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Deborah Szekely

The wellness industry’s very own testament to longevity, Deborah Szekely, co-founder of Rancho La Puerta and inaugural Fellow of the Wellness Hall of Fame, has celebrated her 100th birthday. Spa Business caught up with her to hear her views on what makes for a long life...

Deborah would have told her younger self not to worry about most things Rancho La Puerta
Spending time in nature: Deborah Szekely with her daughter, Sarah Rancho La Puerta
Deborah advocates meditation Rancho La Puerta

Reaching your 100th birthday is such an impressive feat. How does it feel to have led such a long and active life?
It feels wondrous, each and every day. A wondrous surprise.

Is there anything you’ve learned that you wish you could have told your younger self?
Yes. In no uncertain terms I would have told myself to stop worrying about most things. I know now that most of what worried me at the time never ended up happening. I came to a point in my life when I quit stewing and fretting, and it opened the door to a long, happy life.

What practices do you follow which have supported your health and longevity?
Doing good! Doing good to others and yourself. Living a good life depends on doing things which make sense. My philosopher husband, Edmond, had a saying: ‘The past is all evil, the present is but a moment, the future is all.’ In short: never dwell on the past – it’s over; live in the present, but understand it is but a moment in a long life. Live life with the belief it will be long and glorious.

What are your thoughts on longevity becoming a burgeoning trend in the wellness industry?
Longevity has always been in the back of everyone’s mind for as long as I can remember. One of the main reasons people choose to bring the spa experience into their life is that they want to live long and live happy and they’re willing to work at it. I’m referring here to ‘fitness spas’ in particular, which offer a complete mind, body, spirit experience.

What would you like to see spas offer in this respect?
Prioritise your clients’ understanding of their future wellness. Help them understand it is their choice to eat right, act right, think right, or not. Fitness spas have moved in this direction since the beginning. Even in 1940, day one at Rancho La Puerta, changing the lives of people was our priority, and it can be achieved in a very short period of time. Edmond, would say, Siempre Mejor - always better – which became our mantra.

Have you seen any inspiring spa practices recently?
I don’t travel as much as I used to however, I am delighted meditation has become a staple activity at many spas.

• A more detailed interview with Deborah Szekely is available in Spa Business issue 1 2022

Originally published in Spa Business Handbook 2022 issue 1
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