Nestled right near the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains in Tucson, Miraval Arizona is the ultimate stress-relieving and fitness retreat. The destination spa has made Oprah’s must-visit list and continues to attract celebrities and luxury travelers from around the globe.
I stayed at Miraval in December 2011, spending my days working out with professional fitness trainers, enjoying gourmet “healthful” cuisine, exploring the scenic grounds, and indulging in spa treatments. This is one of the few all-inclusive spa resorts in North America — the moment you set foot on the property, you don’t have to worry about a thing.
Here are a few highlights from my recent trip to Miraval:
All of the elegantly-styled rooms and suites at Miraval are inside spacious casita-style buildings which means they’re all on the ground floor. You’ll find six “villages” of casitas around the property and almost all are within walking distance of the restaurant, fitness center, spa, and other key areas. You have your own private patio to enjoy the view of the mountains and desert. The beds are topped with super-plush feather mattresses for a blissful sleep experience — after more than seven hours of traveling, a nap on this cloud-like bed was a real treat. You can also book your entire stay at a Miraval Villa which is a private home located further away from the casita villages.
You could spend an entire day at Miraval just working out and relaxing. The group fitness class schedule changes every day (there were at least five or six classes on the calendar each day of my visit). My favorite classes were the two-mile Fitness Walk through the desert first thing in the morning; R.I.P.P.E.D., a high-intensity body conditioning class; and Cardio Dance. Most are designed for beginners but you can modify the moves for a better burn.
Miraval’s fitness center is open every day if you can’t make a class or just want to do your own routine. The fitness center and has everything from elliptical trainers and step machines, to free weights and a Power Plate. Personal trainers are available by appointment and will give you a complete tour of the fitness room.
These are one of the biggest perks of staying at Miraval instead of at another destination spa resort. Miraval has put together a whole series of programs and activities designed to enhance your life, challenge you, or just inspire you. The Equine Experience is one of the most popular classes, a chance to learn some basic equestrian ground skills and work with expert facilitators. The Evening Photography Walk will take you on a tour around the property and desert in the late-afternoon so you can snap professional-looking nature photos under the guidance of a photography specialist. Sign up for the Lunch with a Nutritionist to talk with Miraval’s Registered Dietitian over a super-healthy meal.
Breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style and dinner is served menu-style. You can still request anything you want at any meal — the chef will prepare whatever you’re in the mood for if you don’t see anything yo like at the buffet, or on the dinner menu. All of the items are labeled with calorie and nutrition counts; the food is so good that I still can’t believe most items were so low in calories. The menu changes every day and the chefs use organic, locally-sourced ingredients. The breakfast selections here always got me off to a great start: Miraval Muesli, huevos rancheros, stuffed omelets, and buckwheat pancakes were a few favorites from the breakfast buffet.
Most packages include a spa and resort credit which is enough to enjoy at least one spa treatment every day (or night) of your visit. My two favorites: the Hammam Ritual and the Hot Stone Massage. I learned that the hot stone massage technique was actually developed by a massage therapist and native of Tucson. Miraval is currently renovating their spa facility so they have set up a beautiful “Spa Village” in the interim. You can enjoy the outdoor hot tub, sit in the sauna, and relax in the plush relaxation area at any time during your stay.
I had high expectations about Miraval based on reviews and the experiences of people I know who have gone there. Now I know why some people go to Miraval every year – it truly is a destination spa and promises some of the most life-enhancing experiences you’ll ever encounter. If you get a chance to visit, plan on staying for at least four or more nights to make the most of your experience. There are so many activities and unique experiences to do each day that you won’t want to miss out.