Hyatt’s Miraval Arizona Wellness Resort: Bottom Line Review

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Recently, my wife and I spent four nights at the adults-only, almost all-inclusive, Miraval Arizona Wellness Resort.  Usually the resort costs 65,000 Hyatt points per night for two, but we took advantage of Miraval’s Buy One Get One offer and so we only had to pay points for two nights our of four.  I also applied a Suite Upgrade Award to secure a nice suite for our stay (the Desert Sky King Suite).

My feet can be seen enjoying the Arizona sun beside one of several hot tubs around the resort.
Trip Background: In January, 2022, my wife and I vacationed in Arizona to escape Michigan’s freezing weather. We flew to Phoenix where we got a good deal on a rental car thanks to AutoSlash.  From there, we drove two hours to Tucson where we stayed two nights at Loews Ventana Canyon and then four nights at Hyatt’s Miraval Arizona.  We then drove four hours to Sedona where we stayed three nights at the Hyatt Residence Club, Piñon Pointe. Finally, we returned to the Phoenix area to stay three nights at Hyatt’s Royal Palms Resort and Spa in Scottsdale.  Look for a review of the Hyatt Residence Club, coming soon.

There are three Miraval resorts: Miraval Arizona (near Tucson), Miraval Austin, and Miraval Berkshires.  Miraval resorts are unlike most other resorts.  For one, they allow internet devices only in your room or in designated device-use areas (but you can use your phone to take pictures).  They don’t allow tipping.  All meals are included, but alcoholic drinks are not.  And they offer many free classes and activities including exercise classes, yoga, hiking, cooking, photography, and more.  They also give each guest $175 per day to spend on paid activities (spa treatments, private dining, private classes, and various activities that go beyond the free ones).  Since we had booked our stay with the Buy One Get One offer, we only received $175 x 2 = $350 credit each for our four night stay.

Miraval Arizona Wellness Resort: Bottom Line

We loved our stay.  Our suite was comfortable and spacious, and included a fantastic private courtyard in the back.  The food was great, especially for dinner.  We enjoyed many exercise and stretching classes.  During our stay, we enjoyed two guided hikes and one self-guided hike (note that nearby hiking was nice but not nearly as good as found at the Ritz or Loews).  And we spent our credits on excellent spa treatments.  Best of all, the stay was truly relaxing.  The no-devices rule made it easier to break away from work related thoughts.  And the combination of all-inclusive dining and no tipping went a long way too towards destressing me.  I found the no-tipping rule especially awesome.  It was great not to worry about who should be tipped and when and how much!

On the other hand, our stay was far from perfect.  Read on for details…

Not quite luxury…

Ick! When I picked up a supposedly clean plate from the breakfast buffet, I felt something squishy.

Guests who pay cash rather than points often pay over $2,000 per night for two.  After the 23% resort charge and 12.06% occupancy tax, the all-in cash rate can soar to well over $2,700 per night!  At those prices, I think it is reasonable to expect a near perfect luxury resort.  But if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll probably be disappointed.  Miraval fell short of luxury and perfection in a number of ways:

  • Bath towels were thin — not at all like the plush towels commonly offered at luxury hotels.  Worse, some of our towels had black grease streaks.
  • In our room we were provided with paper cups for coffee and plastic cups for water. Where were the ceramic mugs and glass glasses?
  • The toilet paper was cheap feeling single-ply.
  • Each morning, our shower could only manage to get warm, not hot.  It had no problem heating up in the afternoon, though.
  • There were some little bits of trash outside of our room when we checked in: a toothpaste cap, a cotton ball, etc.  Out of curiosity, I left that stuff there to see what would happen.  The trash was still there when we checked out.
  • The worst bit was at the breakfast buffet when I picked up a plate from the clean plate stack and felt something squishy on my fingers.  Apparently some kind of brownish food hadn’t been cleaned off of it.  Ick!  I wanted to tell a staff member, but no one was around monitoring the buffet so I left it out as pictured above.
  • Minimal staff interactions.  Some very high end hotels and resorts assign butlers to assist guests with all of their needs.  Miraval does not.  When we attended activities or went to eat, the staff were friendly and responsive, but outside of those situations I don’t think I was asked once how my stay was going or if anything can be done to make the stay better.  To be clear: I didn’t feel like I needed any of that pampering, but at the prices they charge I expected it.

