As you drive up the winding road to the property that is YO1 Wellness Center in Monticello, New York, one thing is clear: This is not your parents’ Catskills. Gone are the Patrick Swayze-esque dancers leading a conga line. Gone are the singles scouring the grounds for their soulmates. Gone are the holiday retreats, the brisket and potato pancakes. In their stead is yoga and meditation and acupuncture and hot oil dripping on your third eye and juice, lots of juice.
It’s March when I visit, and the sky is bleak and gray. I long to wander around—there’s some 1,310 acres, including two lakes and nature trails just waiting to be explored—but why subject myself to sub-zero temperatures? That seems the opposite of what Y01 aims to be “a luxury wellness destination created to awaken the body’s ability to self-heal.” The best way to self-heal, in my opinion, is to remain indoors until June if you’re living on the east coast.
Y01 aims to be “a luxury wellness destination created to awaken the body’s ability to self-heal.”
Which means that I spend the bulk of my two-day stay inside. It is very restful, because (a ) I’m doing all sorts of treatments, which require no exertion whatsoever and (b) there’s really no one around to bug me. The place is virtually empty.
This is not especially surprising since it’s mid-week March, but it’s also a bit depressing. The resort opened in June 2018, but business has been slow. This is too bad. The hotel is cavernous and luxurious, decorated with Indian tapestries, marble flooring, and wooden flourishes. The Atrium, which runs through two stories connecting the Treatment Lobby, where the spa is, features a live green garden wall assembled with native plants, ferns, and mosses. There’s also a juice bar, where you can get as many organic cold-pressed juices as you please. There’s even an interactive museum with exhibits on the five elements of nature, Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, and YO1.
It’s very elegant—opulent, even—but also seems like a big waste of space. A museum? Really?
The name YO1 is derived from the Sanskrit word Yovan, meaning youth. To paraphrase the brochure, the resort’s goal is to “enlighten guests about the essence of eternal youth and consciousness.” I’m not quite sure what that means, but YO1 offers three- to ten-day programs that address everything from diabetes and hypertension to infertility, impotence, and insomnia to auto-immune disorders. Each guest meets with a wellness counselor to map out a plan for their stay, with recommendations that include Eastern therapies and yoga, along with diet recommendations. My conversation with the Ayurvedic doctor was not especially in-depth; no one analyzed my blood levels or asked me any question beyond the basic: How are you sleeping? How much do you exercise? What are your goals here? I had hoped for a bit more.
I opted for a juice fast, largely because I find Indian food rather heavy and wanted to give my stomach a break. For two days, all I consumed was broth and juice (and three apples, which I snuck). I had a load of treatments—acupuncture, massages, mud wraps, and did some yoga and meditation. They were great treatments, but I got a bit stir crazy after a day. I’m not sure that was the resort’s fault or simply a function of the cold weather. I was also weak from not eating; there’s a lovely gym and indoor and outdoor pools, but I didn’t use them. I didn’t feel like working out.
But my heart did get pumping when the fire alarm went off. A hot lamp had apparently burned a piece of fabric in the spa, and we all had to evacuate the premises. Thankfully, I’d been in my room, and not lying naked in the spa with mud drying on me.
That would have been the opposite of relaxing.
Diana Anderson is a New York City-based writer.