Wanting to indulge in an authentic Turkish hammam, I recently visited the newly opened Canyon Ranch Wellness Resort at Kaplankaya, in Turkey. Here, I was hoping to rid myself of dull skin and dark undereye circles, and treat myself to a healthy diet and lots of sleep. Renowned for its dedication to purification and renewal, a long list of celebrities (including Shakira and Eva Longoria) has been known to spend time at Canyon Ranch. Here’s what we found at the brand’s first international wellness retreat.
Day One: Getting There
My journey is off to a bumpy start—literally. In order to get to the resort, which is approximately an hour’s drive away from the airport (or, alternatively, 30 minutes on a yacht and 10 minutes in a helicopter), I am chauffeured through a winding mountain road, dotted with centuries-old olive trees.
Nestled atop lush, green hills overlooking the sparkling Aegean sea, Canyon Ranch is part of the Kaplankaya Project—a billion dollar spa and hotel development venture along Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, 20 minutes from Bodrum—and was cherry-picked for its natural, breathtaking landscape and age-old healing traditions.
Upon arrival, the staff warmly welcomes me before being shown to my suite. My room includes a walk-in closet, a marble bathtub, a balcony overlooking the sea, and a plush, king-sized bed. A list of all the scheduled activities on offer during my three-day stay (at no extra charge to guests), includes a 7am coastal walk, an afternoon yoga class, and an indoor cycling session.
Following a long day of traveling, I decide on the most relaxing option: a spa visit, where I can pick and choose from a lineup of treatments ranging from hydrotherapy and mud wraps to massages. I opt for a session of Watsu, a gentle form of body therapy performed in warm water. The therapist—who has just flown in from Canyon Ranch’s Tucson location to perform these sessions—explains that she will softly twist, stretch, and contort my body in a myriad of positions while I float in a thermal pool, serving as a “mental reset button.” It makes for one of the most soothing experiences and induces the deepest sleep I’ve had in a very long time.
Day Two: Exploring the Retreat
Following a hearty breakfast, I am given a quick tour around the massive retreat. Sprawling over 15,000 square meters, the retreat boasts a multitude of different amenities, including two restaurants, a private beach, a spa, a hair salon, a fitness center with on-site physicians, fitness instructors, nutritionists and physiologists, an emergency room, plus 150 villas, 141 rooms and one presidential suite (which is occupied by an Arab royal during my stay), each with a breathtaking view of the Aegean sea. Those in need of a digital detox will benefit, too, as cell phones are off limits.
Healthy Eating and Cooking Class
Once my tour is done I make my way to one of the boardrooms to attend a lecture on obesity by Internal Medicine Specialist Dr. Dr. Halil Ertürk, MD. During the lecture, I speak to one of the other attendees, a middle aged man named Youssef: “I’ve been here for two weeks, and I’ve never felt better,” he tells me, explaining how a weight-related, life-threatening experience prompted him to book himself in for a month, where he has since lost 10 pounds and gained peace of mind––and he can still eat what he likes.
Perhaps this is the major selling point of Canyon Ranch. Unlike at other wellness resorts, dinners aren’t restricted to a diet of liquid juices, probiotics, and soups. Food—which includes everything from steak to ice cream—is prepared in the kitchen using organic ingredients, meaning you don’t need to sacrifice your taste buds in the pursuit of health. This is further emphasized during an afternoon cooking class with the chef, where we prepare fresh sea bass using local Mediterranean ingredients plucked from nearby markets.
The Ultimate Scrub-Down
After lunch, I attend a water workout class followed by an authentic Turkish hammam. I am led to an extra hot steam room and lay down on a marble slab. Once my limbs are vigorously scrubbed and lathered in soap using a deep exfoliating mitt, I am whisked away for a soothing facial using Tata Harper’s chemical-free range of skincare products. Following the steamy bathing ritual, my pores are wide open, allowing my therapist to give me a thorough deep cleanse. The result? Impossibly fresh, silky smooth skin from head-to-toe.
Day Three: Morning Hike
I emerge from my room at 8am sharp for a sunrise hiking session along the coast. The want for a lie-in quickly dissipates as I absorb the jaw-dropping view of undulating hills and lapping waves. During the walk, I’m hit with a sudden jolt of energy; I am no longer out of breath or struggling to keep up with my fitness instructor. The quick energy rush comes with a mood-boosting effect that lasts throughout the day.
When I return to the hotel, I am greeted with an open buffet of omelets, fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, an assortment of cheeses, and jugs of freshly squeezed juice. While I pack my belongings, my program advisor instructs the chef to pack me a sandwich, fruit, and water bottles. I’m sent on my way feeling reborn and sad to leave.
Over the next few days, I slowly incorporate sugar and carbohydrates back to my diet. Old habits die hard— and may need more than three days to undo. To wipe the proverbial slate clean of unhealthy lifestyle habits, one should consider staying for at least two weeks, in order to return back home with a refreshed spirit (and maybe a new friend or two), ready to resume the new routine, invigorated.
Three, seven, or 10-day stays at the Canyon Ranch Wellness Resort at Kaplankaya, Turkey cost US $3000 to $10,000 dollars; AED/SAR 11,000 to 36,730.