Road Trip: Miraval

As if driving through the calming desert landscape of Arizona isn’t reason enough to visit, there’s Miraval, a place to push the reset button on your life.

By Petrina Gentile

What to Expect

Miraval is no ordinary spa resort. It’s not just about pampering the body – it’s about self-discovery, conquering your fears, letting go of the past, and living life in the moment. It’s a lot to expect from a destination spa, but Miraval delivers. It’s a relaxing retreat that rejuvenates, reenergizes, and reconnects your mind, body, and soul.

Miraval is an all-inclusive destination with an award-winning spa. The man behind it is Steve Case, co-founder of AOL. The grounds are stunning, nestled on 400 acres near Tucson’s Santa Catalina Mountains. It’s not the easiest place to travel to for a Canadian from Toronto, like me, but it’s worth it. Nearly 12 hours and three connections later, I reach Tucson airport, utterly exhausted. I could rent a car for the 50-minute drive to Miraval – after all this would be a fabulous road trip with my BFFs driving a drop-top like the BMW 6-Series or Chevy Camaro. But this time, I ditch the wheels and take the complimentary chauffeured Lincoln Town car into town. At this point, it counts as a road trip.

Truth be told, I’m expecting serious pampering — manis, pedis, massages, facials, the works. But my itinerary shows otherwise – an unusual list of activities including an “Equine Experience” designed to rediscover yourself through horse therapy and “Taiz Sensorium ($250),” a treatment in a pitch-black, chamber-like room intended to rebalance the mind, body, and soul by engaging the senses with aromatherapy, music, and human touch. Personally, it’s a little too New Agey for me. But I digress.

The Adventure

The real adventure lies in Oprah’s favorite activity – Swing and a Prayer. Basically, it involves swinging in the air 35-ft above ground, wearing a tiny helmet and a full-body harness. Nine daredevils are in my group with two instructors on hand.

I begin by climbing a 10-ft ladder. As a child, I climbed them often. My father was a farmer and I was cheap labor – picking pears, peaches, and plums in his orchard in Niagara, Ontario. This time, it’s different. I’m nervous. Palms wet; sweat pours down the small of my back. I climb the ladder quickly. Four people hold it steadily; two others “spot” me from behind in case I lose my footing, they’ll break my fall, hopefully. At the top, my instructor fastens a cable to my harness and tells me to step off the ladder. I shudder.

Leaving the security of the step is hard. It takes faith – in yourself and in your teammates. I do it, fumbling for my footing. I dangle in the air, fingers gripping the rope tightly. The others line up, yanking the other end of the rope, hoisting me higher in the air, inch-by-inch. It’s like a tug of war – me against them. They win. I say a silent prayer. Now I get the name, Swing and a Prayer.

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