Family

Postcard from Canyon Ranch, Miami

Ex-gym enthusiast Alicia Kowalewski finds her calm again by sweating it out for Mother’s Day.

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Photo: Canyon Ranch

Before my son, Jeremy, was born, I always dealt with stress by keeping active. Getting to the gym was a priority—boxing, spinning, bootcamp—I did it all. I’d get up at the crack of dawn and find it in myself to start my day with some cardio. Fast-forward four years, and now my mornings are dedicated to a high-intensity routine of just getting my family out the door on time. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when, for Mother’s Day, my husband, John, sneakily booked us a romantic-getaway weekend to the luxe Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa in Miami. What a place! Not only is the property gorgeous, there are more than 40 classes every day to choose from. I crammed in everything from a 7 a.m. scenic guided beach walk and killer boxing workouts to a meditation class. The best part? After you’ve worked out all your tension and had your butt kicked a few times, you can flake out in the spa or head over to the restaurant for some yummy, health-conscious gourmet nosh. (I loved that they had the nutritional analysis printed right on the menu!)

Read more: Meditation: 5 must-haves to help you unwind>

Back home, I’ve tried to keep up the momentum from those three days of indulgence. I started scheduling gym workouts over lunch breaks and I joined a Saturday morning bootcamp. Mommy is finally feeling Zen again. What better gift could I give to my family?

Ready to play

The amazing boardwalk was perfect for rollerblading or going for a run or bike ride. It’s a nice way see more of South Beach.

Tip: With an overwhelming list of spa-and wellness-package options to choose from, picking what will be most beneficial for you can be pretty daunting. Make use of the resort’s helpful complimentary Program Advisers who can point you in the right direction.

Healthy appetizer

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Photo: iStockphoto

Baked artichoke fries. We ordered these at least four times in three days. Yum! Bonus? Canyon Ranchposts all their recipes (they change seasonally) on their website.

Read more: Olive and artichoke toasts>

Surprising treatment

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Photo: Canyon Ranch

I was a bit skeptical when my “healing energy” therapist started waving his hands over me, but he got me to explore some interesting things about my childhood, and I had some realizations about how it’s informing my parenting now.

Indoor workout

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Photo: iStockphoto

There’s an awesome multi-storey climbing wall with an ocean view.

Read more: 7 workout tips for parents>

Place to pamper pregnant ladies

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Photo: iStockphoto

Everywhere I looked, I bumped into a bump. That prenatal massage they offer must be really, really good.

Read more: How to safely indulge at the spa while pregnant>

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Photo: Canyon Ranch

Banish your toxins

At home I call my little bathtub the spa, but the spa here is a whole other universe. After a day of play, meditation or lounging at the beach, you can easily spend hours soaking up some water therapies at the Aquavana thermal suite. The treatment is based on the idea that exposing the body to a contrast of hot and cold temperatures is good for facilitating the drainage of toxins. I moved through the series of pools and steam rooms of varying temperatures, detoxifying away, but my favourite part was at the end, when I got to flop out on the heated-stone loungers. (I must have been a salamander in a previous life.) John, on the other hand, preferred spending his time in the “IGLOO”—a frigid,twinkling room with three “ArcticMist experiences” to choose from—menthol, mint or eucalyptus. “When we do the reno,” he concluded wistfully. Sure, honey. Whatever you say.

*Canyon Ranch was built on the site of the glamorous historic Carillon Hotel and is still a celeb mecca. A-listers who have ranched at the Miami outpost include Diana Ross, Suri Cruise, Katie Holmes and Kanye West.

A version of this article appeared in our May 2014 issue with the headline “Canyon Ranch, Miami,” p. 22.