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Miraval vs Canyon Ranch: Tucson, Arizona - Luxury Wellness Travel

Destination Spa

In Tucson Arizona lies two Wellness Resorts each on one side of the Catalina Mountain Range. Carly and I have been able to experience both properties for a multiple night stay. We made sure to delve into the wide range of activities offered at the resorts to fully understand what makes them each special. Everyone we talk to want to understand for themselves what the major differences are. We have done our best to share with you our two experiences.

Let’s start with the history

Canyon Ranch HikingCanyon Ranch was started by Mel Zuckerman. He grew up with health issues as a child and was told he would never run due to his asthma. At one point in his life his doctor told him he needed to make a change in his lifestyle quickly or he wasn’t going to have too much time on this earth. Mel went to a health resort in the early 70’s and after been taken under the wing by a fitness instructor he learned the benefits of removing himself from his current environment and immersing himself around positive people looking to change their health. Soon after this experience he decide that he was going to start his own health resort. He took over a former working dude ranch and created a place for people from all over the world to improve their well-being. It was in 1979 that the first Canyon Ranch located in Tucson was created. Canyon Ranch has other locations in Lennox, Massachusetts, Miami, Florida, spas in the Palazzo in Las Vegas and aboard the Oceania Cruise Ships and Regent Seven Seas Cruise Ships.

Miraval is located on the other side of the Catalina Mountain Range and was first the location of Sierra Rehabilitation Centre. 15 years ago it was transformed into a health and healing resort and named Miraval. Most recently Miraval was bought by Steve & Jean Case who were first guests of Miraval and found it a truly transformative experience. For almost a decade now, Steve & Jean Case have had the pleasure of building on Miraval’s tremendous legacy, with the goal of taking the life-changing Miraval experiences to more people in more places.

The Similarities

Meditation-walking-labyrinthBoth Canyon Ranch and Miraval offer just about the same amenities. They both have a wonderful full service spa with an array of services everywhere from unique experiences like watsu (water shiatsu), an array of massages and bodywork, mindwork and beauty services. They both have a full service outdoor activities program offering full/half day hikes leveling from beginner to advanced, rock climbing, mountain biking, tennis and a high ropes course. The food is delicious at both properties and to clear up a common myth, you will not go hungry!  Both offer an all-inclusive philosophy and they are non-tipping resorts. Both resorts offer complimentary transfers to and from Tucson Airport. Guests will leave both Miraval and Canyon Ranch feeling higher in spirits and well-being then when they arrived.

The Differences

Canyon Ranch has been around longer therefore the guests really made the experience for me. I met some guests who have been visiting every year for the past 10 or 20 years. It is a necessary part of their regular health check-in. Canyon Ranch offers a full integrative wellness clinic. Some of the guests spend so much time at the resort that their regular physician is located on property on the Ranch. Canyon Ranch has an extroverted energy. It is easy to become very close with the other guests really quickly because you see one another in the activities, in the dining room and just walking around property. Carly and I left with many friends from around the country that we look forward to visiting or seeing again at the Ranch! Due to Canyon Ranch’s close relationship with the University of Arizona, as they provided the funding for the Integrative medical program at The University of Arizona, doctors and nurses can earn continuing medical education credits by staying at the ranch and signing off on certain lectures. These lectures are offered by medical doctors, nutritionists, personal trainers, acupuncturists, naturopaths and dietitians. Also, Canyon Ranch does not serve alcohol. This is mainly due to the fact that to truly be considered a “destination spa” the resort is not allowed to offer alcohol. You are however allowed to bring alcohol in from outside the ranch.

equine experienceMiraval is about half the size of Canyon Ranch and it has a more introverted energy. Like Canyon Ranch there is also an extremely high return rate for guests. These guests are majority women almost 95%. There were many single women, girls’ getaways and the odd couple at the resort. Miraval ismost well known for their Equine Experience which Carly and I both participated in. It was amazing. The horses act as mirrors of your thoughts and behaviors. It is easy to see the patterns you act in in other relationships when interacting with the horses and it provides a safe and supportive setting for people to correct false belief systems about themselves and remember who they truly are.  

On paper the two resorts are not much different but there is a much different feeling between the two properties. We were inspired to do different activities at each property. Each time you return you would have a much different experience depending on your needs and goals at that time. Each property is extremely accommodating and motivating to improve one’s health, fitness and mental state. 

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