Canyon Ranch: it’s a family affair

Who in the world wouldn’t love a trip to a world-famous, award-winning health and wellness spa?

I’m lucky. At 60 years old, and as a professional travel writer for more than 30 years, I have visited Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Mass., at least 10 times.

But then you have to consider my amazing 98-year-old mother and my vibrant 70-year-old sister.

Mom Joanna is an inspiration to everyone she meets. At her age, she is still focused on purchasing the right lipstick, wearing the perfect twin set with her pearls and having her hair done. Her only impediment is that she sometimes needs a walker. She lives with my sister Christine in Farmington, Conn., and when mom has finished cleaning and baking, she polishes the silver and irons the sheets. My sister Chris is also an inspiration — a size-4 blond beauty who swims daily, adores beauty products (and Sephora and Bluemercury) and dreams of traveling when she retires.

And would you believe it? Neither of them had ever been to a destination spa.

Canyon Ranch to the rescue. We spent two glorious days there and realized it was the ultimate family vacation, as it offered something for everyone — no matter your age — while inspiring body, mind and spirit. It was such a great experience that while we there, we realized that two days was only an amuse -bouche and vowed to return, especially with my sister’s 40-year-old daughter, Kristin.

We began our sybaritic spa journey with a delicious breakfast in the dining room. Canyon Ranch is famous for its cuisine and while there, we enjoyed a wealth of fabulous meals. Just about everything we ate was a home run — especially the 100-calorie chocolate chip cookies, the yummy chicken Parmesan and the divine mushroom Brie soup, which we all highly recommend. (You can obtain the recipes online at The chicken salad sandwich, pizza and Southwestern veggie burgers are also dee-lish. It was all a treat, especially to see someone else waiting on mom and Chris.

Our schedule was action-packed with something every hour on the hour. We experienced a super-session on making your feet healthy, followed by probably the best yoga class my sister and I — yoga novices who previously didn’t like the practice — have ever taken. If we could have bottled the hilarious, entertaining energy of instructor Blaise Gregory, we would have taken it home with us — he was that good. While we positioned ourselves, mom sat in her walker chair and did the breathing exercises with us. Other fitness classes included an intense ballet barre workout and a stretch class. Mom watched our every move and we were thrilled to know she was sharing the moments with us.

Then, of course, there were the creativity lectures. We took a watercolor class in which our teacher demonstrated tips and tricks, and we left with our own signed masterpieces. Probably our favorite class was silk-scarf decorating. Everyone complimented us on our results — which the three of us wore to dinner. (Hermès couldn’t have done it any better.) We also loved our paint-and-play class, in which we colored and made our own designs.

Don’t miss “Lunch and Learn,” when you discover smart techniques from the chef for making decadently delicious meals that have had the fat and calories mostly kicked out of them. Our session was on vegetarian falafel and tabouli, and it was so impressive that Chris vowed to make them for her next gathering with friends.

No, I didn’t forget the spa treatments. Ah, the spa: This is where all three of us thrilled to posh pamperings. First, we had facials with gorgeous products. Next, we lined up in a row and had our pedicures simultaneously, marveling at how wonderful the day had been. All three of us were inspired by what we had experienced — especially the lectures on health. (I also had a complimentary body-fat assessment, and highly recommend it for every guest who also aims for 90 percent lean muscle mass. I’m at 89 percent and learned that I should increase my weights.)

Chris, who has more energy than anyone I have ever met, was so inspired after the trip that she came home and, straight away, bought watercolors and paper, while also checking out yoga classes.

“Canyon Ranch invigorated me mentally and physically,” Chris said. “It inspired me to do new and different things in a nurturing environment. I loved it.”

Our family trip to Canyon Ranch was a joy and a memorable experience that will only get better as we remember it. Mom summed it up so beautifully when she told me (in our luxurious Canyon Ranch hotel suite):  “You’re never too old to enjoy the best things in life.”

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