Miraval Arizona. It’s Not About the Spa. It’s About You.

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Those who come to Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa, do so for a reason beyond vacation. This all-inclusive destination spa and wellness retreat in Tucson is more than somewhere to sleep, eat, and play. Miraval is where guests can push themselves to find connection with their true selves and nature. With a focus on emotional, physical and spiritual health, it’s no wonder this resort is a favorite of my hero, Oprah. This resort provides a space to get a glimpse of what we all want — a better life. Discover what to expect at Miraval Arizona in this review.

Miraval Resort in Tucson, Arizona

Miraval Resort in Tucson, Arizona (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Desert Beauty

The mountains at Miraval Arizona Resort cut triangles into an expanse of a baby blue sky painted with tufts of white clouds. Unseen insects buzz like electric poles. Meanwhile birds of all sorts gab like a group of mothers at preschool pick-up. A yellow butterfly weaves drunkenly from a honey-scented carpet of yellow blooms, up to a mesquite tree branch. Quails scoot past with their fancy hats of dark plumage bobbing atop their heads. Shy lizards sneak along corners and up stucco walls. Occasionally the tootles of diminutive mourning doves bubble through the air. Fiery orange flowers burst from the clawed grasp of a potbellied barrel cactus. A mama rabbit and her baby bunnies hippity hop, pausing and pretending invisibility when they sense human presence.

In spite of the all-encompassing heat, or maybe because of it, everything seems startlingly alive. The animals, the splintering cacti, the feathery trees seem to shout, “I am here! Notice me! I am alive!”

Desert flower at Miraval

Desert flower at Miraval (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Miraval Activities

The daily Miraval schedule is almost overwhelming. Should I get my heart pumping with a Zumba class, or stretch my stressed muscles with yoga? I could hurry over to the meditation class that starts in 10 minutes, or just take a dip in the bi-level pools. The irony of my desire to maximize this opportunity to relax and live in the present moment is not lost on me.

Swimming pool at Miraval Resort

Swimming pool at Miraval Resort (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Introspection

I am nervous that the Reflect & Transcend class might be a little too new-age for me, but I decide to go anyway. Coach Leigh (Miraval’s therapist/tennis instructor) tells participants to close our eyes and visualize laying on our death beds. She quotes Bob Dylan’s It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding), saying “That he not busy being born is busy dying.” She says no one is getting out of this life alive.

Then she instructs us to picture saying goodbye one by one to the most important people in our lives. She asks, “What would you want those people to say about you once you are gone?”

I picture my children sitting at my bedside. The thought of them growing up without a mom brings a hard, stubborn knot to my throat. I open my eyes for a moment to look at the other participants. Everyone sits still, with eyes shut, picturing what none of us wants to believe we will one day face. I vow not to cry.

What kind of mother would my children remember me as? How would they describe me in the years following my passing? “She was kind,” is my hope. Tears push through my sealed eyes because I am not certain that’s what they would say.

Bridge at Miraval Resort in Tucson, AZ

Bridge at Miraval (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Dining at Miraval Arizona

The food at Miraval is not doused with butter, salt and sugar. It takes my taste buds a day to adjust to what healthy food should taste like. In the morning, I grab a freshly made Green Juice from the smoothie bar before my desert hike. Afterwards, I sit in the resort’s solitary restaurant, Cactus Flower, and order a made-to-order omelet from the menu. Then I fill a bowl with lime-mint yogurt and spoonfuls of berries, walnuts, and ground flax seed, plus a sprinkle of brown sugar.

Miraval's healthy but delicious food

Miraval’s healthy and colorful cuisine (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

I begin to develop a taste for kale. For lunch, I fill my platter-sized plate with salads of quinoa, fresh greens, and brightly colored vegetables. An iced lemon berry cookie beckons to me. Having learned from the Mindful Eating session to stop stressing about food, I delight in savoring its sweetly tart flavor and pillowy texture.

Kale salad at Miraval

Surprisingly delicious kale salad (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Life in Balance Spa

At the spa, I change into a fluffy robe and let someone else take care of me for a change. Hot stones massage away the aches from the previous morning’s horseback trail ride through the desert. The heat of the stones makes beads of sweat gather on my forehead. I focus on the cool breeze trickling in from the air conditioning vent above. I relax into a state of Zen as my muscles are kneaded free of knots.

