Sedona Chamber of Commerce
To be brutally honest, I began this journey as more spa newbie than spa diva. My spa experiences were confined to run-of-the-mill hour-long treatments at a day spa: a facial, massage, perhaps even a body wrap when I felt like stepping outside the box.
But the luxury surroundings and the dizzying menu selections in Arizona spas? Oh-la-la! This could turn a gal’s spa world upside down.
There’s a lot more to Arizona than the spectacular desert and mountains. Luckily, the state has more than its share of luxury spas and wellness centres where they aim to bring what’s special about the desert plants, flowers, herbs and riverbed rocks indoors and incorporate them into treatment menus.
This feels like home away from home, I muse as I help myself to chilled cucumber water and fresh fruit from the courtesy pantry before staking out a spot in the sun-splashed relaxation room. Native Americans believe that turquoise is a protective colour and infuses a sense of positive energy – the recognizable shade is used to accent this space. What I first notice is how my pace slows and my muscles relax. Imagine what treatments will do!
Perusing the spa menu is a morning long task on its own. Each spa is unique, each has its trademark focus – whether relaxation, rejuvenation, wellness or healing techniques.
Many restorative and calming treatments feature indigenous elements traditional to the Southwest combined with modern healing techniques. My massage therapist tells me about the ability of smooth river stones to hold and radiate soothing heat. Spa treatments often incorporate the ancient healing rituals of Arizona’s first inhabitants using ingredients found locally like red adobe clay, agave, prickly pear cactus, sage and juniper.
Choosing a treatment at my destination is challenge enough, but choosing a spa can also be a challenge. Unfolding a state map I can see that spa, wellness and health retreats are popular all across Arizona. Tucson’s clear skies and dry mountain air have given it a top-notch reputation as a place for health, recuperation and renewal. In the Valley of the Sun – Phoenix, Mesa and Scottsdale – most luxury resorts boast their own in-house spa, all with extensive services featuring ingredients from the surrounding Sonoran Desert.
I still may not be a spa diva, but my spa stay has definitely moved me from newbie to dabbler. I love the way it appeals to all five senses – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch – whether it be through hands-on treatments, soothing surroundings in the relaxation areas or the health-conscious snacks and drinks that help in the recharge process.
By the time I finished my stay (completely blissed out, smiling and armed with a new appreciation for well-being), I was sold on the need to continually rejuvenate mind, body and soul. It was all I could do to shimmy off the massage table, put on my robe and stumble down the hallway. I knew I looked dishevelled. The only thing I still needed was time for the painful process of tearing myself away from my new “home away from home.”
Spas are just one part of Arizona’s soft and cultured side. It’s a beautiful place to consider for a girlfriends’ getaway, a romantic rendezvous, a destination wedding or resort honeymoon, a stay at a dude ranch, or a way to recharge your cultured side at a museum. There’s a lot on the plate of “gentle offerings.”
- Architecture buffs will want to visit Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s personal masterpiece, his winter home and now a National Historic Landmark. Tours include the residence, theatres, architectural studio and drafting room. www.franklloydwright.org
- Scottsdale’s newly renovated hotel, The Saguaro, brings the palette of desert colours inside to mark its vibrant décor. Bold shades of pink, green, orange and yellow emulate the desert in bloom throughout this 195-room boutique property, recently named to the Conde Nast Traveler Hot List. Open-air yoga sessions and a menu of spa tapas (mini treatments) mean rejuvenation can be part of even a tight time budget. www.jdvhotels.com
- The Musical Instrument Museum has landed on the world stage with a blast! This “ears on,” world-class museum provides a vibrant experience of the history of musical instruments around the world. Wireless hotspots play loops of streamed music, backed up by video of the instruments being played. www.themim.org
- The trip to historic Bisbee in southeast Arizona is well worth the scenic drive. Once rooted in mining history, today Bisbee is brimming with art galleries, antique and one-of-a-kind shops, cooking schools and adventures like the Queen Mine tour, deep into the operations of Bisbee’s historic copper mine. www.discoverbisbee.com
- The award-winning cabanas at Scottsdale’s Hotel Valley Ho come with a choice of amenities including a bucket of Red Bull or Fiji water, fresh fruit smoothies, homemade tortilla chips and salsa. The eight, poolside cabanas are equipped with a stocked mini-fridge, misting system and oversized chaise sun loungers. www.hotelvalleyho.com
- Does a pool concierge, custom cocktails whipped up by a mixologist, a Bloody Mary bar, a facial salon and complimentary “sips and bites” sound like a retreat made for adults? That’s exactly what they’re offering (and more) at the new Seclusions Pool and Clubhouse at the Scottsdale Resort & Conference Center. www.thescottsdaleresort.com
- The weather and the culture make Tucson’s year-round Gallery Row ArtWalk an easy sell. Located in the city’s swankiest shopping district, Gallery Row has been named Tucson Guide Magazine’s Best Art Destination. Every Thursday, visitors can stroll between art galleries, enjoy live music and indulge in wine tastings. www.tucsongalleryrow.com
- It’s hard to imagine a setting more spiritual, more inspirational and more rejuvenating than among the red rocks of Sedona. This town is vibrant with arts, culture and the facilities of deluxe health and wellness resorts. In addition to its spectacular natural setting, Sedona is known for the power of its vortex enhanced energy sites. Area spas offer a full menu of spa treatments aimed to realign energy, relieve stress and restore balance in body, mind and spirit. www.visitsedona.com