She doesn’t eat red meat, she works out five times a week, and she sees her friends and family regularly—all in the name of wellbeing. She is also a big advocate of long, untethered vacations. Taking those extra two weeks off each year just might help her—and everyone she touches—achieve ultra- longevity in excellent health. And research backs her up. So who is this cheerleader for serious bonding while on holiday in an effort to promote wellness? Carolee Friedlander, former fashion-jewelry entrepreneur and current founder and CEO of AccessCircles, a network that ties together 2,000 women across the country with thought leaders from places like Johns Hopkins University and the Cleveland Clinic. AccessCircles offers expertise on everything from finance and wellness to travel and cancer research.

Friedlander became particularly interested in wellness after selling her company and taking stock of her life in 2001. She was in good health, had grown, happy children, but still felt something missing. So she ratcheted up her involvement in women’s organizations in which she had played leadership roles and quickly realized “that when you get a bunch of ladies in a room, happy hormones are literally released. You really do feel energized.” AccessCircles was formed as a way to allow like-minded, high-net-worth women instant access to those feel-good hormones, as well as to experts armed with answers to wide-ranging, big questions: How am I going to save for a healthy life that now may last more than 100 years? How am I going to stay connected to friends and family as I live for another 40 or 50 years? Along with medical and financial planning, AccessCircles curates lifestyle services, products, and experiences, including small-scale lectures focused on hot subjects, like mindfulness, or in-depth, three-day forums on living to be healthy, wealthy, and wise at 100 years of age. Speakers sing the praises of the importance of taking time off, re-connecting with loved ones, and forgiveness as keys to ultra-longevity.

I'm not just saying that vacations are wonderful experiences. They are good for everything related to your health.
Carolee Friedlander ,Access Circles Founder

Friedlander seems to deeply understand this notion, which is why many of her events take place outside of her home base of Greenwich and New York City, and why she takes her extended family and friends (a clan of 15 spanning three generations) on vacations frequently—and encourages many to do the same. “There is something very powerful about experiencing a country and culture that is completely foreign and different from what we are accustomed to. Different art, music, food and religion provide incredibly enriching experiences. There is an element of surprise that everyone shares and bonds over,” she says. Several years ago, the grandmother of five took 13 of her family members to the Galapagos. “My grandson, who is now 6’5,” looks back on those photos and says he can’t believe how little he was,”she recalls. “We still look at pictures from that trip and relive that experience over and over again. Travel can be like glue that knits your family together.” It is these shared experiences, like her trip to the Galapagos—or her most recent multigenerational family adventure with Exclusive Resorts to Costa Rica—that Friedlander credits with making “70 the new 50” for active people like her, arguing that, as long as we continue to make meaningful connections, we may be happy, healthy centenarians.

There is something very powerful about experiencing a country and culture that is completely foreign and different from what we are accustomed to. Different art, music, food and religion provide incredibly enriching experiences. There is an element of surprise that everyone shares and bonds over.
Carolee Friedlander ,Access Circles Founder

“There was an interesting study that looked at five communities around the world where there are a lot of centenarians. And what they all had in common was their connectivity: they harvested their food together, they prepared it together, they ate it together,” she says. Friedlander likes to think of vacations similarly—as a time for shared, happy experiences. “Vacations are all about family and appreciating the precious time we have together. If you keep offering opportunities to bring families together, to have fun, to build new memories, to me that is as valuable as saving money for a life that will last 100 years."

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