Miraval is an all-inclusive wellness resort located about an hour north of Tucson, Arizona in the Sonoran desert. A couple of years ago, Hyatt bought it out so that allows people to book the resort through Hyatt points at a real steal. The resort is all-inclusive with a no tipping policy, with the exception of some classes with food, horseback riding, and ziplining, as well as alcohol, and spa appointments — otherwise you know we’d all be in there, every hour, on the hour.
If you haven’t read my previous post on how I booked Miraval rooms and airfare for free, check it out here.
The Booking Process
There’s no online booking for free Hyatt certs through Miraval, so I rang them up and booked with the sweetest operator.
The booking took over an hour because their systems couldn’t handle searching across multiple dates for activities and we wanted to stay during two days with our favorite activities available. I was somewhat surprised at this because if people are paying more than four figures a night, they might expect reasonable tech. You can’t book online or through an app. It’s possible people just emailed requests for activities though. We needed to book them on the phone because we decided we were going just a few weeks prior and the activities were getting filled up.
The operator could tell we wanted to make the most out of our Miraval time so she suggested we stay for three days, but book a night at the Hyatt Place so we could take advantage or early or late checkout.
It felt like every employee could handle any question we asked, which told us they were trained extremely well and that the property really cared about its employees. We were told training was around a week and that they were really nice about hiring students and being flexible with their schedule. Employees would wave at us when they passed by with their golf carts. They were all super cheery and made you feel really welcomed.
Also, they had a ton of awesome food and told me they were willing to email recipes of anything, which is awesome because sometimes I’m pretty sad I won’t be able to cook something at home since I don’t know the recipe.
Airport Pickup & Check-In
We we booked on a connecting flight via Dallas and American Airlines delayed our NYC flight by 30 minutes, causing us to miss our connection by 7 minutes and pushed our arrival by an hour and a half. Ugh, and AA had three flights to Dallas within 2 hours that morning I think. Ours was the only one delayed.
We called Miraval to let them know what they happened and it was a seamless pickup. We recognized our driver with the Miraval pickup sign and he offered us a bottle of water and a large booklet for activities and information about Miraval. He gave us little tags to put on our baggage and whisked the bags off to your room while we went to check-in. He also took out a little stool for when we stepped out of the van, which was interesting.
There’s no line when you go to check-in and we got a list of our activities printed out. They offer you this amazingly delicious herbed orange honey drink.
We went back for a tour of the property offered by the front desk so we wouldn’t get lost, which was a nice touch.
Our Room – Dream Catcher, Upgrade From Native Spirit
We got a free upgrade from the Native Spirit room because they were all booked out when we made our booking. I don’t know what the Native Spirit looks like, but I took pictures of our Dream Catcher room. The bed was amongst the fluffiest I’ve ever slept in and I loved the adorable little cell phone beds you were supposed to put your cell phone in. We had a little desk for work and two large chairs for a sitting area.
The Gourmet Healthy Food At Miraval
The food was amazing, but the artistic beauty of the plating was also really well done.
For breakfast there’s a menu with lots of options for plates of food (avocado toast, lox bagel spread, etc) along with a buffet room where you can take what you want.
For lunch, there’s one special and the same buffet room but different food. I’m told the special is always fish and it was the two days we were there. The buffet room at lunch is composed of vegetarian dishes for the most part. There is chicken, tuna, and one more hot dish as a protein, but that chicken is so tasty.
There’s no limit on the amount of plates you order, so if you’re super hungry you can always order more than one plate. Or two. Or more. I ate two dishes of fish for each lunch.
For afternoon snacks, you can head to the lounge for some chips and dip, along with small charcuterie plates.
Dinner is a legit four course meal. There’s an appetizer, soup or salad, entree, and dessert, but each is perfection. You’ll need to make a dinner reservation, but they were never filled up when we requested.
We had charcuterie every night ad loved the freshness of the items.
On the first night there were four entrees that looked awesome, so the bf and I split them.
Favorite dessert: Creme Brulee. Instead of the original toppings, I asked for honeycomb and bee pollen. They have a bee farm on resort grounds so it was absolutely incredible. If you’ve never had fresh honey, take the honey class on the bee farm.
Every dish was light, incredibly fresh (I believe they have a large garden on the property), and so creative. They had carrot peanut butter, which was so much better than normal peanut butter because it was so fluffy but had all the deliciousness of peanut butter. The mushroom shallot butter was absolutely insane. They have a different butter each night so if you love it, you can always ask for it to go.
If you’d like to dine in your room, you can get food sent there for $15. You can also take it to go to your room for free.
There’s also an activity called “Cook For Me Chef” for $150, where it’s like a Chef’s Table. They explain all the ingredients and it includes a wine pairing.
The Smoothie/Coffee/Snack Bar
They had 8 different types of smoothies and I tried all the delicious looking ones. Sorry guys, but I just can’t get behind things like a kale smoothie. A ton of people were drinking it though, so clearly I might be in the wrong. Maybe I’m not yet ready to be super healthy.
