Renovated Sky Londa 'wellness resort' to reopen Nov. 1 | News | Almanac Online |


Renovated Sky Londa 'wellness resort' to reopen Nov. 1


A 28-year-old hotel, resort and conference center in the forest along Skyline Boulevard is taking on yet another identity after being acquired by Canyon Ranch, a chain of "wellness resorts" that also owns properties in Massachusetts and Arizona.

The Canyon Ranch Wellness Retreat Woodside, which will open Nov. 1 after a renovation of the property's 38 rooms is complete, was previously known as the Skylonda Lodge, among other names.

Canyon Ranch, located at 16350 Skyline Boulevard, will offer a choice of three-day, four-day and weeklong retreat packages, and will also host conferences, according to Hannah Rodbell, the company's New York-based publicity agent.

Guests will be encouraged to take advantage of the property's 16 acres of grounds and hiking trails, as well as a therapy pool and spa services; yoga, tai chi and fitness classes; meditation sessions; and a restaurant with communal tables.

The restaurant, called The Hearth, will be run by executive chef Isabelle Jackson Nunes. A sample menu indicates it will feature locally made products, including a chevre and lavender tart made with Harley Farms cheese, Acme bread and a flatbread made with Markegard Ranch beef. There will also be a bar and lounge, called The Hideaway, offering "local libations including natural, biodynamic and organic wine, beer and ciders," according to the Canyon Ranch website.

"You can sign up with a retreat with organized activities, and we will also be hosting corporate retreats where you can book out most of the property," Rodbell said.

The Canyon Ranch website advertises the resort's convenient access to Silicon Valley companies, including Facebook, Apple and Google, as well as to venture capital firms along Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park. It invites potential guests to "come with intention or let us help you find your way to a full rebirth of mind, body, spirit and soul." A search of the site's reservation system shows rooms with a single queen bed starting at $1,089 per night. A four-night, five-day retreat, which includes a room with two queen beds, is listed for $989 per night.

The facility has had a string of owners prior to its current incarnation, including the Stillheart Institute, operated by Joan Porter and her husband Bill, who was the founder of the online investment trading site E-Trade, according to a flyer on the property by commercial real broker Cushman & Wakefield.

Stillheart's mission was "to provide a world-class retreat and learning center for groups ranging from corporate to educational to spiritual," according to the flyer.

The Porters added 24 elevated "tree houses" to the original three-story, 14-room structure in 2009.

"The rooms were kind of basic, and they're being upgraded and renovated,"

Rodbell said. "We're not changing too much of the structure itself."

The facility was also the subject of a controversy in 2014 after the operators at the time received approval from the San Mateo County Planning Commission to use the property as a drug rehabilitation center.

But, after complaints from neighbors "concerned that a former addict might, for example, drop a lit cigarette and start a forest fire," the county Board of Supervisors reversed that decision, according to a 2017 Almanac story.

The operators sued in 2015 on the grounds that the supervisors' action violated federal fair housing and disability laws that protected the rights of potential clients.

The county quickly settled the suit for a reported $350,000, but without admitting fault, liability or wrongdoing, according to the story.

"The county's primary goal was to ensure that a more intensive use did not occur at the site, and the county achieved this goal through the settlement," said the county's attorney, John Beiers, at the time.

The county spent about $900,000 defending itself, Beiers said.


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2 people like this
Posted by AMRW
a resident of another community
on Sep 8, 2019 at 5:57 pm

$989 to $1089 a night!?! They say money can't buy happiness but maybe it can buy wellness?

17 people like this
Posted by Wellness Resorts
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 9, 2019 at 9:52 am

Thses wellness resorts in the hills have the same formula: Pretty setting in the redwoods (an area that locals can get into 365 days a year for free), spartan rooms, various wellness classes and good food. They have to have the food or nobody will stay at all.

These are places for people who cannot just take a quit trip into the forest to unwind like local. They cater to out of towners or just wealthy people who need to spend a lot of money on something in order to still feel wealthy, but in reality, I'd rather be on my own in the redwoods than stuck wandering some uninteresting patch of resort grounds. that last part reminds me more of being on a golf course than being in the outdoors.

