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Miraval Berkshires Offers Endless Wellness Possibilities

Reboot at this enticing East Coast destination spa.
Set in the bucolic Berkshires, the property features 380 acres to explore.
Photos: James Baigrie

As much as I love to travel, I’ve been more than a bit hesitant about venturing out of my COVID-free cocoon. Because I’ve yet to be vaccinated, I’ve been doing my part by staying close to home. In fact, I rarely leave it. However, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to check out the recently opened Miraval Berkshires. Located in Lenox, MA, it is the third location of the award-winning destination spa, joining the likes of Miraval Arizona in Tucson, AZ, and Miraval Austin in TX. Debuting in July, the property, which resides on the former historic Cranwell estate, faced the Herculean effort of opening in the midst of the pandemic. With constantly changing state regulations and safety precautions, it would have been a challenge for any team, let alone one made up of all new staff members. Fortunately, the pandemic hasn’t derailed the launch of what is destined to be an enticing new East Coast wellness destination.

A mere three-hour drive from New York City, Miraval Berkshires serves as the perfect wellness reset. Although from the outside the newer buildings look a bit industrial, inside, the interconnected public spaces, workout facilities, spa, restaurant, cottages, and more create a warm and welcoming space with plenty of natural light. Guests are able to roam from building to building through a long hallway featuring a gallery of artwork by local artists and comfortable seating areas situated next to large, expansive windows that showcase the outdoors. Visiting in March when it was still bitterly cold, I was thrilled to learn that I could get nearly everywhere—except the farm and outdoor challenge course—without stepping foot outside.

I was comforted by the fact that due to the Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Order, anyone traveling from a high-risk state was required to get a rapid COVID-19 test within 72 hours of check-in. Because I was traveling from New York, that applied to me. Unfortunately, no one actually asked to see my results, which was disappointing considering the fact that going to get the test proved to be the riskiest thing I had done in months. Fortunately, all other safety precautions—socially distanced activities and seating in the dining room, constant cleaning and sanitizing public spaces, and a mask mandate that all staff and guests upheld—created a sense of comfort and security. I especially loved this mantra posted on the mirror in the restrooms, “May I be happy, May I be safe, May I be peaceful and at ease,” with the instructions to recite it three times while washing your hands. Not having to constantly worry about staying safe from the virus left me free to focus on enjoying the property and the programming.

What We Love
  • The warm and welcoming staff
  • The number and variety of activities and programs
  • Display of artwork found throughout the property
  • The unlimited green juice and smoothies
  • The resort-wide no-tipping policy
What Not to Miss
  • Floating Meditation ($75, 45 minutes)
  • A guided hike in the beautiful Berkshires
  • Spiritual Warrior facial ($220, 60 minutes)
  • Challenge Course
  • Beekeeping ($125, 1 hour 50 minutes)

Miraval Berkshires King Room
Designed by Clodagh, the spa-inspired guest rooms in the modern cottages provide a cozy retreat.
Guest Rooms

Staying in the newly built Renewal Cottage, my partner and I made ourselves at home in a spacious room with a king-sized bed and various wellness-themed touches, such as Miraval’s signature cloud-like bedding, in-room meditation channels, Tibetan singing bowl and meditation cushion, filtered water in the fridge, plush cotton robes, and Zents amenities. Designed by Clodagh, the rooms and suites are meant to evoke country house glamour and New England comfort. The spa-inspired bathroom was a far cry from my intimate Brooklyn bathroom, although I did long for an inviting tub to soak in after a rather intense TRX class. Like many newly designed hotels, my guest room didn’t have a bathtub. The trend is to replace them with large walk-in showers, which prove to be more popular, save water, and take up less space. So, I made do with the shower, which featured multiple showerheads, and definitely didn’t warrant any complaints.

Because Miraval Berkshires is focused on mindfulness and helping guests disconnect and be in the moment, digital devices are discouraged in areas outside of the guest rooms. If you need to work or be on your device and are traveling with someone who is trying to limit their blue light exposure, I’d definitely recommend opting for a suite, which also features a bathtub. Guest rooms in the Tranquility and Serenity Cottages also come with bathtubs. Had I been traveling solo, I would have been completely smitten with our accommodations. However, as I was visiting with a somewhat restless sleeper, we struggled a bit with the fact that there was nowhere he could go to work when I was ready for bed and he wasn’t. And the next day, our roles were reversed when he needed to sleep, and I was ready to work and didn’t want to do it in the dark. Had it been a bit warmer, we would have taken advantage of the balcony, which provided a picturesque view of the mountains. All in all, the beautifully appointed room provided a comfortable respite in which to relax, regroup, and rest.    

Harvest Moon Restaurant at Miraval Berkshires
Conscious cooking is on the menu at Harvest Moon restaurant.
Cuisine

I have to admit, after a year of cooking nearly every meal, I was more than a little excited to let someone else take over for a while. With set menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and a changing selection of daily specials, Harvest Moon restaurant provided the perfect setting to enjoy the resort’s conscious cuisine and mindful eating. I couldn’t wait for mealtime at the stunning restaurant, which is designed to look like a rustic barn with a concrete floor, exposed beams, and eye-catching light fixtures.

Relying on seasonal ingredients and local produce, the menu featured entrees such as Grass-Fed “Coulotte” Steak with parsnip puree, broccoli rabe, and beef jus; Hudson Valley Steelhead Trout with pancetta, sage polenta cake, green beans, and brown butter powder; and Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca with eggplant, kale, olives, capers, and sundried tomato sauce. All-inclusive, the restaurant, as well as the resort, feature a no-tipping policy, which made the experience all the more enjoyable, as we didn’t have to worry about calculations and such throughout our stay.

