The front pool area at the new "Life in Balance Spa With Clarins" at Miraval.

Courtesy Miraval

The uber luxurious Miraval Resort & Spa and resort north of Tucson was the subject of a travel article in USA Today this week.

Journalist Kitty Bean Yancey went to Miraval over the Presidents Day weekend and found it at capacity, and said its renovated spa had booked the most appointments in its 17-year history.

For those unfamiliar with Miraval, it's the place Oprah loves to talk about as one of her fave spots for its healing environment and it's where other celebrities have also gone for some R&R. The list of past famous guests includes Mel Gibson, Claire Danes, Ellen DeGeneres and Teresa Heinz Kerry.

Bean Yancey lauds Miraval for serving alcohol (a departure from other spas like Canyon Ranch where booze is prohibited), having wonderful (and unlimited) healthy food, and for its well-known Equine Experience program.

The glitch for many of course is the price, which starts at start at about $350 a person a day, double, before tax and resort fee. That includes $50 a day per person toward classes and spa treatments. Rates can be lower via promotions or when Miraval is spotlighted on websites such as

Bean Yancey visited before in 2005 and says the resort seemed more crowded this time around.

"On this unannounced stay, the welcome is as cheery as in 2005, before Winfrey shined the spotlight on Miraval in 2007 and fellow talk host Ellen DeGeneres followed suit. The atmosphere, though, is more harried, and the resort more crowded.

"A greeter shows the way to room 405 (it's dark, and the patio overlooks other rooms). After I express displeasure, she tries to find another available for three nights. But on this holiday weekend, it's impossible. Seasoned guests advise visiting during the summer off-season if tranquility is a concern."

For locals who want to experience Miraval, check the website for specials offered to Tucsonans who want a day-only pass.