If beautiful surroundings, healthy cuisine and about as much exercise as a body can stand are prerequisites for your ideal vacation, you will love Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires in Lenox, Mass.
The centerpiece is an exquisite 1897 mansion with an expansive rolling lawn; luxurious accommodations and excellent food. Activities in the gym include classes in everything from cardio intervals, weights and bands to yoga and breathing. There are even classes in water coloring. Hiking, kayaking, golf and ropes courses are among those offered and a cultural desk arranges tickets to plays, concerts, and dance performances in the area and provide transportation, as well. On a recent visit to Canyon Ranch, not only did they take us to Tanglewood (the Boston Symphony Orchestra's summer home) and drop us off right at the entrance, but the staff had already set up chairs on the lawn for us. Talk about service!
Workout clothes, tennis togs, and bathing suits are typical attire as guests move from class to class, participate in sports or head to the spa for a massage or facial. A multitude of activities take place every hour. The best news is there is no drill sergeant barking orders or telling you what to do. You decide which makes it an ideal place to vacation!
Cell phone use is restricted to guest rooms and a few designated areas on the resort contributing to the tranquility of the resort.
And people are friendly. During dinner at the Captain's Table, reserved for guests traveling solo or new to Canyon Ranch, I met Jackie, a mom of three children who had just arrived from Beijing; Lois, a busy attorney from Philadelphia who comes to Canyon Ranch whenever possible to chill out; and Jean, another regular who once spent a month here and touts the medical staff as "incredible." On a hike, I met another woman who was with her daughter and daughter-in-law, celebrating the younger women's 40th birthdays. Though we came from different places, we shared the same goal -- to live a healthy lifestyle.
Food is very important when you are on vacation and even though this is called spa cuisine, it is exceptional. Menus change often and in lieu of prices, fat grams and calories are listed. One night for dinner, I had smoked trout as an appetizer with veggie stir-fry, brown rice with chicken for an entrèe and carrot cake for dessert. The portions are small, making it perfect for those who desire to eat healthy. Cooking demos are also very popular and the chefs have a huge following.
Canyon Ranch has taken the spa to a whole new level. They offer services including mud wraps, massages and anti-aging facials. A wellness department has physicians and nutritionists on staff. Lectures and programs abound on subjects from poetry to breathing.
There is also much to explore in the area where Edith Wharton and Norman Rockwell lived. Nearby is excellent shopping in Lenox, Stockbridge, Lee and Pittsfield. A visit to The Clark Museum in Williamstown is a treat.
Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires has it all - beauty, a staff geared to pampering, great classes and work-outs, and food for those who want to adhere to a healthy lifestyle. They have really thought of everything.
(For a fall motor coach trip closer to home, Scottie Davis will be taking a group to Greenville, SC from Oct. 12-14, to visit festivals, tour the BMW plant, pick apples and more. Details on www.scottiedavis.com )