Health Spa Pioneer Recalls Her Early Years
Speaker 1: 00:00 Denver as a k was still a teen in 1940 when she and her new husband Edmunds a k open to health retreat and to cocktail Mexico called Rancho Laporta. Then in 1958 Zay Kay started the golden door spa and the final installment of our California Dream Collaboration Series on health seekers and southern California. Zay Kay spoke to KPBS reporter Amica Sharma recently about how she got into the spa business. Speaker 2: 00:30 We have to, would go way back to Brooklyn, New York. My mother was vice president of the New York Vegetarian Society and we were vegetarians because of the depression and the only thing available was bananas and a full time Diet and bananas was somewhat monotonous and came the depression and my father lost his money in the stock market like everybody else and he was very, very depressed and we were not kind of rich Jews, but moderately well off. Today I had a nanny, my brother had a nanny, but when you lose everything, it's not quite all. And one day my mom came home and said, we are leaving Fatih Hedy in 16 days. And my father said, where's that? And she said, I don't really know. But he were the tickets and then we stayed in TD for five years. We had a wonderful, the kind of fairytale existence. Speaker 2: 01:29 Then Dad went home, made a lot of money and we went to the bear thereafter. Well, when we went to Hedy, my mother met the man who was to be my husband, Edmund Seki, went to Guadalajara and mom and he correspondent and he said, come by and visit. We started health camp there and Mexico. And we got there and his secretary was packing because his father died and he was called back to England. So mom said we can't leave him with nobody here. And I had just graduated from high school at 16 and let Stan help until he could find the secretary, couldn't find one. And I was his secretary and the end of the year on the train going home, I'd become the indispensable secretary. And I got married at 17 and we started rental apart. Speaker 1: 02:27 Why did you choose that area to open Rancho? The protest, Speaker 2: 02:31 my husband was an enemy alien. He was Hungarian. There was a war and we had been told by the US government if he was found in United States, June 1st, 1940 he would be returned to his country of origin. And so it wasn't very attractive for Jews to be returned to her country of origin. And so we went to Mexico and to God, he had the best climate. So we got there, there was nothing, and I mean nothing. We're talking about no electricity, no running water without houses. It was camping. And so we set up a summer camp and the first few years it was just a summer, but each time few people wanted to stay. We had coming to the ranch and Nim and movie stars, the two main ones with Kim Novak, who stayed a lot. And Burt Lancaster, Lancaster practically lived at the ranch. Anyhow, in those days, nobody had personal trainers, nobody had massage, you know, and when they had a movie, they would come and stay at the ranch. Speaker 2: 03:37 When people rent to Rancho or protest, what did they do all day? Climb the mountain lived according to what my husband called the natural and cosmic laws. To return to what was our sort of the original life. Why did you decide to open the golden doors spa? Well, because some movie star ladies said, I wish you had a place just for us, and also close to Hollywood, and a number of us came together with their coach and they would be learning their lines and exercising and eating properly and not drinking or anything. And it caught on. Yeah. I read a quote by you where you said, I've come to believe that the ranch has a special quality one that's ran, does describe that quality. I think it's the happy guest. Everyone leaves something. I always tell my death that when you first get out of bed, you don't turn on the radio or TV or pick up the newspaper or this or that. But the first 1520 minutes of silence just you and yourself, is it kind of special piece in some ways, a love affair with oneself. Zay K is a k PBS donor.