Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

Canyon Ranch - Spa Review

The Life Enhancement Program

by Sandy Samuels

Poolside cafe at Canyon Ranch
Poolside cafe at Canyon Ranch

Seeking feel-good, good-for-us vacations, we headed to Canyon Ranch in both Tucson, Arizona, and Lenox, Massachusetts, and discovered terrific spa food plus 40 activities daily in both venues. To learn strategies for living healthier, we spent another week as participants in The Life Enhancement Program on the Tucson campus. This intimate and personalized lifestyle campaign curriculum caters to about 40 guests, most of whom, like us, had a strong interest in adapting a wellness lifestyle. Like a week-long college course (with better food, facilities and spa services) it could be called "Wellness 101: Integrative Approaches to Good Health." More specific seven day programs are geared to those with particular medical concerns: "Weight Loss"; "Focus on Brain Fitness & Longevity"; and "Focus on Women's Health."

Yoga at Canyon Ranch, Tucson
The Yoga Dome
Each morning at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, we walked on the lush 150-acre, cactus-filled campus (others participated in the hikes in the Santa Catalina mountains) passing fountains and landscaped gardens; we spotted tiny jackrabbits along flower-lined paths that lead to tiny stone bridges that curve atop pebble lined creeks. Our meals, activities and educational sessions took place within The Life Enhancement Center, a wellness facility with its own dining and meeting rooms, gyms and locker rooms, massage facilities plus a lounge, patio, meditation garden and a nearby swimming pool. (The Ranch’s indoor aquatic center with a cross-training pool (86 degrees) and a watsu pool (94 degrees) is available for both watsu — the unique one-on-one, in-water stretching and swirling experience — and aquatic therapy).

While no alcohol is served or sold (and cigarette smoking is allowed only in designated outdoor spaces), each meal featured tasty, heart-healthy spa cuisine including popular items such as chili, pizzas and burgers. Items are served in appropriate portions — a key to weight control — and with calories, fat and fiber grams listed on the menu. In addition to daily fitness activities and terrific cooking class luncheons, we took part in expert-led workshops that interested us — nutrition, vitamin supplements and sleep deprivation — plus a couple of Ranch-wide activities: pilates and cooking. What delightfully surprised us was when one lecturer actually paused in mid-sentence to admire a red-breasted robin on a nearby tree.

Demo kitchen at Canyon Ranch, Tucson Mountain biking at Canyon Ranch, Tucson
Demo kitchen
Mountain biking

The all-inclusive LEP rate offers an allowance towards individual spa treatments, sports and integrative wellness services conducted by health experts. These professionals guide guests with personal issues: Acupuncturists, Behavioral Health Therapists, Chiropractors, Dermatologists and Exercise Physiologists, Nutritionists and even Podiatrists. Plus, we enjoyed the convenience of having medical testing on site and the availability of unrushed, 50 minute (or longer) consultations with board-certified physicians. Daily rates include meals, activities and lectures plus accommodations in southwestern casitas; some are smallish, others deluxe, and there’s a grand, three bedroom private home.

Price: Rates began at $6,630 per person, double occupancy, for the Life Enhancement eight days and seven nights program. Price includes accommodations, meals, activities, airport transfers and $1,200 toward personal and wellness services.

Canyon Ranch
8600 E. Rockcliff Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85750

(Updated: 04/25/12 BH)

The kinds of movies made for foodies, including classics such as Like Water for Chocolate and newer releases like Chef and Ratatouille.

We taste-tested several brands to help you find the best kombuchas on the market and the results are delicious. Bottoms up!