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MONTICELLO, NY — How do you get the head of state of the most second most populous country on the planet to attend your opening? Connect your opening to the practice of Yoga. The YO1 Wellness Center, which is also billed as the YO1 Luxury Nature Cure, had an official opening on June 21. As it happened June 21 was also the date of the summer solstice and the date of the Fourth International Yoga Day.
Perhaps the most unexpected event at the opening ceremony was a video appearance of Nirendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, in the center’s theater. Earlier that day he had led about 50,000 people in Yoga exercises in the foothills of the Himalayas. He spoke at the YO1 opening for about 15 minutes and it was all related to the benefits of yoga, which was developed in India some 5000 years ago.
Yoga, as one might guess. is one of the programs offered at the center along with “Naturopathy (or Nature Cure), Ayurveda, Physical Therapy, Reflexology, Acupuncture, Diet and Nutrition.”
YO1 reflects the vision of Subhash Chandra, chair of the Essel Group, which according to Forbes Magazine controls a media empire in India and also “has interests in amusement parks, packaging, infrastructure and lotteries. Broadcaster Zee Entertainment Enterprises, run by Chandra's sons Punit and Amit, has 75 channels reaching one billion viewers in 171 countries.” Forbes says Chandra has a net worth of $4.7 billion.
With the opening of YO1, Chandra is tapping into the rapid growth of the wellness tourism industry, which according to the Wellness Tourism Association (tinyurl.com/ya34oaze) “the Wellness Tourism segment is a $563 billion industry — growing faster than the tourism industry itself.”
YO1 sets itself apart from other centers saying on it’s website, “The YO1 plan is for the seriously committed, as it offers a deep examination of your physical, mental and emotional well-being. Unlike other places that deliver a ‘quick fix,’ here, you are given the opportunity to spend the time that is required to profoundly change your life. You will be exposed to a variety of therapies to help you achieve your goals and you will be expected to keep to your daily routine as closely as possible.”
Wellness, however, does not come cheap. If one signs up to book a night for a single or a couple one will find that the prices start at $850 and go up from there.
The center was three years in the making and is an impressive sight on the 1300 mostly forested acres with two lakes that used to be home to Kutcher’s Hotel and Country Club. It’s on Anawana Lake Road, a couple of miles away from Walmart in Monticello.
The state and local officials who spoke at the opening ceremony pointed out that the center is providing jobs for Sullivan County residents. YO! Has hired some 140 people so far, and that number is expected to climb significantly.
Food is a big part of the attraction and is presented as integral to the health and wellness of the patrons who visit the center. The food offered at the opening breakfast was a cut above the usual ribbon-cutting fare, with an offering of smoked salmon sliced thin and wrapped around a variety of slivers of vegetables.