Celebrating a 10th Anniversary at the Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa
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To The Point
It isn’t perfect, but Miraval is a welcome oasis of relaxation for couples. Pros: wonderful activities that pushed me out of my comfort zone, amazing massage, good food and the best bed I’ve ever slept in. Cons: confusing nightly credit, slightly out-of-date bathrooms and long and unenjoyable hotel shuttle.
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Two kids, countless sleepless nights and many memorable trips later, we found ourselves approaching a full decade after exchanging vows high above the Las Vegas Strip in a suite with 50 friends and family members. Every year of marriage is something to celebrate, but round numbers like 10 are extra special.
Believe it or not, we actually didn’t have a traditional honeymoon 10 years ago — we just stayed in Vegas a few extra days after the ceremony. So for our 10th anniversary, we were set on doing something special and a little out of the ordinary.
Thankfully for us, special didn’t have to mean expensive, at least not when miles, points and rewards credit cards were involved. A little over a year ago, my husband applied for the old Chase Hyatt Visa card. This was back when it awarded two nights to use at any of its properties, including the Miraval Resort & Spa in Arizona.
The Miraval Resort & Spa in Arizona is an Oprah-level retreat that routinely sells for more than $1,000 per night for double occupancy. The chances of us paying that out of pocket for a weekend stay were worse than our odds playing craps on our wedding night in Vegas. Instead of spending cash, we were all-in on using our two credit-card sign-up bonus nights for a weekend anniversary spa and mindfulness getaway.
We used United miles for our flights to Tucson (TUS) (and ended up getting upgraded to first class!), used our Hyatt credit card nights for the stay at Miraval and had virtually zero out-of-pocket costs since using Hyatt points or award nights to stay at Miraval gave us a $175-per-person-per-night credit.
The new World of Hyatt credit card doesn’t award two nights like the old card did when we were approved in 2017, but rather it now awards up to 60,000 bonus World of Hyatt points: 40,000 points after spending $3,000 within the first three months of opening the account, and another 20,000 points after spending $6,000 within the first six months.
An award stay at the Miraval Spa is normally 45,000 points per night for single occupancy and an additional 20,000 points per night for double occupancy. But there’s currently a promotion running until Aug. 31 that allows you to receive 50% of your points back on Miraval award stays completed by that date. This means that a stay for two in a standard room would cost 32,500 points per night, which is a lot but still a good return on your points if you factor in the $175 credit per person each night, the cost of transportation, meals and activities and the regular selling price.
If you’re short on World of Hyatt points, you can transfer points from your Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve at a 1:1 ratio to Hyatt.
Ground transportation from the Tuscon Airport to Miraval was complimentary with our stay, even though the resort was close to an hour away from the airport. We did not have much trouble finding the drivers with the Miraval signs waiting for us in baggage claim, and we were aboard the bus within five minutes of arriving.
But the ride needed improvement. It was on a shuttle bus similar to an airport hotel’s. That works fine for transfers within a mile or two, but was far from comfortable for an hour-long drive through the Arizona heat. Aggravating the issue was the fact that the bus was 100% full, so we didn’t have a chance to spread out and relax on our way to a spa weekend. These are First World problems, to be sure, but worth noting at a property that sells for $1,000 per night.
We got bottled water on the shuttle, but they were kid-sized water bottles that were depleted within minutes, if not seconds. It is fair to say that Josh and I were both beyond ready to be out of the hotel shuttle bus by the time we pulled up to the resort.
We arrived at Miraval, were handed fresh juice and found our individual check-in forms and itineraries neatly laid out on a table. Things were immediately looking better than they had a few minutes earlier on the bus.
Once we completed our initial forms, we made our way to the desk to obtain our keys and complete check-in. We were offered an upgrade to a “very nice suite with a private pool” for an additional $300 per night … per person. I’m all for the occasional splurge, but spending $600 extra plus tax per night for a better room was a bit out of our range, no matter how great the private pool was. The per-person charge was also strange, as it isn’t like only one of us would be upgrading.
I asked whether our Hyatt Globalist status made us eligible for a suite, and was told that that status was the reason we’d already been upgraded to a base suite. We thanked them for our “free” upgrade and passed on spending $1,200 over the two-night stay for a better room.
Since it was around lunchtime, our room was not yet ready (and wouldn’t be for several hours), but they said we were welcome to start enjoying the included meals by heading to the dining room. We could’ve arrived at Miraval as early as 11:00am on our first day, and the last complimentary shuttle departed Miraval for the airport at 2:00pm each afternoon, though we had to check out of our room by 11:00am.
Our Hyatt awards nights had earned us a Dreamcatcher King Room, but our Globalist status landed us an upgrade to what they called the Miraval King Suite.
The room was quite nice for two people on a weekend stay, but calling it a suite was generous, as it was simply one room with a seating area near the fireplace. It was an oversized room, to be sure, perhaps a junior suite, but not a true suite in my book. Still, it was comfortable, and the fireplace was a treat on our July visit during the evening monsoons.
The absolute best thing about the room was the insanely fluffy, comfortable bed, which was just about the most comfortable thing I have ever slept in. If you prefer firm beds, you will likely be disappointed, though, as this was a downy masterpiece of perfection.
