wife still live in a house on the Canyon Ranch grounds in Tucson, the Times reported.

Many of the concepts Zuckerman championed have become part of Americans’ everyday lives. Boutique fitness studios and day spas are now in strip malls around the country. Being able to spend extended time in a public setting wearing workout leggings is no longer a special thrill. Whole Foods and other distributors have made organic food and juice bars mainstream, the Times reported.

A brand that was ahead on all of this now has to fight for relevance. “Canyon Ranch caters to an elite demographic that is older, white and wealthy, and it hasn’t adapted to the notion that wellness is no longer something you do for a weekend or a week when you need an intervention,” said Jason Wachob, the founder and C.E.O. of MindBodyGreen, a wellness-focused media company aimed at millennials.

But the loyalty of aging baby boomers is a considerable asset. Docherty is trying to bring energy and attract new customers to an enterprise that gets more than half of its business (58% in Tucson, 55% in Lenox) from repeat guests, the Times reported.

Nili Cohen, 73, from Fort Lee, N.J., is one of them, first vacationing at the resort in Lenox about 25 years ago. This October she visited for the 110th time. Cohen likes to start her days at Canyon Ranch on the group walk at 7 a.m., then eats a small breakfast, does a 9 a.m. stretch class and then plays tennis for a few hours. She often caps off the day with a 4 p.m. “muscle melt massage,” followed by a meditation session and perhaps a facial. She sees on-staff doctors there to monitor her cholesterol, the Times reported.

Thus far, she has loved the changes implemented by Docherty and her team. The food is better, Cohen said, and the gym equipment is more modern. But she doesn’t like Botox, even as she understands why Canyon Ranch is starting to offer it, the Times reported.

“They have to be with the times,” Cohen said.

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