Destination Spas

Few things are as relaxing as a couple of days at a top-notch spa.


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Canyon Ranch, Lenox, Mass.

Feeling overstressed and underappreciated for far too long, it was time to take stock, recharge and relax. In search of relief, we hopped on the road to Wellville and followed it all the way to Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Mass.

“The power of possibility” spa concept was the brainchild of Enid and Mel Zuckerman, who in 1978 created the original Canyon Ranch in Tuscon, Ariz., the standard bearer of American spas. It was so successful that 11 years later they opened an East Coast version on the 120-acre property of the 1890s Italianate Bellefontaine mansion. Since it opened, Canyon Ranch, Lenox has been consistently rated one of the top destination spas in the country.

Specific health problems bring some of the clientele who come for holistic treatment by the physicians, physical therapists, nutritionists and behavioral health therapists. There are programs for heart health, diabetes, weight loss, and even sensuality and sexuality. Others come simply to decompress from the stress of modern life. After booking a reservation, you receive the Health & Lifestyle Questionnaire in the mail to fill out in advance of your visit. Upon arrival you meet with an adviser to finalize a plan of action, and then you’re off and running.

The mansion, an inn with 126 guest rooms and suites and a modern 100,000-square-foot spa and exercise center make up the complex. Its uncluttered surroundings have a calming effect, but don’t think lounging by the pool is de rigueur here—we found a lot to do in three days. Enthusiastic guests may start the day at 7 a.m. with an aerobic walk, a long hike, bicycling or kayaking. We took it a bit slower and greeted the morning with sun salutations, followed by water aerobics and yoga, and a lecture on healing energy. By noon, it was definitely time for lunch if we planned to make it through to the barefoot boogie at 3.

Each of the three dining rooms serves nutritious meals made from fresh, unprocessed foods. All selections (we had gazpacho and veggie burgers for lunch and grilled lobster tails with wasabi-infused mashed potatoes for dinner) are prepared by talented chefs with the calorie, fat and fiber content of each entrée printed on the menu. A healthy salad bar, available at each meal, always includes bowls of ground flax seed and platters of roasted tempeh. Alcohol isn’t offered, period.

By about 4 p.m., it seemed to us a little pampering was in order. The menu of facials, baths and skin treatments offers many choices for both men and women. An anti-aging facial with a neck and décolleté treatment gave us a glow that took off 10 years (really). And the ultimate Cleopatra body ritual (designed for a queen), a skin-softening hydro-bath followed by a rose massage, melted away months of everyday stress.

By the end of our visit, we felt we had accomplished our goal. Canyon Ranch summed it up best for us on the last night of our stay. Placed on our pillow was an inspirational card (instead of a chocolate) with the inscription: “Wellness is not a destination; it is a journey. Along the way you make challenging choices that determine where your journey takes you.”

165 Kemble St., Lenox. Mass. Contact Canyon Ranch for pricing on all-inclusive three-night packages (14 and older only); a variety of packages and services are available. For more info, call (800) 742-9000 or visit

Destination Spas

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