The Longevity Vacation: Poolside Lounging With an IV Drip - Kanebridge News
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The Longevity Vacation: Poolside Lounging With an IV Drip

The latest trend in wellness travel is somewhere between a spa trip and a doctor’s appointment

By ALEX JANIN
Tue, Apr 16, 2024 4:48pmGrey Clock 4 min

For some vacationers, the ideal getaway involves $1,200 ozone therapy or an $1,800 early-detection cancer test.

Call it the longevity vacation. People who are fixated on optimising their personal health are pursuing travel activities that they hope will help them stay healthier for longer. It is part of a broader interest in longevity that often extends beyond traditional medicine . These costly trips and treatments are rising in popularity as money pours into the global wellness travel market.

At high-end resorts, guests can now find biological age testing, poolside vitamin IV drips, and stem-cell therapy. Prices can range from hundreds of dollars for shots and drips to tens of thousands for more invasive procedures, which go well beyond standard wellness offerings like yoga, massages or facials.

Some longevity-inspired trips focus on treatments, while others focus more on social and lifestyle changes. This includes programs that promise to teach travellers the secrets of centenarians .

Mark Blaskovich, 66 years old, spent $4,500 on a five-night trip last year centred on lessons from the world’s “Blue Zones,” places including Sardinia, Italy, and Okinawa, Japan, where a high number of people live for at least 100 years. Blaskovich says he wanted to get on a healthier path as he started to feel the effects of ageing.

He chose a retreat at Modern Elder Academy in Mexico, where he attended workshops detailing the power of supportive relationships, embracing a plant-based diet and incorporating natural movement into his daily life.

“I’ve been interested in longevity and trying to figure out how to live longer and live healthier,” says Blaskovich.

Vitamins and ozone

When Christy Menzies noticed nurses behind a curtained-off area at the Four Seasons Resort Maui in Hawaii on a family vacation in 2022, she assumed it might be Covid-19 testing. They were actually injecting guests with vitamin B12.

Menzies, 40, who runs a travel agency, escaped to the longevity clinic between trips to the beach, pool and kids’ club, where she reclined in a leather chair, and received a 30-minute vitamin IV infusion.

“You’re making investments in your wellness, your health, your body,” says Menzies, who adds that she felt more energised afterward.

The resort has been expanding its offerings since opening a longevity centre in 2021. A multi-day treatment package including ozone therapy, stem-cell therapy and a “fountain of youth” infusion, costs $44,000. Roughly half a dozen guests have shelled out for that package since it made its debut last year, according to Pat Makozak, the resort’s senior spa director. Guests can also opt for an early-detection cancer blood test for $1,800.

The ozone therapy, which involves withdrawing blood, dissolving ozone gas into it, and reintroducing it into the body through an IV, is particularly popular, says Makozak. The procedure is typically administered by a registered nurse, takes upward of an hour and costs $1,200.

Longevity vacationers are helping to fuel the global wellness tourism market, which is expected to surpass $1 trillion in 2024, up from $439 billion in 2012, according to the nonprofit Global Wellness Institute. About 13% of U.S. travelers took part in spa or wellness activities while traveling in the past 12 months, according to a 2023 survey from market-research group Phocuswright.

Canyon Ranch, which has multiple wellness resorts across the country, earlier this year introduced a five-night “Longevity Life” program, starting at $6,750, that includes health-span coaching, bone-density scans and longevity-focused sessions on spirituality and nutrition.

The idea is that people will return for an evaluation regularly to monitor progress, says Mark Kovacs, the vice president of health and performance.

What doctors say

Doctors preach caution, noting many of these treatments are unlikely to have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, producing a placebo effect at best and carrying the potential for harm at worst. Procedures that involve puncturing the skin, such as ozone therapy or an IV drip, risk possible infection, contamination and drug interactions.

“Right now there isn’t a single proven treatment that would prolong the life of someone who’s already healthy,” says Dr. Mark Loafman, a family-medicine doctor in Chicago. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Some studies on certain noninvasive wellness treatments, like saunas or cold plunges do suggest they may help people feel less stressed, or provide some temporary pain relief or sleep improvement.

Linda True, a policy analyst in San Francisco, spent a day at RAKxa, a wellness retreat on a visit to family in Thailand in February. True, 46, declined the more medical-sounding offerings, like an IV drip, and opted for a traditional style of Thai massage that involved fire and is touted as a “detoxification therapy.”

“People want to spend money on things that they feel might be doing good,” says Dr. Tamsin Lewis, medical adviser at RoseBar Longevity at Six Senses Ibiza, a longevity club that opened last year, whose menu includes offerings such as cryotherapy, infrared sauna and a “Longevity Boost” IV.

RoseBar says there is good evidence that reducing stress contributes to longevity, and Lewis says she doesn’t offer false promises about treatments’ efficacy . Kovacs says Canyon Ranch uses the latest science and personal data to help make evidence-based recommendations.

Jaclyn Sienna India owns a membership-based, ultra luxury travel company that serves people whose net worth exceeds $100 million, many of whom give priority to longevity, she says. She has planned trips for clients to Blue Zones, where there are a large number of centenarians. On one in February, her company arranged a $250,000 weeklong stay for a family of three to Okinawa that included daily meditation, therapeutic massages and cooking classes, she says.

India says keeping up with a longevity-focused lifestyle requires more than one treatment and is cost-prohibitive for most people.

Doctors say travellers may be more likely to glean health benefits from focusing on a common vacation goal : just relaxing.

