UA teams with Oprah's fave local spa

2014-03-09T00:00:00Z UA teams with Oprah's fave local spaBy Carol Ann Alaimo Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The University of Arizona is teaming up with a swanky local spa in an effort that could bring scores of well-heeled doctors and scientists to Tucson.

UA has joined forces with Miraval Resort and Spa — “a favorite of Oprah and Dr. Oz” according to the local tourism bureau — to create a new think tank focused on health, wellness and sustainability issues.

The University of Arizona/Miraval Institute offers retreats that marry the resort’s mountain vistas and posh amenities with lectures and presentations by UA faculty and other experts in those areas.

Modeled on other prestigious programs, such as New Mexico’s Santa Fe Institute and the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C., the local version could boost Tucson tourism and allow UA to make connections that benefit the school and the community, said Joaquin Ruiz, UA’s vice president of innovation and strategy.

There may be potential for high-end job creation, for example, if new partnerships lead to technology transfer, he said.

“We’re trying to create a think tank that will bring people to town who otherwise would have no reason to come, and these are people at the peak of innovation in healthy living and sustainability,” Ruiz said in an interview.

“It’s up to us to show them what a great place this is. Then they may decide to start a company here or move here or spend their vacations here.”

The new institute has two gigs booked already: one in April, titled “Living Beyond 100,” and one in May focused on the latest in medical diagnostics.

Participation isn’t cheap: three-day retreats at the institute cost upwards of $1,400 per person and will go toward making the enterprise self-sustaining, Ruiz said.

Michael Tompkins, Miraval’s CEO, said the resort also will benefit.

The UA partnership “will not only provide Miraval guests with another opportunity to increase their knowledge, but will also bolster the resort’s ability to innovate,” he said in a news release.

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at calaimo@azstarnet.com or 573-4138.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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