SpA-rizona, Hot Spa In The Hot Desert
By: Mira Temkin
Statuesque saguaros, prickly pear cacti and thousands of Sonoran Desert plants dot the Arizona landscape, providing inspiration for unique healing treatments. Check out these Phoenix-area resorts for the ultimate in relaxation and renewal.
Rising from the desert stands the Phoenician, an oasis at the base of Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale. Their 22,000 free-standing spa, called the Center for Well Being, serves as a haven for mind, body and soul with fitness studio, weight training, a waters bar, full-service salon and meditation atrium. A diverse menu includes holistic massage, hot stone rituals, body treatments, wraps, facials and packages. I opted for the hot stone ritual, which applies gentle pressure message, combined with the soothing heat of the hot stones. I practically floated back to my room. Guests with 50-minute spa treatments also enjoy complimentary use of the fitness studio, scheduled classes, and resort pools. Afterwards, head to the Ill Terrazzo for a memorable nouveau-Italian dining experience.
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North
The Spa offers a variety of massages and body wraps, plus hair, makeup and nails, all perfect for a day of pampering. My choice was the Jojoba and Prickly Pear Body Polish, providing a full body exfoliation that combines deep penetrating jojoba oil with the healing properties of prickly pear. My skin never felt so good. For something different, try the Golfer’s Massage that uses warmed golf balls and stretching techniques to knead tight muscles and ease golf-related stiffness. Proof, their casual dining venue features an eclectic menu that reads like a road trip across the U.S. Signature Pretzel Knots with spicy cheese sauce were to die for, while the Proof burger, served with blue cheese slaw, was sublime. www.fourseasons.com/scottsdale
Spa Avania – Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Gainey Ranch
As one of the first luxury resorts in Phoenix, Hyatt Gainey Ranch maintains its reputation as the “granddaddy of wow” from the moment you drive up. The resort features 10 swimming pools, tennis courts, championship golf, Camp Hyatt Kachina for kids, and five superb restaurants. Begin at Spa Avania with a soak in the French Celtic Mineral Pool for optimum health and longevity as you slowly begin to unwind. Spa Avania has designed treatments that coincide with the body’s natural rhythms, blending personalized treatments, mineral water therapy and the antioxidant blessings of the world’s finest teas into an artful indoor-outdoor oasis. I chose the Signature Body Wrap, which combines elements from desert cacti, full-body exfoliation and hydrating serum. The experience was elevating with my skin feeling soft and supple. For dining, Alto ristorante is one of the top Italian restaurants in Scottsdale emphasizing fresh, flavorful artisanal cheeses and meats. Dining alfresco on the terrace surrounded by fire pits was the height of romance, continued with a complimentary Venetian gondola ride and singing gondoliers. Try the open kitchen at SWB that crafts creative Southwest cuisine in wood-fired ovens. On my outdoor patio, I could feel the desert breezes and view the grandiose McDowell Mountains, anticipating my next adventure. Let the hotel plan an exciting hot air balloon flight or jeep tour. www.scottsdale.hyatt.com.
Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass
This fabulous Starwood Hotel on the grounds of the Gila River Indian Community covers the complete Arizona recreational, educational and inspirational experience. Located in Chandler, the resort combines luxury guest rooms, fine dining, the award-winning Aji Spa, four pools, tennis courts and two 18-hole Troon-managed golf courses. The influence of the Pima and Maricopa tribes is evident in this “living museum” with beautiful architecture, music and art throughout the resort. Breakfast by the pool, against the mountain backdrop and hearing the soothing sounds of the wood flute gave me a sense of tranquility to begin the day. Aji means “sanctuary” and offers the only authentic Native American spa menu with an indigenous collection of treatments and healing activities. I indulged in the Native Sun Wrap, which applied oils, followed by an aromatic steam capsule to absorb the vitamin rich antioxidants. I relaxed afterwards completely at peace by the watsu pool. Eight dining venues serve the best of Arizona and Native American culinary traditions. The Forbes Five Star Award Kai Restaurant creates unforgettable dining in an exquisite setting. I started with the heavenly Arizona Summer Melon Soup, followed by Chimayo Rubbed Dry Aged New York Strip with Horseradish Potato Gratin and Creamed Spinach. The Koli Equestrian Center offers horseback adventure and yes, wild horses do roam free. Perhaps the most memorable element is the cultural programs. Sitting by the fire under the stars and listening to the ancient storytelling instills in you an appreciation for the wisdom of the Native American tribes. You’ll come away uplifted and renewed. I did. www.wildhorsepassresort.com