I'm going to do my best to be as honest and unbiased as I possibly can here, and I know I will be getting crushed by many others for writing this review, but so be it - it's why I both read and write reviews. They are just opinions of others and it give us all differing viewpoints as we make our choices of where to stay.
This resort trip was a gift for my wife's birthday as she has always wanted to stay at Canyon Ranch. She loved it by the way, so I do need to start off by saying that, and that's really what this trip was all about.
I was/am reluctant to write a review so soon after our return, as I may think differently given more time for the experience to sink in, but I do have some thoughts I thought I would share with others, if only to share a warning.
The positives: Our "room" was fantastic - they upgraded us from our originally booked "executive suite" to something more akin to a higher-end home. Very beautiful and richly appointed. Well, until we realized it was missing a few things that we just come to expect from most upper scale resorts. As in, no fireplace or jacuzzi type tub. No morning newspaper (even though we checked the box for the WSJ). No bottles of water (yes, they have a filtered water tap on the kitchen sink), no fruit or fresh flowers, very poor reception on the television, nothing other than a small coffee maker and the coffee packets and sugar/sweetener. No creamer, no tea, no hot chocolate, etc. No basic condiments, not even a small bag of popcorn. Very strange, but maybe I should have expected this?? Okay, so I really shouldn't have expected hot chocolate or popcorn, but at least let me have my morning newspaper...
And yes as others have mentioned, no alcohol served anywhere on the property, no televisions at all other than in your own room, no cell phones allowed except in a few dedicated areas (I received a "reminder card" from a staff member after I rushed out of the dining facility to take a very important call outside!) or in your room. That really set me off. No soda or snack machines (okay, so that is a given), no music, no entertainment to speak of.
The food? Great for a day or two, but there are NO other options other than the "uber-healthy" variety. Not that there is anything wrong with eating all organic, mostly gluten-free, low/fat free, fresh high quality foods and juices! I'm a fairly fit guy who actually eats mostly these types of foods anyway, but it was that lack of any other choice that just didn't suite me well. And I started craving bacon on a medium rare, juicy thick burger or chicken wings after a few days.
And just for the record, no I don't eat that at home, but because we could NOT have anything remotely like that at CR, I just wanted it! I did order the one steak they offered on the evening menu, but it was quite obvious that they really were kidding about the steak thing... It was hardly edible. Great mashed potatoes however.
No salt (you have to ask for it), no butter, low or no fat dressings, very bland from morning to night. The bread was freshly baked, but I have so grown tired of the gluten free fad... Maybe I should have been more forceful in requesting other varieties of food, and if we were to have stayed longer, I guess I would have.
The facilities were/are very nice, with some notable exceptions - the gym and spa areas are exceptional, the equipment first-rate. Lots of activities and classes, but be warned: While CR is advertised as "all-inclusive," it is far from it. While some instructional courses were free to attend, MOST if not all of the more interesting classes are "pay as you go" and are not inexpensive. Very much the same business model of an ocean cruise - you get the cruise ship and all the fat-laden meals/burgers/chicken wings you can devour, but any excursions are extra. Not a huge deal, but I was a bit surprised based on our daily rate of over $2,000/night.
The swimming pools were incredible, simply jaw dropping... As in jaw dropping bad. I was absolutely dumbfounded at this one. The one pool close to the main building (where the casual dining facility "Double U" is located), is something you would find at a modest home. A rectangle. And (we found out later) this one wasn't really meant to swim in - it was meant to be more of a "meditation pool." Okay then...
The "T-Pool" located in more of the residential part of the facility is exactly what it states - shaped like a T. Wow - not sure who the designer was on this one, but I hope they went on to a different profession. It was heated, but about as unappealing of a swimming area as I have ever found. A resort of this supposed caliber not having at least one fantastic swimming pool? You have got to be kidding me, but I suppose once again, this isn't the clientele they are targeting. At least give us one little pretentious infinity pool. Pretty please?
Of course most/all other resorts we have ever stayed at had some "fun things" to offer at the poolside - as in a bar, some entertainment, a television or two, staff spritzing sunscreen and refiling my iced tea, guests playing volleyball, the smell of charcoal on a barbeque or just people of all ages having some good fun. Don't even think about that kind of experience here - it doesn't happen, and is obviously NOT what this experience is geared around.
This is in Tucson, Arizona after all, so expect southwestern decor. Everywhere. The landscaping (to me at least) looks as if it were something of an afterthought, but I am probably being too picky here. The only greenery was in a circular small "park" adjacent to our home/apartment, but as luck would have it, it was undergoing reconstruction and was roped off. Go figure.
I did get a bit excited when I found that there was an on-property "Canyon Ranch Store" until of course, I went inside. I'm thinking: "snacks, magazines, toiletries, wine, sodas." No, sorry. Only clothing, some over-priced art pieces, spirituality, yoga and meditation books and music. Fun.
And everything else seemed to cost extra - the bikes, the use of some on-property facilities, etc. Yes, we're incredibly spoiled travelers, but the facilities just seemed very out-dated and in a serious need of a face lift. We were not treated nearly as well (yes, I'll say it: "Pampered") as almost any other high-end resort we have stayed at, and in fact, the staff seemed to be a bit smug toward us.
Yes, Canyon Ranch was a huge disappointment to me personally. As I've stated numerous times, I am obviously NOT the type of person who they are targeting however, so I really shouldn't slam them so much. I did end up getting on the shuttle to pick up a rental car from the airport - just so I could get OUT of the property to do some things I like to do (the Pima Air and Space Museum was really great). And my wife had a very enjoyable time, which is what this particular trip was all about, so a big plus there too.
I am really writing this as a review of caution - this resort is NOT for everyone! If meditation, spirituality, energy healing, life enhancement, detox, uber-healthy food/lifestyle is you, than I probably couldn't think of a better place to stay. My idea of a relaxing stay is to maintain a healthy life balance, but at the same time, have a little fun too.
We stayed here in early January which is probably the absolutely PERFECT time of the year to stay in southern Arizona, and the weather was fantastic. Crystal clear air, mountain ranges in most directions - wonderful setting.
Oh, and as a side note, while we did see a few kids here, this is probably the worst resort in the world to bring them to. And I couldn't even imagine that kids would even be allowed here - (no cell phones, no alcohol, no kids?) and as there are time-share homes as well as full-time residential homes, perhaps they were from these...
Hope this helps in the decision making process for you!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Introducing the desert vacation that renews and inspires you. Relax and reboot with a wide variety of unique service and treatment options offered each week. Stretch your hamstrings and your comfort zone in an aerial yoga class, or with an ashiatsu massage. Inch your soul toward something new – trade in dieting for vibrant, conscious eating and set your alarm for a Sonoran Desert sunrise. At Canyon Ranch wellness resort, we have experts in every facet of wellness to help you create a healthy living plan. Whatever your purpose for visiting, we’ll guide you on your path. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Canyon Ranch Hotel Tucson
- Canyon Hotel Tucson
- Canyon Resort Tucson
- Canyon Ranch Tucson
- Canyon Ranch In Tucson Arizona