I was sitting in a family office conference in Montreux, Switzerland, the first time I heard a family office speak about its efforts to research the concept of longevity. I was blown away by the effort and capital that was flowing into the space and to hear that private families were at the forefront. Things have only continued to grow since then, and this week Amy Guttman reports on the institutions and initiatives leading the charge.
As the seasons begin to change, elite travelers are called to visit New England in the fall and winter. We’ve curated a list of luxury properties that offer a variety of programming and amenities — everything from indulgent spa treatments and curated tasting menus to heartwarming holiday experiences. If your favorite hotel didn’t make the cut, we’d love to hear from you!
As always, we appreciate any comments, ideas and insights that would make this newsletter more useful. I look forward to growing this family office community with your help. Please email me at [email protected].
HANDPICKED: Beyond legacy: Family offices investing in longevity
By AMY GUTTMAN
Consumer interest in health and longevity has never been greater. Books, podcasts and the rise of gurus like Wim Hof, whose ice baths promise to reduce inflammation, are all contributing to the trend.
Family offices are also jumping in, funding research and making direct investments. Some offices, such as those belonging to Silicon Valley tech giants like Paul Allen, Peter Thiel and Jeff Bezos, have established their own institutes to research cellular regeneration and life extension therapies.
Overall, family office investments are overweight by 43% in technology and 34% in health care and life sciences, according to a Goldman Sachs investment survey released this year.
The sector attracts family offices because they’re better able to withstand the volatility of biotech, while lower valuations in the sector have made it more attractive to patient investors, said Sara Naison Tarajano, global head of private wealth management capital markets for Goldman Sachs. The biggest attraction, she said, is personal connection and the power to propel outcomes.
“Family offices are very focused on being at the forefront of innovation," Tarajano said, "and you’d be hard-pressed to find a family that isn't impacted by chronic disease or something that biotech looks to address.”
Palo Alto, California-based Dr. Ronjon Nag is an entrepreneur and AI pioneer who co-founded companies that were sold to Motorola, BlackBerry and Apple. He later attended Stanford medical school and is now an adjunct professor of genetics at the university. As an extension of his family office, Nag founded R42, a hybrid organization that functions as a venture capital firm, very-early-stage accelerator, research institute and education platform with a team of scientific advisers.
Typically, Nag said, there are two research strategies: one focused on individual conditions resulting from age, versus his approach — tackling age as the cause of several diseases.
“Traditional biotech says, ‘I’m going to solve pancreatic cancer.’ The other theory is, maybe if we fix certain things, everything else gets fixed at the same time,” he said. “It's a multiplier effect. If you can fix aging, maybe you can solve eight, nine diseases all at once instead of doing them one at a time. As an investor, we look at both areas. But I'm pushing for the latter concept.”
Nag envisions a moonshot — a vaccine for aging that prevents the deterioration of cells that happens with aging and leads to chronic disease. “We have a company where we are trying to push forward computational models to create a vaccine for aging," he said. "We’re at an inflection point where we can use learnings and tools from science and genomics to get a quantum jump. Philanthropy, venture capital and the entrepreneurial process can speed things along.”
His role at Stanford, Nag said, gives him unique access to an organic ideas factory.
“With the university, there are plenty of ideas just lying on the floor waiting to be picked up. You’ve also got an expert on every topic within 100 meters of wherever you're standing.”
The integration of academia, Nag said, is critical to commercial spinoffs, leading to sustainable funding and a win-win scenario for institutions and investors.
“We feel we can't move things quickly enough unless you are actually putting money to work in an investment process,” he said. “Then, the university does well, the family office does well. And then that recycles capital. With donations, eventually, you run out.”
The benefits go beyond financial, giving investors a frontline seat, Nag said. “If you start investing in health tech, you get a preview of what’s basically going to take 20 years to go from an idea in a lab to CVS.”
Though there are benefits for families with expertise in biotech starting their own research institutes, Nag and others caution that it’s a resource-heavy endeavor best suited to those with deep knowledge of the sector.
The Novato, California-based Buck Institute for Research on Aging, founded in 1999 from a legacy gift, was the first institute in the world to focus solely on the biology of aging. It also takes a root-cause, holistic view of aging, encouraging collaboration across the medical spectrum — between cancer researchers and those researching Parkinson’s, for example.
“It was envisioned as something that the world was going to need,” said Brian Van Weele, the Buck Institute’s chief philanthropic officer. “Back then, we believed aging was just an unalterable process that we couldn't do anything about.”
The Buck has brought together several hundred multi-disciplinary research scientists to better understand the processes, mechanisms and pathways that drive aging. The philosophy mirrors that of Nag, Van Weele said.
“We believe that aging is the root cause for all the chronic diseases we experience as we get older," he said. "If we can understand the initiators of these pathways, we might be able to slow, prevent or reverse all of the chronic diseases we experience.”
