Malibu’s Most Exclusive, Butt-Kicking Spa Is Coming East

You will wake up at 5:30 a.m. and stretch for 30 minutes. You will eat something vegan and organic for breakfast followed by an hourslong hike on which you will hear words like “verticality.” If you need a snack, you will get six almonds. Not seven — don’t be gluttonous.

In the afternoon, you will take a cold plunge, dunking yourself in water cooled to a painful 55 degrees. The throbbing in your body is not a hangover — there is no alcohol — it’s from the 10 miles you hiked yesterday, or it could be the 12 you hiked the day before. Or maybe it’s the 1,400 calories a day allotted. For all this, you will pay thousands of dollars.

This is luxury wellness in 2024. Some destination spas and high-end retreats are more akin to Navy SEAL prep — or at the very least, basic training — than five-star resorts.

The standard-bearer of this group is the Ranch, 200 acres of nature and trails in the Santa Monica Mountains of Malibu, Calif. For 14 years, the Ranch has been helping 25 people at a time destress, detox and generally rid themselves of the anxieties of life.

“It’s not like any other place,” said Gillian Steel, 69, who sits on the board of the New-York Historical Society and has been to the Ranch nine times. The Ranch, she said, “isn’t just a week-away experience. They manage to be both stylish while pushing you. You meet the most interesting people and get a week to yourself at the same time.”

In late April, the Ranch will open a second property, this time in the Hudson Valley of New York.

“For years, our guests kept saying, ‘Please open something on the East Coast,’” said Sue Glasscock, who owns the Ranch with her husband, Alex, both 60. “We kicked the idea around for a long time.”

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