The Berkshires Blog

A Day at “The Ranch” and More

By Todd Fiorentino

Going to Canyon Ranch in Lenox is a combination of NPR story topics, Dr. Oz and continuing education classes (metaphysics, anyone?) at your local college with a luxurious vacation-like atmosphere.  For instance, the last NPR report that I listened to was about serotonin in your gut, and how certain bacteria can help release this important hormone and neurotransmitter (maybe that’s why I like Kombucha so much).  This is right up their alley.  Nutritionists at Canyon Ranch discuss the vegan lifestyle and pros/cons of a gluten-free existence.  This being the case, it was fitting that I would start my adventure at the culinary demonstration kitchen with “Chef Billy.”

Unlike the silent meals of Kripalu where you really focus on the food, Canyon Ranch treats meals like a little class.  There are overhead cameras that give you a bird’s eye view of the chef preparing your food so even in a room of 30 or so diners—you can see everything on the screen.  The entrée today was sesame beef tenderloin, and as the name would suggest, the beef could be cut with a butter knife.  Chef Billy had the culinary skills, but also, he injected some personality into the affair, joking with the group and sharing some of his kitchen misadventures.  Cranwell Resort, Spa & Golf Club also offer cooking classes, which I have yet to try out as they are mostly offered to the group/meeting market. Unlike the Canyon Ranch experience, at Cranwell you can enjoy a local brew or glass of wine with your culinary adventure. Or for more decadent cooking experiences check out Chez Nous and Patisserie Lenox, both offer amazing baking classes.

So the question becomes, now that I have created these culinary treat how am I going to burn off these calories?  At Canyon Ranch it is like you are at a luxurious campus so you don’t have to drive around the Berkshires searching for various activities.  It’s all right here. They have a ropes, adventure, swing, giant ladder and zip line course.  Or if the swing wasn’t quite enough, you can suspend yourself on the TRX cables and use gravity to get a workout. For rest afterwards, there’s a solarium or meditation room.  If you are not staying at Canyon Ranch, the Berkshires can serve as your playground. In summer enjoy hiking and biking or a canoe paddle on one of our many lakes and in the winter the best way to work off all those calories is to enjoy one of our many snow sports.

Back at the Ranch, if you want to try something new why not enjoy an art/music therapy class (watercolors, West African drumming, jewelry making).  It’s about self discovery, acceptance and yet challenging yourself.  Their motto is “the power of possibility,” and I think this really comes through in the wellspring of programming offered each day.

While the rooms are well-appointed at Canyon Ranch, they also don’t want you to sit in bed watching big screen TV or playing on the Internet.  Lodging in the Berkshire runs the gamut and there are a variety of spa resort options aside from Canyon Ranch. You can enjoy a contemplative experience at Kripalu or for a more luxurious getaway you might choose to stay at Cranwell; Garden Gables Inn also has a petit spa on premise if you are looking for a B&B experience or stay at Chambery Inn and enjoy a fireside massage right in your room.  There is also the newly reopened Eastover Resort, which has recast itself as a facility for the holistic community.  They have satellite cabins for simple lodging or more refined rooms in the mansion.  This allows them to cater to families while also having appeal to urbanites on break.  The Eastover model allows holistic teachers to run workshops on the grounds with marketing support, lodging and meals provided.  Yoga, Qigong, Juicing & Cleansing, Healing Touch, Urban Tantra—these are just some of their offerings.

The Berkshires has always placed an emphasis on healthy living and finding balance in one’s life so it is no surprise that our region should be filled with a variety of rejuvenation options and that Canyon Ranch chose to call the Berkshires home. Interesting to note is that Canyon Ranch is placing a new emphasis on its partnership with Berkshire Health Systems continuing to serve as a catalyst for healthy change.

In our daily life, fast food, lack of sleep and no time for exercise is often a reality.  We’re busy tending to other people’s needs; how can we take care of ourselves? Why not take a moment to breathe and then plan your escape to the Berkshires.


Todd Fiorentino is a wellness writer and owner of Stockbridge Massage and Energy Rising Massage.  He writes extensively on topics including all aspects of wellness and holistic therapies.