The gal had heard about what many say is the world’s premier wellness resort for so long, and finally there was a chance to visit. A staggering 63% of visitors are coming back for at least their second time, and 74% of the total are, when at Canyon Ranch, in Tucson AZ, travelling solo. Average length of stay is six nights. Come here and feel whole again. Come to this luxury wellness resort simply to sleep. Aha, if you look at the photo on the left you are in for a great surprise. No, this is not an ordinary hotel suite. It is the sleeping assessment bedroom. Spend a night here and you are wired up, and, for every hour you are there, a highly-trained sleep specialist is next door, sitting staring at a monitor watching exactly what is going on as you dream, or if you don’t.
I was lucky enough to have one-to-one time with the head of the Medical Department, Dr Stephen Brewer – who, by the way, says that after working here for 14 years following a career in more normal practice, he now feels better than ever. He quickly shared his view that the three main pillars of wellness are sleep, plus exercise and diet. Not having enough sleep affects hormone health, it means you are more likely to put on weight, get diabetes and possibly be affected later by dementia. Being short of exercise, of course, leads to similar challenges. There is no need to be exercise-deprived at Canyon Ranch, which offers over 400 different classes, all part of the all-inclusive pricing (you do pay extra for medical, and for spa treatments).
The instructors here are fabulous, and I was most impressed by Lynne Pray-Raugh, who showed me the Pilates studio – see it, at the top of this story. She is fitness personified: I saw her later, between classes, merely taking a walk in part of the 150-acre estate. She held an umbrella up as sun protection. She moves as a ballet dancer rather than a clockwork fitness instructor. Actually there just was not time to take a class from her (I could not even fit in a meditational hike, sadly). See my morning schedule: 8.30 a.m – AFTER I had done my usual in-room stretching, showered and had breakfast – I did dynamic stretch, then at 9 a.m. it was supposed to be surfset fitness. That did not work. For anyone who has not tried this, let me describe the experience…
Full size surfboards have several soft soccer-ball-sized black balls permanently attached underneath. The entire contraption is put on a shiny gym floor. You try and get on your surfboard, which wobbles like home made blancmange. You are supposed to stand up and wiggle. I got on and had to be helped off, by Juan with the peroxide-top crewcut and white toe nails. That was that. Next came zumba, with Gabby, a muscle ball of exercise, and Juan, the same. These two hip-hopped like bouncing balls in a fairground while we students, with coin-studded scarves round our midriffs, tried to keep up. It was invigorating and gorgeous and I was just thinking it was time for lunch when we went on to the next class, foot fitness, self-massage with spiked rubber balls. And THEN indeed this unforgettable place did serve food… NOW SEE ROOM 184 AT CANYON RANCH