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Miraval Spa, Tucson, Arizona

Health, Wellness and Healing in the Desert

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating


Miraval challenge

This is the moment right before you let go and (in my case) scream bloody murder. It's the challenge Oprah did at Miraval.

Photo of Anitra Brown by a team-mate.
Miraval is one of the best destination spas in the country, winning fans like Oprah Winfrey with its emphasis on challenging yourself and personal growth. Set in the Arizona desert north of Tucson, with gorgeous views of the Santa Catalina mountains, Miraval's special strength is helping you get in touch with who you are by challenging you to go beyond your comfort zone.

I love Miraval because you can go deeply into self-exploration -- or just enjoy the sunshine, invigorating morning hikes, great spa cuisine, inspiring exercise classes, fascinating lectures, fine spa treatments and good company. (Or lay by the pool.)

Challenge Yourself At Miraval!

Something unique to Miraval is its low-ropes challenge course, which includes A Swing and A Prayer, (the challenge Oprah and Gail did), a thrilling ride on a 1,000 foot zipline, and Quantum Leap.

One of my very best experiences at Miraval was looking at those stunning mountains atop a 25-foot telephone pole, breathing deeply and enjoying the view. And I have vertigo! That was a good moment.

Miraval is also known for its Equine Experience, where you work with a horse and get insight into how you approach tasks -- and life. Tony Redhouse's "Drumming" class made me feel like a kid again.

And I walked into Anne Parker's talk on "Grief, Loss and Letting Go" not expecting to stay because "I'm not grieving right now" and found myself in tears by the end, and booking a very helpful session with Parker, a licensed counselor, to look more deeply at why.

While the appearance of the actual spa (where you get treatments) is plain compared to luxurious resort spas, the therapists are excellent. They also allow some therapists to create their own unique treatments, like Spirit Flight, which I experienced in the outdoor treatment garden (tents with fresh air). I really value this emphasis on therapist quality and creativity.

The Perfect Destination Spa Experience

Miraval has 118 casually elegant casita-style rooms, most with private patios, on 400 acres. The rooms range from standard to larger suites, including the Catalina Suites, which have "green" construction and the most gorgeous views of the mountains. (They are a little further from dining, yoga studio, etc.) I just wish I had more time to enjoy the room!

Miraval is really the perfect destination spa experience. It's small enough to have excellent food, and it's easy to chat with people and make friends. But it was big enough to have extensive programming, all at a high level of quality.

Group size is limited for things like the hikes, mountain biking, challenges and Equine experience, so here's a tip -- sign up for anything you MIGHT want to do as soon as you can, and then erase your name if you change your mind. (Better than being on a wait list!) And show up for morning hikes anyway, because sometimes people don't make it out of bed.

Final tip: look for special weekends that feature experts like Dr. Andrew Weil, who founded and directs the Program in Integrative Medicine at the College of Medicine, University of Arizona, and is Miraval's Director of Integrative Health and Healing. If you have a special interest, it's a good time to go.

Contact Miraval:
5000 East Via Estancia Miraval, Catalina, AZ, 85739
Phone: 800-232-3969 or 520-825-4000
Website: www.miravalresorts.com destination spa

As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary treatments for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.

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