24 May 2024 World leisure: news, training & property
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Spa Business
2023 issue 4

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Leisure Management - Your Safe Place


Your Safe Place

As a destination spa which takes its social commitment seriously, Golden Door donates its net profit to charity. Kath Hudson finds out how its latest project is helping victims of domestic and sexual abuse

The donation has paid for a child-friendly interview space photo:your safe place
Child abuse is much more prevalent than people realise, says Doherty photo: shutterstock/KieferPix
A comfortable setting helps kids to feel empowered photo: your safe place

Every year hundreds of affluent guests flock to California’s Golden Door in search of wellbeing. But not many know that the destination spa’s ability to make a difference to people extends way beyond its Zen-like setting.

Since acquiring the property in 2012, Joanne Conway – married to Carlyle Group billionaire Bill Conway – pledged to donate 100 per cent of the spa’s net profits to charity. Golden Door’s COO, Kathy Van Ness, says the motivation comes from the company’s belief that it has a responsibility to extend the benefits of the spa beyond the four walls. The charity work undertaken by The Golden Door Foundation has become meaningful to both guests and staff, who enjoy making a difference to the local community and the wider world.

Breaking the cycle
“As we call San Diego home, it’s important to us to make a meaningful difference in the region,” says Van Ness, explaining that the company is a thoughtful caretaker of the 2,200 acres surrounding Golden Door that provide miles of local hiking trails.

Another cause close to its heart is child abuse prevention and the charities it supports have this in common. Most local, but some national, they work to transform lives today and break the cycle for the future.

“The more we’ve learned from people doing great work in this field, the more compelled we were to help,” Van Ness says.

One of its latest beneficiaries is Your Safe Place, an agency which helps child abuse victims. The partnership extends back to 2021 and its most recent donation of US$100,000 (€94,555, £82,050) has allowed Your Safe Place to create forensic interview rooms at its San Diego site.

“Years ago we learned about the critical process of highly-specialised forensic interviews in obtaining evidence which is necessary to help child abuse victims seek justice and stop abusers,” says Van Ness.

The cash injection has been a game-changer for the facility to offer a children-friendly interview space. It includes a sympathetically decorated interview room, with technical forensic equipment, a law enforcement observation room and a family waiting room.

Diane Doherty, executive director of Your Safe Place, says it’s so important to offer a safe and comfortable setting to the children being interviewed: “So often the children are under the control of someone else, but simply being given a choice of where to sit and which toys to play with helps them to feel empowered and find their voice.”

This type of facility is badly needed. Doherty points out that child abuse is so much more prevalent than people realise and post-COVID-19 the trafficking of minors has become even more widespread. “These rooms will help with our work to stop the violence in our community before it perpetuates and start to address intergenerational violence,” she says.

Working in synergy
Doherty says the two organisations have great synergy in terms of wellbeing and healing and she hopes this is the start of a long-lasting partnership. “I visited Golden Door recently to talk to staff about the impact of the donation and afterwards so many employees shared their ideas, contacts and personal experiences, so now we’re talking about doing a follow-up training to brief therapists to look for signs of abuse or trafficking,” she says.

“It’s really easy to be a bystander, but that’s sending a message to both the harm-doer and the person being harmed that what is going on is ok. My message to any therapist is that if you see something, say something, provide some resource via a quick Google search but don’t just let it slide, because you might be the only person who is in a position to act.”

Doherty is keen to stress how appreciative the charity is for Golden Door’s help since these rooms could not be created without the donation. Van Ness says there are business benefits to charitable work too: “We can all make important causes within our communities a part of our businesses. It makes our service with each and every guest even more meaningful.”

photo: Golden Door

“The more we’ve learned from people doing great work in this field, the more compelled we were to help,” – Golden Door’s Kathy Van Ness

photo: Your Safe Place

"If you’re a therapist and see something, don’t just let it slide," – Diane Doherty, Your Safe Place

Originally published in Spa Business 2023 issue 4

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