Into The Desert: A Morning at Canyon Ranch

April 10, 2013


We have been in the Southwest – Tucson, Arizona – for the Great Harvest Convention all weekend. I have more to share about that later, but first I must share the wonderful mother’s morning out I had on Saturday, our first day here.

Flying across the country with Mazen went OK – a few cries and yells on the first flight but overall he tolerated the traveling pretty well. Our travel plans began at 5pm and ended at 1am EST so by the time we were all asleep Mazen was nearly ready to wake up again. I was awake for the day at 4am on Saturday morning and packing a bag to take to Canyon Ranch by 8. Visit to a world-renowned spa > sleep!


My friend and blogger colleague Gina works as a fitness instructor at the spa, and upon finding out that I’d be in Tucson for the weekend, Canyon Ranch invited me to attend one of her classes and enjoy a spa day after!

Canyon Ranch holds a special place in our family’s inside joke vault. My mom actually visited when my sister and I were in middle school and came back just raving about the experience. She promised us when we were in high school she would take us back for a girls’ weekend. Well, that day has yet to come! We are always asking her: “Hey mom, when are we going to Canyon Ranch.” I’m sorry she couldn’t join me on this visit, but I’m thrilled to have gotten to finally see what she had found so lovely about her stay.


Gina picked me up at our hotel and we headed to Canyon Ranch bright and early. The grounds were stunning and well landscaped with interesting sculptures, flowers and plants.



I especially loved the statues : )



Canyon Ranch is much more than a pampering spa – they offer everything from nutrition counseling to health assessments of all kinds to overnight sleep studies.


But for my short visit, my time was focused in the spa and fitness building.


I knew I was in for a treat when I arrived at the 9am fitness room to find a full set of drums set up.


Our class was called World Beat and it was the most fun I’ve had in group fitness…ever!! Gina and Sasha co-taught a dance class inspired by the dancing in Africa, India and more. It takes a lot for me to sweat and get out of breath and I was both by the time the warm up was over!

I laughed when everyone in the class looked a little sleepy and Sasha said “are you guys AWAKE yet!?” My 4.5 hours had me dragging a little, but there is nothing like the rhythm of live drumming to wake oneself up!!

African dancing is one of my favorite styles because it’s just so cool. I love how loose and flowy it can be, and the choreography was easy to follow. I haven’t had this much fun dancing since I was literally dancing IN Africa itself! I so wish I could start every Saturday morning with this much energy.


One of my favorite parts of the Canyon Ranch experience was all the delicious ways to hydrate. I was given a water bottle upon arrival and kept it full of herbal teas, lemon-infused water and homemade sports drink all morning. Note to self: if you want to drink 8+ glasses a day, infuse in some flavor!


After World Beat I was feeling beat myself and opted to take a 2 mile hike into the desert for my second hour rather than another intense class. Gina pointed me to a marked trail and I headed out for some fresh air and reflection.


I started to sweat when I stumbled across this sign…


But I ran into another hiker who seemed to know the area and said it was very unlikely that any mountain lions were around. Whew.


I was careful to watch out for those man-eatin’ jack rabbits….and that killer cacti…..Heeeeey Duuuude.


By the time my 2 miles were complete, I was regretting not wearing a hat and more sunscreen!

The desert is my sauna.


Back indoors I cooled off in a shower and snuggled into a fluffy robe and slippers before I headed in for a head, neck and shoulders massage. My mom had encouraged me to try some crazy mud dip or herbal wrap, but what I really needed 7 months after having a baby was a deep shoulder massage. Carrying around my little 20 pounder has left me a ball of knots. The lavender-scented massage was wonderful and my back loosened with lots of chest opening.

Perhaps my favorite part of my spa experience was the women’s locker room. The showers were stocked with Lather products of all kinds, and there was no shortage of fluffy towels or hot water.


They even had razors and shave gel to use!


I took a looooooooooooooong hot shower, lathered up in fun lotions and got dressed for lunch.


Gina had just finished an abs class and joined me


Having had breakfast many hours prior, I couldn’t wait!


