People go to Canyon Ranch for a lot of reasons -- to get healthy, lose some weight, have fun, get over a death, deal with heart disease. And it's a sign of its unique qualities that it can meet all those needs. Consistently rated one of the country’s finest health and wellness spas, Canyon Ranch in Lenox is a sprawling complex constructed around an 1890 Italianate mansion.
Like its sister property in Tucson, Canyon Ranch's unique strength is the extensive, expert staff of medical doctors, life management therapists, nutritionists, exercise physiologists, physical therapists and spiritual wellness advisors to help you become healthier on every level.
You don’t need to come to Canyon Ranch for a pedicure. What really makes it special is its health and healing services.
How To Get Healthier
Many people go there to address a specific health issue – chronic pain or heart disease, for instance. Potential problems are identified and corrected before you actually get sick. If you’re already healthy, it’s a great place to reinforce your good habits and make some improvements.
For instance, I exercise regularly, but in a private session I confessed to the exercise physiologist that I hate my strength-training program. He designed a program using a physio-ball that works three muscle groups at once, so I can get it over with in fifteen minutes.
At Canyon Ranch in Lenox, there is a staggering number of ways to spend your time -- at least 40 classes or lectures a day. Some people head out in the morning for long hikes or canoeing, but I kept to the complex, trying tai chi, and Thai massage.
I learned meditation techniques and went to as many lectures as I could on subjects like preventing bone loss, healthy snacking, homeopathic medicine and stress reduction.
After three days of eating beautifully prepared, healthy food without drinking any alcohol, I felt terrific and had lost two pounds.
That was my Canyon Ranch in Lenox, but while I was running from room to room, notebook in hand, absorbing as much information as possible, others were parked out on the lawn, faces turned to the sun, doing absolutely nothing. You couldn’t drag them to a lecture.
Learning To Eat Better
In the dining room you learn ways to incorporate some of the suggestions you hear about in the lectures. The salad bar has bowls of sunflower and ground flax seeds for tossing over your greens, and signs ask that you be mindful of portion size. All the menu listings have calories, fiber grams, and protein grams. And there are so many appetizing choices, including desserts, that you realize you don’t have to be deprived to eat well.
No alcohol is served, something I found very annoying the first night. By the third night, when I realized what three days of clean living could feel like, I was grateful. Canyon Ranch’s outstanding service, staff and programming is expensive to provide and it will cost you.
All you want to do is relax by a pool and get a massage, there are less expensive ways to do it. Try a resort spa. But if you want activities and programming, no one does it better, and for extensive health and healing services, it’s one of a kind.
To maximize the experience, sleep in Lenox the night before check-in, and arrive at 8 a.m. in the morning. Just stash your luggage with the bellman and live out of a spa locker til check-in. The same goes at the other end of the trip. It also takes a half-day just to get oriented – to take the tour, study the weekly newsletter and meet with your program coordinator and nurse to develop a strategy and focus for your stay.
The only downside to Canyon Ranch is the Manolo Blahnik factor, the shoes worn by the woman who halted the orientation tour just as it was starting to go have a chat with her driver. And many people ignore the rule to keep cell phones restricted to their rooms. Most were friendly though you might hear more details of their treatments than youd like.
Many consider Canyon Ranch a second home, someplace to drop in every few months for a refresher.
For others its a much anticipated yearly event. Every summer I leave my kids with my husband and spend five nights here, said one California mom who kept popping up everywhere I was tai chi, physioball class, even bingo. We call it Camp Mom. Guess she went home a believer.
Reservations: 1-800-792-9000, Three-night package including meals, treatments, classes, workshops, lectures, activities. Rates start at $1,330 per person based on double occupancy, and vary based on time of year. Some activities and workshops additional.