A Literary Retreat In The Sonoran Desert

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I recently attended my second Literary Retreat in Arizona’s Sonoran desert. Peace, tranquility, female bonding, and literature discussions are my goals on these retreats. It’s 4 days of finding “the gift of presence” as meditation teacher, Caroline Welch says.

The first Literary retreat was held at Miraval Resort: https://www.miravalarizona.com/

and the second was at Canyon Ranch :

https://www.canyonranch.com/tucson/arizona-resort/?utm_source=googlemybusiness&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=tucsongmb&utm_term=googlemybusiness .

What happens on a Literary Retreat? It’s a vacation with other women who enjoy reading and with authors who present lectures about their books and the process of writing. It’s a chance to “Reignite your sense of well-being. Remember what brings you joy by way of nature, good food and good company.” The retreats I attended were coordinated by two fantastic groups; Literary Affairs and and Duende Retreats.



One of the retreats began with a “Monument to Anxiety and Hope.” We created a board with annonymous post-it notes. The notes were entitled, “I’m anxious about…” and “I’m hopeful about…” Ladies filled in the bottom portion of their notes throughout the retreat and stuck them on the large board. It was heartfelt, reassuring, loving, and bonding to see what everyone else was experiencing.

The retreats include workshops on topics such as bookclub protocol, living a literary creative life, and a writing journey to self discovery. They include a bookclub type discussion of a latest recommended book where we learn how to “go beyond the book.” They include guided hikes and private dinners with guest authors, group yoga classes, and time for individual spa appointments, fitness classes, art workshops, and relaxation. About 25 women from around the world attend the retreats. I typically know one or two before I go since I am a member of three bookclubs. I always meet new friends and learn, learn, learn!

The thing I treasure about these retreats is spending time with other women who are passionate about literature and wellness. It’s such a mind-body enriching environment to fully immesh oneself in. Duende Retreat’s slogan is to offer “soul nourishing-life enhancing experiences” and I would agree that they accomplish their goal. At my first retreat at Miraval Resort the guest authors were Lauren Groff, Paula McClain, and Meg Worlitzer. At the retreat held at Canyon Ranch, the authors were Lisa See and Elizabeth Rosner. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the plethora of books by all the authors ahead of time, and I was overjoyed to discuss their literature with them while dining alfresco under the Sonoran desert stars. Their books are featured at the end of the blog.

So….which resort was better, Miraval or Canyon Ranch? Both Tucson resorts provide a healthy diet with caloric, salt, and fat content listed on the menus. The big difference in cuisine? Miraval provides alcohol, Canyon Ranch doesn’t. (I was tipped off to this ahead of time, so I checked my luggage and added 2 wine bottles plus corkscrew to the list of necessities.) As far as activities go, Miraval has more spirituality options and Canyon Ranch has more fitness options. The rooms are comparable at both, although I understand Canyon Ranch has some rooms that are still not renovated and up-to-snuff. The spa services appeared to be equal although I would say the spa desk staff was much kinder and helpful at Miraval. I liked the water features, art and ambiance at Miraval as it is more casual and serene. Canyon Ranch is larger (and not as charming) and I frequently got lost! Lastly, it sounds like a minor item but the lounge chairs at Canyon Ranch were unbearably uncomfortable. (I think having an M.R.I. might have been more relaxing than lying in those by the pool.)

Bookclub Humor
My suite at Canyon Ranch
Relation time at Canyon Ranch in the “lounge” chairs
Authors and Hikers (I was a cozy sleeper in my bed)

During the last retreat, I learned from Liz Rosner, as we talked a bit about perfectionism that “Perfectionism is the enemy of the good.”  I hope that like me, you have the goal of living a life that is “Not Perfect” and not having unrealistic expectations. Liz also said, “You can’t develop resilience without bad things happening.” It’s such a vibrant reminder for us all for when the going gets tough. 

Elizabeth Rosner Literature
Lauren Groff Literature
Lisa See Literature

A Literary Retreat In The Sonoran Desert

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