The food at Canyon Ranch is super healthy with minimal butter, oil and salt (if any at all). It is truly like eating out of a home kitchen run by the utmost health-minded chefs.

I packed a salad plate with vegetables, hazelnuts and crackers


Gina recommended the flatbread pizza, which we shared. It was topped with tomato sauce, chicken sausage and mozzarella on a cracker-like crust


I chose the fish tostadas for my entrée – corn tortillas with blackened fish and cabbage.


And to close, we tried the Berry Brown Butter tart (although we weren’t sure how much butter was really involved Smile ) and homemade vanilla ice cream!


I had such a wonderful visit to Canyon Ranch. Now that Mazen is here and my time alone is limited, I especially appreciated the few hours to recharge. (Matt, Karen and Maze went hiking and ate avocados while I was out!) I felt so rejuvenated in just a half day visit – I can’t imagine how amazing one would feel after a week of putting the mind and body in top focus, eating spa food and finding peace in the desert. Thanks so much for the experience Canyon Ranch!


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{ 102 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Krissy @ Shiawase Life April 10, 2013 at 7:35 am

This looks beautiful! What a fun day filled with luxurious surroundings 😀


2 Angela @ Happy Fit Mama April 10, 2013 at 7:43 am

That sounds like a little slice of Mommy heaven!


3 Claire @ Live and Love to Eat April 10, 2013 at 7:44 am

Such a beautiful, relaxing place! Looks like a perfect day. :)


4 Natalie @ FreshLifeFindings April 10, 2013 at 7:58 am

I’m soo jealous, this place looks amazing! Now I know when Gina talks about work on her blog that she works in heaven! :) I’m glad you got to take some time for yourself, I’m sure it felt great!


5 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More April 10, 2013 at 8:04 am

What a beautiful place! And a day of pampering? Sounds PERFECT to me!


6 Carla April 10, 2013 at 8:05 am

I LOVE the reflection rock. Literally. It says reflection. Too funny!


7 Nina @ Too Hottie For That Body April 10, 2013 at 8:06 am

I’m so jealous it’s not even funny. What I would give to be able to take a shower that lasted longer than five minutes… and to shave my legs :) Heaven.


8 Anele @ Success Along the Weigh April 10, 2013 at 8:14 am

OH. MY. GOODNESS!! That place looks absolutely amazing! You can now razz your mom with authority knowing what you’ve been missing all this time. HA! Oh and the mountain lion thing would wig me out because all I’d be able to think about is the “Ecotone” episode of Six Feet Under. (You just have to watch the first 2 minutes to know why. 😉 )


9 [email protected] April 10, 2013 at 8:19 am

Wow that place looks amazing! I wouldn’t want to leave! Good call on the massage, it’s always my top option at a spa!


10 Paige @ Your Trainer Paige April 10, 2013 at 8:20 am

Ahhh that sounds so decadent! I’d love to get a small group of my close girlfriends together for a weekend at a luxurious day spa like Canyon Ranch!


11 Amanda April 10, 2013 at 8:24 am

Wow! That looks Amazing! I have been trying to think of a place that I could go on a retreat alone to recharge and that looks wonderful! I’m sure I will have to save awhile but this has encouraged me to start researching :). Beautiful pictures!


12 Hope April 10, 2013 at 8:25 am

You look incredible, Kath!


13 Carly @ Snack Therapy April 10, 2013 at 8:34 am

That looks like a perfect day of pampering! I’ve never been to a spa but I have done my own spa days at home. Although, I suppose it’s a little bit less relaxing when you have to massage your own feet. Haha!


14 sara @ fitcupcaker April 10, 2013 at 8:40 am

That looks so fun. I would lve to go there. What a great place and great food! Jealous :)


15 Lauren @ Berry Sweet Lauren April 10, 2013 at 8:45 am

Looks beautiful and incredibly relaxing! You deserve it!


16 Katie @ Peace Love and Oats April 10, 2013 at 8:47 am

I went hiking alone in CO Springs a few weeks ago and saw several similar mountain lion signs, it totally freaked me out!


