Who knew Canyon Ranch had a wellness retreat in Woodside, California? The property opened quietly last Fall, then closed down at the beginning of the pandemic but is now fully open again — going above and beyond on required safety measures — and offering the best wellness programming out there, complete with destination dining that’s both healthful and delicious (recipes below).
Let’s start with the 24 treehouses that encircle the wooded property. Canyon Ranch Woodside has 14 beautiful rooms in the main lodge building high on the hill, but the treehouses allow for unparalleled privacy and contemplation. Each has a king bed (or two queens) with Mascioni luxury sheets looking out on the dense redwood forest, iPads for hotel information and class schedules, a mini-refrigerator, a soaking tub, and a 55”-inch tv. You can call for contactless delivery of whatever you might need.
Canyon Ranch is highly regarded for its range and depth of wellness programming. This outpost is much smaller than the Tucson, Arizona and Lenox, Massachusetts locations, making it ideal for quiet reflection and self-care in a variety of forms.
What’s special, and fairly unusual, about this particular wellness retreat model is that there is no pressure to do more than you want to do or to steer you in any way other than your own internal compass. Class offerings are abundant throughout each day — including spiritual and psychological guidance, physical conditioning and nutrition — and nothing is doctrinaire. In other words, it’s a laid-back, friendly place to get into your groove, acknowledge your own rhythms, and pursue your own goals at your own pace. Each retreat is three to four days in duration and offers opportunities to meet with other guests at fireside chats, if you choose. The full-service spa is open for certain treatments under strict health and safety protocols.
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The culinary program, led by chef Isabelle Jackson Nunes, is cutting-edge. There’s no austere “diet” food here. Chef Isabelle approaches wellness holistically, sourcing the majority of her ingredients locally and partnering with trusted purveyors whom she personally knows.
And the menus are designed so that you can taste a little bit of everything or choose larger portions of a few dishes. Chef also works a lot with fermented foods (recipe for skordalia with fermented garlic below), essential for intestinal health. A signature breakfast dish is cauliflower grits and Markegard sausage (recipe also below) from a nearby rancher who practices regenerative farming.
A gift certificate for a wellness retreat here would make a splendid present for someone burnt out from #2020. A “year of wellness” at Canyon Ranch made the list of Neiman Marcus fantasy gifts this year — $345,000, including private air transfers.
While you’re there, don’t miss the two hiking trails on the 16-acre property, with meditation benches and forest fitness challenges. And there’s a beautiful labyrinth designed after France’s 13th-century Chartres Cathedral where I ended each day with quiet contemplation.
Whatever your pleasure, this is a swoon-worthy spot on earth.
I’ll leave you with the aforementioned recipes straight from the kitchen of Isabelle Jackson Nunes:
2 LBS Yukon Gold Potatoes, Peeled, Steamed
1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ Cup Confit Garlic Cloves, Mashed
½ Cup Confit Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¾ Cup Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
½ T Salt + more to taste
1 T Lemon Zest
-Mash Potatoes with Confit Garlic and Salt
-Add Lemon Zest, Lemon Juice, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Salt. Mix well
7 oz Garlic, Minced
14 oz Distilled White Vinegar
½ oz Sea Salt
-Combine all of the above ingredients in a clean, sealed container
-Leave at room temperature for 3-7 days to ferment
Cauliflower Grits & Markegard Family Grass-Fed Pork Sausage
4 oz Cauliflower, Riced
2 oz Polenta Cornmeal
6 oz Vegetable Stock
2 oz Milk
1 oz Parmesan Cheese
½ Bunch Thyme
1 Bay Leaf
Salt to Taste
2 ea / 2 oz Markegard Family Grass-Fed Pork Sausage Patties
1 ea Over Easy Farm Fresh Egg
Mixed Picked Herbs: Parsley, Purslane, Celery Leaf
-Begin by heating up Vegetable Stock and Milk with Thyme and Bay Leaf
-Once it comes to a boil, stir in the Polenta and reduce to low heat
-Stir frequently and once the Polenta is cooked, add in the Riced Cauliflower, Parmesan Cheese and Salt
-Dress the Picked Herbs in a small amount of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a pinch of Salt
-Pour this mixture into a bowl and top it with an Over Easy Farm Fresh Egg, Sausage Patties and Picked Herb Salad