Despite all of those misses listed above, we really did enjoy the stay and plan to return in the future.  Of course, we will again book with points.  I think it’s arguably worth the points even without the BOGO (buy one, get one) offer, but I wouldn’t pay Miraval’s usual cash rates.

Details

  • Inclusions: Almost everything is included whether paying cash or points.  Here are the inclusions as copied from Miraval’s website:
    • $175 nightly resort credits per person towards spa, private sessions, programming and Miraval Equine Experience®
      [Greg’s note: credits cannot be used towards alcoholic drinks]
    • Unlimited onsite outback hikes, mountain biking, group fitness classes, photography classes, challenge activities and climbing wall
      [Greg’s note: book these early because they do fill up]
    • Unlimited meals, snacks, and non-alcoholic beverages, available in the restaurant, poolside lounge, Brave Bill Bar, and Palm Court juice bar
      [The daily chef special at lunch, and pretty much everything at dinner was great. I also loved the convenience of being able to grab food from the Palm Court juice bar nearly anytime]
    • Complimentary shared shuttle airport transfers from Tucson International Airport (TUS)
      [We drove from Phoenix so we didn’t take advantage of this]
    • Welcome Gift of a Miraval tote bag & reusable water canteen per guest.
      [These are really useful! The tote bags include two zippered pockets and a bottle-holder]
  • Points Price: Miraval’s standard award pricing for a single guest is 45K per night for a standard room, 75K per night for a suite, or 105K per night for a premium suite.  Add 20K per night for a second person.  We paid 65K per night for a standard room for two and applied a Suite Upgrade Award to secure a suite.  We also took advantage of a promo offering two nights for the price of one.
  • Cash Price: Varies. I checked prices near the time of our stay and found that the cheapest price for 2 in a base room was $2,018 before taxes & fees, or $2,744 per night afterwards.
  • Points Value: Excellent.  Even without the 2 for 1 promo, our points would have been worth 4.2 cents each compared to the cash rate! With the 2 for 1 promo, the point value was almost double that.  I wrote “almost double” because we didn’t get $175 per person credit for the free nights.
  • Desert Sky King Suite: Our suite didn’t have a fireplace (indoor or out), nor did it have an outdoor shower which is available from some other units.  That said, we loved it.  It had a very large and comfortable living room, separate bedroom, large bathroom, and private outdoor patio with great mountain views.
  • Resort Fee: 23% of room charge. This fee is not applied to point award stays.
  • Tipping: Not expected / not allowed (great feature!)
  • Parking: Free self parking.
  • Pets: Pets are not allowed.
  • Children: Children under 18 are not allowed.
  • Housekeeping: Daily housekeeping service.
  • Turndown service: None
  • Dining: Excellent.
    • Breakfast is mostly buffet, but you can ask for made to order eggs and omelets.
    • Lunch is via menu service at the main restaurant or you can order at the pool.  I highly recommend going with the chef’s daily lunch special.
    • Dinner is offered via menu service at the main restaurant.  Portions are small, but delicious.  We loved the smaller portions because it made it possible for each person to have an appetizer, salad, main course, and dessert without feeling overfull.  You can always order more food if its not enough.
    • Other: The Palm Court cafe offers grab and go snacks available anytime, plus during operating hours they offer smoothies, coffee, and more.
  • Hyatt Elite Benefits: There isn’t much in the way of elite recognition here (nor did I expect any).  We received the suite we booked.  Our room was ready very early (I called at 9am to ask when we could check in and was told “now”!), but I don’t think that had anything to do with my elite status.  At check in we were told that we could request 4pm late checkout the day before departure, but it wasn’t guaranteed (note that this benefit isn’t guaranteed at Hyatt resorts, but some do try to offer it anyway).  We didn’t need it, so that was academic for us.  And there wasn’t any kind of elite welcome gift.  I expect that a top tier Globalist who pays the cash rate would get the hefty resort fees waived, but it is waived for all Hyatt members who pay with points.
  • COVID Notes: At the time of our visit, Miraval required staff and guests to wear masks indoors at all times except when seated at restaurant.  Staff compliance (and most guest compliance) was excellent.  There was plenty of heated outdoor seating for those who preferred to avoid the issue (we often ate outside).  We were disappointed that all of the exercise and stretching classes we attended were held indoors where we had to wear our masks.  Why not move them outside on nice days?
  • Would I stay again? Yes.  Despite significant issues listed above (see the section titled “Not quite luxury…”), we enjoyed our stay tremendously.  I needed to destress and this resort absolutely did the trick.

