Stable Hand

Even the CEO of a spa knows stress. John Vanderslice, 45, feels it as he grows Miraval from a destination resort into a lifestyle brand (including a 365-unit apartment building in New York, set to open this summer). Vanderslice uses his insider info about relaxation to find balance. It's either that, or eat his hat.

How do you bring what Miraval does for its customers into your own work?

I'm sitting here looking at my yoga exercises. I haven't done them yet today. My director of yoga and mindfulness gave me one desktop yoga exercise where you pose using your desktop as an anchor. The other one is to put your feet on the wall and lift your legs in the air. I need the right stretches in case I get busy and am unable to go anywhere else.

What has Miraval taught you about stress?

A lot of stress is self-imposed, and it gets in the way of good ideas.

How do you make sure your team learns this lesson?

I'll literally start meetings with my senior team with some sort of exercise. We just take a moment before getting into the business—5 or 10 minutes to kind of open ourselves up. We've done quiet moments, visualizing stuff you want to let go. The meeting we complete after that is very organized, very buttoned-up, very seamless.

So are you thinking more clearly?

I certainly feel better in the morning on the way to work and for the first hour and a half of my workday. It helps when I'm working on something like finding ways to integrate our Tucson programming into the Miraval Living condo in Manhattan. It occurred to me one morning that one of the star features of the New York building is that it has one of the largest private gardens in the city, which would be the perfect place for our Quantum Leap Challenge [climbing a 25- or 35-foot pole and jumping off]. So residents will be able to test themselves in their own backyard!

Later in the day, well … I still have my five extra pounds around my stomach that I want to get rid of.

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