Spa Travel USA: Miraval & Canyon Ranch
TUSCON, ARIZONA USA
Quite a while ago, I watched an episode of Ellen when she gave away spa holidays to several women. The resort was Miraval in Arizona, USA. I was very interested in the concept of the resort and was eager to go.
It took me many years to actually arrange the trip, but I finally got there in 2018. Going to Miraval was one of my first solo trips and it wasn't easy! The resort is large, and has a variety of accommodation to choose from.
The main building houses the restaurant, cafe, shop, meeting rooms, and office space for staff and activity coordinators. There are several tented treatment rooms, plus a dedicated spa. Also, are yoga and gym buildings, an outdoor and indoor pool, plus outside activity areas and a ranch. Miraval was quite intimidating upon arrival, but the staff was very informed and finding my way was easy.
Set in the beautiful Sierra Desert, Miraval's philosophy promotes wellbeing and caring of the whole self for a life in balance. To help you get that balance, there is a whole myriad of activities on offer:
Farming, climbing, hiking, biking, bee keeping, cooking, yoga, meditation,
fitness, creativity, music, challenge therapy, equine therapy, Native American medicine and much more.
Some of these activities are included and some are for an extra fee.
I was very eager to do the challenge therapy and I chose a Big Drop. for the Big Drop, you harnessed to a rope hanging between two poles. You are then hoisted up to the top of one pole, where you let go to drop and swing to the ground. This activity is to free yourself of the fear of 'letting go', and also to trust the people on the ground who are keeping you safe.
As it rained the morning of my Big Drop, I was the only person who showed up. Thus, I was alone while three young, burley men struggled to hoist me up into the air. The embarrassment of the hoisting, plus thoughts of the view of my butt in a harness, was far stronger than any fear. I was happy when my toes touched the ground and they removed me of the harness and got out of there fast.
I had loads of great treatments and took a lot of classes. Had I been better prepared, I would have pre-booked a session with the Medicine Man, for the experience. I would also have done tribal drumming. I may have tried equine therapy, but would have still stopped short of horse painting. This is painting an actual horse, not making a painting of one.
The best thing I got from Miraval was a smoothie made from almond and rice milk, dates and vanilla. It was delicious and most likely the reason I lost zero pounds!
The one thing I did not like about Miraval was that most of the people were in groups. It seemed to me like a hen party situation, or a work retreat. Had I had my own group (my sisters ditched), I would have felt more comfortable.
LENOX, MASSACHUSETTS, USA
My next spa resort was Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts. At this point in my year of solo spa travel, I was more prepared to be alone in a group environment. I was determine to take every opportunity and to do things far outside of my comfort zone. This explains my irrational decision to take a surfboard yoga class.
Lenox, Mass. is a former summer destination for the artsy rich and famous of the mid-1800's. Most notable past and present residents are Nathaniel Hawthorne, Andrew Carnegie, Yo Yo Ma, Norman Rockwell, Herman Melville and the Astor and Vanderbilt families. Lenox was also the home of Edith Wharton. Visiting The Mount, is an activity at Canyon Ranch Resort.
Bellefontaine Mansion had been a private home, a boarding school, and a seminary. Fire destroyed most of the building, but with the aid of local historians, it was rebuilt and now houses the restaurants at Canyon Ranch.
Each client has an Experience Guide, which chronicles your activities for the day. There is a lot to choose from including:
fitness, spa treatments, hiking, labyrinth walking, all forms of spiritual wellness and specialities like astrology readings and clairvoyant sessions.
This time, I threw myself in whole-hog and booked myself for as many experiences as I could. The highlight was my ill-fated surfboard yoga class, where the only other participant was a very agile 17 year old unicyclist. While she revelled in the joys of trying and failing, I clung onto the board with my toes, tried not to jiggle, and did my best not to fall off the surfboard. I then took a Zumba class, where I am pretty sure I was the best in class at 'opening the window.' All forms of meditation and yoga, including foot yoga followed.
I scheduled spa treatments sparingly in order to have more time for classes. The treatments I did have were amazing and very relaxing. Canyon Ranch has a large gym and pool, of course the location of my surfboard yoga shame.
I finished my stay at Canyon Ranch, Lenox with a reading from the Astrologer. I have never done this before because I tend to not want to hear bad news. But this trip was all about trying new things and challenge myself, so I signed up.
I had a great time with the astrology, and learned a lot of new things. That I will live to be 110 years old was very good news. I learned that I am like a metaphorical goat; slowly and steadily walking up a mountainside. I will get to the top some day! This is why I know for certain that this blog will someday have more than ten readers and I will finally be a big success! I will get to the top of that mountain before I reach age 110!
I had such a good time at Canyon Ranch. I felt very comfortable on my own and I met a lot of nice people. Some were part of groups, some on their own, but everyone enjoying the experience and having a good time. I can't wait to go back!