Spa Travel USA: Miraval & Canyon Ranch



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.



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!

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About Us


Fearing the empty nest? Don't! Since my children have flown the coup, I have had time to refocus on my passions of travel, art, and writing.  This little blog is a handy tool that helps me share what I have learned with others.


I grew up in the States, but have lived a large chunk of my adult life in the UK. I now split my time between London and South Africa as well as chasing the sun around the world. 


 When my nest emptied, I began to plan my trips according to my own schedule, indulging in going solo. Once one gets used to traveling solo, it can be a very freeing experience. I seek out interesting, informative and unique experiences, and proffer advice with my network of readers.  I also have a lot of fun!


 Spa retreats and personal growth travel are core to what I do.  If there was a master's degree in the art of booking massages, I would be a scholarship student! I also plan to conquer Europe one city break at a time and with all that effort, I need as many beach holidays as possible. 


So please enjoy reading my tales of travel. I hope you are encouraged to get on that plane and perhaps have a few giggles along the way.


When my large family was quite young, we lived in several international postings. In an age before Google Translate,  I negotiated the grocery stores of foreign countries in search of tasty ingredients. I soon became an expert at discerning information from food labels and also learned to cook healthy, quick meals from local sources. 


From this experience, I became quite the foodie, even before 'foodie' was a word. And now as an empty-nester and devotee of food travel networks, I  interpret those old recipes into smaller, even tastier versions. 


Being an editor and food/wine travel columnist,  I travel the world sampling indigenous recipes which I share on Old Bag on a Plane. I also love wine!


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As we are all not traveling much, now would be a great time to share favourite travel, wellness, and food stories. We would love to include your best tales on this blog. If you would like to collaborate, please email us here at

Around this time each year, we would create a recap of all our best adventures from the year just passed. As this is 2021, and there were no adventures in 2020, here is a short video montage of all the things we did while we were not doing anything at all.