Just what is “healthy aging?”

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Health Aging
Euphoria Retreat, Greece, a member of Healing Hotels of the World

I was at a famous New York restaurant last week and had a great conversation with one of the servers there I have come to know. Tanya is a lovely woman who has been in the restaurant industry, working at that restaurant specifically, for 20 years. She confided that she was planning to leave her job and New York to retire to Florida. Something her husband wanted to do, she sighed. “I guess it’s time” she said. “After all, I am 67.” 

“67?” I stammered. This woman, with piercing blue eyes, and two jaunty braids, who deftly navigated the busy restaurant with overloaded platters nightly, looked as if she were 50. Maybe. She exuded vitality, energy, and an inner glow. 

Tanya had not undergone any surgery. I had to believe that her passion for her work, her interest in life, and maybe a really good set of genes had set the scene for her amazing youthful appearance. 

I started thinking about why we are so obsessed with aging. It’s a societal thing, we have been told. Maybe it’s purely American, but I set out to learn about the process of aging, and the constant battle against it for women “of a certain age.” 

There clearly are two camps. One is the “surgery at all costs” camp. People who have the inclination, not to mention money and time, to use science to reverse the changes that the passage of time initiates. The other camp is the “healthy aging” camp. I am inclined to move toward that group. 

What does “healthy aging” really mean? For that answer I turned to the global hospitality group Healing Hotels of the World. More than a hotel association (where all vetted members must adhere to criteria set forth by the organization) the brand provides a wealth of knowledge about holistic healing, personal transformation, and healthy aging practices. 

Anne Biging is co-founder of Healing Hotels of the World. She is a woman over 70 who runs the daily operations of her company (now celebrating 15 years) and is fit, filled with excitement about her life and her life’s work, and is quite fabulous. 

I asked Anne about her definition of healthy aging.  She said: 

For me it is looking into the mirror every morning with a deep sense of self-love and self-appreciation, never judging oneself – even on “bad hair days” – always looking deep into your own eyes and seeing the pure – ageless soul!   

I love that definition and wanted to learn more. In addition to self-love (which I must admit takes practice!)  what could I do to start my healthy aging process? 

At Healing Hotels of the World, there are several properties that focus specifically on the concept of healthy aging.  

One of the resorts utilizes the ancient practice of Ayurveda with a seven-day program titled “Fountain of Youth Rejuvenation Week.” The Ayurveda Resort Sonnhof, located in the stunning Tyrolean Alps, uses special oils to ensure a clear complexion and soft skin. The deep treatments warm up the body and promotes the removal of waste products through Abhyanga (full body massage), Vishesh (energy massage), Shirodara (flowing oil treatment), Padabhyanga (Ayurvedic food massage) and more. The cost for this week of blissful treatment is $1236 (excluding accommodations.) 

Healthy Aging
Euphoria Retreat, Greece, a member of Healing Hotels of the World

At the gorgeous Euphoria Retreat in Greece, a seven-day healthy aging program is also offered. 

During the week, you will receive nutritional guidance, reflexology with face rejuvenation massage, chakra balancing or reiki, forest walks, a quartz compress massage, transformation consultation and hydrating lifting facial, among other treatments. The total is $2156, including accommodations and boarding. 

If you cannot carve out a week, and prefer shorter treatments, you can head to the famous Canyon Ranch Spa with locations in Lenox, Mass, Tucson, Arizona, and Woodside, California, where several natural treatments are offered. (There is also a day spa in Las Vegas.) 

The most exotic is the KNESKO Gemclinical® Facial. This treatment integrates science with the healing powers of gemstones and reiki energy. Specifically used to address visible signs of aging and uneven skin tone, the treatment also helps to re-balance chakra energies within the body. This is 50 minutes in length and costs $185 

Also priced at $185 and 50 minutes long is the Vitamin Infusion Body Treatment. This hydrating and exfoliating body treatment features Environ® products which focus on signs of aging and enhances the appearance of the skin. A removal of dead cells using lactic acid is followed by an application of lotions containing vitamins A, C, E, and beta-carotene. A seaweed masque on the most sun damaged skin is also administered. 

And finally, for a longer, more intense treatment, you can experience the Biologique Recherche Resculpt. It is 80 minutes in length and provides facial therapy using clinical grade products, micro-current Remodeling Face technology, and sculpting massage techniques which tone, tighten and reshape the facial contours. This treatment is the most expensive at $315. 

These are just three properties from the Healing Hotels of the World resort collection that are specifically focused on healthy aging. All of the therapies and philosophies sound amazing, and I have no doubt that I would feel completely rejuvenated after the treatments offered at any of the above resorts. 

But I must return to the power of the state of mind. As exhibited by Tanya, my New York City restaurant friend, and Anne Biging, co-founder of Healing Hotels of the World, healthful aging is also about finding a passion for living and the excitement to discover what each new day brings. That indeed helps to keep us youthful. 


  • Valerie Smaldone

    Five-time Billboard Award-winning media personality Valerie Smaldone is a theatre, food, lifestyle and entertainment enthusiast. She is a celebrity interviewer, accomplished voice-over artist and actress. Recent appearances on episodic tv include Law and Order, Criminal Intent, The Other Two (on HBO Max), Tommy, Manifest and Blue Bloods. She is an audiobook narrator and producer. A live event emcee, moderator, and "Voice of God" at events and award ceremonies, Valerie has just directed and produced her first film featuring Gloria Gaynor and is producing a docu-series starring Erik Estrada. Visit her website at www.valeriesmaldone.com

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