It was a short walk to the lotus pond, which had become my morning spot. After waking early from a restful night’s sleep, I would walk out my door into the gentle Arizona sunshine moving over the nearby mountaintops of the Sonoran Desert, along the pathway that wound between cactus plants studded with flowers, blooming lantana and succulents. Lizards darted out of the way, while the occasional rabbit would hop across the path or ground squirrels shyly race back to their holes.
Then I arrived at the lotus pond. It was small, just in front of the Health and Healing center in the back section of the property. This was a peaceful spot I discovered on my first morning at Canyon Ranch, and became my favorite spot to start the day. I would bring a cup of coffee and sit and watch the koi and the turtles splash in the water, the colorful dragonflies buzz around the vegetation, and wait for the pink, purple and white lotus flowers to slowly open up on their lily pads to greet the day. It was almost like a meditation, the perfect beginning to my day.
This sort of peaceful, restorative feeling is one that accompanied me just about every moment and in most locations around the 150-plus acres of Canyon Ranch. The entire resort is lush and lovely, meandering and quiet, almost zen-like in the ambience that it exudes. Even with many other guests in attendance at nearly-peak occupancy, the grounds are so large and spread out that you rarely run across more than a few people at a time outside the classes and main gathering areas. Often, I would have a spot to myself for walking, sitting, reading or just enjoying the peace and quiet.
I had decided to give myself a completely unplugged experience while at Canyon Ranch – no internet or phone calls, to fully embrace and enjoy the restorative, healing powers of the place. It was nice that most of the resort is a “cell-free zone” – there are a few spots here and there that are designated phone spots, and of course guests are free to use their phones in their rooms, where wi-fi internet access is also provided for those who wish to stay connected.
But for me, the very essence of Canyon Ranch was about escaping from everyday life, to rebalance and perhaps discover some components of life and wellbeing that would enhance my life moving forward from this special place. The many activities and amenities at this resort 40 minutes outside Tucson make it easy to do so. I found that many of the guests were repeat visitors, many of them having come back over years and even decades. Canyon Ranch is one of the original health resorts of Arizona, celebrating 35 years this year, and although I had just discovered it I could tell it held a special place for many to rejuvenate or even rediscover themselves.
Health & Wellness Programs
One of the first things you can do upon checking into Canyon Ranch, if you wish, is to meet with a program advisor to discuss the many opportunities available during your stay. At registration you are given a bag with a personal, reusable water bottle and a listing of the week’s programs, which can be overwhelming as the choices are plentiful. An orientation tour around the property really helps, as well.
The goal of the Canyon Ranch programs is to help guests feel their best at every age. Holistic, integrative medical care integrates Western and non-Western practices with top physicians on staff and a range of diagnostic services, making it the perfect place for a comprehensive whole-body check-up and consultation for treatment programs. Food and nutrition programs, weight loss, lifestyle management, and Eastern healing medicines round out the offerings.
In addition to meeting with physicians for a medical consultation, including in every stay is a range of wellness workshops and programs that might include the following:
- Reduce your stress with healing touch
- The science of weight loss
- Is your sleep posture causing you pain?
- Spiritual skills
- Mindfulness and the brain
- Keep your joints healthy
There are also daily 12-step meetings, and the entire resort including dining areas is alcohol-free. Some people come to Canyon Ranch due to crisis and are choosing recovery, while many others are looking for maintenance, cleansing and restoration.
Spa & Aquatic Center
The spa complex at Canyon Ranch is very large, incredibly equipped and a delight to spend time in. With more than 80,000 square feet, the complex includes gyms and workout rooms, yoga studio, hair and nail salon and of course, the spa treatment areas. In the spa guests can receive classic bodywork massages and Asian therapies, Ayurvedic treatments, body scrubs and wraps, and facials. There are many beautiful, relaxing common areas with numerous soaking pools of varying temperatures, from hot to a cold plunge pool; a steam room, aromatic Eucalyptus room and sauna.
The complex also houses a Healthy Feet clinic, with gait and footwear analyses, reflexology and touch therapies. The salon is full service, offering hair, nail and makeup services. There are also special maternity offerings for special attention to moms-to-be.
The gym portion of the complex has nine gyms, a yoga dome, courts for squash, racquetball and wallyball, a strength and cardio training room that is outfitted with all the latest computerized fitness equipment, and personal training. Just behind the spa complex are tennis courts, and the Aquatic Center that houses two heated indoor pools for free swimming, aquatics classes, Watsu water massage and underwater treadmills. Three other outdoor pools are located around Canyon Ranch, so no matter where your guest room is, you are sure to be near a pool.
Fitness & Activities
This is definitely a highlight of a stay at Canyon Ranch. The beauty of the environment and programming is that you can do as much or as little as you like. The program advisors do warn against not getting so excited about all the offerings that you are too over-zealous and leave exhausted. That was my temptation. I definitely wanted to take advantage of the dozens of exercise and fitness classes offered each day, and I enjoyed hiking, yoga, pilates, aqua fitness and many others. Classes on the weekly schedule typically include many of these classes as well as:
- Barre workouts
- Abs and core conditioning
- Stretch classes and walking
- Tai chi
- Boxing workouts, and many more
There are golf and tennis clinics and private lessons also available, as well as high ropes adventures and obstacle courses.
Besides the physical fitness aspect, Canyon Ranch programming also puts just as much emphasis on internal, emotional health. Many workshops are offered on topics such as meditation, cultivating inner peace, creating sacred space, harnessing your intuition and many more. Also offered are art and creative classes, bingo, live music, bingo, cooking demonstrations and hands-on classes. Food here, in fact, is something of an art form. Guests can dine in the dining room (by reservation for dinner) or at the more casual, order at the counter Double U Café. All dishes are described with their ingredients, calories, fat content, etc. The aim is to provide delicious and healthy gourmet cuisine, with snacks and drinks available all day long.
Accommodations are clustered in different groupings throughout the resort, all with stunning views of the mountains and surrounding desert landscape. The original art and décor is inspired by the natural surroundings, and plentiful outdoor areas provide more comfortable lounging outside the room. All guest rooms include the following amenities:
- Cloud-soft feather beds
- Your choice of pillows from 20+ options on our Pillow Menu
- Mascioni® luxury Italian linens
- Terry cloth robes
- DVD, cable TV, stereo/CD player
- Computer phone jack
- Wired or wireless Internet access
- In-room coffee and tea service
- Hair dryer and thoughtful amenities
In short, if you are looking for the ultimate, all-inclusive and holistic way to immerse yourself in health and wellness, the beauty and expertise of Canyon Ranch is the way to go. It was named a Conde Nast Top 10 Best Destination Spa for 2014 (having been recognized by the veteran travel publication numerous times). There’s a very good reason Canyon Ranch has been around for more than three decades…in fact, hundreds of them.
8600 E. Rockcliff Road, Tucson AZ 85750
Telephone: 520-749-9000 or 888-239-5149
Rates: From $2,140 per person for 3 nights, $4,495 for 7 nights. 4 and 10 night stays also available. Rates are all-inclusive of meals, programs and activities, use of all facilities, resort fees, a daily spa allowance and taxes. Canyon Ranch is a no-tipping resort.