17 casey April 10, 2013 at 8:48 am

How did you go that long without having to pump or breastfeed Mazen???? I would’ve been in a lot of pain. Are you supplementing with formula now? (It’s totally okay if you are!) I am a single working mother to an almost 10 month old. So, I know how it feels to need to rejuvenate after working so hard! Your spa day sounded AMAZING. You’re a very lucky girl! :)


18 KathEats April 10, 2013 at 9:31 am

I was gone for 5 hours, and we gave him one bottle of pumped milk we brought from home on ice halfway through (I fed him right before I left) . I took my hand pump with me but didn’t need it. But when I got back I was ready to go!


19 Melissa April 10, 2013 at 10:05 am

I was wondering the same thing, until I read the part about him being 7 months old. I could safely not pump at work every four hours on the dot when she was around 6 months old. I was a serious overproducer though, so even at 7 months, five hours would’ve been my max LOL


20 Ali @ Peaches and Football April 10, 2013 at 9:05 am

Two of my favorite bloggers together. :) Sounds like a fabulous trip – I’ve always enjoyed Gina’s recaps of where she works.

Mountain lions? Eeek! That would scare me a little bit. I’d probably do all my solo walking with a baseball bat or something, you know, just in case.


21 mary @ minutes per mile April 10, 2013 at 9:27 am

Wow, what an amazing place! I write about Arizona all the time for my job and have always wanted to actually go. Such an interesting landscape!


22 Emma April 10, 2013 at 9:29 am

I feel relaxed and invigorated just reading about your spa day! It sounds so wonderful.


23 Sarah @ Yogi in Action April 10, 2013 at 9:33 am

That looks like such a great day! I’m impressed you had the self control to leave after half a day- I think I’d try and stay forever.

Sounds like an absolutely amazing way to spend the morning!


24 kathy April 10, 2013 at 9:57 am

I think it’s supposed to be Canyon ranch in the title, not “Canon” ranch – canon ranch sounds like a civil war re-enactment site =)


25 KathEats April 10, 2013 at 9:59 am

Ahhhhh!!! Thanks! : )


26 kim April 10, 2013 at 10:13 am

Okay I am sold. Canyon Ranch has aways been on our list
but we have never pulled the trigger.
I’m just bummed there is no video of you dancing
in that african dance class however…… :)
Thanks for the post!


27 Kristen @ Change of Pace April 10, 2013 at 10:14 am

What a wonderful time. I have a massage gift card burning a hole in my pocket. It’s hard to find time to use it though! I’ve got to find a babysitter first haha! You really do learn to enjoy the little quiet moments that’s for sure.


28 Morgan April 10, 2013 at 10:31 am

I’m from Phoenix and have yet to make it to Canyon Ranch, but I think you may have just sold me on taking the trip down there. Looks like you had a beautiful stay! Hope you enjoyed the desert 😉


29 Emily @ Life on Food April 10, 2013 at 10:33 am

I have always wanted to visit here. I have only heard marvelous things. Your pictures make me want to make this happen now. Glad you could check it out.


30 Alex @ Raw Recovery April 10, 2013 at 10:36 am

I’ve been wanting to go to Canyon Ranch since I was little, since I am a spa-freak. I used to intern/work at a spa and I’m obsessed. I am so glad you had a chance to go and do a workout class/hike and have a massage. I bet you needed it! Thanks for sharing your trip :) Just more proof I need to try it for myself!


31 Anna @ On Anna's Plate April 10, 2013 at 10:47 am

My mom, sister and I take a spa trip to a spa in Austin once a year, and it is soooooo fabulous! If I ever win the lottery, I’m going to live at a spa, ha! Looks like a great time!


32 Deb @ Dietitian Debbie Dishes April 10, 2013 at 10:48 am

Looks like you had a wonderful time of much needed relaxing! That’s so fun that you got to spend time with Gina. I love her blog too!


33 Lynn @ the actor's diet April 10, 2013 at 10:56 am

Lovely! I was in AZ this past week too – but in Flagstaff and Phoenix. Next time I wanna stop by here!