The goal, Van Weele said, is to extend healthy living years.
The Buck is independent and partners with public and philanthropic entities, including family offices, private foundations and donor-advised funds.
“In some of our labs, in our animal models, we can cure Alzheimer’s," Van Weele said. "We can extend life five to 10 times the average lives span — models. We think we’re in the early days.”
Van Weele has seen philanthropic investment almost double over the past several years, with family offices getting involved in a range of ways, from funding basic science to different phases of pre-clinical and clinical research — testing in human models as well as developing products and commercialization. Family office venture capital, equity investment funds and philanthropy fund an average of two spin-out companies annually, Van Weele said.
“They get a first look to get in, particularly in an area they care about," he said. "The public good benefits, and the commercial opportunity is huge.”
For investors and family offices looking to partner directly with independent institutes like The Buck, Van Weele suggests it can be easier than it appears.
“An investor or family office can call us and say: ‘I care about Alzheimer’s. I want to move us toward a solution; how can I help?’ We’re very nimble and can go in many different directions," he said. "There’s no authority we need to push things through.
Luxe New England resorts to visit this fall and winter
By KRISTEN OLIVERI
Nothing says charm quite like New England.
The region is warm and inviting, beckoning visitors from all over the country to make a trip to embrace crisp weather and that famous New England charm.
While the draw in the summer is a no-brainer (Think warm, sunny days with close proximity to the country’s best lobster rolls), the region’s allure is most inviting during fall and winter. Oversized fireplaces, leisurely meals and endless spa days with no agendas are no doubt the main attraction.
Still, today New England leads the way when it comes to understated luxury, continually delivering unforgettable travel experiences in the colder months when the crowds have subsided.
Here is our list of the must-visit luxury properties in New England this fall and winter.
If you need your vitamin-sea fix in the colder months, head to the Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, just minutes from the lively city of Portland. The family-friendly property has 62 guest rooms as well as one- and two-bedroom suites. While the hotel pool is a central fixture in the warmer months, come fall the property transitions to the colder weather with cozy seating, fire tables for small plates and cocktails paired with seasonal menus. The luxury spa also offers fall specials complete with treatments such as a pumpkin-infused changing-tides scrub, organic earth and sea facial, and hydrating aroma wrap.
For those seeking a boutique hotel within a vibrant city, The Beatrice in downtown Providence, Rhode Island, is calling. The 47-room property celebrates the holidays all December long with a special la dolce vita holiday suite adorned in holiday décor — complete with a lit tree, decorating station, and treats and a wine flight from Bellini Providence and access to the Bellini Rooftop, the members-only club onsite. For those who love to snack, The Beatrice offers an amenity known as the snack attendant. Guests can fill out a survey before arrival based on their “snack sign” — sweet tooth, antipasti aficionado or snack fanatic.
The Mayflower Inn & Spa in Washington, Connecticut, makes for an ideal fall or winter getaway. This newly renovated country retreat, now part of the Auberge Resorts Collection, draws crowds to its destination spa, The Well. Spanning 20,000 square feet and nestled in the hotel’s 58-acre property, The Well offers services including customized skin care and bodywork treatments that strengthen the mind-body connection, as well as expert-led classes that blend traditional and innovative approaches to mindful movement. A signature experience at The Well is The Integration Detox, which combines heat, full-body lymph drainage, movement and meditation to support detoxification and leave you feeling refreshed.
Looking to check out of reality this winter? The Greydon House in Nantucket has you covered. One program allows people who check in for a stay longer than 14 days to leave their phone at the front desk and pick it up upon departure. While being off the grid, guests can partake in wellness retreats in partnership with Lavender Farm Wellness that include massages, private yoga, functional-medicine consultations, and juice and veggies cleanses.
This popular Cape Cod destination resort is now open year-round. The once seasonal property is opening its doors for the holiday season, complete with an enchanted winter-at-Wequassett experience. The Christmas-themed event will showcase 120 decorated Christmas trees, huts with hot cocoa, cookie making, and gingerbread-house building at Mrs. Claus’s Cottage. The property will also host special events including Broadway-themed weekends and packages in partnership with the jewelry company Sydney Evan that features a three-night stay in a suite, sea charm necklace, porcelain jewelry tray, private plane ride over Cape Cod, followed by a facial and massage for two.
Looking for a hotel alternative for larger groups? Check out the Kennebunkport Captains Collection in Maine, a grouping of four iconic captains’ homes just outside Kennebunkport’s Dock Square that opened in 2021. Each mansion varies in design but also shares resort amenities like breakfast, a sprawling lawn and 24-hour guest services. What’s best about these properties is that they are steeped in the tradition of the region’s seafaring families and showcase the ethos of the coastal Maine town.
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