If we couldn’t make a meal due to an activity, lecture, or spa appointment, we could grab a smoothie or a premade sandwich at The Roost, Miraval’s grab ‘n’ go snack bar. We soon became regulars once we realized we had access to unlimited green juices. Although we decided to forego alcohol during our stay, it was also available at The Roost, which offers an extensive wine menu and full bar. For those embracing the sober life, there were a variety of mocktails incorporating Sunwink plant-powered tonics. On more than one occasion we found ourselves relaxing in front of the giant fireplace enjoying a green juice, a smoothie, or a hot tea.

As delicious as our meals were, what really made the experience stand out was the staff. Because COVID-19 is still such a concern, there wasn’t the usual socializing you find at most wellness retreats. Instead, most of the guests kept to themselves, ourselves included. The staff, however, went out of their way to make everyone feel welcome, and we enjoyed many enlightening conversations with various staff members.

Miraval Berkshires spa
In the Quiet Relaxation Lounge, spa-goers can focus on mindfulness before their treatments.
Spa and Fitness Facilities

No trip to Miraval is complete without a visit or two to the spa. An inviting and serene space, the Life in Balance Spa features 28 treatment rooms. Like the rest of the property, it was designed by Clodagh, who believes in life-enhancing minimalism. With plenty of texture, such as stone, wood, and plush fabrics, it is designed to capture the spirit of the Berkshires and the New England countryside. Both the solarium-like Women’s Lounge, with a free-standing fireplace, and the Quiet Relaxation Lounge, with its soothing lighting, design-savvy water feature, and comfortable loungers, serve as ideal spaces to kick back and practice conscious living and mindfulness.

Featuring plenty of Miraval favorites, the menu also incorporates some new additions, such as the Tulsi Rose Facial ($230, 60 minutes), which relies on 100 percent organic, raw, unrefined whole plant ingredients to nurture the skin; Nature’s Apothecary ($230, 60 minutes), a soothing body ritual that brings fatigued skin back to life, and the Manuka Honey Quench ($280, 90 minutes) a wrap and skin-quenching manuka honey neck, shoulder, and facial massage. The spa showcases popular lines such as Deborah Lippmann, Dr. Dennis Gross, EmerginC, La Bella Donna, Laurel Whole Plant Organics, Naturopathica, and Oribe.

After being in spa withdrawal for the past year, my body was hungry for a muscle-melting massage. I’ve yet to perfect my ergonomic work-from-home setup, so I wanted to do what I could to minimize or repair the damage I’m sure I’ve been doing. Opting for the Body in Balance massage, a customized treatment that addresses areas of chronic tension, tightness, and more, I found myself wishing I had requested the longer version, because I didn’t want it to end. I also loved the fact that I didn’t have to fill out a lengthy intake form, but instead, my therapist had a casual conversation with me before I got on the table to chat about what I liked, what I didn’t, and what areas I wanted her to work. And in a particularly insightful way of asking what my favorite highlight was, she asked what I considered the chocolate of any massage. For me, that is usually an indulgent scalp massage, which again proved to be the case.

I was also impressed by how my therapist was trained to handle COVID-19 safety and precautions. While lying face down on the table, I wasn’t required to wear a mask, as a towel had been conveniently arranged around and below the head cradle to prevent the spread of any droplets. When I turned face up on the table, my therapist provided me with a fresh mask. I also had my temperature taken upon arrival at the spa. Feeling like I could truly slow down and breath for the first time in months, I soaked up the serenity of the spa and wished to linger longer.

Miraval Berkshires Yoga Barn
Guests can experience Aerial Yoga, Floating Meditation, and more in the Yoga Barn.
Programming

If Miraval is known for anything aside from its mindful living philosophy, it’s for its innovative programming. After having been in lockdown for a year, I wanted to sample it all. Unfortunately, I was a bit too late to sign up for the guided hikes. Because the number of participants is limited due to COVID-19, you’ll want to sign up early for popular activities. We still managed to pack our schedule with a host of fun and engaging sessions, such as Power Flow Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Hatchet Throwing, and Music Meditation. One especially popular activity is the Floating Meditation, which takes place in a silk hammock and involves the soothing vibrations of crystal bowls.

My partner and I also participated in a lecture, Principles of Positional Therapy, which provided numerous insights on how our posture, habits, and workouts can profoundly impact movement and mobility over time. Because I only had three days on property and have experienced the Equine Experience, Challenge Course, and Farm and Garden activities at other Miraval properties, I focused on fitting in as much as I could without overpacking my schedule. However, I would have loved to fit in one of the many culinary and nutrition sessions, such as Brewing Kombucha, Food-Mood Connection, and Cleansing Concepts, a new class that offers simple and uncomplicated ways to cleanse and reset the body. In warmer months, I’d definitely recommend getting outdoors and experiencing the magic of the Berkshires. With so many options available, your greatest challenge may be finding time to slow down and relax. Fortunately, everything else at Miraval Berkshires is designed to make that a priority.

About The Author
Heather-Mikesell-author-1

Heather, co-founder of Well Defined and the former editor-in-chief of American Spa, is an award-winning journalist and content strategist, skilled in writing, copyediting, and media relations. She is also a freelance writer and has contributed to Elite Traveler, Islands, Kiwi, Luxury Travel Advisor, Organic Spa, Porthole Cruise, Travel Agent, abcnews.com, jetsetter.com, outside.com, and wellandgood.com, in addition to various custom publications. She is frequently called upon to comment on various spa and wellness trends for various media outlets.