34 rosie April 10, 2013 at 11:01 am

OMG that looks AMAZING. At least it’s hot and sunny here today, otherwise I’d probably die of jealousy. When do you get back? I saw that CaitlinHTP is staying at your house – funny!


35 KathEats April 10, 2013 at 11:25 am

Headed home! Can’t wait for warmth! And yes, I hate that I missed Caitlin


36 Eating 4 Balance April 10, 2013 at 11:02 am

That really does sound like Paradise. You’ll have to go back with your mom and sister definitely now!


37 Sara April 10, 2013 at 11:06 am

Are you guys gonna be back to cville in time to enjoy Tom Tom fest?


38 KathEats April 10, 2013 at 11:25 am

Yup. Be there soon!


39 Rachel April 10, 2013 at 11:21 am

Now I want to go! That place looks amazing–from the food, landscape (natural and man-made), and the fitness/nutrition focus! I need a pampered vacation.

BTW, I saw you have a house guest while you are away. Hope she doesn’t make a mess :)


40 ~Christy @ wonderofallthings April 10, 2013 at 11:24 am

Next trip, definitely! It was great to have dinner with you last night :) Thanks for the blogging talk!


41 Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries April 10, 2013 at 11:27 am

Sounds like my perfect day! :) Glad you were able to enjoy the warm Arizona weather. It’s beautiful there this time of year!


42 Lindsey @ Pas de Deux April 10, 2013 at 11:32 am

What a fun day! I am definitely inspired to take my own trip to Canyon Ranch sometime in the future. Are there any African Dance classes in Charlottesville?! We should explore… 😉


43 KathEats April 10, 2013 at 11:40 am



44 Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey April 10, 2013 at 11:40 am

I have heard a lot about the Canyon Ranch from my friend in AZ. She has been in the place several times for a spa treat. She always say that the place is amazingly wonderful. After seeing your photos, I would say it is heaven in the middle of the desert!


45 Kaila @healthyhelperblog! April 10, 2013 at 11:48 am

I need to go there ASAP. It looks lovely! Reminds me of the famous mirasol resort!


46 Kaila @healthyhelperblog! April 10, 2013 at 11:48 am

Ooops meant miraval!


47 Monique @ April 10, 2013 at 11:51 am

Oh, wow! what an amazing morning that must have been! I read Gina’s blog and am always so jealous of her job and the fact that she gets to be at that gorgeous location every day! I need a morning/day/week like that for sure!


48 Nicole @ FruitnFitness April 10, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Wow, Canyon ranch is absolutely breathtaking! The scenery outside, food, and locker room amenities all sound wonderful!


49 Cathy April 10, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Doesn’t Dr. Andrew Weil work there? I need to plan a spa vacation. Glad you posted this incredible blog.


50 Jackie April 10, 2013 at 1:08 pm

When I am out in Las Vegas the #1 thing I do is visit the Canyon Ranch spa and fitness center at the Palazzo/Venetian. It seems pretty similar to the one you visited in Arizona. Thanks for posting – I have always been curious about visiting that one!


51 Sara April 10, 2013 at 1:16 pm

That looks amazing! And you have a lot of energy back for having a 7 month old!

Did Canyon Ranch sponsor your visit and the post? If not, were the treatments crazy expensive? Do you get a pass to do classes with a treatment. There is a spa in my town where if you get a treatment you can use all the dunking pools (of various temps) and hang out there for awhile. Its great!


52 KathEats April 10, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Yes, I was their guest. Sorry if that wasn’t clear. All kinds of pricing and things are available on their website. I’m pretty sure as an overnight guest some treatments are included in your stay


53 Sara April 10, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Thanks! I think I missed where you mentioned it (I get so used to seeing the disclosure at the end of sponsored blog posts that I tend to look there. Bad habit.)

Glad you liked it and got to go! Seems like a great time of year to be in AZ!


54 KathEats April 10, 2013 at 3:01 pm

It wasn’t a sponsored post (I wasn’t compensated in any way) but I was invited by Canyon Ranch as a guest


55 Sara April 10, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Thanks! Clearly I am not a blogger so its all new to me.


