When my wife said she planned to visit Canyon Ranch in Lennox, MA and asked if I would like to join her at this somewhat costly health resort, I said “sure” even though the three nights here cannot be considered budget accommodation. Arriving here yesterday, the single most powerful emotion to reach my mind: “I’m living in a brand.”
Vivian probably thinks differently. She has signed up for the mantra and the company’s tag line: “The Power of Possibility” and eagerly has taken in the various seminars, courses, lectures and spa treatments.
I certainly can enjoy the experience — there are other guys here, though the ratio of women to men is somewhat higher here than in the outside world. There are some interesting rules: No alcohol (you can bring your own and drink it in your room, but it isn’t served in any of the restaurants — however, all food and non-alcoholic drinks are included so there are no bills at the end of the meals), limited cell phone access, and no tipping (gratuities presumably are baked into the hefty registration fees). The program combines lectures and demonstrations (most are free, but the speakers offer paid individual consultations and often sell their books and other materials) and a variety of healthy spiritual and physical activities.
Today, I signed up for a three-hour bike ride where two guides took three guests to a local cycling trail, and provided us with the bikes and helmets. I took off, completing the 11 mile trail in a couple of hours, faster than my peers but quite a bit slower than many of my cycling compatriots in Ottawa. Still, it was a refreshing break from the branding exercise within the complex.
The concept that you can follow program and evolve your habits and behaviours to a more healthy balance of course is good, and so is the fact that Canyon Ranch has a charitable foundation to provide health-promotional services to less fortunate people. I’m not quarrelling with the organization’s ethics and business success.
Of course, for many if not most of the guests here, money really isn’t an issue. If you can’t afford it, you don’t come. It’s undeniably a branding and business success.