Old World Luxury: Canyon Ranch in New England’s Berkshires

Canyon Ranch
Canyon Ranch Reflection Pool

I distinctly recall the first time I heard mention of Canyon Ranch, on some TV show where the fictional character was referencing a far-away, uber-luxe vacation she’d taken. I don’t know why, but it piqued my interest, especially when I learned this was actually a “wellness resort” and not just your typical all-inclusive. A few years later when I was in Las Vegas, I happened upon the name attached to the beautiful, marble-white cafe and spa inside The Venetian. It was my first little taste of the wellness brand, but on the wild, often weird, Strip. So, when I finally got the invite this year to visit the Lenox, Massachusetts iteration of Canyon Ranch (there are locations in Arizona and Miami, too), for the full experience, I didn’t hesitate. The weekend was to include a brain science lecture series, in addition to all the wonder the resort has in store normally.  

Canyon Ranch
Canyon Ranch Conference Room

One short plane ride later, and I was stepping out of the heat of southern summer into crisp, New England air. A limo driver from CR picked me up, grabbed my bags, and whisked me away, driving us through the highway that rapidly turned into winding, wooded, increasingly quiet roads. If you haven’t been to The Berkshires, here’s what you should know: The area is beloved by vacationing New Yorkers and other major city-dwellers for good reason. The Berkshires (the term for the area extending from Vermont’s Green Mountains to western Massachusetts and then south into the top portion of Connecticut) is rural, canopied, and quaint, the stuff of New England-y fairy tale. The area has long been a haven for those looking for respite from their respective cities, the biggest scenery change a short drive can bring.

Canyon Ranch
Canyon Ranch Dining Room

Back to Canyon Ranch: Up a long, gated driveway sits the estate, marked by the iconic white, pillared Bellefontaine Mansion. The lawn is perfectly manicured and rolling, with adirondacks dotted around the premises and walking trails winding through the grass and into the forests. Built in 1897 and reopened in 1989, Bellefontaine was once a private mansion, eventually left empty and gutted by fire. The Zuckermans, founders of Canyon Ranch, decided to restore the mansion when they opened CR Lenox, while also adding New-England-style buildings in keeping with the local area.

Canyon Ranch
Canyon Ranch Living Room

The Canyon Ranch brand is perhaps one of the most unique resorts I have ever visited. It’s been around for more than 35 years, founded in 1979 at the flagship location in Tucson, Arizona. The resort brand aims to educate on a whole health philosophy, treating mind and spirit as well as the physical body. This is meant to be a place where you shed everything from your burdensome stresses to your buzzing cell phone. Upon arrival, I was greeted with signs asking me to put away mobile devices (they’re only allowed in designated areas and in your own room), and it was made readily clear I could enjoy healthy living advice at every turn, with full access to medical professionals, and a mix of Western and Eastern medicine (think acupuncture and ayurvedic treatments, to name a few).

This is meant to be a place where you shed everything from your burdensome stresses to your buzzing cell phone.

Canyon Ranch
Canyon Ranch

The 100,000 square feet of luxurious space in Lenox has been fully dedicated to cutting-edge health. The spa complex connects to the Bellefontaine, with both the restaurant and cafe, and to the Integrative Health Center. It makes a half-circle, with the accommodations, spacious rooms with every comfort you’d need, to the far end.

It really is relaxation at its best: You can book a massage for 8 am or 9 pm. There are five—yes, five—different gyms, so you can workout solo, take a Pilates class, or learn proper lifting form from an expert. The cafe and restaurant serve up healthy options all day long, including snack time. There are medical doctors, nutritionists, and clairvoyants, ready to meet with you. There are saunas, steam rooms, and whirlpools, or you can get outside to take in the Berkshires on a hiking, biking, or canoeing excursion. A short 15 minute walk will get you into quaint downtown Lenox, with shops, restaurants, and galleries. Every detail is accounted for here.

Canyon Ranch Paddleboard Yoga

I took it all in: the pool, the salon, the spa, the gyms, the outdoors… Dining alone, walking quietly without my phone, and taking time each day to connect with a health and wellness expert leaves me feeling refreshed and recharged at the end of three days, to say the least. It’s no wonder why Canyon Ranch has a reputation that precedes it: This is the type of vacation we all hope vacations will actually turn out to be. Arizona, I’m coming for you next.

 

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