One of the pioneers and true leaders in destination spas worldwide, Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, marks its 35th year in the spa business this year. It’s a bucket-list locale for true spa aficionados (that would be me), and I’m delighted to report it lived up to my expectations when I visited the sprawling desert spa earlier this year. In fact, my three-night stay was too short, given the array of options for spa treatments, fitness classes, outdoor adventure, lectures, classes, and metaphysical journeys (tarot card reading, anyone?) available to guests. One could book a week’s visit to Canyon Ranch Tucson and not possibly cover all there is to do here. Here’s the scoop.
Canyon Ranch Tucson Setting & Accommodations
Canyon Ranch is located in the Sonoran Desert beneath the Catalina Foothills northeast of Tucson. While I’m a mountain girl at heart, and I love my beaches, there’s something about the Southwest U.S. desert that is so rejuvenating to me. When I visited Canyon Ranch in January, the weather was, for the most part, quite lovely; mornings were chilly, which meant I bundled up for 7 a.m. walks, but temperatures in the afternoon reached the 70s under sunny and partly sunny skies.
The adobe buildings at Canyon Ranch are set amid colorful desert flowers, rock gardens and giant saguaro cacti. My double-bedded room was furnished in traditional rustic pine wood and the overall decor featured plenty of brown and rust tones. I loved the large patio out back, facing natural desert landscape. Simple little extra amenities in the room–like a couple of packets of Woolite to rinse out sweaty exercise clothes, as well as dental floss–were appreciated, too. (Really, what hotel room gives you dental floss? This dentist’s daughter approves.)
Canyon Ranch Tucson Spa Treatments
The spa facilities are Canyon Ranch are expansive. In fact, you could easily spend a few hours just hanging out in the women’s locker room, given the multiple showers, steam room, cooler “inhalation room,” different hot tubs and relaxation areas. Naturally, the spa services are sublime. Soon after my arrival I sampled the Muscle Melt for Road Warriors, which included warm herbal pouches pressed into muscles to release tension that often builds up after any travel day. I indulged a Total Elegance Facial, as well as a 100-minute Thai Massage, which is one of my favorite all-time services, since I love assisted stretching. All were top-notch.
Canyon Ranch Tucson Cuisine
The variety of food options at Canyon Ranch sets the destination spa apart from other spas that have prescribed menus each day, like Rancho La Puerta. There are two different restaurants for your included three meals daily–the more formal dining room, which has waitstaff, and the Double U Cafe, where guests order at the counter. Every single food item at both locations is labeled with nutrition facts, so you know exactly what you’re eating–if you’re into tracking calories and such.
With the all-inclusive set-up, you can eat as much or as little as you’d like all day long. Not once did any Canyon Ranch staff member look at me askance when I asked for more than one appetizer or multiple snacks at once. Note that the cafe is open all afternoon, and I highly recommend the almond butter spread on whole-wheat crackers if you’re feeling peckish between meals. The sport tea and lemonade — also available whenever the cafe is open — was a welcome drink when I got tired of sipping ice water out of my (provided) water bottle during fitness classes.
My pal Melanie and I ate breakfast and lunch at the more casual cafe. In the morning, we dined on times like vegetarian tofu scramble, egg white omelets and whole-wheat banana pancakes, plus yummy sweet breads, muffins, muesli and much more–seriously, if you can’t find something you like for breakfast at Canyon Ranch Tucson, you don’t like to eat. Around noon, for lunch, we sat outside on the patio under umbrellas to eat salmon burgers, Monte Cristo turkey sandwiches, and spinach and tomato pizza, often accompanied by side salads and my favorite almond butter spread.
Not surprisingly, the Canyon Ranch Tucson dining room has a vast menu for the evening meal. Flavorful chicken, vegetarian and fish entrees take center stage, but you can also choose from several sides and a couple soups, have hot pasta made for you at the pasta bar, or load up on the colorful salad bar. Desserts are plentiful, too: a variety of cookies (including gluten-free options), homemade ice cream and sorbet, plus a nightly special, such as pumpkin creme brulee–really!
Canyon Ranch Tucson Fitness
Cardio Circuit, Stride and Strength, Pilates Magic Circle, Aqua Shape, DJ Dance Party, Buff Booty… those are just the names of just a few fitness classes at Canyon Ranch Tucson. From about 7 a.m. when the outdoor “morning walks” begin–anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes in length, at different paces–until 7 p.m. when “Yoga for a good night’s sleep” is offered, you can find some way to be active at Canyon Ranch. I particularly enjoyed Muscle Max, Zumba and a gentle, late-afternoon stretch class. I wish I had more time for the group fitness offerings, all of which are described in guests’ weekly schedules, with level of exertion noted (i.e. beginner, intermediate, advanced).
Still more ways to get active: hikes in the foothills, bike rides for all levels, a full gym filled with strength-training and cardio equipment to use on your own, plus a high-ropes adventure course, tennis, golf and underwater treadmills in a couple of the pools. While some of the fitness options do cost extra, such as golf clinics or tennis lessons, I didn’t spend a cent on “extra” athletic offerings, and got great workouts daily from the included walks and group classes.
More Highlights at Canyon Ranch Tucson
Metaphysical offerings at Canyon Ranch include tarot card readings, handwriting analysis and numerology–all of which I might have sampled if I didn’t want to spend my “spare time” in the spa getting rubbed. Cooking, poetry and art classes, bird walks, meditation, genealogy consultation, medical diagnostic tests, anger management tips and body composition analysis are still more events and services available to guests here. The spa’s entire guide to services is more than 75 pages long!
Bottom Line: Book a stay at Canyon Ranch with the knowledge that you can’t possibly fit in all there is to do in one week’s time. Go to this “Life Enhancement Resort” with an open mind, try new things, and choose from different options (spa, fitness, outdoor, metaphysical), and then mark your weekly schedule with what you’ll sample next time!
Learn More: Canyon Ranch Tucson website.
As is common in the travel industry, I received complimentary accommodations and spa treatments.