Canyon Ranch Resort, Miami

Sunday, June 13, 2010

For Memorial Day weekend I enjoyed a staycation in my backyard at the Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa. On Sunday I treated myself to a day spa including exercise classes, use of the gym equipment, the pool and my beauty treatment--a massage. Overall it was heavenly and I highly recommend this hotel for a getaway. Even for a local, I felt transported to another place, another paradise.

If you are not a guest of the hotel, you are asked to check in at the front desk reception. This is so they can obtain your credit card for any incidentals and issue you a locker room key.

So was my day of sweating, tanning and pampering entirely perfect? Well close to it. The attentive service by all the spa attendants and pool boys was exceptional. They regularly checked on my comfort, my needs, my wants.

Canyon Ranch's Fitness Center offers an impressive list of exercise classes ranging from new-age style Yoga, to low-impact cardio, to strictly toning, to dance your butt off classes. There was something for everyone.

A highlight was the Buff, Ballet, Booty class. Taught by a former male ballet dance from the Boston Ballet, the class was low impact and made you sweat! Incorporating ballet movements, the class is designed to help build balance and tone muscles. With a dash of Lady Gaga music and contemporary moves to take our heartrate to peak, it was the perfect class. I'm anxious to return again.

In my circuit of visiting various spas, my only criticism is that the instructors primarily watched themselves in the mirror.  Speaking as a former, certified fitness instructor and consultant for many years, the primary goal is to instruct the class and ensure the participants are performing the movements correctly to prevent injury and feel comfortable enough to return again--motivation!

This "stare-at-myself instructor trap" happened twice, with both the ballet instructor and the next class that followed.  The young female instructor for the dance cardio class (although there were no choreographed dance moves), stared at herself in the mirror and continued the routine in high impact.  I felt bad for the two ladies that were struggling. It was clear that most students were accustomed to following routines in high impact. The instructor should have performed both low impact and high impact version at tandem to best assist the new participants in following the class and getting the most of their workout, especially at these resort rates.

After two classes, my adrenaline was still rising and so I checked out the gym equipment. Canyon Ranch offers a  healthy range of equipment with smooth range of motion. Speaking of which, the machines are automated and indicate your range of motion and number of repetitions. So you can focus on form and breathing and let the machine do the counting. I love it! High marks for the brand and type of equipment. They even had an adductor (inner thigh) and abductor (outer thigh)  machine--a favorite of mine. Few exercises keep those inner flabby thighs firm, except for regular sex.

After the gym I finally was ready to relax and sunbathe. But which to choose, beach or pool? It was a hot steamy day so I opted for the pool for regular dips without the sand. Besides, just over the sand dune and sea grass, was a view of the ocean.

Fellow poolside sunbathers were all hotel guests visiting from New York. Suddenly I didn't feel like I was in Florida but an enclave resort off the Big Apple.

For lunch I opted for the Tropical Caesar Chicken Salad--light, filling, low calorie and tasty! Great recipe. Bits of Mango and croutons were made of crunchy banana bread, hence a sweet surprise. Delish!   Canyon Ranch is known as a healthy spa destination and I agree!

After my sunbathe-dip -into- pool routine, the summer Florida sun was draining m energy reserves. So I donned my pareo beach skirt and sandals and ambled indoors to cool off in time for my treatment.

My Canyon Ranch massage was a combination of a Swedish massage and aromatherapy. Pinpointing those bands of tight muscles with the wafting scent of lavender was soothing and destressing. I almost fell asleep.

A day at the spa includes:
* Welcome refresher upon arrival
* The Aquavana® experience – access to their exclusive suite of aquatic environments
* Full use of the fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment by Technogym
* More than 40 fitness classes and outdoor activities daily, use of the Sunrise Pool
* Selection of yoga and breathing classes
* Complimentary valet parking

I believe a spa day is beneficial in many ways and encourage it at least three times a year for women and men.  The best ones are usually in your own city where you minimize any stressful travel from jetting around.

Take some time for your yourself. Breathe, Relax, and Breathe again as their slogan says.

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