With a passion for wellness-oriented travel, Sallie Fraenkel creates wellness travel experiences with heart. In 2014, she founded the Mind Body Spirit Network (MBSN), which produces events using spa, wellness, food, beauty, and travel as inspiration. With networking serving as a key component, MBSN strives to create lasting and meaningful connections. Today, Fraenkel serves as president of the company. Prior to that, she served as CMO and COO of Spafinder and EVP of the Global Spa and Wellness Summit. She has more than 30 years of experience in the spa, wellness, and entertainment industries. Fraenkel is also a member of the board of advisors for Vacayou. Here, she shares some of her thoughts on wellness and how she maintains balance in her own life.
What does wellness mean to you?
I’ve spent a lot of time exploring this question, and ultimately, I would say wellness means being in a state of inner peace.
Is there a specific fitness activity that you love and why?
Spin classes (pre-COVID), Peloton (during and post-COVID), and walking outside are my favorite fitness activities at this moment. Generally, I love variety in all I do, so I often try new fitness classes, boutique studios, and different ways of staying active. My current obsession is finding a place to take Pickleball lessons and someone who will play with me!
What is your greatest wellness achievement?
My greatest wellness achievement so far is a professional one, running the Global Wellness Summit in India in 2013 where the Dalai Lama was our keynote speaker. Working with his advance team along with the Oberoi and New Delhi security teams was an experience I’ll never forget. Listening to him speak was life-altering.
What person in wellness do you most admire and why?
Hands-down, Deborah Szekely, the legendary co-founder of Rancho La Puerta. Her vision was and still is so clear of what living life well means. She lives in the most balanced way which is something I greatly admire. When we’ve dined together, she always enjoys a bit of dessert, never ruminating over the calories or sugar or fat. She orders something that is well made and then enjoys it. To me, that’s a metaphor for savoring the sweetness life has to offer.
What is the best piece of wellness advice you have ever received and from whom?
Although it wasn’t given as wellness advice, my mom, who I adored and who died way too young at 67, always told me, “Sallie, life by the inch, it’s a cinch. Life by the yard, very hard.” These words have helped me maintain equanimity and wellbeing throughout many situations in my life.
What is your idea of balanced healthy happiness?
My idea of this concept is one of a continuum or a see-saw. I think of life as the see-saw board, and the fulcrum as the balancing point on which “life” sits. Over the long haul or the continuum, there will be ups and downs, but a return to that balancing point is where the focus lies. Understanding that happiness and health are always a work in progress rather than an end to a means keeps the focus on what really matters most and helps me to have a positive, balanced, and happy mindset.
What do you think is the most overused word or words in wellness?
The word “wellness” is so overused, but that’s not entirely a bad thing. Clearly, our industry is having a broad impact globally and societally as many other industries and organizations embrace the concept of wellness and apply it in their own ecosystems. Although I cringe sometimes when I hear how overused this word is, I also applaud that wellness has become pervasive, and I certainly believe it’s a human right to be well.
What is your favorite place for a healthy vacation or escape?
So many places are on my favorite list, but my current crush is on Kamalaya in Koh Samui, Thailand. I visited in November 2019 and dream of returning for a longer stay this time. Founders John and Karina Stewart have created a true sanctuary for the mind, body, and spirit.
What wellness-related books or authors do you recommend, and why?
I’m not a big reader of wellness-related books, as I usually read fiction, memoirs, and sometimes non-fiction. With that said, my number one go-to wellness book is Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life. It is the quintessential mind/body connection book and always offers insight on what might be going on behind the physical symptoms one is experiencing.