3 people like this
Posted by Serenity Now
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Sep 9, 2019 at 12:42 pm

Previous post is so loaded with negativity, sweeping generalizations, unjustified assumptions and general grouchiness the author clearly needs some time at a wellness resort.

9 people like this
Posted by Canyon Ranch
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Sep 9, 2019 at 2:16 pm

I checked out their website for myself. Interestingly, Wellness Resort's post is very similar to what Canyon Ranch describes on their own web page, but, yes, WR's opinion was said in an exceedingly negative tone.
Truth is, though, it's pretty close to being right, negative of not.

That's quite a hefty price tag to go and hang out in a tiny section of your own backyard. I think I would end up spending most of the time off site in the bigger parks in the area, so at that point and at that price, it's a hard sell for a local.

Like this comment
Posted by serenity now
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Sep 9, 2019 at 5:34 pm

How is “ they cater to....wealthy people who need to spend a lot of money on something in order to still feel wealthy” pretty close to right? Sounds like mind reading mixed with envy to me. Or just depression.

Like this comment
Posted by Good luck
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 10, 2019 at 6:48 am

@ The spending habits of wealthy people have been studied, and while nothing is universal, the statement about why some spend big has some validity, and while valid, yes, its a broad assumption
Here's a link.
Web Link

The text on the hotel's own website matches up to the other points he addressed: discussing the walks on short trails on the grounds, food, classes, and suggestion to leave in order to see the more natural, less "manicured by humans" areas validates his other comments, whether or not they are shared by you, they are shared by the Canyon Ranch.

Finally, while you may have some differing opinions, the original poster never made a direct and personal insult as you did. Let's keep things more civil and not shoot the messenger.
A walk in the real, unspoiled redwoods is the remedy for the frustration you might be feeling, and as a local, it's available any time you want it at no charge.

Like this comment
Posted by Judy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 10, 2019 at 3:49 pm

If I had the money I'd give it a try. I have friends who have stayed at the Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona and said it was fantastic. Unlike me, they are very wealthy.

What's wrong with spending money on a day of pampering in the redwoods? People around here have high stress jobs with lots of money. Why not spend it taking care of themselves? I would if I could afford it.

Sure everyone can drive up to skyline for a stroll in the redwoods or to Half Moon Bay for a stroll on the beach. We are lucky to live in an area with so many outstanding scenic options within an hour's drive. Although walking through the redwoods is very nice (and free), it's also pretty wonderful to be pampered and fed for a day or two (or more), if you can afford it, which many around here can. What's wrong with that?

Like this comment
Posted by Cheryl
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Sep 10, 2019 at 4:54 pm

For me personally, it's too close to home, too familiar. We're fortunate enough to be able to go to many wondrous places all within a short drive for weekend pamperings and such, and it's fun to visit as many as we can.

For me, heading up there and sort of being stuck on a small patch, knowing what I know of the area, and I don't mean to be rude, but I'm afraid it would just feel more uncomfortable than relaxing.
The idea of it just seems so strange. Never say never though I guess.

If I were from out of town, I'm sure it would be different.
I could absolutely see going up for lunch to check the place out one day though!

Like this comment
Posted by spa goer
a resident of Portola Valley: Woodside Highlands
on Sep 11, 2019 at 1:49 pm

I went to the original spa at SkyLonda - one of the first iterations of the property so so long ago. I loved it. I stayed in the only structure they had at the time. It was rustic and reminded me of a lake house I used to go to up north as a kid. We hiked in the redwoods and it was fabulous. One night as a getaway with a friend from little kids, job and hubby. I lived in SF proper at the time.

I am sure the resort will do very well. Canyon Ranch has it's brand down. It's a perfect retreat for out of towners who have business in SF or Silicon Valley. Great corporate option too. I don't think they expect many locals. The idea is for a 4 to 5 night stay like at Rancho La Puerta in Mexico (which is voted the #1 destination spa year after year and is much less $$$). But I know people who won't go to Rancho because of border issues so this is a good alternative if you have the dough.

I doubt the restaurants will be open to non-guests as a previous commenter hoped. Does anyone know? I haven't seen it mentioned and most of the time at these types of venues the restaurants are closed to non-guests but the guests themselves could go off property to eat.

I think this is great for the area and provides local jobs and reinvigorates a property that needed a lot of help.

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