Tucson’s Canyon Ranch: A Healthy Retreat

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By Rebecca Antioco

As summer descends upon us, we all make mid-year resolutions to get our bathing suit bodies in shape, and cultivate new and healthier minds by getting out and traveling. But you needn’t necessarily fly thousands of miles to find firmness and nutrition of bod and peace of mind. I found mine at Canyon Ranch in Tucson.

I’ve listed some common summer resolutions below and how a three-night stay at Canyon Ranch can help prevent your resolutions from becoming just wasted wishes.

Lose Weight (a.k.a., Get Healthy)

It’s the biggie, the goal that tops everyone’s list. And we know your wine and dessert loving friends aren’t going to do anything to help you accomplish it. Instead, you’ll have to rely on those more practical, less enticing buddies, diet and exercise.

Admittedly, I am neither an extremely healthful nor adventurous eater. Despite that fact, I enjoyed the Canyon Ranch dining selections, which prove that healthy and delicious are not mutually exclusive. At breakfast, whole grain pancakes, steel-cut oats and fresh fruit are staples, along with an omelet bar and, if you wish, a hot cup of coffee to get you fueled up for a long day of physical activity.

Lunch and dinner menus change daily, with a sandwich bar always available in the afternoon and a pasta bar at night. On any given day, the dinner menu might feature turkey meatloaf, Cornish game hens, sautéed fish or scallops, or even a flatbread pizza or burger. What you won’t find are soft drinks and alcohol.

Because the goal of Canyon Ranch is lifetime wellness, there are several programs available that can help you continue your newfound healthy lifestyle at home. You can meet with a nutritionist who will assess your lifestyle, medical needs and goals.


With my lax diet and exercise routine, I wasn’t exactly a prime physical specimen heading into this adventure. I was a bit worried that, at the least, I wouldn’t be able to keep up, at worst, that I would stick out like Jabba the Hut in a crowd of Barbie dolls. Turns out, I (thankfully) had nothing to worry about. Old, young, thin, not-so-thin, athletic, couch potato – you name it, I saw it in the locker room and in class.

Each day, there are about 45 different fitness classes available, beginning on the hour. This Week at Canyon Ranch lists daily schedules, descriptions and fitness level required for each course.

Reduce Stress (a.k.a., Relax)

Others may choose to start their day in the Centering Circle for guided meditation and reflection, but just get me a good massage therapist. I started out the weekend in the spa with an exquisite, tension-melting 100-minute hot stone massage. For me, this is the ticket to relaxation.

A morning walk, yoga, tai chi – whatever gets your mind clear and your body relaxed, it’s important to find time for it when you can. While many classes at Canyon Ranch are high intensity and fun, the late afternoon session often includes Guided Relaxation, Restorative Yoga, Stretch & Relaxation or similar sessions that help you wind down after a long day. Daily workshops and discussions center around how you can bring these practices home.

The focus is on health, involving both the mind and the body. There’s plenty of time and opportunity to work on both at Canyon Ranch.

If you go:

Rates start at $3,520 per person, double occupancy for four nights. This rate includes meals, group fitness classes and seminars, and a $600 allowance for spa, sports and wellness services. A minimum three-night stay is required. Call or visit the website for specialty packages or custom vacations.

After booking your vacation, you will receive an eight-page health and lifestyle evaluation questionnaire to fill out and return. A nurse and a fitness program advisor will review it and meet with you upon arrival. They will discuss your goals with you and help devise a plan of action toward achieving them, suggesting seminars and fitness classes that coincide with your health, lifestyle, fitness level and desired results.

Canyon Ranch
8600 E. Rockcliff Road, Tucson
(800) 742-9000

Based in Phoenix, Rebecca Antioco is editor in chief of HighRoads, the official magazine of the American Automobile Association.

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