Photos and Captions Follow

Desert Sky Suite Living Room
Desert Sky Suite Bedroom
Desert Sky Suite Bathroom
Desert Sky Suite Patio
Palm Court Cafe. Offers smoothies, tea, coffee, and snacks.
Cactus Flower Restaurant Breakfast Buffet
Sample lunch menu
Sample dinner menu. The items on the left and right side stay the same, but the items in middle two columns change daily.
Cactus Flower Restaurant Indoor Dining
Cactus Flower Restaurant Outdoor Dining

“Meep meep!”
Morning hike
Another photo from a hike
And another photo from a hike
One of several pools around the property

We hiked past this outdoor yoga class
Cookie making class (yes, you get to eat cookies)
4.8 4 votes
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Byron

At Austin right now and none of the issues you had in Tuscon are present here. Everyone is so nice, although no late checkout. Food is great, people are very friendly. We do need the hikes as our room is the most remote of all the rooms. Just having a wonderful time.

Amy

5 or 6 years ago I stayed at Canyon Ranch (before the change in ownership) and have wanted to go back ever since. Miraval seems to get a lot more press these days, but everyone I know who’s been to both says the same thing: the only advantages of Miraval are that you can use Hyatt points and you can drink. (At CR they don’t inspect your bag or anything but you can’t have wine by the pool — has to be in your room.). Otherwise, they say Canyon Ranch is nicer.
I’m still curious and wouldn’t mind staying at Miraval next time they run that promotion, but when I win the lottery, sounds like I should head back to Canyon Ranch instead.

Alan

I did this promo for Thanksgiving 2020. No breakfast buffet, just order from the menu as you would for lunch or dinner. I had an amazing time.

One note, I would suggest NOT using a suite reward and instead contacting them ahead and seeing if you can get a Sunrise room in the 600s. Most modern rooms (unless they have updated the 100-500s as I heard there were plans to do). https://singleflyer.com/2020/12/01/miraval-arizona-sunrise-room-review/

They had plastic cups in the room a year ago as well — thinking it must be a Covid thing but I just used my water bottle.

Byron

Will be at the Austin Miraval on Jan. 31 on a BOGO. Will let you know how it compares.

Pat

Why is that steak sliced with the grain instead of against 🙁

Rick

I stayed in Austin in Dec 2020 and Tucson in Dec 2021. I was very very disappointed. Your pros and cons were spotted on. I met others who had stayed in Austin and Berkshire during hiking, and they shared the same disappointments.
I ended up sending the director of operations and the manager a very long email listing everything that went wrong and also complemented the few staff that went out of the way to make it better. They called me back and invited me to go back with two nights free. Not expecting much to be honest, but won’t turn away free stay.

