When you think Spa, I am sure it conjures up images of blissful relaxation in a massage room with scents of lavender or citrus or other pleasing scent. You’d think a spa vacation is just more of that with a side of lounging in your fluffy robe at the pool or beach with healthy foods. Just like every aspect of travel, there is no one definition of “Spa Vacation” anymore. It really is what you want (or need) it to be.
At Miraval Spa, they are known for their vast array of sumptuous spa experiences, but I was drawn to everything not spa related (of course, I can’t relax so need to be busy all day as this is my form of relaxation -learning) and packing in as much activity as I could do in my short visit. Miraval is one of many spa resorts that looks to treat the whole person – body, mind, soul at whatever participation (budget) level you choose. They have specialists available for each facet of your life that you want to focus on during your stay. If you choose to lounge at the pool and spa all week that is one experience, for me, I would do the opposite – no spa treatments and all activities. Most guests choose the middle ground mix of spa and activities.
I had the schedule in hand and was figuring out the puzzle of how to maximize my sessions/activities based on time and location for the next two days. There are ten activity groups (i.e. – Equine Experience, Healthy Living, Nutrition, Outdoor Adventure/Challenge to name a few) that make up the daily schedule. For most guests, choosing to focus on all activities and no spa is not relaxing to anyone I know, for me this was fantastic – I would sponge up the knowledge, the activity and experience and really enjoy falling into the comfy bed at the end of the day happily exhausted.
I would start the day early (earlier than I ever wake/move during the work week) and be one of the first at breakfast each day. This was after signing up for the next day activities if the sheets were posted. After breakfast, I joined sunrise Yoga at 7 am – the easy to follow class with a view out to the desert (how can this not make you happy?).
Energized for the day and full of a healthy breakfast, I would bounce around to many seminars that focused on being the best me as well as these activities:
- Drumming – Everyone was going to drum it seemed so I followed and was surprised by the fun I had moving side to side to play the drums. With the music and full class, everyone was enjoying themselves and had forgotten that this was, in fact, a workout.
- Outdoor boot camp – this was challenging with the desert heat (even in the morning) and the inclines of the hills
- Cardio workout – this was perhaps the most like my daily workouts at home. There were only a few of us in the class used to the intensity of this class.
- The Equine Experience – learning about our selves through the horses (they are pretty smart animals!)
- A healthy cooking demonstration
- Group lunch with the staff nutritionist which provides for good conversation and questions from the table
- Outdoor Yoga with the desert landscape backdrop. As I was thrilled to do downward dog watching the desert creature walk nearby, the other guest was on the concrete in some fancy pose off the ground needing the instructor to validate her. The instructor was wonderful to provide a balanced session addressing both of our skill levels – mine, obviously beginner, the other advanced in her handstand, pretzel poses that i would only be able to do if I was Stretch Armstrong (a cultural toy reference going way back).
- Meditation – I found the mediation room in a far away building and picked my pillow to sit on. With such a jam packed day of activity, I was ready to learn to be still (hard to believe but being still is something I can do once and a while especially if that’s the schedule) and let my mind stop over thinking and be mindful. The instructor was good to explain the session and lead us.
I would pay extra for a private session as my package did not include spa/activity credits (best to book in advance, I waited until I arrived and could only get one on my list). I chose the “Mirror of the Soul” which was an interactive session not unlike a Tarot reading in some ways but with a therapist to discuss the results and applicability to life. She would lay out cards with shapes and then colors and I was to choose x number of each. Once done, she mapped out the results and discussed with me (I felt a bit like a psychology guinea pig with this type of testing getting my report card). To say it was spot on really freaked me out (even to this day) and I had to laugh when she was a bit thrown as well by the results. Being open and putting my normal sarcasm, skeptical, East Coast ways aside, allowed me to take her words in and digest them later to see how my life was leading me here and how the future was mine to embrace. I still look at the results sheet, my notes and her comments now and then to see whether I’ve made progress or not.
With no cell phone/social media access, responsibilities or other distractions, it was easy to focus only on me and my needs. The tranquil environment was calming and I was able to fill my mind with all kinds of positive information. Now the tough part would be to apply in my daily life – this was to be a learning vacation for me, not something to remember fondly but to help me move forward – to re-energize me. My journey at Miraval made it easy to be in the moment, be grateful for everything in my life and still enjoy the indulgences without guilt.