Driving in Tucson the sun was just beginning to set. Dotted around the hillside and standing like sentinels, the Saguaro cacti were Mother Nature’s welcoming committee as I motored up the entrance to the celebrated Canyon Ranch Spa. The next thing I knew a blanket of stars blinked on like a light switch as if to say: “You’re here!” Yes – I had arrived - and was thrilled to have a short vacation here. Canyon Ranch is in the portfolio of TravelStore's preferred Signature resort with added value amenities, so I was eager to learn all about its unique offers.
Canyon Ranch’s flagship location in Tucson is considered the top of the line spa in the USA - the focus here being integrative medicine, ‘clean’ eating, body work, and old fashioned R&R. The incredible array of intensive courses were impressive. A few issues of my own (who doesn’t have them?) were bugging me: allergies, sore muscles after short walks, complexion spots. Could these things really be healed with a change in diet, more movement, less stress, more ‘mindfulness’ I wondered?
Checking in to my roomy adobe style casita with all of the amenities of a fine hotel, I settled in for the night and slept like a baby.
I felt it was time to address some pesky health issues, as my previous spa vacations were focused mostly on beauty rituals. I have sampled European-style spas with natural hot springs, clay baths, and excellent massage therapists. In addition to this I’ve enjoyed luxurious treatments, i.e. being pampered in places as diverse as the Ritz Spa in Paris for a French manicure naturellement or various hydrotherapy pools on cruise liners. Even our local Langham Huntington hotel has choice offerings for treatments in its Chuan Spa. Once I experienced THE Canyon Ranch, however, I felt like I had an all-encompassing experience; richer in knowledge of healing and wellness, healthy eating, with a myriad of treatments to indulge in. While the price tag may seem high up front, it’s important to remember that here it is truly all inclusive: all meals, classes, no tipping and a generous allowance for spa treatments depending on the package one chooses.
To prepare for this trip, I printed out a booklet from their web site, “This Week at Canyon Ranch,” and signed up for a counseling appointment to get the most out of my stay. Together with a counselor we got organized with classes for better brain health, various types of yoga, nature walks and hiking, star gazing and swimming. For those interested in embracing their artistic side, there were classes for painting on tiles or silk scarves, making bracelets, plein air water coloring, even cooking classes. Meals were served at specific times and in the dining room I noticed plenty of couples, some singles and I was surprised at the number of male guests. The chefs of their ‘spa cuisine’ served up omelets in the morning, pasta and salad bars at dinner enhancing a menu of meals that were super fresh,(as in locally sourced), organic and tasty. Canyon Ranch spa menus are also featured on four major cruise lines. Good news, I thought, I can dine like this while sailing on a future cruise!
Perhaps what impressed me most of all was Dr. Richard Carmona’s evening lecture on better brain health. We are talking a standing room only crowd here, folks. Dr. Carmona was the 17th Surgeon General of the United States and is the medical director at Canyon Ranch, yet he was so down to earth, no doubt due to his humble beginnings. His talk was incredibly encouraging and so enlightening that I invite everyone to read his story – it’s fascinating! He spoke about having a long and happy life and outlined much of what is in his book, 30 Days to a Better Brain.
Since we are living longer, it’s important to follow protocols available to us to preserve cognitive health. We all seem to know of someone (maybe even in our own families) that are struggling with memory loss, dementia, and related diseases. But what if we could practice a lifestyle that discourages their onset and instead encourages a healthier long life? After the lecture, I felt compelled to chat with Dr. Carmona for a bit, then left for the moonlit walk back to my casita with a spring in my step, promising myself to put into practice what he preached.
Leaving the serene desert landscape of this peaceful unique place, I felt fulfilled from my brief time at Canyon Ranch as never before. Their medical staff as well as beauticians, fitness gurus, and chefs really cared about my wellness. From the friendly man who drove me around in a golf cart to the waitress in the dining hall, their skin glowed as they beamed good health. While driving home the wisdom of the ages, sage advice, bounced around my newly health infused brain ringing true:
Time is the new currency, beauty truly does come from within and health is definitely the new wealth.