A spa devotee with broad experience, Catherine Addé explains why a health-focused spa might be the best at promoting real beauty.
BY: Catherine Addé
IMAGES: Courtesy Canyon Ranch Spa
Driving in Tucson, the sun was just beginning to set. Dotted around the hillside and standing like sentinels, the saguaro cacti were Mother Nature’s welcoming committee as I motored up the entrance to the celebrated Canyon Ranch Spa. The next thing I knew, a blanket of stars blinked on like a light switch as if to say, “You’re here!” Yes, I had arrived.
I felt it was time to address some pesky health issues during my visit here, instead of focusing on beauty rituals, mani-pedis or facials as I’d done in the past. My previous encounters with spas were forays to Glen Ivy Hot Springs, aptly nicknamed “Club Mud.” Not that there’s anything wrong with Club Mud, per se. After all, that was my introduction to a European style of spa years ago, with its natural hot springs, mud baths and excellent masseuse yet only an hour’s drive from home. From those Club Mud days, I ventured into more luxurious treatments and enjoyed being pampered in places as diverse as the Ritz Spa in Paris for a French manicure naturellement or a massage on various cruise liners. Even our local Langham Huntington hotel has choice offerings for treatments in its Chuan Spa. Once I experienced Canyon Ranch, however, I felt like I had graduated from beauty “spa” school to a Master’s degree in Health and Wellness (and certainly better equipped to manage stress!).
Canyon Ranch’s flagship location in Tucson is considered the top of the line in the U.S.A.—the focus here being integrative medicine, clean eating and body work, mixed with old fashioned R&R. The incredible array of intensive courses to take to heart and incorporate into my life was impressive. A few issues of my own (who doesn’t have them?) were bugging me: allergies, joint aches, sore muscles after short walks, not to mention complexion spots where I hadn’t noticed any the day before. Could these things really be healed with a change in diet, more movement, less stress, more “mindfulness” I wondered?
Checking in to my adobe style casita with all of the amenities of a fine hotel, I settled in for the night and slept like a baby.
To prepare for this trip, I printed out a booklet from their website, “This Week at Canyon Ranch,” and signed up for a counseling appointment to get the most out of my stay. Together with a counselor, we got organized with classes for better brain health, various types of yoga, nature walks and hiking, star gazing, and swimming. For those interested in embracing their artistic side, there were classes for painting on tiles or silk scarves, making bracelets, plein air water coloring, even cooking classes. Meals were served at specific times and in the dining room I noticed plenty of couples, some singles and I was surprised at the number of male guests. The chefs of this “spa cuisine” served up omelets in the morning, pasta and salad bars at dinner, enhancing a menu of meals that were super fresh (as in locally sourced), organic and tasty.
Perhaps what impressed me most of all was Dr. Richard Carmona’s evening lecture on better brain health. The crowd was standing room only. Dr. Carmona was the 17th Surgeon General of the United States and is the medical director at Canyon Ranch, yet he was so down to earth, no doubt due to his humble beginnings. His talk was incredibly encouraging and so enlightening that I encourage everyone to read his story —it’s fascinating! He spoke about having a long and happy life and outlined much of what is in his book: 30 Days to a Better Brain (He assured us he did not choose the title). Since we are living longer, it’s important to follow protocols available to us to preserve cognitive health. We all seem to know of someone (maybe even in our own families) that is struggling with memory loss, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. What if we could practice a lifestyle that discourages their onset and instead encourages a healthier long life? After the lecture, I felt compelled to chat with Dr. Carmona for a bit, then left for the moonlit walk back to my casita with a spring in my step, promising myself to put into practice what he preached.
Leaving the serene desert landscape of this peaceful unique place, I felt fulfilled from my brief time at Canyon Ranch as never before. Their medical staff as well as beauticians, fitness gurus and chefs really cared about my wellness. From the friendly man who drove me around in a golf cart to the waitress in the dining hall, their skin glowed as they beamed good health. While driving home, the wisdom of the ages and sage advice bounced around my newly health infused brain ringing true: Time is the new currency, beauty truly does come from within and health is definitely the new wealth.
Catherine Addé is a native of Pasadena, a Certified Travel Counselor affiliated with
TravelStore and Signature Travel Network. She has a Master’s Degree in Tourism
Management and has held executive positions with Royal Caribbean, Holland America,
Windstar and Cunard Line Ltd.