We welcome spa enthusiast and travel writer Nancy Solomon to the Spa News & Deals blog. From her firsthand visits, she compares Arizona destination spas Canyon Ranch and Miraval.
Tuscon, Arizona is home to two of the finest destination spas in the United States, Canyon Ranch and Miraval. Which one is right for you? Although both properties are fabulous, each one offers distinctly a different ambiance and areas of specialty.
Canyon Ranch Tucson Resort
People from around the world flock to this well-being mecca. Canyon Ranch has been a leading destination spa in the United States for over three decades.
The staff and field of experts at Canyon Ranch are remarkable. Many of the employees have been at the “Ranch” since its inception 30 years ago. As a result, the staff’s dedication to excellence in health is apparent at every turn. To that end, Canyon Ranch is much more than a quiet spa getaway — staying here is like attending a crash course on wellness and is packed with “ah-ha” moments.
There’s an endless selection of fitness classes and educational opportunities. Each night features lectures covering interesting topics. There is so much to do that you almost have to force yourself to abstain from booking two many activities because everything is so alluring.
As you would expect, Canyon Ranch has an expansive spa facility. The 80,000 square-foot spa complex offers something for everyone. For active pursuits there are multiple gyms, sports courts, and a notable water therapy facility that includes underwater treadmills, three pools for treatments and specialized workouts. For spa services, the recently renovated facility offers a beautiful steam room, sauna and whirlpools but also, a full service salon and skin care area. One of my favorite new treatments was the “Muscle Melt for Road Warrior” which starts with your body being rubbed with warm herbal pouches and transitioned into a Thai massage. The combination of heat, aroma and massage was heavenly.
The 169 single-story guest rooms are nicely spread throughout the 150-acre property, set in quiet surroundings amongst the northeastern foothills of the Catalina Mountains. There is residential walking and street biking from the property, but we drove to access the best hiking.
Canyon Ranch is dedicated to maintaining the quality of the property as most of the shared facilities having been beautifully redone in the past year. Canyon Ranch specialties include an outstanding integrative medical facilities, creative arts center, demo kitchen, Golf Performance Center, Sleep lab, hiking (off-property), and road biking.
Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa
Miraval is situated in a stunning setting at the northwest base of the Catalina Mountains. Breathtaking mountain views are visible throughout the 400-acre grounds. The location enables guests to go for guided walks, hikes and bike riding right from the property without getting in the car.
While there are excellent classes offered, there is a purposeful focus on “just being” and subsequently there’s not a constant stream of activities. This creates an extremely peaceful ambiance. The average age is a bit younger here than at Canyon Ranch and that there seems to be a more balanced distribution of men and women. This is very different than my previous spa experiences where there were just a few men participating and makes this a perfect spot for a luxury parents-only getaway.
Given this demographic, the sports are more adventure-oriented than at Canyon Ranch. The mountain biking, for one thing, is not for sissys! I was terrified as we bounced over rocks, on narrow trails lined with cactus — into which my husband fell. Removing the 20 needles from his hand and arm wasn’t pleasant, but the thrill of the adventure and ability to overcome my self-doubt and test my abilities to the fullest was invigorating.
The 118 casita-style rooms are a highlight at Miraval, complete with amazing beds. Miraval pays extra attention to making your sleeping experience a good one by having top-line linens, feather beds and feather pillows. The result is a bed that is a perfect landing spot after a day of activity.
Miraval’s 35,000 square-feet spa complex is centered on the property and incorporates both warm and cool outdoor pools. There are over 100 treatment options offered including outdoor treatments and unique services like the hamam experience.
An important difference to point out is that in addition to the delicious food, you have the option of alcohol and wine. Even my husband (a foodie who eats an enormous amount and stays thin – ugh) liked the food and certainly appreciated the option of having a glass of wine with dinner.
Miraval specialties include: Adventurous sports, equestrian experience, Andrew Weil Wellness program, and Native American healing experiences.
Nancy Solomon is an avid traveler and writer for family travel blog Ciao Bambino. She lives outside Boston with her husband and four children with whom she enjoys sharing the world.
Photos courtesy Canyon Ranch and Miraval.