It is symbolic that the Wellness Hall of Fame has welcomed Deborah Szekely as its first Fellow on her 100th birthday (3 May 2022).
The wellness industry rightly acknowledges Deborah Szekely as the 'godmother' of spa and wellness for many reasons. Deborah is a pioneer who embraced a genuine code of wellness as early as the 1940s. We admire her boundless entrepreneurial spirit, outstanding business achievements, commitment to excellence, unwavering personal philosophies and desire to motivate others to create their own wellness path.
It is no coincidence that the two world-class properties routinely vying for the number one accolade – Rancho La Puerta and Golden Door – both had Deborah driving them at the start and through their development. She has a deep understanding of personal wellness and how to engage and delight consumers, coupled with the tenacity to get things done and overcome obstacles.
Deborah Szekely (neé Shainman) was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1922 the daughter of an Austrian mother – a nurse – and Polish father, a garment factory owner.
Deborah's mother was vice president of the New York Vegetarian Society, and during the Depression of the 1920s there was a lack of fresh fruit and vegetables in the city, so the family bought steamer tickets and sailed to Tahiti – via the Panama Canal and after staying with relatives in San Diego for a while – in 1930. They would remain there until 1935, with Deborah attending convent school.
Name: Deborah Szekely (née Shainman)
Born: 3 May 1922, Brooklyn, New York, NY USA
Spouses: Edmond Bordeaux Szekely (1905 -1979) (m 1939 - div 1970), Vincent Mazzanti (m 1972 - div 1978)
Children: Alexander Szekely (1958 - 2002) and Sarah Livia Brightwood Szekely (1956 - )
Company: Rancho La Puerta
Years: 1940 – present
Location: Tecate, Baja California, Mexico
Company: Golden Door
Years: 1958 – 1998
Location: San Marcos, California USA
Company: Combined Arts and Education Council of San Diego County (COMBO)
Company: Wellness Warrior
Years: 2013 –
• Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta – 2008 (Abrams Books, (formerly Stewart, Tabori & Chang)
• 100 Lessons from a grasshopper – 2022