Lap pool at Miraval's spa

Lap pool at Miraval’s spa (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Friends or Solo

I make friends with other guests during happy hour over refreshing berry mojitos in the bar. We swap stories of breakthroughs and share recommendations for various Miraval classes. There is a warmth and camaraderie amongst guests that makes me feel comfortable during dinner, even though I dine alone. I savor bites of steak served with mushroom risotto while devouring that book I never can find time to read at home.

Berry mojito

Berry mojito (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Five Percent Better

Coach Leigh warns that it is impossible to live 100 percent like you do at Miraval after you go home. There is, after all, no horse at my house refusing to lift its foot so that I can learn what is blocking me from achieving my goals, as in the Equine Experience. My backyard has no adventure course, either, with a tightrope to help me face my fears. Instead there are bills and laundry and dishes and phone calls and arguments and emails. But we can change five percent, she says.

After a few days of exercise, introspection, meditation and relaxation — I feel strangely nervous climbing aboard the shuttle from Miraval to the airport. I am excited to live my life to the fullest with new skills learned at Miraval, but I worry it will be impossible to transfer these lessons to real life. I stare out the window at the desert landscape and wonder, “Which five percent do I choose?”

Casita at Miraval

Casita at Miraval (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Learn More

Read more reviews of Miraval Resort & Spa in Tucson, Arizona on TripAdvisor and Hotels.com.

If you like this story, then I bet you’ll love this round-up of amazing hotel spa pools and my Four Seasons Scottsdale review!

Miraval Resort Tucson Arizona Review

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What small things could you do to improve your life in a small but significant way? Do you think a visit to Miraval Arizona could help you live a better life? Let us know in the comments below!

A Note from The Travel Mama: Miraval Resort & Spa in Tucson, Arizona hosted my stay at their resort for the purpose of this review. All opinions are mine, as always.

About Colleen Lanin

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of TravelMamas.com. As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show, NBCNews.com, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

Comments
  1. What a beautifully written, heartfelt piece. Miraval seems like a life altering place that all mothers (fathers too) should experience. Thank you for sharing.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Thank you, Allison! Although it was mostly women at the resort, I definitely think men could benefit from a visit to Miraval too. I hope I can send my husband (either with or without me) someday.

  2. Oh, I love your descriptions! It truly is a beautiful place! Your writing gets me lost in a peaceful world and takes me back! Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I love your take on the visit!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Joy – Thank you for your kind words. It means a lot to me. It was so lovely to meet you at Miraval!

  3. This is my favorite post of yours (and I have read so many!). The descriptions were so vibrant and the story truly made me want to head to Miraval. Not that I ever had a moment when I didn’t want to head to Miraval. Good enough for Oprah, good enough for me! 🙂

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Awww…thanks, Sharlene! I’m such an Oprah nut, I have to admit I did feel kinda giddy about being at one of her favorite places. If we ever want to plan a blogger retreat, Miraval is the place!

  4. Mary @ The World Is A Book says

    Beautifully written, Colleen! I can see why Oprah or any woman would love Miraval. What a great place to relax, learn and come out a better person. I loved the visualization of lying on the death bed and how you want to be remembered. I need to do that once in awhile to put things into perspective. I am suggesting this as an option for my next girlfriends’ getaway.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Mary – I hope you will get a chance to experience Miraval with your friends! I would love to do a girlfriend getaway there someday!

  5. I felt like I could really picture being at Miraval through your descriptions. Wonderful.

  6. I NEED OT GO HERE! Have you ever had one of those moments when someone said something or something happened that was just meant to be. Well….this post was it…you do not even know! Thank you and I will be following through. 🙂

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Kim – I so hope you can go to Miraval sometime! It really did make a big difference in my life and I hope it can help your life too!

  7. Beth Blair says

    Lovely, Colleen!

    Did you know I lived only a few miles from Miraval? The desert is fascinating and the perfect location for a spa getaway.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Beth – I knew you used to live in Tucson but I didn’t know you were so close to Miraval. I used to live in Scottsdale and did not appreciate the desert landscape until I moved away.

  8. SO insightful. Thanks.

  9. Corinne McDermott says

    This place looks amazing! We loved Arizona and plan to take the kids one day when restrictions are lifted 🙂

    • Colleen Lanin says

      So glad you plan to visit Arizona again with your kids! Keep in mind, though, that Miraval is an adult-only resort. They used to do a family week each year but I couldn’t find any recent information about that on their website.

  10. Jody A Robbins says

    I like that notion of living 5% better. As much as I love spa getaways, I think you need to do things like that regularly or else you just get stuck in a rut.

    • Colleen Lanin says

      So true. Working on spritual/mental health is like exercise…it needs to a constant practice to work!

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