Canyon Ranch reopens under limited capacity, services

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LENOX — After a four-month shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Canyon Ranch on Thursday reopened its health and wellness destination to a limited number of guests.

The resort has 60 bookings this weekend, more than anticipated, said managing director Mindi Morin, a newly appointed member of the Lenox Finance Committee. The property can accommodate 200 guests in its two-story inn with 126 rooms and suites, according to the resort's website.

"Our maximum occupancy can vary based on time of year and the use of the property," Morin said. "Our current maximum is really is a day-to-day decision, driven both by shifting demand in the marketplace and our own desire to keep capacity light, with 40 percent a good rule of thumb at many properties in our industry right now."

The bookings for this weekend primarily are from the New York area, New Jersey, Boston and Florida, Morin said during Tuesday's meeting of the Finance Committee.

"It's not mandatory, but we're strongly urging a 14-day quarantine, and having chatted with counterparts, people are just, they're like, `We're checking in' " she said. "We're hoping that they're being responsible."

Under a directive from Gov. Charlie Baker, all travelers arriving to Massachusetts, including state residents returning home, are instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days.

But, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont are exempt from the restrictions, so, travelers from those states need not self-quarantine.

"As required, Canyon Ranch is informing each guest about their obligation to self-quarantine for 14 days when traveling or returning to Massachusetts from locations not on the current state exception list," Morin told The Eagle. "The notification occurs both during the reservation and check-in process."

She declined to comment on unconfirmed reports that about 30 Canyon Ranch employees were laid off this week. The resort employed about 600 people as of April 2019.

"Like most companies today, Canyon Ranch is navigating a new and challenging business landscape across all our properties," Morin wrote via email. "While it is our policy not to comment on personnel matters specifically, we can say that our leadership team has continued to extend furlough with associated benefits for a very large number of valued staff and their families in all our locations, including Lenox, and to communicate with all those individuals weekly about updates to our business, their return status, and more.

"We remain committed to our continued presence in Lenox as both an employer and a wellness destination," she added.

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Morin voiced optimism that occupancy will continue to increase as the area's cultural attractions, restaurants, shops and hotels continue to reopen.

"We believe many people need an escape to look forward to more than ever, and are strongly interested in resetting their feeling of wellness in a safe space," Morin stated.

Going forward, she said, "we will continue to ensure our standards meet or exceed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, state regulations and our own team of experts," which is led by Dr. Richard Carmona, a former U.S. surgeon general who served from 2002 to 2006.

Community programs for area residents still are being offered, but in a more limited capacity than usual, Morin said.

For guests, the Canyon Ranch website describes recently introduced, curated "pathways" programs, based on three-, five- and seven-night stays labeled as "Lifestyle Reset, Optimal Health Exploration, Transition Purposefully, Reconnect With Joy, Personal Discovery, Outdoor Escape (specifically designed for the Berkshires), or Just Be Here."

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Morin predicted that a majority of Canyon Ranch's services, treatments, experiences and seasonal activities will be available after the reopening.

She listed kayaking, hiking, mountain/road biking, paddleboarding, archery and a ropes course among the main recreational attractions. The pool and fitness areas will be open, following social distancing and occupancy guidelines.

Most massage treatments will be offered. Guests and practitioners will wear masks, and, out of an abundance of caution, the resort is suspending treatments such as hot stone and Thai massages for now.

Daily talks and classes require sign-ups to limit a maximum number of participants in each event.

"This should enhance the personal feel of the classes and allow for scheduling of additional events/classes to be flexible to guest needs," Morin said.

Canyon Ranch's health and safety requirements include:

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- A mandatory screening call three days before check-in to answer any questions or address wellness concerns.

- No-touch temperature checks for all staff and visitors, every time they arrive.

- Cloth masks for staff and guests (unless a breathing condition exists) at all times, except in guest rooms or while eating, swimming, receiving certain spa services and while outdoors with 6-foot safe distancing mandated for classes, dining, pools and other activities. Occupancy restrictions based on state regulations remain in place.

- All gyms and public spaces (including transportation) cleaned using products and electrostatic sprayers that meet CDC and Environmental Protection Agency standards concerning viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. Gym and studio floors marked for safe spacing, rearranged equipment and adjusted schedules to allow for sanitizing between classes.

- For one-on-one services and participation in group indoor and outdoor activities, all state and CDC guidelines are followed.

- Arriving guests receive fresh duvets, linens in single-use, sealed bags, and housekeepers change gloves after servicing each room. All guests are given hand sanitizer at check-in, and no-touch dispensers are located around the property.

Current rates for the no-tipping resort range from $2,064 to $3,408 per night for two guests (minimum age of 14), including meals, access to spa and fitness facilities, and transportation to and from Albany International Airport in New York, the Albany Amtrak station or Bradley International Airport near Hartford, Conn.

The 20 percent resort fee and taxes are included in the bottom-line total rate, as well as a $175 credit for individual consultations with physicians, behavioral therapists, spiritual guides, nutritionists and exercise physiologists. The resort fee or any portion of it does not represent a tip, gratuity or service charge for waitstaff employees, service employees or any other employee, according to the resort's policy.

As with other high-end wellness-oriented destinations, Canyon Ranch encourages a "digital detox" for guests.

"We favor presence over push notifications, and actively encourage all guests to only use cell phones in designated areas," the website states.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or 413-637-2551.


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