Friday, November 23, 2007

Shopping Safari: Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires

The beautiful fountain leading to Belle Fontaine, the original name of the mansion that became Canyon Ranch.
by Jamee Gregory

Why not escape from the city for a quick trip to Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires?
The leaves are turning; the Taconic Parkway is ablaze with color. Charming villages, sheep, rustic cottages and farm stands with organic produce all line the roads as one hits the Mass Pike and begins crossing through scenic Berkshire villages.

Stop in Stockbridge, see the Sedgwick pie, stroll in the shops or head straight for the cleansing, relaxing, stimulating spa experience as we did one autumn weekend.
Another view of The Canyon Ranch.
Koi Pond, full of fish and Water Lillies.
Historic homes, like Edith Wharton’s “The Mount” and fancy inns like the Wheatly are in striking distance. Each trip to the ranch, we promise to make these visits, but the program is all consuming. Up at 6:30, we choose the fast 7 A.M. walk at 4.5 miles an hour.

Keeping up with our leader makes our hearts race for forty-five minutes, followed by a necessary shower and a yummy breakfast. Whole wheat pancakes, 7-grain waffles, egg-white omelettes, it’s a lot better than breakfast at home! At 9 it’s stretch, 10 Pilates, 11 Pool aerobics, 12 Abs on a Ball or Rock Bottom (what a beautiful concept!).
L. to r.: Admiring the artful display of pumpkins, gourds, and cabbages; The spa walls are covered with art to buy. This past week art created by the staff was on display.
By 12:30 it’s time to eat. Pizzas, quesadillas, chocolate chip cookies and ice cream, all in healthy portions, slurped down with ginger tea, green tea, or berry tea. 2 P.M. and it’s my favorite class, Aerobic weight circuit, where you run on a treadmill for a minute and go to twelve different stations in-between, lifting weights, leg-pressing, doing push-ups and bicep curves balancing on a Bosu, an unstable ball, trying to remain upright. Luckily, there are no video cameras!

At 3 it’s Canyon Ranch Yoga where I fail to hinge over and touch the floor with my chin. Even my elbows don’t make it! At 4 it’s time for Restorative Yoga where I find myself next door to “Mr. Big”, Chris Noth. I have trouble concentrating! At 5 it’s a massage, followed by hair washing and diner at 7, after Mocktails, of course.
L. to r.: The charming mural at Cafe Tasse; Goods for sale at the cafe ... pizza dough and cookies.
Now we get to the shopping! After casing all the local Lenox shops, coffee seemed like the only thing to buy. However, the boutique at Canyon Ranch is well worth a visit. Even as my muscles ached, heart raced, and feet hurt, I did find time to explore the well-stocked shop.

Fleece in every colors, socks for every activity, cook books, relaxation tapes, Cosabella thongs, Wolford turtlenecks, cashmere and cotton tees from France, quilted parkas, Yoga pants, running gear, all tempt. Cases of jewelry, art works, sculptures and glass objects are on display.
Clockwise from above: Snuggly pj's; Toast sweaters; Jewelry cases representing different creators.
For those too weak to try things on, there are cookies to go, pizza crusts, bread and vitamins for sale. Most guests, myself included, make time to shop, leaving spiffier if not thinner!
Clockwise from top left: Agraria diffusers and bright tees that make exercise fun; Cook books and healthy condiments; Thongs in prints and colors from Hanky Panky and Cosabella; Hand-knit sweaters; Adorable soaps in the shape of dogs, cats, and elephants; Rhinestoned tees in coffee mugs.