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Is Your Wellness Resort Ready for Prime Time?​

“It is not the fastest, smartest or strongest that succeed in life, it is those who are the most adaptable” – Charles Darwin

by Dr. Ron Kapp

Dr. Ron Kapp

Looking Inside the Box

We are nearing the quarter-century mark of the new millennium and the prophetic words of Charles Dickens come to mind – “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair …” These words from A Tale of Two Cities describe the state of today’s medical care throughout the world. It is no longer healthcare, but more akin to sick-care.

Wellness Resorts to the Rescue

The world of medicine as practiced today is not that as imagined by Hippocrates centuries ago. The contemporary healer is immersed in a cauldron of paperwork, insurance requirements, government mandates, and pharmaceutical promotions, all of which are wrapped in an electronic health care record-keeping system that boggles the mind. Bureaucracy and administrative overload have led not only to physician burn-out but also to patient discontent and frustration. If you have been to the doctor lately, you know what I mean. Is there a solution, is there a fix, or is there a way out?

The solution will not come from the healthcare industry which is immersed in the business of medicine, it will not arrive dressed in a government-mandate, and most assuredly, a solution will never be delivered by the ever-increasing industrial-medical complex known as the pharmaceutical-insurance cabal. The only solution possible will come from good old-fashion market economics. What the consumer wants, the consumer gets.

Therefore, we must ask ourselves, what does the consumer want? I would suggest that everyone wants two things: (1) a very long life; and even more importantly, (2) a very healthy life. Lifespan and Healthspan go hand-in-hand. What good is a long life, if your last ten years or more are spent suffering from the chronic diseases of aging (diabetes, cardiovascular dysfunction, neurodegenerative processes, cancer, etc.) and your quality of life is no longer that which you want for yourself or your loved ones?


Sample offerings available at some Wellness Resorts

Enter into the arena – THE WELLNESS RESORT. When most hear the term, wellness resort, they automatically envision a spa setting that offers facials, manicures, massages, maybe even some yoga or Pilates, and perhaps a soothing meditation or two in a beautiful setting. That is all well and good and hopefully will continue. However, a paradigm shift has been silently encroaching into the practice of medicine that now offers an opportunity for the wellness resort of the 21st century to become the new player in the healthcare system.

Today’s Wellness Resort, some call it a sanctuary, others think of it as a preventive clinic, but no matter the moniker, the goal is the prevention of disease in order to enhance the client’s healthspan – a time of healthy living for as long as possible. The WTA defines a wellness resort as: “Any facility with accommodations and a range of hospitality services where the primary purpose is to provide programs and experiences for the Wellness Traveler. The Wellness Resort is comprised of four primary elements: accommodations, a variety of wellness activities, healthy dining options, and wellness-related facilities.”

The Wellness Resort has an opportunity to enter the medical arena as a big-time player. In fact, the world of medicine is being radically transformed by recent discoveries in the human genome and epigenome (our DNA), the microbiome (our gut physiology), our metabolome (metabolic byproducts), and finally, the human proteome (proteins that run the entire human physiology). These recent and well-accepted advances are beginning to enter the daily practice of medicine. Nonetheless, it’s more of the same reactive approach that addresses symptoms after they arise. It is logically more effective to address disease and illness in a proactive mode – prevent that which can be prevented, diagnose earlier that which can be, and when possible, potentially reverse a disease that has encroached into our tissues and organs. Therein rests the opportunity for the Wellness Resort to not only enter the healthcare market but also potentially disrupt the apple cart with the advent of modern technology and good old-fashion holistic care. The Wellness Resort offers the opportunity of personalized care that our current healthcare model seems so reluctant to offer.

The evolution of the Wellness Resort into a 5-star, personalized consumer-driven product that offers well-care (not sick-care) programs and treatments that have the potential to prevent disease in the first place, is an opportunity to not be missed. In fact, through the marvels of modern science, many of today’s chronic diseases of aging may even be reversed. What the near future holds for disease prevention and reversal offers an exciting landscape of personalized medical care that will profoundly impact society in ways not yet imagined. The medical system that most are familiar with, offers a system of reactive care – we wait until we are sick, then the doctor prescribes a treatment. Rarely does the physician ask “why” did the illness come in the first place? I suggest that a far wiser system would start upstream in the process of pathology and proceed to prevent disease in the first place. This type of proactive care approach is within the domain of the wellness industry and the stakeholders who offer wellness programs focused on prevention.


Challenge the status quo and never just accept the party line.

While the concept of preventive medicine may not be new, the modern iteration, commonly known as integrative or functional medicine, has been enthusiastically embraced by many of today’s younger and more progressive physicians. This popular sub-discipline of family practice and internal medicine is heavily science-based and relies on peer-reviewed, published scientific studies that have attracted the attention of many practicing physicians. {Two of the more highly-recognized training programs offering provider education are www.a4m.com and www.ifm.org. A fundamental tenet of all functional medicine practices asks the question of “why is this patient sick in the first place” rather than the typical allopathic question of “what disease does this patient have?” Differentiating the “why” from the “what” offers a much more robust patient-physician interaction and is specifically powerful regarding the prevention of the chronic diseases of aging which take years to decades to manifest.

Imagine the possibilities when disease is prevented. Imagine the financial savings. Imagine the enhanced health span and consider the potential of life extension. As a consequence of scientific advances, these are our upcoming medical reality.

Seemingly, with only a few exceptions (for instance, Canyon Ranch, Strata Wellness at Garden of the Gods, or Waldhotel – Health & Medical Excellence), the wellness resort has been virtually off-limits to the medical profession. However, a quote by Leo Tolstoy is very relevant to this topic of a wellness-driven resort: “The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already, but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him.”

Certainly, there are barriers to implementation and push-back from the sickness-oriented monopoly of let’s-keep-doing-it-our-way will present a hurdle to be overcome, but I believe that science and market economics will drive this wellness solution forward to an unimaginable and exciting future. People want wellness, they do not want pills. People want a better health span, not enhanced years of pain and anguish. What people want; people get. If, in the process, our lifespan is extended (as it will be), so much the better for everyone.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: WTA Member, Dr. Ron Kapp MD, Ph.D. is a Santa Barbara-based physician, author, and anti-aging research clinician who sees aging as a treatable disease, not an unavoidable fate. Classically trained in allopathic medicine (MD – UT Houston. Ph.D. – UT Austin. Post Graduate – St. Louis University. Sports Medicine Fellowship – Albert Ludwigs University, Germany), Dr. Kapp is passionate about functional medicine as a modality to prevent the chronic diseases of aging and prolong life. His mission is differentiating fact from fiction, hype from hope, and presenting that in upcoming worldwide seminars that integrate science with well-proven cultural therapies that have withstood the test of time.

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