Detoxifying Miami Beach

Canyon Ranch Living is introducing the country’s first healthy living concept to a city where “natural” doesn’t come naturally
By Stephanie Wilson I Photography by Maria Lankina


Miami Beach has long been a haven of glitz and glamour, of daytime beach parties followed by nighttime debauchery. The Carillon Hotel, located at 6801 Collins Avenue, was long the center of the action, even hosting a Beatles concert during the hotel’s heyday, a time before the scene headed farther down to what is now called South Beach. The party lifestyle that has long defined Miami Beach, while certainly being a good time, is not so good for health, both physically and mentally. With the Beach being a constant hive of activity, parties, and nightlife, it is hard to live a wholesome lifestyle. And while destination wellness spas have long been in vogue, upon returning home, despite even the best intentions, as the saying goes, old habits die-hard.

In order to make a change and live a healthy lifestyle 24 hours a day, a new environment is sometimes needed. As the Beach grows and matures, so does its offerings, and it is proud to welcome Canyon Ranch Living, the first community in the entire nation dedicated to healthy living. The environment at Canyon Ranch Living is a serene, relaxed oasis where the stress and pressures of life can melt away, and residents and guests are free to live a wholesome, and sometimes holistic, lifestyle.

While Canyon Ranch has been operating resorts since 1979, Canyon Ranch Living is the brainchild of developer Eric Sheppard and his partner Phillip Wolman, co-owners and managing members of WSG Development Company. The pair have invested some $450 million into the 6-acre oceanfront site which will be home to Canyon Ranch Living upon its completion, located at the former home of the Carillon Hotel of Beatle-fame. Sheppard grew up not 20 blocks from the location, and recalls driving by almost every day. “I couldn’t even afford the valet parking!” he says. Not born into riches, it is a combination of perseverance and a winning attitude that have led him to great success. Sheppard moved his way through various industries after graduating from Florida State University with a degree in economics and finance. He eventually found himself working for a development company, answering phones and making next to nothing, all the time keeping his eyes and ears open, learning the business from the ground up. “I was just always fascinated by building. I always said to myself when I saw buildings, ‘Who owns that?’ So I started with a pen, and that was it.” Along the way, Sheppard met Wolman, who ultimately became his partner in WSG Development Company. “First deal, I built a shopping center in Atlanta, GA, and did well off that, and have just cruised from there.” WSG Development Company currently specializes in the acquisition, development, and construction of condominiums, hotels, apartments, and retail shopping centers throughout the US.

When the Carillon became available, Sheppard and Wolman bought the property as a sheer investment, knowing they needed to select the right brand for the locale. “[Wolman] has been going to Canyon Ranch for twenty years, and his wife said that we should put a Canyon Ranch on the Carillon site. We were like ‘Yeah, right, they might come.'” The duo traveled to Tucson to meet with the powers that be at Canyon Ranch headquarters, expecting to get a total of three minutes of their time. Upon hearing the ideas proposed by WSG, the meeting lasted three hours, with the Canyon Ranch team ultimately deciding to head to Miami to see what WSG had to offer. When other developers heard that Canyon Ranch was shopping for a Miami locale, they all wanted in on the action, inciting a fierce competition that WSG ultimately won. “It came down to Canyon Ranch deciding whom they really wanted as their partners…. [Our relationship with Canyon Ranch] is a relationship of vision: where do we see this brand going? Who is going to keep the integrity this brand is built on? It’s personal, and that’s what Canyon Ranch is; it goes to your inner core, your inner self. It affects you.”

While other developers may have looked at the deal as a real estate one, WSG knew it was about more than that; it is about lifestyle. “It’s a lifestyle of balance,” says Sheppard. The goal of Canyon Ranch living is to help its residents and guests live that life in balance every day, as the trained staff encourages people to find their healthiness, achieved through education, prevention, and implementation. “Canyon Ranch Living is healthy habits, fitness that fits your life, delicious gourmet nutrition, and most critically-balance. It is a committed lifestyle change and the guidance to make it happen,” as the brand’s brochure eloquently states.