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Wellness in the Woods

By Fran Endicott Miller | Photos by Canyon Ranch Woodside

Maybe you’ve heard of Canyon Ranch. The iconic centers for wellness and life enhancement, located in Tucson, Arizona, and Lenox, Massachusetts, have long served as the ideal for those seeking the utmost in relaxation and rejuvenation. Now a new Canyon Ranch in Woodside stands ready to welcome West Coast serenity seekers. Surrounded by nature, located in the mid-peninsula hills among 16 acres of centuries-old redwoods, Canyon Ranch Woodside is the retreat everyone needs right now. There, thoughtful Thursday through Monday programming and rituals are designed to help you reenter the world energized, emotionally connected, and mentally focused.

More than a vacation, each visit to Canyon Ranch Woodside is thoughtfully orchestrated to inspire connections to nature, others, and self. Once home to the famed Skylonda Lodge and situated upon sacred Ohlone Indian land along Skyline Boulevard, this bucolic retreat incorporates the principles of harmony with nature, protection, and peace.


Featuring just 38 rooms, the property and its offerings feel intimate and authentic to its sense of place. There is, however, ample room to roam, including along the beautiful forest path full of wooden steps, meditation benches, and creek-traversing bridges. You can also meander along the meditation labyrinth modeled after the one in France at the thirteenthcentury Chartres Cathedral. For a lovely meditative experience, attend the Thursday night evening ritual, a visually stunning, candle-lit labyrinth walk.

It’s quiet at Canyon Ranch Woodside, and you’ll hear birdsong piercing the fresh air. This is not only a place to disconnect. “It’s really more of a place to reconnect,” says Jim Eastburn, corporate director of transformational experiences for Canyon Ranch. “An experience here is grounding and healing, helping to deepen people’s connection to themselves and to those with whom they share their life. We provide a sense of connection to others, and to nature.”


Recurring themes during a suggested three-to four-night stay include gratitude, forgiveness, self-compassion, greater mindfulness, idea of purpose, and how to transfer new outlooks to daily life. These topics are further instilled by informal fireside chats with a team of spiritual, wellness, and life coaches, each of whom is nearly always present and willing to engage. You can take your discussion deeper with scheduled one-on-one guidance on any number of topics, including spirituality, cultivating a life of purpose, or rites of passage.


You can fill each hour with a daily schedule of guided hikes, yoga sessions, fitness training, and mediation, or plan your own schedule with a program specifically designed to meet your needs. And you will not be judged if simply relaxing in the calm energy of the forest setting fits your idea of the perfect retreat.

Canyon Ranch’s dynamic executive chef, Isabelle Jackson Nunes, plans and creates delicious and nutritious meals, which are included with your stay. She sources the freshest ingredients for creative offerings from local food purveyors. Her meals are driven by wellness philosophies that include root-to-stem use of vegetables and fruits, meat raised with humane animal husbandry practices, and ingredients and beverages that do not strain the region’s natural resources. Don’t hesitate to ask for a particular recipe—Nunes is not a proprietary chef and gladly shares.


“A Canyon Ranch Woodside stay is different from a typical getaway,” says Eastburn. “Guests find themselves on a wellness retreat, a journey of self-discovery that gently unfolds each day. More than ever, we need to press the “pause button” on our busy lives, step away from the stress, and learn ways to not only cope, but perhaps thrive in the face of adversity and challenge.”

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