The Arizona Daily Star ran a story on Thursday, December 7 announcing that Dr. Andrew Weil was in conversation with developers and Tucson, AZ city politicians about opening a new integrative-medicine wellness center to promote “health tourism.” Later that day, I received a call from a writer asking for my comments. At first I was a bit confused. I knew that Dr. Weil was working with Miraval, Life in Balance to establish a new center, which will open on the property in a few years. I wasn’t quite sure whether the wellness center the Star described was “in addition to” or “instead of” the forthcoming center I knew about.
Dr. Weil’s office, and in particular Dr. Weil’s business partner Richard Baxter, filled me in on the specifics. The project Dr. Weil was proposing was not only an additional health-tourism attraction but also a museum and education center – it would not have any overnight or spa components. The idea is to create a place where people could get information about integrative medicine via interactive exhibits, including computers and access to online courses on nutrition and health as well as botanical and mind/body medicine. Also part of this resource center would be a reference library and an auditorium for films, demonstrations, and lectures. In addition, there would be outdoor attractions, such as a garden of indigenous medicinal plants.
All of a sudden I “got it.” It dawned on me that they were describing something similar to the marvelous Living Desert in Palm Desert, California. The Living Desert is a museum/education center with gardens and a wilderness park that focuses on desert terrain and animal life. What a great idea it is to create someplace similar to educate people about integrative medicine in a location that can lay claim to being a mecca of health tourism, with Canyon Ranch, Miraval, Life in Balance, and the University of Arizona all in support.