One-Stop Shop for Well-Being: A Canyon Ranch Retreat

One-Stop Shop for Well-Being:
A Canyon Ranch Retreat

As Canyon Ranch co-founder Melvin Zuckerman (who opened the resort in 1979 with his wife Enid) will you tell you himself: If you’re looking for a chic retreat at a luxury spa, there are other options that make more sense than Canyon Ranch, but for a trip that really lets you focus on resetting your well-being, their Tucson, Arizona property, which has a wonderful roster of in-house experts (from spiritual gurus to fitness instructors and acupuncturists), is a really good choice. Canyon Ranch’s casual nature is a really big draw when it comes to packing—you don’t need much outside of workout gear (see our essential list for inspo below)—and when you get there, the absence of bells and whistles is refreshing.

The AZ desert locale is truly serene. There’s a two-mile loop of the campus, which you can walk or run (best early in the a.m. before the day heats up) that shows off the area’s incredible array of cacti and desert plants. A steep incline on the path brings you to a plateau with a stunning view of Tucson’s mountainscape. If you’re wanting more of a guided nature tour, there are plenty to choose from: morning walks, hikes on the surrounding trails, river-path bike rides.

Aim to have a packed schedule—one of the best parts of staying at Canyon Ranch is going to bed with that all-over, deep-good-tired feeling. Each week, there’s a slightly different calendar of group classes and events—do a little bit of everything: spinning, yoga, circuit training, mind-body-soul gatherings and workshops. People to keep an eye out for on the calendar:

  • Tryshe Dhevney, a sound healer with an amazing personal story of recovery from a near-fatal illness. Her crystal sound bowls are aesthetically gorgeous and she can hit a range of notes, each one targeted at soothing a different chakra.

  • Param Dedhia, M.D., Director of Sleep Medicine (who heads up the weight loss program, too) is brilliant at distilling the essence of complex health issues, and is very forward-thinking (but still reasonable) when it comes to the role sleep and sleep testing/medicine should play in our lives. (If you have trouble sleeping, book a consultation while you’re here.)

  • Listening to Pamela Dintaman, who has a Master of Divinity degree, is a simple way to give your spiritual side some love, and you’re likely to come away with a new appreciation for spiritual practices you didn’t realize were already a part of your life.

On top of the weekly offerings, you can make appointments for personal spa and wellness treatments. Before-bed massages are a popular choice. But again, what’s special about Canyon Ranch is that you have access to a wide array of health experts who feel fully integrated and connected to the place and you. Even the more metaphysical options that might seem fringe or like they’re filling an “alternative” spot at another resort, are meaningfully done here, and really add to your overall well-being. (E.g., the crystal readings are highly reviewed—and by crystal virgins, too.) Try a healing touch session with Claudia Halsell, L.P.N., (also a craniosacral therapist and reiki master)—you will be astounded by how spot-on she is at finding the points on your body where you’re feeling pain/energy is stuck, and how much more aligned you are an hour later.

The food program isn’t the most revolutionary of its kind, but meals are satisfying, there’s a fun poolside patio where you can enjoy them (in addition to the main dining room), you won’t be hungry, and you also won’t feel compelled to gorge yourself. If weight loss is your goal, check out Canyon Ranch’s specially designed program; and if you’re in need of some intense healing, consider the Life Enhancement Center. Co-founder, Mel Zuckerman, who is the sharpest eighty-something-year-old you’ll meet, has typically spent a lot of time of his time in recent years at the Life Enhancement Center—he himself was overweight, in miserable health, and unable to exercise at middle-age. He opened Canyon Ranch as a more holistic alternative to the “fat farms” he’d tried in the 1970’s—today, he feels better than he did at forty, and he still exercises four times a week (pilates once and weights/cardio the other days).

The big update from Canyon Ranch, announced mid-March, is that Mel and Enid Zuckerman, along with partner Jerrold Cohen, are officially retiring and turning over the reigns to CEO Susan Docherty, who joined them in 2015. (Docherty has also been overseeing the Berkshires location, too, which has its own East Coast vibe.) It seems likely that some updates will be made to the property (which isn’t entirely unwarranted), but that—fingers crossed—the good-natured spirit of Mel, and Canyon Ranch’s unparalleled focus on well-being, will carry on.

Packing List

You’ll spend most of your time at Canyon Ranch in workout gear—bring comfortable trainers, and swim attire if you want to hit the pool. While we left our makeup kit behind, a few beauty items are essential in between sweat sessions, plus SPF for outdoor activities, and moisturizing, desert-appropriate skincare.