This Arizona Wellness Resort Offers Guests the Ultimate Reset

Canyon Ranch.
Canyon Ranch.

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As someone who considers herself an aspiring wellness aficionado, when I got the chance to stay at the original wellness resort, Canyon Ranch, I was beyond thrilled. I was invited to stay at Canyon Ranch’s first location in Tucson, Arizona. Yes, there are plenty of upscale hotels with impressive spas and fitness offerings in the region, but Canyon Ranch’s approach to wellness is far more comprehensive than its competitors, incorporating mental, physical, and spiritual practices that allow guests to experience a truly transformative—and for some, healing—experience. It’s not just a resort with upgraded fitness and spa amenities—it’s more of a full-on (customizable) retreat.

Inspired by his own weight loss journey, land developer Mel Zuckerman opened Canyon Ranch as a ‘vacation fitness resort’ on a former dude ranch property. While the idea of a wellness resort was unheard of at the time, five decades later, Canyon Rach remains a global brand and arguably the source of inspiration for many predecessors. Regardless of the concept of a wellness-focused resort now being fairly commonplace, Canyon Ranch’s properties remain committed to offering unparalleled expertise and innovative services for guests.

“No one has a team like we do, with on-staff physicians, nurses, licensed nutritionists, sports science/therapists, and professionals in behavioral and spiritual wellness,” says Canyon Ranch CEO Mark Rivers. “Many wonderful hospitality properties across the country tout their wellness commitment, which might be a couple of Pelotons, filtered water, and deep tissue massage. And, that’s pretty much it. At Canyon Ranch, we help people change and improve their lives, often for a lifetime,” Rivers, who took over as CEO in Sept. 2023, adds.

Canyon Ranch Tuscon.
Canyon Ranch.

While I don’t usually get the privilege of staying at such a renowned wellness resort as Canyon Ranch, there is no doubt that the expertise of the staff, natural beauty of the indoor and outdoor spaces, nutrient-dense dining options, and cutting-edge amenities like underwater treadmills, compression therapy, and infrared sauna pods underscore the resort’s commitment to offering a holistic approach to wellness—a term that even Rivers acknowledges has become stale.

Fortunately, while the Tucson Canyon Ranch is the O.G. resort in the portfolio, there’s nothing stale about it, and Rivers is keeping innovation and growth at the forefront of the resort while also maintaining its roots. “We are evolving and innovating at a faster pace than ever before and are excited to leverage our authority and authenticity in wellness. We’ve added CR Vitality at three of our properties, which offers new and modern technologies for recovery and performance from red light therapy to hyperbaric chambers, lymphatic massage and more,” he told The Daily Beast.

I kicked off my brief two-day stay with an acupuncture appointment (I booked the Acupuncture for Healthy Weight option, to be specific). Unlike going to my primary care doctor, I felt like the acupuncturist was actually listening to my concerns, which included a dwindling metabolism, chronic sinusitis, anxiety issues, and low energy. This was my first time trying acupuncture, and thanks to the practitioner, it wasn’t a scary experience at all. I left feeling refreshed and inspired—with a “prescription“ of Chinese herbs for maintenance and some dietary recommendations.

Canyon Ranch.
Canyon Ranch.

Next, I headed to my Personalized Nutrition Consultation with a licensed nutritionist. We went over my fitness and diet goals and came up with a game plan that felt like something I could sustain—including cutting down my chips and queso habit to just twice a week! The nutritionist was not only knowledgeable but also approachable. She didn’t just advise me on a generic, ‘healthy’ diet plan with protein, complex carbs, and fruits and vegetables—which was what I was expecting. Instead, she took the time to come up with healthy alternatives to some of my favorite foods (including my beloved queso) and gave me a game plan for healthy choices when dining out and for adding more protein to my diet without it feeling like a chore.

Afterward, I headed to my Body Composition for Fitness appointment to assess my fat-to-muscle ratios and get personalized fitness recommendations based on my results. During the appointment, I got to experience the Body Pod, which is a mini spaceship that measures your body fat percentage and fat-free mass. While my results were, well, disappointing, I left with a customized fitness routine, home equipment recommendations, and a detailed weekly workout plan, which I have actually stuck to a month after my visit.

I closed out my visit with an incredible lymphatic drainage massage that made me feel lighter, less congested, and more sculpted, and a healthy lunch at the cafe courtesy of the resort. Before your drive from the ranch to the airport, the staff will pack you a healthy lunch and snacks in a paper bag to enjoy on the way, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Canyon Ranch Tucson

While every experience will be different depending on what services you elect to have, every service focuses on some area of wellness and self-improvement. For me, Canyon Ranch’s serene environment, healthy dining options, and best-in-class staff provided me with the ultimate reset to kickstart a new commitment to taking care of myself—exercising, eating well, and prioritizing time to check in with my mental health daily.

I find it pretty difficult to stick to a routine—especially one that requires making time and showing up for myself regularly—but my experience at Canyon Ranch kicked off a new era for me, physically and spiritually.

Buy Canyon Ranch Tucson at Tripadvisor, $null

Buy Canyon Ranch Tucson at Canyon Ranch, $null

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