Golden milk was my favorite, which is apparently a Tucson thing as we saw it in a coffee shop outside of the resort. Horchata was a close second. The smoothies are premade but fresh, which is operationally awesome because you get them super fast. You can ask for special made ones as well. If you’re hungry in the afternoon, the chorizo quesadilla was pretty delicious.
The Miraval Spa has been ranked the number one spa in the country and we can see why.
After checking in and changing into fluffy robes and slippers, you can enjoy hot tea and refreshing water in a little room with lounges. The lounge looks out to the Sonoran desert, which is an incredible view. You can also sit outside, but when we were there, a horned owl was nesting there and in an effort to protect the owl, no one could enter. It really showed Miraval cared about the environment.
In each locker room there was a jacuzzi and sauna to sweat out your toxins.
I got an abhyanga and relaxation massage and both were incredible. The abhyanga massage had more friction strokes with more oil, and the relaxation massage was much more calm. Both were great. Massages at Miraval run $160+ per 50 minutes and you can use your daily resort credit for it.
There are discounted massages from 9AM-1PM everyday, kind of like their early bird special. It definitely got insanely busy at 3PM every day.
The Spa is located above the pool due to the difference in elevation, so after we got our massages, we walked right downstairs to chill by the pool. We laid down on the little floating mats and I read the Principles By Ray Dalio again. There’s a little pool bar where you can get alcoholic drinks and some small snacks. The water temperature is perfect in the desert sun and sunscreen is provided at the pool.
Miraval is a relaxation and wellness resort so there were plenty of activities to learn how to be more harmonized with one’s self. Our favorite was the class to relieve stress via meditation. The nurse who taught it was incredibly knowledgable and we walked out with some good techniques on how to calm our lives. Check out walking meditation or try a Tibetan singing bowl.
Mountain Biking, Horseback Riding, Rock Climbing, and Tennis
The resort is mostly older girlfriend groups with a very small percentage of young couples like us. I had read that Hyatt bought Miraval out for the wellness factor, but also so the large villas could serve as a corporate retreat. That’s why it seemed odd there was mountain biking there – The population of men there was maybe 10 percent. Possibly in advance for the corporate retreats?
The mountain biking was awesome though. Our two instructors were incredibly patient and explained how the bike worked and really knew all the little details. For the beginner course we went over little obstacles, which was great because it got my confidence up that one could really go over large obstacles without falling off. Apparently the giant 27.5 inch wheels make going over anything really easy.
For the advanced class, they went outside of the gate to some really awesome trails.
Miraval also has horseback riding classes that go along the trail, along with using a horse to feel calming and less stressed. There’s also a rock climbing wall and tennis court.
Miraval Villas – A Detour Into Numbers
While we were there we checked out a villa they were trying to sell.
We were curious about the cap rates on vacation properties and wondered how they compared to time shares. If you owned a villa, you got half the revenues if someone booked the hotel during the time you weren’t staying there. Yearly fees were something around $20k with free access to the free amenities and 20 percent off of paid activities, with insurance covered for the exterior of the building and fully furnished. The realtor said the villa owner split of the revenues usually covered the mortgage, so it didn’t make much of an investment property. It makes more sense if you really like staying at Miraval for most of your vacations, but on a valuation basis, costs you the return on your down payment.
The place was absolutely gorgeous though, and the view was just incredible with a living room wall that could be rolled back for an open air living room. It’s a much better return than a time share at least.
The last shuttle leaves at 2PM even though checkout is at noon, which is nice. You’re able to get lunch on the last day. If you have your own transportation, you can leave as late as 5PM. Your bags are brought to the free shuttle back to the airport — in our case they dropped us off at Hyatt Place.
With all the good, I feel like I need to eek out some minor snags because perfection is too high a bar to set for future vacations for the rest of my life.
When we got massages we weren’t booked into the same rooms until I asked when I got there just to double check. Maybe they could ask guests who go together if they want to be in the same room?
There was also confusion about drinks sometimes in the dining area. There was one time I asked for the herbed orange honey drink and they said I had to go to the front desk to get a refill (I did) but other times they just brought it in a glass to the table. The same thing happened with cold brew requests at night. One time they brought it over and the other time said they didn’t do it anymore. It was odd because the time they brought it over it was something like 8 or 9PM vs when they wouldn’t was something like 6 something PM (I went over and got hot coffee since their coffee shop was closed at 6PM every day).
The bathroom wasn’t as nice as you’d expect. The spa bathrooms were much nicer than the in-room bathrooms. Perhaps because it’s assumed you don’t really spend much time in your own bathroom? Unsure, but it just didn’t match the decor of the rest of the room. The bathtub was short and had a plastic shower curtain.
Hyatt Place After Miraval – Pima Air Museum
After Miraval we stayed at the Hyatt Place for a night, which was quite nice and pleasant. It was a large room with a desk and large sofa. There was free breakfast for two for only $90 a night.
We thoroughly enjoyed the Air Museum as the bf loves airplanes. His favorite, in particular, was the giant drone. The boneyard was super awesome seeing all these old planes. Private tours are offered if you booked 10 days in advance.
Overall, the trip was awesome, and if you’re looking for a redemption they have half points and cash off for June 1 to August 31st, 2018. Check out how I booked this trip for basically free.