Dr. Karen Studer, a physician and assistant professor of preventive medicine at Loma Linda University Health says lowering your stress levels is linked to myriad short- and long-term health benefits.

“It may be what you’re getting from these expensive treatments is just a natural effect of going on vacation, decreasing stress, eating better and exercising more.”



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I.M. Pei was the confident visionary behind such transformative structures as the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong and the Louvre Pyramid in Paris, but he was also humble, and for years resisted a retrospective of his work.

Pei, a Chinese-American architect who died in 2019 at 102 , would always protest any suggestion of a major exhibition, saying, “why me,” noting, too, that he was still actively at work, recalls his youngest son, Li Chung “Sandi” Pei. A decade ago, when Pei was in his mid-to-late 90s, he relented, finally telling Aric Chen, a curator at the M+ museum in Hong Kong, “all right, if you want to do it, go ahead,” Sandi says.

A sweeping retrospective, “I.M. Pei: Life Is Architecture,” will open June 29 at M+ in the city’s West Kowloon Cultural District. The exhibition of more than 300 objects, including drawings, architectural models, photographs, films, and other archival documents, will feature Pei’s influential structures, but in dialogue with his “social, cultural, and biographical trajectories, showing architecture and life to be inseparable,” the museum said in a news release.

As a Chinese citizen who moved to the U.S. in 1935 to learn architecture, Pei—whose full first name was Ieoh Ming—brought a unique cultural perspective to his work.

“His life is what’s really interesting and separates him from many other architects,” Sandi says. “He brought with him so many sensibilities, cultural connections to China, and yet he was a man of America, the West.”

Facade of the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong in a photograph commissioned by M+ in 2021.
© South Ho Siu Nam

Pei’s architectural work was significant particularly because of its emphasis on cultural institutions—from the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., to the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar—“buildings that have a major impact in their communities,” Sandi says. But he also did several urban redevelopment projects, including Kips Bay Towers in Manhattan and Society Hill in Philadelphia.

“These are all places for people,” Sandi says. “He believed in the importance of architecture as a way to bring and celebrate life. Whether it was a housing development or museum or a tall building or whatever—he really felt a responsibility to try to bring something to wherever he was working that would uplift people.”

A critical juncture in Pei’s career was 1948, when he was recruited from the Harvard Graduate School of Design (where he received a master’s degree in architecture) by New York real estate developer William Zeckendorf.

With Zeckendorf, Pei traveled across the country, meeting politicians and other “movers and shakers” from Denver and Los Angeles, to Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Boston, and New York. “He became very adept at working in that environment, where you had to know how to persuade people,” Sandi says.

During the seven-year period Pei worked with Zeckendorf, the developer fostered the growth of his architecture practice, supporting an office that included urban, industrial, graphic, and interior designers, in addition to architects and other specialists, Sandi says.

When Pei started his own practice in 1955, “he had this wealth of a firm that could do anything almost anywhere,” Sandi says. “It was an incredible springboard for what became his own practice, which had no parallel in the profession.”

According to Sandi, Chinese culture, traditions, and art were inherent to his father’s life as he grew up, and “he brought that sensibility when he came into America and it always influenced his work.” This largely showed up in the way he thought of architecture as a “play of solids and voids,” or buildings and landscape.

“He always felt that they worked together in tandem—you can’t separate one from the other—and both of them are influenced by the play of light,” Sandi says.

View of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, on the mesa, in a photograph commissioned by M+ in 2021.
© Naho Kubota

Pei also often said that “architecture follows art,” and was particularly influenced by cubism, an artistic movement exploring time and space that was practiced in the early 20th century by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and the sculptor Jacques Lipchitz, among others. This influence is apparent in the laboratory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., and at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, N.Y. “Those two buildings, if you look at them, have a play of solid and void, which are very cubistic,” Sandi says.

Yet Sandi argues that his father didn’t have a specific architectural style. Geometry may have been a consistent feature to his work, but his projects always were designed in response to their intended site. The resulting structure emerged as almost inevitable, he says. “It just was the right solution.”

Pei also intended his buildings “not only to be themselves a magnet for life,” but also to influence the area where they existed. “He never felt that a building stood alone,” Sandi says. “Urban design, urban planning, was a very important part of his approach to architecture, always.”

After he closed his own firm to supposedly “retire” in the early 1990s, Pei worked alongside Sandi and his older brother, Chien Chung (Didi) Pei, who died late last year, at PEI Architects, formerly Pei Partnership Architects. Pei would work on his own projects, with their assistance, and would guide his sons, too. The firm had substantial involvement in the Museum of Islamic Art, among other initiatives, for instance, Sandi says.

Working with his father was fun, he says. In starting a project, Pei was often deliberately vague about his intentions. The structure would coalesce “through a process of dialogue and sketches and sometimes just having lunch over a bottle of wine,” Sandi says. “He was able to draw from each of us who was working on the project our best efforts to help to guide [it] to some kind of form.”

The M+ retrospective, which will run through Jan. 5, is divided into six areas of focus, from Pei’s upbringing and education through to his work in real estate and urban redevelopment, art and civic projects, to how he reinterpreted history through design.

Sandi, who will participate in a free public discussion moderated by exhibition co-curator Shirley Surya on the day it opens, is interested “in the opportunity to look at my father anew and to see his work in a different light now that it’s over, his last buildings are complete. You can take a full assessment of his career.”

And, he says, “I’m excited for other people to become familiar with his life.”