56 KathEats April 10, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Always happy to clarify :-)


57 MaryBeth April 13, 2013 at 10:59 pm

So I’m confused…were you a paying guest? Or did Canyon Ranch comp your visit? Looks amazeballs!


58 KathEats April 14, 2013 at 6:00 am

No, they invited me to enjoy the day on them


59 Kristi April 10, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Looks beautiful! The desert is such a stark contrast from lush NC and every time I go to Tucson I soak it in.

I’m sure you didn’t know but water conservation is actually a huge initiative in Tucson, so for most residents ‘looooooooooong showers’ are a no no!! I always have to be extra mindful when visiting because water is a serious commodity in the desert (and many, many other places around the world).


60 KathEats April 10, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Oops! Didn’t realize


61 Kristi April 10, 2013 at 2:44 pm

I know! (Although I do think the spa should inform guests) I’m guilty of taking advantage of the shower as baby-free time. My grandma (in Tucson) takes conservation very seriously and even reuses gray water for watering plants, etc. It’s a good reminder every now and then that water is precious!!


62 Lee April 10, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Now that you mention it, when I was a kid, my mom used to tell me that she’d take me there with her when I was older. I should bring that up again!


63 Susan April 10, 2013 at 2:44 pm

I would love to go to Canyon ranch one day and your photos reinforce just that. Look at the beautiful place, great food, and the fun I can get being there. I’m planning to go there sometime this year.

Hope to meet lots of friend there.


64 Christina @ The Beautiful Balance April 10, 2013 at 2:56 pm

I adore canyon ranch! I live about 1.5 hours north in Scottsdale and make a point to drive down at least once a year.


65 Ashli - The Sweat Revolution April 10, 2013 at 3:24 pm

This place looks A-mazing! I’m trying to decide where to go on vacation this year, and your photos and description has definitely helped placed Canyon Ranch on my shortlist! Now to convince the husband! :)


66 Averie @ Averie Cooks April 10, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Kath what an awesome trip and time there! We lived in Phoenix for 9 mos and this brings back memories of that time. Although I never made it down to Canyon Ranch I would have loved to. Truly five star…wow!

You and Gina both look wonderful and so glad you two were able to connect!


67 Mary Catherine April 10, 2013 at 4:06 pm

I hope to visit Canyon Ranch one day! How relaxing!

Are you planning on doing a weight loss update at some point? I’m curious to know how your intuitive eating approach is going versus counting. You look fabulous!


68 KathEats April 10, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Thanks – I don’t feel so fabulous after this vacation : ) Yes, I’ll do an update soon. I also haven’t lost much. On the scale at least.


69 Kelly April 10, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Wow! I could feel the nice warm, dry weather radiating from your pictures! This sounds a lot better than my day stuck at my desk in cold, rainy Michigan. Glad you had a great time! Thanks for sharing :-)


70 Mommypage April 10, 2013 at 4:37 pm

That sounds like a fun day! It looks very warm at Canyon Ranch. All those drinks look so tasty and fresh. I hope you enjoy the rest of your trip!


71 Sandy April 10, 2013 at 4:58 pm

I am putting Canyon Ranch on my wish list. It sounds perfect!


72 ClevelandJoe @ The Frolicking Fells April 10, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Wow! This place looks fantastic. My wife and I have been dealing with a ton of personal and professional stress lately and this place looks like just what we need. I am hopeful that my job will bring me on fulltime soon, which might make this type of trip more of a possibility financially-speaking. I love the fact that it’s all-inclusive too–we have gone on cruises and to all-inclusive resorts in Mexico before and being able to order whatever we want without worrying about cost is a real treat.


73 Mom April 10, 2013 at 5:50 pm

So glad you got to go!!


74 kris April 10, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Sounds like theee most amazing day!!


75 Jane @ Not Plain So Jane April 10, 2013 at 6:09 pm

I am so incredibly jealous!! I have 1 more day in clinical rotations & I think I have earned a spa day! Arizona has a special place in my heart after going for the 1st time last year. Have fun! Food looks delicious.


