What to Expect at Canyon Ranch

Even those new to the spa scene most likely have heard of Canyon Ranch—it’s among the most acclaimed destination spa brands worldwide. Some call it classic, others call it timeless. We say Canyon Ranch is iconic. So what can you expect when you visit a spa like Canyon Ranch? We discovered how to make the most out of a Canyon Ranch stay on a recent visit to the brand’s Lenox, Massachusetts, property.

Bellefontaine Mansion

Pre-arrival: My Canyon Ranch trip occurred far before I stepped foot on property, when I received a phone call from Lisa, a destination associate who spoke at length about the offerings the site provides (from spa treatments and fitness activities to mind-body classes and cuisine) and helped me schedule the options in which I expressed interest. Her enthusiasm both energized me and calmed my nerves because upon skimming the comprehensive day-by-day itineraries at Canyon Ranch, I found myself a little overwhelmed—there’s so much to choose from, and I didn’t want to miss anything! (I should also mention at this time that in addition to the phone call, I received a short Canyon Ranch Health and Lifestyle Questionnaire from the property’s nurse educators via email; upon filling it out, I promptly received a list of recommendations to try during my stay, which I found helpful.) Following my talk with Lisa, I was all set, not to mention excited.

Just part of today’s activities available at Canyon Ranch Lenox

On property: Upon arrival to the Lenox destination, located in the heart of the beautiful Berkshires (Canyon Ranch also has a resort in Tucson, along with SpaClubs in Las Vegas and at sea), two things became apparent: One, the architectural elements of this particular property are nothing short of spectacular: Centered around the striking Bellefontaine Mansion, glass-enclosed walkways led me to the various facilities, from the reception area and guest rooms to dining options and the demo kitchen to the library and lounges to the Integrative Health Center (where acupuncture, nutrition consults, physical therapy, and preventative medicine services occur) and the enormous 100,000-square-foot spa complex, which houses an exhausting list of amenities: saunas, a pool, gym, sports courts, running track, salon, and yoga, dance, Pilates, and cycling studios. The camaraderie among guests permeates the spa—the spirit is infectious and invigorating, stemming from the winded exercisers who just walked out of a tough Tabata ‘N’ TRX® class to the relaxed spa-goer who just spent an hour indulging in a Swedish massage. This is also the place where you’re likely to meet many of Canyon Ranch’s loyal fan base—I spoke with one woman in the locker room who has been coming to the spa for 40 years. (It really is a great place for solo travelers.)

The second thing that became evident was that I could plan my visit exactly how I wanted, i.e., here, travelers are encouraged to engage in the countless classes yet urged to do things at their leisure. An agenda of exercise and mind-body endeavors run from approximately 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.; four fitness levels—beginner, intermediate, advanced, and all levels—are available in six categories: aquatic, cardio, dance, flexibility, mind-body, and strength. Evenings wind down with mindfulness lectures, classes like bread baking and qigong, live music, movies, and even bingo and knitting. In one day I was able to partake in a winter hike on the property grounds, meditation, stretching, restorative yoga, spin class, and a tarot card demonstration. (The only thing missing? I was unable to check out that beamlates class due to scheduling conflicts).

Local apple parsnip bisque at the Café

And in between activities are healthy, portion-controlled meals that made me feel all the healthier, as I immediately noticed that nutrition information takes the place of prices on menus. A stay here is also a good time to detox, I realized—note that alcohol is not served on site (though you can bring and consume it in the comfort of your room). Canyon Ranch Lenox has two dining options: the Dining Room, which has a statelier vibe, and the more-casual Café, which I preferred—it emphasizes farm-to-table ingredients sourced from western Massachusetts; Chef Kyle Nottingham also works with local fishermen to create the Mediterranean fare.

Among the highlights of my stay was the “Discover Your Fitness Age” test. During this two-part exam, a total of 100 minutes, I ran, jumped, lifted weights, and had my lean mass/body fat tested to assess my aerobic, muscle strength, body composition, and agility, all under the watchful eye of Heather Giordano of the resort’s exercise physiology department. The test was rigorous and enlightening at the same time, and the prognosis is that while my overall fitness age was better than I anticipated, I’m capable of working harder in the physical fitness department (which, alas, I also had predicted).

Image courtesy of Canyon Ranch

I couldn’t think of a better way to reward myself following the fitness test than with a pampering treatment, and thanks to the spa’s flexible hours, opening as early as 6:30 a.m. and closing at 10 p.m., I was able to squeeze in a service and not omit any of the wellness pursuits I was amped to try during my Canyon Ranch visit. I enjoyed the Total Elegance Facial at 9 p.m.; the 50-minute facial was customized to my dehydrated-meets-combination-skin needs using plant-extract-rich products—and it was the perfect prelude to a sound sleep.

Post-departure: I left Canyon Ranch with an at-home workout plan created with the help of exercise physiologist Heather and a newfound confidence in my exercise capabilities—as well as a sense of what to expect for my next visit.

I’m already planning it—and will make sure to pencil in that beamlates class.