The rise of the wellness social club

Frequented by celebrities including Kourtney Kardashian, Rita Ora and Shaun White, Remedy Place is one of L.A.’s most exclusive new social clubs. Similar to Soho House, it has a membership-based model and happy hours complete with bartenders and live DJs. But instead of cocktails, there are mocktails. And in addition to attending exclusive events on-site, members can take a meditation class or jump into an ice bath or a lymphatic compression suit. 

Remedy Place, which opened in January 2020, spearheaded a “wellness social club” trend that has been taking off since the pandemic reopenings in the U.S. In Brooklyn, the “social wellness, music and arts community” Gaia NoMaya opened its doors in January this year. Made up of a spa, lounge, studio and event space, these newly-opened businesses are designed to create communities out of customers with a shared interest in wellness. 

“We’re temptation- and toxin-free,” said Remedy Place founder and CEO Jonathan Leary, a chiropractor and wellness guru who came up with the idea nine years ago while working with celebrity, professional athlete and executive clients. When clients made “lifestyle changes,” such as giving up drinking, it “ended up affecting most of my patients’ social lives,” he said.

Thus, Remedy Place was created as the alternative. Its celebrity-loved services and treatments include those mentioned earlier, as well as infrared saunas, hyperbaric oxygen chambers, cryotherapy, chiropractor treatments, acupuncture, cupping, naturopathic medicine, and vitamin drips, among others. 

In a chic lounge space, it offers weekly happy hours with cocktails featuring nonalcoholic spirits infused with vitamins that Leary calls “social substitutions.”

“It’s such a cultural thing that every celebration [involves] drinking,” said Leary. “If anything, it’s toxic. And it’s affecting our mental health.” 

According to each of the club founders, the pandemic has increased the demand for both social interaction and wellness activities. 

It was a “big wake-up call for everyone to understand how important their health is,” said Leary. “People want to be more connected. They want to have special people around them that make them feel better.”

​​”People have been cooped up. They want to be social. They’re now way more aware of their body and about being healthy. And everyone’s kind of just trying to find balance right now,” said Andrew Goldin, co-founder of Gaia NoMaya

In contrast to Remedy Place, Gaia NoMaya is more open to a hedonistic side of wellness. The concept of the 7,000-foot space was inspired by the “spa-rave” parties called “When in Robe” that Goldin used to hold at his mother’s spa in Brooklyn. That morphed into the creation of his party-planning brand Sonic Jungle, which would hold pop-up events in New York and Miami, and eventually inspired him to open his own permanent space.

The aesthetic of Gaia NoMaya is more boho than rave, featuring a bar, an organic kitchen and a lounge area. The lounge offers both alcohol and drinks such as herbal elixirs with ingredients like blue lotus, which “can give you very vivid dreams,” said Goldin. Events at the space include art shows and concerts, as well as more mystical activities such as cacao ceremonies and ecstatic dance. Wellness offerings include yoga classes, crystal light therapy, sound meditation, a salt room and spa treatments. 

“I grew up in New York, and I’m very into wellness, but I also love to have a good time,” said Goldin. “For so many years, I was looking for a place where I could do both and bring friends, and be able to have my friends that don’t drink hang out with my friends who do drink.”

He felt that the social club aspect was crucial to the concept of the space, because “being social and connecting” is a “huge part of wellness,” he said. With most other spa treatments and yoga and meditation classes in the city, attendees “feel so good and they feel so elevated, and then they just have to go home after that.” The space is combining social and wellness elements by hosting concerts in its salt room, for example. 

For its part, Soho House has also been incorporating more wellness aspects into its business. The social club just launched its skin-care brand Soho Skin, which it now includes in its hotel rooms, and it will add to its spa amenities in June. It has also been increasing the amount of wellness content on its app since the pandemic began. Content includes yoga classes, meditation classes and sound baths.

“We’re seeing people come back to the bar and the spa with equal enthusiasm,” said Aalish Yorke-Long, managing director of retail for Soho House. “We always like to balance ‘bar’ with ‘spa.’ We never want it to be so ascetic that people are locked in a cell somewhere up on a hillside. It’s always got to have the Soho House spirit as part of it, literally.” 

Following along the lines of exclusive social clubs like Soho House, Remedy Place has gained hype through its celebrity connections and activations at buzzy events. The brand was on-site at Art Basel Miami Beach. Plus, it will be working with HBO for an event at Coachella and will host a pop-up at the Cannes Film Festival. 

Exclusivity is also key. For Remedy Place, that includes a no-influencer policy when it comes to marketing. “We like to keep the club word-of-mouth and friends of friends,” said Leary. “We don’t do the influencer thing.” Like Soho House’s no-photos policy, photography is “frowned upon” at the club, said Leary. “The last thing we want while people are trying to be mentally well is influencers going around the club and taking photos and trying to film people.”

Remedy Place’s membership is $500 a month, although it offers pro-bono treatments on a case-by-case basis. Comparatively, Soho House ranges from around $2,500-$5,000 annually.  

Although Leary said some of his members dropped their Soho House memberships while remaining Remedy Place members during the pandemic, he does not consider the standard social club to be a competitor. “Most of our members are members at Soho House,” he said. “Even though they’re trying to shift into a little bit of a healthy mode, they understand people go to Soho House to drink and have a good time.”

Like Soho House with its 28 clubs across major cities worldwide, other wellness clubs founders want to take their concepts national, and eventually global. Goldin is eyeing L.A. and Miami for his next locations. Remedy Place is planning to expand to New York, while also considering Miami, Austin and London. And it’s talking to potential hotel partners internationally. “The goal is to be in every major city around the country and then expand globally,” said Leary. For Soho House, “wellness is becoming more of a priority as the business grows. And you will see that in the rollout of future houses,” Yorke-Long said. 

The rise of the wellness social club