Lynn

Last year we took advantage of the BOGO offer to try out ALL THREE properties! We, too, loved the Miraval experience and felt like it was an amazing value at 65,000 points for 2 nights. However, I can’t even imagine paying the cash rate – absolutely NOT worth that. And I definitely agree with the critique about the waitlists – there should be an organized system where someone lets you know, not where you have to keep checking back. As for food portions, our waitress in the Berkshires proactively would say “do you want a double portion?” each time we ordered. She told us that people often complain about the portion size so she just asks ahead of time now.

For anyone wondering which is the “best” Miraval, here is my take: Arizona and Texas are really, really close. The desert aspect of Arizona made this feel a little more spa like, but they had some interesting activities in Texas not available in Arizona like archery and hatchet throwing. You can’t go wrong with either. Berkshires is clearly in third place. While Texas and Arizona are separated from anything else and you feel remote, Berkshires is directly next to a golf resort with golf carts are whizzing by you constantly, and right on a pretty busy road so it does not feel “serene.” And you have to take a van to get to most activities, which also breaks the spell of being disconnected. Also, because the weather is not always favorable in Massachusetts, the rooms are connected to the main building by trailer-like corridors that are not heated, so in winter you freeze getting to your activities and meals. We did enjoy our stay in the Berkshires and if that is your only option because you can drive there, I say go for it, but if you have a choice go with Arizona or Texas.

EricF

Spot on with your pros/cons. We felt we got solid value by paying with points and BOGO free, but the property would not be justified at the cash-plus-resort-fee rates.
I would skip the hiking trails from the property- there are dozens of better local trails and you can choose the temperature by selecting the trail altitude, useful in summer.

LarryInNYC

I’m not a luxury person and this doesn’t really sound like my cup of tea (although maybe on points. . .) but I have to say: a $2,000+ a night hotel that can’t deliver reliable hot water and a trash-free environment? Your review is very kind!

Darin

We checked in a few days after you checked out (just left the property yesterday). Completely agree with your review. I felt VERY satisfied with the value I got out of the points (also did 4 nights with the BOGO offer), but kept saying “wow, I would be pissed if I spent $2k+/night”. To add to your list of items that I found somewhat acceptable for what we paid, but completely unacceptable for a top end resort:

  • Unavailability of activities. You mention that you need to reserve early and we didn’t do this early enough (about a week in advance). We were able to get into a few of our preferred activities (mostly interested in active outdoor activities like hikes, biking, challenge courses), but also ended up planning our own, like spending a day driving to Mt Lemmon. They need to schedule more activities if they can’t accommodate demand.
  • Handling of waitlists. They have a very informal waitlist policy, they even bristled at calling it a waitlist. They didn’t offer it to me and when I asked, I was told they can “note interest” and will do their best to get you on if they can. They did end up clearing a couple of activities, but they also urge you to “keep checking in”. I shouldn’t have to hound them, there should be a straightforward sign-up/waitlist policy, preferably available online. Also waitlists don’t carry over to “standby” at the activity itself. You can try to go to an activity, but it’s first come first served at the activity itself.
  • Dinner reservations. They don’t take them in advance and you have to book your table at breakfast to get one. We arrived in the late afternoon on the first night and were told the restaurant was full until 8:30p. On one morning, we slept in and didn’t get to breakfast until 9:30a (shouldn’t that be normal at a resort?). We were told reservations were available at 5:30p and 8:30p at that point. Yes, you can get the full menu at their bar, and we didn’t have trouble getting in there, but considering every single guest is going to eat at your restaurant, you would think they would come up with better options for handling.
  • Lack of breakfast options. This only happened one morning, but they weren’t offering any menu items, just buffet. Their buffet is fine, nothing special, but they usually have some good a la carte breakfast items. On this morning, we weren’t told anything, just not given menus. When we asked our server for one of the items we had ordered before, they told us it was buffet only that morning, no explanations.
  • Staff inconsistency. You mention this in the review, but we were really astounded by the lack of good service. There were a few great people and most of the guides for the experiences are good, although I found the experience team at Berkshires much better. I’m guessing they’re well aware of their shortcomings and tired of apologizing for them. We never complained about any of the issues above, but it just seemed like they knew where they were falling short and service shortcomings were delivered with a shrug instead of sincere apologies. Some of this is probably COVID related, but again… if they’re charging these rates, it’s nowhere near comparable property service levels.