The bathroom had a tub and separate shower that were both unremarkable but fine. Aside from the amazing bed, the room was comfortable but perhaps a notch or two below what you might expect for the price, especially if you were paying with cold hard cash. The property has excellent bones, but the rooms, and especially the bathrooms, are approaching time for a refresh, given the high-end nature of the resort.
The room had a covered patio, work desk and good Wi-Fi, though keeping you connected was not the resort’s main purpose.
Food and Beverage
Breakfast, lunch and dinner at Miraval were all served in the Cactus Flower Restaurant, with the option of dining at the bar for dinner. They recommended we make reservations for dinner while at breakfast, though during the summer it didn’t seem especially necessary unless we wanted a specific time.
If we couldn’t get the reservation time we wanted, we could eat in the bar without reservations, or order in-room dining. All of the food and nonalcoholic beverages at the Miraval were complimentary, though there was a $15 delivery fee for room service.
I absolutely loved the food at Miraval, with its strong emphasis on healthy options. My husband liked the food well enough, but was ready for a big pizza by the time we got home. Fear not, pizza-lovers, it wasn’t all health food: There were desserts, burgers, tacos and other comfort foods sprinkled in with the quinoa, kale, fresh smoothies and salads.
We both agreed that having not having to deal with bills, prices, tips or credit cards after meals made it that much more relaxed and enjoyable. You ordered whatever you wanted and when you were done eating, you just left.
We had most of our meals in the restaurant, with one dinner at the bar and one lunch attempted via room service. No one answered the phone, though, so we just walked up to the restaurant.
If you weren’t in the mood for a full meal, complimentary snacks and smoothies were available until 6:00pm in the Palm Court.
The real attraction of Miraval isn’t the rooms or location but the wellness activities. You go here to relax, recenter and reconnect. Many of the Miraval activities were included at no additional charge (some required advance reservation), though some, such as equine activities, zip lines and cooking classes, came with fees. The list of activities available each day was extensive, and some of the options seemed a little bit out there.
For example, we went to a floating meditation session, where you rocked in silk hammocks while the instructor rang various bowls. It was calming and grounding, as they say, though it sounded totally bizarre to this Texan.
My advice: Book activities and spa treatments that sound right up your alley, but don’t stop there. Challenge yourself to activities outside your comfort zone, like the floating meditation was for me.
We went to a Native American drumming session and a talk by a therapist on positivity, and they were among our most treasured memories of the weekend, though both were well outside of our regularly scheduled programming. Another guest at the session on positivity summed it up best when she said she came to Miraval expecting great spa treatments but left getting so much more by pushing herself to go to the talks and activities.
Not everything was spectacular, of course, as dream yoga turned out to essentially be a group nap, which was a bit too “Kumbaya” and heavy breathing for me. But I stand by the recommendation to try different things.
I get massages with regularity, so I’m a relatively tough critic. In fact, I’ve stopped getting massages at many resorts and hotels as they can end up being three times the price of my massages at home while only being half as enjoyable. That said, my massage at Miraval Arizona was anything but disappointing!
Until my trip to Miraval, the best massage I’d ever had on a trip was at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, where I was massaged, stretched and walked on in ways that sound horrible but felt amazing. Miraval Arizona has now edged out the Park Hyatt Tokyo as my best travel massage ever. If you go to Miraval and take no other piece of my advice, at least do yourself a favor and book a massage with Manny. I hope to return to Miraval in large part just to see Manny again.
Manny’s not necessarily the one you want for your first-ever massage, though. He’s the one you want when you need to be stretched and “fixed”. He will find and work your problem areas, but not in an aromatherapy-and-light-relaxation way.
Miraval was more than just the scheduled classes and included meals. It was also a 400-acre resort that was ours to explore and enjoy. There were pools, trails, a gym and quiet places to take time for ourselves. There was a larger pool for swimming laps next to the gym and a pool that offered poolside snacks and cocktails (for a price).
Josh enjoyed waking up early and walking the trails around the property before the sun got more intense in the middle of the day, while I most enjoyed soaking in the pool in the afternoon.
Being able to use Hyatt awards nights to dedicate a weekend to celebrate our 10th anniversary at a high-end wellness resort was a special experience. I can’t say that I’m forever changed or a more balanced person after a weekend at Miraval, but I can say it brought much-needed calm to an intense and hectic summer.
Miraval isn’t perfect, and it could use a refresh in some areas, but it is a pretty special place — especially if you push your boundaries and take full advantage of what is has to offer.
One thing we learned was that we couldn’t combine the included nightly $175 per-person credit when staying on awards. Josh and I wrongfully assumed that our $175 per person meant that it was $350 for the room per night. But since it was allocated per person, it had to be used per person. When I was a bit over my allotment and he was a bit under his, they made adjustments as a courtesy once, but your safest bet is to track and use your credits on an individual basis.
Miraval is a no-tipping resort outside of the drivers, which was pretty great, as tipping everyone and carrying cash would have added stress to the experience. Most people at Miraval were dressed casually and seem to be focused on the experience more than their appearance, which was also a relaxing change of pace. Finally, you’re supposed to let your cell phone rest so you can be present during your stay at Miraval, but I saw many people not following that recommendation.
I hope to go to Miraval Arizona again, get another amazing massage from Manny, sleep in the best bed ever and explore more activities outside of my normal comfort zone. If Arizona isn’t on your immediate travel list, keep an eye out for the opening of Miraval Austin at some point in later 2018 or early 2019.