76 Donna April 10, 2013 at 6:46 pm

I love Arizona! A beautiful place? So your mother-in-law came with you? To help with the baby?


77 KathEats April 10, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Yeah, and she’s part of our business too


78 Jen April 11, 2013 at 8:19 am

Is Karen a bit more comfortable babysitting Mazen now that he is older?


79 KathEats April 11, 2013 at 8:33 am

He’s way more chill when it comes to feeding now, yes


80 Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin April 10, 2013 at 8:30 pm

I can see why your mom raved about the place so much – it looks amazing there! I would have totally freaked out about the mountain lion sign too though!


81 Elisabeth April 10, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Looks fabulous! I’ve not been to the southwest, but I’d like to experience that dry heat right about now :)


82 Katie S April 10, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Kath, next march I will be traveling to Phoenix with a 9 month old. Could you write up a post on what you brought with you and your experience traveling with a baby? As I’m not a mom yet, I don’t know what I expect, but your posts about baby products and tips are so helpful!


83 KathEats April 11, 2013 at 8:17 am

In the works!


84 Julie April 12, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Hi Kath,
Just wanted to remind you of Nanny in the Clouds for your next trip with Mazen. This time you had a few extra sets of hands, but feel free to reach out if you need an extra set of hands on your next flight. This visit looks amazing. I hope you enjoyed every moment!


85 Emily Armstrong April 10, 2013 at 11:00 pm

This looks wonderful! So sunny and such a lovely garden…It’s always so refreshing to find restaurants that offer food choices that are similar to what you would make in your own kitchen :)


86 Jola April 11, 2013 at 2:03 am

Wow gorgeous pictures! I don’t think, there’s a place that nice anywhere here in Germany…
So happy that you had a great trip!


87 Ken April 11, 2013 at 4:48 am

I would love to go here with my family for our next trip. The place is a great place to relax and there are plenty of amenities to try. My family would surely love the food. Everything seems to be really delicious.


88 Diane April 11, 2013 at 5:30 am

It is so nice that it is a family run business. It makes all those little boring trips so much easier to cope with. The ranch looked beautiful and the food looked to die for. I must visit some time this year.


89 Tamie April 11, 2013 at 7:24 am

I absolutely agree Canyon Ranch is one of those hidden gems that very few people know about. It is a bit pricey but the quality of service, grounds and facilities explains the price. I have gone to the one in Lenox, MA and definitely after reading your post want to go to the original one in Arizona. I know that there is a location in Miami but I doubt that would be a relaxing vacation. Hope you had an amazing time!


90 Susan H @ The Food Allergy Chronicles April 11, 2013 at 7:35 am

What a wonderful trip that must have been…beautiful surroundings, food and blissful atmosphere! :)


91 Rebecca King April 11, 2013 at 8:20 am

Wow, I have to go there!


92 Alyssa April 11, 2013 at 8:23 am

I’m so jealous! I’ve always wanted to go :-)


93 Britta April 11, 2013 at 10:53 am

What a wonderful trip!! I think I need to make a trip in the future, and tanks in April? Amazing!


94 Courtney April 11, 2013 at 1:53 pm

LOVE your Hey Dude reference!!!!


95 KathEats April 11, 2013 at 1:55 pm

One of my all time favorites!


96 Courtney April 11, 2013 at 2:05 pm



97 Caleb April 11, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Does invited to be a guest mean all your expenses are covered? Sorry, don’t understand!


98 KathEats April 12, 2013 at 8:34 am



99 Diana @ Eating Made Easy April 11, 2013 at 8:21 pm

What an amazing day!


100 Sarah April 17, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Your pictures bring back happy memories… and make me really hungry!


101 Neil Butterfield April 19, 2013 at 6:44 am

Wow, what awesome pics, this place looks absolutely stunning.


102 Mandy April 23, 2013 at 10:39 am

This place looks like a far away land… somewhere you can get lost (mentally)..


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