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February 20, 2015

The Magic of Miraval


Two weeks ago I spent a long weekend at Miraval Resort & Spa in Tucson. It’s a place that’s been on my bucket list since Oprah waved her magic wand and anointed it her favorite spa on earth (or something like that). The trip could not have come at a better time. I needed time alone to process a whiplash of changes in my life and to get quiet so I could decipher the noise from  inner voice. Solo travel isn’t something I seek out—talk about facing your aloneness—but it always ends up being the most transformative. There’s no place better to do inner work than in the desert, and, as it were, no place more magical than Miraval.


Miraval’s mantra is Life in Balance and it’s the essence of every experience here. I stepped off the plane and into the healing arms of  Pam Lancaster who treated me to Tibetan Chakra Balancing. After a heart-to-heart in which Pam gently pointed out that I was not (spoiler alert) ALLOWING, rather living in my head instead of being present in my body, she used Tibetan bowls and symphonic gongs to help me clear out negative energy and create space for a heightened level of consciousness and spiritual awareness. If that sounds like a tall order it is, but if you could hear those ancient bowls and feel the vibrations at your core, you’d connect with your higher self, too. It was an honor to experience this ancient ritual and clearly put a smile on my face to be free of some equally ancient baggage.

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Another healing highlight was It’s Not About the Horse with author, therapist and reformed cowboy Wyatt Webb. I’m pretty sure he was my grandfather in another life. You may recall Wyatt working with the Real Housewives of New Jersey, who didn’t fair so well . . . During “equine therapy,” the horse acts as an energetic mirror so that you can identify patterns of learned behavior that may be holding you back. The horse knows your heart and only cooperates when you finally let go of fear and self-doubt. All of this work is done in a group setting, which adds to the pressure and the poignancy of the experience. There were tears, breakthroughs, and bridges built between one couple. I loved every second and will never forget that the horse rewarded me for being vulnerable. Wyatt offers a five-day equine immersion retreat that, if you are at a cross-roads or ready to finally put your demons to rest, would be the best gift you could give yourself.


Speaking of treating yourself, how about this pool? Miraval is true destination spa in every sense. Guests pad around in robes and Lululemon. There is zero pressure to do anything or be anybody but exactly who you are in that moment. Often passed out in some cushy lounge chair or hiking without another human in sight. I spent as much time as possible at the spa, which is the most tranquil, luxurious and well done I’ve ever encountered. So often, and ironically, the more famous the spa the more underwhelming the practitioners and more overlooked small-yet-important details are overlooked. That was NOT the case at Miraval, where every service and exchange exceeded my expectations.

miraval spa

I had my first cranio sacral treatment here, a form of bodywork that addresses the bones of the head, spinal column and sacrum. The goal is to release compression in those areas which alleviates stress and pain. I floated out feeling ten pounds lighter and a foot taller. I also had the perfect Vitamin C facial featuring more massage and much-needed extractions, and a pristine Deborah Lippman pedicure. The spa menu is extensive and, coupled with the healing activities and outdoor adventures, you could spend a week at Miraval and still only scratch the surface. Needless to say, I can’t wait to go back. But next time, I’m taking the girls! I got a lot of questions about when men go to Miraval and the answer is yes. There were lots of lovely couples, and most I talked to made Miraval an annual pilgrimage together. I don’t blame them!

For more information and to plan your own magical journey, visit

  • Elizabeth Dehn
    Born and raised in Minnesota by surprisingly low-maintenance parents, beauty writer and lifestyle editor Elizabeth Dehn (aka Bets) spent her awkward years buying Mood lipstick and whipping up DIY face masks before founding Beauty Bets in 2009.
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