Hard to believe we’d still agree with Greg that this was still a great use of points, but if you can get past the shortcomings, the truth is it’s a beautiful property, food was mostly great (will note it wasn’t 100% consistent but mostly great), the experiences we did were great, and taken together it’s a great value if you can set expectations and roll with it.

Last edited 10 months ago by Darin
DeLynn

I’ve been to Miraval Austin twice and Arizona once. My Tucson stay was wonderful-and they did acknowledge my Globalist status at check in with an upgraded Sunrise room with fire pit and outdoor shower (no difficulties with hot water in July!!).

The spa treatments were amazing and the staff was very flexible when I had to extend my stay. Emotionally I prefer Austin but Arizona is an amazing location, too. I’m glad you enjoyed your trip 🙂

Stan

Nice review. It sounds like the $175 credit is per room and not per person.

Mimi

What was the out-of -pocket cost for the resort fee? Was it 25% of the $2000+ standard room rate?

Josh

We had a trip here that we had to cancel, but from the review, looking forward to the next promotion to go!

Jayne

I stayed at Miraval Tucson 4 years ago and LOVED it! We did have glasses and ceramic mugs in our room so maybe the paper and plastic is a covid thing. Best massages I’ve had in my life! Awesome food and the chef is willing to share recipes!

JN2

It is probably labor shortage and/or cost related. I have no idea if it costs more to wash glasses and mugs than to use disposable items. Also, people may perceive a wrapped paper or plastic cup as more sanitary (kind of like the remote in plastic).

Theresa

Just a note on points. With off-peak pricing, required points are less. I’m staying at Berkshires Miraval in March. For one person, it is 40,000 instead of 45,000 points.

Dina

Ive stayed at Miraval Austin once and the Berkshires three times. I enjoyed both sites tremendously and took full advantage of all the activities. Next time i recommend you try the Berkshires. Amazing hiking, new and clean resort. We didnt have any of the cleanliness issues you had and plenty of dishes and glassware in the rooms. Customer service was exceedingly excellent as well.

docntx

We did the similar promo a couple of years ago at the Miraval Austin.
Staff was extremely gracious, but, beyond that, It was an extreme disappointment,
Pretentious flower children stuff. Lots of vehicles in the parking lot that were priced at hundreds of thousand dollars when they came off the showroom floor. Signs on the pathways reminding us to “look at the sky,” or “be one with nature.” No chairs in the room. Circular “yoga seats (overstuffed cylindrical beanbags.”
The only reason the point value was good is because the prices are ridiculous for what you get. The Emperor has no clothes.

JSq

Haha agree! These properties are overrated and people delude themselves into thinking they got this fantastic deal because they booked a $2000 per night property on points.

docntx

Greg,
Always love your (overall) positive view of the world, and look forward to all the FM reviews.
I thought there was really no way to justify room prices North of 2K.
Perhaps we are the wrong demographic.
Either you buy into the “be one with the Universe” or not.
And thank you again for the blog.

Darin

The value to consider here is not comparing it to the $2k/night retail price. Greg and everyone who’s commented here, including me, have clearly stated it’s not worth the paid rates. But no one here paid that, most of us did BOGO at 32.5k/night, and a fair valuation of Hyatt points would put that at around $500/night for 2 people. When you factor in $175/night average credit for 2 people, tons of free activities, all meals paid, it’s an exceptional value. I’ve done it 3x now (twice at Berkshires, once at Arizona), and I’ll do it whenever they have these promos. Perhaps Miraval isn’t your style, but for me, it’s a great value and a nice getaway despite the shortcomings.