Since it was founded 20 years ago, St. Helena’s Health Spa Napa Valley has evolved.
In 1997, it filled a need for a community health club, when there wasn’t one in town. Today it is more than a gym; it’s a refuge, a sanctuary and a healthful getaway.
Managing partner Eric Chesky has been running the business since Bill Harlan and his team developed Southbridge and saw the need for a community health club. Chesky worked for Harlan at Meadowood at the time and said, “We partnered up and I’ve basically taken over and managed the operation since day one.” At first, their focus was on fitness and wellness and now, 20 years on, Chesky said, “We’re shifting toward a higher level social living club component that we didn’t focus on during the first 10 years of business.”
Also in the past 20 years, their demographic has changed. “We’re now getting this big influx of people in their 30s through their 50s,” Chesky said. “We have newer equipment that’s allowing people to have a more intense workout if they want to.”
Stephanie Iacobacci, operations director for HSNV, said she is a part of that age group. “I think that demographic is looking for more than just a gym. They don’t just want a 24-hour fitness experience, they want a club that is a luxury environment that is very grounded.” A lot of their club members may come work out in the morning, head off to work and then come back and meet up with a friend in the evening, maybe have a glass of wine while they are sitting by the pool, she said.
“We are a public facility,” Iacobacci added. “A person can buy a day pass, hang out by the pool. Many people work in hospitality in the Napa Valley and are not working on Monday. How great is it to hang out by the pool on a Monday?” she asked.
Chesky said there has been one constant in the past 20 years. “I think the one think we have tried to pride ourselves on, since day one, is to have fantastic people working for us, who genuinely care about people,” he said. “We reflect that when people walk in with how we look with our tone of voice, with our attitude, with our demeanor and it creates a different experience.
“We don’t want to be just a standard club where you walk in, do your workout and walk out and you could really care less about the experience. There’s a greater wholeness that we offer here,” Chesky said. With their fitness equipment, spa component, body treatments, facials and massages, steam rooms, pool, hot tubs, even with their clean, well-appointed locker rooms, Chesky added, “there’s a greater whole to our club than just a simple, little workout. People feel that and it becomes their refuge, their sanctuary, their healthful getaway and they feel great being here. I think we’ve done a masterful job of accomplishing that.”
Chesky said Health Spa Napa Valley (HSNV) membership is “just a hair shy of 900 members” but added that anyone can come in and pay for the facilities for day or short-term use. “I know it sounds wildly crazy, but I believe it, there is not a property in our country exactly like ours, because we are a resort spa, with direct affiliation with Southbridge and we also have a relationship with Wydown and even a couple of other establishments as well. We are a day spa open to tourists of the Napa Valley and we’re a club. In short, since we first opened, we have evolved much more into a club focus. The market shifted on us. We dominated the spa market 20 years ago, because most hotels did not have a spa and now they do. We changed our business model and shifted and put our emphasis on locals and it has worked,” he said.
For the fitness clubs, 95 percent of the members are locals, Chesky estimates. For the spa, 25 percent are members and locals and 75 percent are tourists.
Iacobacci said, “We get a lot of people coming from the city for the day. A lot of them hear about us from their friends, they love coming here and they want to bring their friends because of the one-on-one attention. We care about every person’s experience.”
The business continues to evolve and continues to offer physical fitness, personal trainers and classes; spa services, including massages and bodywork; and wellness services, including meditation, stretching and yoga classes.
Iacobacci spoke about the HSNV’s “excellent cycling program called Cycle X, which is an indoor power training class. You see tons of riders out here and the Napa Valley is a cycling destination for the world.”
Currently, there are 40 to 50 cyclists training on their own bikes on computrainers, getting and maintaining strength through conditioning.
Ashley Darling, marketing coordinator, said the business is partnering with a couple of different local leaders to provide an all-encompassing wellness package for St. Helenans, who work in town but are not getting the wellness experience. The package is expected to include fitness, wellness, personal development, mindfulness and helping people reach their goals.
“The final way we’ve been trying to infiltrate the town of St. Helena with wellness is that once a month we host a public event, open up the club and host ‘Poolside Vibes’ by the pool,” Darling said. “It’s a great tool to really bring St. Helena to our oasis, to our wellness center and remind them about their wellness,” she said.
The events are held once a month in the afternoon and early evening and they began in May. Darling said HSNV is doing this to celebrate their 20 years in business. “We’re here and it’s crazy, there are so many people who don’t know about us,” she said.
At the end of the day, though, Chesky said his business “is all about personal relationships. We are in the hospitality industry but we are in a personal relationship business. We have to care about people and if we don’t, they’ll pick up on that and they’ll leave.”