Shari Kalt of Bee Kalt Travel in Royal Oak, MI didn’t hesitate to take her annual wellness trip in September. Here’s what she experienced in this most unusual year.
Every September, I escort client groups to one of my favorite wellness resorts, Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona. This year, in dire need of a wellness reboot, I decided to keep my annual trip to recharge and reset, despite the cancellation of several of my clients. I looked forward to kickstarting my fitness regimen to lose the quarantine-weight and work on regaining a positive outlook for the future. I also wanted to see how the resort is dealing with the current rules imposed by government mandates, and how their new protocols are working to keep guests safe.
My journey back to wellness started with a flight on Delta Air Lines. All of their procedures, which include sanitizing the aircraft between every flight, boarding from back to front to maintain social distancing, and mandatory mask-wearing, made me feel very safe and comfortable while flying.
Upon arrival at the Tucson airport, I was met by the personable Canyon Ranch driver, with a thermometer in hand. I passed the temperature test, collected my luggage and was escorted to my waiting car. All transfers are currently private with only one party per vehicle. This is a change from pre-COVID times where everyone from the same flight may have shared a large van or minibus transfer. Note that masks are required on the vehicles and everyone on the Canyon Ranch team wears a mask at all times.
At check-in, I was presented with my welcome tote bag, water bottle, hand sanitizer and logo pen, all individually wrapped in plastic for safety. My room was ready before the 3 p.m. check-in time, perhaps because they keep all rooms vacant for at least 24 hours after a guest departs.
The Ranch finished a complete renovation of all guestrooms earlier this year. The old Southwest décor has been replaced with a lighter and brighter look of natural fabrics in neutral tones with pops of color in the accessories. The brand-new Reserve at Canyon Ranch opened in August with the reopening of the resort. This new enclave added 14 additional guestrooms to the property plus one spectacular suite — the Residence. The 1,380-square-foot Residence has a large living room, dining area, full gourmet kitchen, king bedroom, one-and-a-half baths, plus washer/dryer. A connecting room can be added to create a two-bedroom suite. The Reserve would be a perfect spot for groups, girls’ getaways and special celebrations, as it feels more private and slightly removed from the rest of the resort. My favorite room type is the new Junior Suite in the Reserve — it is a spacious room with a king or two queen beds, sitting area and two full bathrooms plus a washer/dryer.
What else is new? A huge component of Canyon Ranch Wellness Resort is having access to a wide variety of fitness classes from morning to evening. The class schedule has been reduced, compared to my previous visits. Due to state regulations, class size is limited in each gym. All classes are on a first-come first-served basis, which is important to know because they accommodate only seven to 10 people depending on the class. During my stay, there was a big demand for Stretch class. I noticed that additional classes were added later in the day so that everyone could participate. I appreciate the Ranch being fluid and flexible as they determine guest needs. Once inside the gyms, the floors are taped off into sections and have stickers to keep everyone socially distanced while exercising.
After completing one especially rigorous cardio core workout, I realized that exercising while wearing a mask comes with its own challenges. I decided to do more morning hikes as a mask is not required on the desert trails, and getting back to nature has its own rewards. Also, watching the sun rise over the mountains each morning was breathtaking.
Currently, only the indoor Grill Restaurant is open. Menus can be accessed by a QR code to minimize contact. The variety, quality and freshness of the food haven’t changed. You can order as much or as little as you like, and it’s all healthy and delicious. If you prefer to dine outdoors, you can order takeout and grab a table by the pool. Another new service is meal delivery. If you prefer to dine in the privacy of your room, you can have your meal delivered to your door.
After all the hiking, biking and yoga, a little relaxation and spa time is next on the itinerary. You can still enjoy relaxing massages, rejuvenating facials and sublime body treatments in a safe and secure environment. Every precaution has been taken and the Canyon Ranch protocols all meet or exceed CDC guidelines.
Want to book a wellness vacation but have no idea where to begin? Canyon Ranch has introduced a Pathways Program, which includes pre-planned, curated itineraries with set inclusions geared toward a specific goal. They include more services than the standard program and are a great value.
I foresee increasing demand for wellness vacations as people are ready to travel again. While my stay at Canyon Ranch Wellness Resort wasn’t exactly like it used to be, it was exactly what I needed now.