Exclusive Interview: Deepak Chopra on Stay Well Meetings

Deepak Chopra, StayWell Meetings. meetings, corporate event planning
Dr Deepak Chopra, advisory board member of Stay Well Meetings

Prevue recently visited Las Vegas for the launch of Delos Stay Well Meetings at the MGM Grand. The concept includes hotel rooms and meeting spaces fitted with a range of evidence-based features and technology, developed in partnership with the Cleveland Clinic, and a curated program of activities and break-out sessions designed to stimulate creativity and enhance the productivity of meetings attendees.

Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony and a tour of the conference space, we interviewed advisory board member Dr. Deepak Chopra, Delos founder Paul Scialla, and MGM Grand Senior Vice President Mike Dominguez about the extended range of Stay Well rooms, the innovative meetings offering and their thoughts on the growing trend of health and wellness in the meetings industry.

Prevue: How did you first become involved with Delos and the Stay Well concept?

Deepak Chopra: About five years ago, I was speaking at various green conferences about how we need to make an internal shift, and not look at the environment as something separate from us, but as part of us – that we should in fact think of it as our extended body.

So somebody introduced Paul Scialla to me, and he came and met me for breakfast at a restaurant in New York, and told me about his vision for creating something like that: an environment that supports biological sustainability.

I asked him a few questions, such as how are we going to document that it really worked? Were there going to be metrics? Was it going to be well received by places that want to do meetings? He wanted to do Stay Well homes, so we kept in touch and every few months he would give me progress on what his vision was and how it was coming to fruition. And at a certain point I decided that it would fit in very well with what I’ve been doing my whole life. Basically removing the schism between organism and environment, between nature and nurture.

How did your own vision shape Stay Well, from both a wellness and a meetings perspective?

Chopra: Delos did most of the research with the Cleveland Clinic and various medical institutions, because that’s where you have the resources to do this sort of research. But I was always given information and offered a chance to give my input, so it was a collaborative process.

Are there any technologies implemented in the Stay Well rooms that you use regularly in your own personal life?

Chopra: I have started to use the circadian lighting. I’ve started to use the aromatherapy. I’ve started to use a lot of the biophilia in the New York apartment, which is unbelievable. We actually have lotus in the plant space – actual real lotus which you never find anywhere – and jasmine, which produces a great smell. Also the dawn simulation lighting, and the light in the bathroom that energizes you. I’m enjoying using all of that.

Would you say that wellness is another trend in the meetings industry, or do you envision a future where the sort of features pioneered in the Stay Well rooms, and in the meetings and conferences offering, are standard?

Chopra: I think that Stay Well rooms with Delos is the pioneer, but it’s definitely a trend and I’m sure that every other real estate industry is going to be looking at this. Well being, in general, is the number one trend in the world.

Stay Well Room
Stay Well Grand King Room at the MGM Grand

Do you imagine a future where every hotel room has all of these features as standard?

Chopra: No, I don’t think every hotel room. There are people who want to destroy themselves, and they should have an opportunity as well. But yes, it’s moving in that direction. I think this is a little oasis right now, where we are, but if you step out of this oasis you can visit a hydration station where they give you intravenous to get over your hangover and a vitamin shot after that.

What’s next for you and your relationship with Delos and Stay Well, and do you have anything else in the works?

Chopra: What’s next for me and my relationship with Delos is to actually look at expanding all of this technology, and also getting more metrics and enhancing our own knowledge.

For me personally, I’m very involved right now in research on epigenetics; and also research on what we call the microbiome – the 90% of the DNA that lives in our body as microbial colonies in our skin, in our nasal passages, in our gut, and how that interacts with the DNA to optimize well being. So personally I’m doing research on the effects of the microbiome, to guide it through sensory stimulation, emotional wellbeing, sleep and exercise. All of that is very much part of my work right now – and it can only enhance our ability to provide even better ways of restoring homeostasis.

There was a trend in the last ten years that came about as the result of a few people’s work, that you could reverse diseases like coronary heart disease, but now we are beginning to see that many chronic diseases that are associated with some kind of inflammation in the background, including auto-immune diseases, bronchial asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, obesity and everything that goes with that, Alzheimer’s, and so on – are not only preventable, but are reversible.

Only 5% of disease-related genes are gene mutations that are fully penetrant, which means they are unstoppable if you are born with them, and the rest are caused by environment – and the environment is what we are focusing on right now.

What sort of impact do you think that the incorporation of wellness into meetings, conferences, and the business world, might have over the next ten years?

Chopra: I’ve looked at what makes a business really effective, over the years, and what I find is that you need loyalty from three constituencies: employees, customers and investors. Of those, the people who work for you are the most important. If businesses start investing in the well being of their employees – which a lot of businesses are doing, including Google and some of the big ones – then they would ensure employee loyalty, which would create great customer loyalty, which would result in investor loyalty, which would then ultimately result in the economic well being of everyone in the entire ecosystem of business

I also see that there’s a trend in cause driven marketing. Some people who are doing well, invest their resources to improve the quality of life of people who are not so privileged. So with Delos, I’m seeing all of those elements coming together.

For a full report on Stay Well Meetings at the MGM Grand, see the Nov/Dec issue of Prevue.