Best of the Best 2013: Spas: Miraval Life in Balance Spa with Clarins

Photo by Ken Hayden

Opened in 1996, the Miraval Resort & Spa in Tucson, Ariz., was a pioneer in the world of wellness. But in the years since the 400-acre spa resort debuted, first-rate spas that in many ways surpassed Miraval’s own facility have sprouted up in resorts and city hotels worldwide. The completion of the new Miraval Life in Balance Spa with Clarins—which opened in May 2012 after a nearly yearlong transformation—has returned the 117-room resort to the fore of luxury spa destinations.

The transformative experience at the Life in Balance Spa begins long before you step inside a treatment room. The spa’s soothing powers are evident at the entrance, where a long outdoor corridor welcomes visitors with the calming sounds of trickling pools and the fragrances of wild lavender and sage. Inside the 16,000-square-foot facility—designed by the Seattle-based architecture firm Mithun and New York’s Clodagh Design—guests find tranquil treatment rooms, relaxation areas, and other nooks and alcoves that draw from the Sonoran Desert surroundings.

Everything from mesquite bark to copper inspired Clodagh’s color palette for the spa, where interior materials include reclaimed cedar, crystals, and even recycled corn husks (for the carpets). The Santa Catalina Mountains are visible through floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the facility, which features 23 treatment rooms that include six outdoor tents. For the most privacy, couples can book the 1,700-square-foot VIP Suite, with its jasmine-scented terrace, indoor and outdoor showers, double-sided fireplace, and hot tub for two. A special spa-cuisine cart arrives as part of the suite’s full- and half-day experiences, serving up Champagne and organic dishes such as smoked-salmon-and-lobster salad with wildflower honey “caviar.”

Most impressive, however, is Miraval’s treatment menu, which features 30 new therapies developed through a new partnership with the French skin-care company Clarins. Topping the list of innovative offerings are the fusion therapies, which include the 110-minute Spirit Flight treatment: a lomilomi massage, given by a naturopathic doctor, that incorporates Reiki and acupuncture. More adventurous spa-goers can opt for the Naga treatment, a Thai massage in which therapists hang from silk strands suspended from the ceiling while administering deep stretches with their feet.

Following therapies, guests are encouraged to linger in their treatment rooms, some of which include showers. The spa’s many meditation spaces—from mountain-view soaking tubs to the heated Aqua Zen pool to the Moorish-style relaxation courtyard—complete the transformative journey. 

Miraval Life in Balance Spa with Clarins, 800.232.3969, www.miravalresorts.com