Arizona Spa - Pampering for the soul
As you stare out of your office window looking at another cold, dreary, grey winter day, your dreams of sun, fun, golf and spa seem far away. But all it takes is a hop across the pond to sunny Arizona to make your dreams a reality.
Arizona conjures up images of the Wild West; gunslingers, showdowns at High Noon and Native Americans. But this stereotype of America’s West belies the fact that in reality Arizona is home to some of the top spas and resorts in the States. If you’re planning a road trip and feel the need for some pampering, here’s a selection of the best of the best.
TUCSON. Miraval is consistently ranked as a top destination spa in the world thanks to its innovative programming and genuine spirit, but it wasn’t until this May with the unveiling of the Life in Balance Spa with Clarins, that Miraval actually had a spa worthy of the resort. The new 16,000 square-foot spa embodies Miraval’s philosophy of life enhancing minimalism. “Balance is what this spa is all about,” said Miraval Chairman Philippe Bourguignon. “It is the opposite of affluence and opulence.” That said the spa is luxurious in an unpretentious way. The design, done in neutral beige and grey tones layered with texture, warm woods and clean-lined furnishings, is simple and sophisticated and helps guests relax and unwind. The facility features 23 treatment rooms, including six outdoor; a relaxation room that overlooks the stunning desert mountain landscape, saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs and a private outdoor patio off the women’s locker room.
THE NAGA TREATMENT. The spa, three-years in the making, is a collaboration between Miraval and Clarins, the top selling European skin care line. Working in tandem, over 40 exclusive new treatments were created including the Anti-Aging facial, Detoxifying Botanical Body Wrap and the Deep River Stone massage. One of the unique treatments I had a chance to experience was the Naga, a Thai massage that incorporates silk scarves that hang from the ceiling. The silks are used by the therapist for entwining and gracefully suspending themselves as well as wrapping and supporting your body. My therapist Melanie, who trained extensively in Thailand, was extremely knowledgeable about physiology and anatomy and explained to me why my left hamstring is tight and resistant to stretching, and what is causing some of my chronic aches and pains. It turns out it all stems from a structural issue with my left hip and a weak left glute that isn’t doing its fair share of the work. Armed with this new knowledge, I have a new goal at the gym (Operation Butt Build!).
GOLF. For the golfer Miraval tees up several experiences. Choose a private golf lesson with Glen Griffith, a PGA of America member since 1993 and learn his unique mind/body approach to the game. At the nearby Golf Club at Vistoso, a Tom Weiskopf designed course voted Tucson’s top public course, you’ll learn a new approach to the game emphasizing balance, awareness and connecting breath and focus with your target. Miraval also offers an on-course coaching session that applies this technique in match play. I had the opportunity to stay in one of the Catalina Suites; the suite’s décor was soothing and so peaceful. As I sat outside on my private patio reading and writing my notes I realized it was the first time in a long time that I could hear myself think. There is something magical about Miraval. I don’t know if it’s the positive energy that is so palpable you can feel it; if it’s the secluded site in the mountains or what, but I do know that I feel relaxed and recharged every time I come here. If you want to extend your stay in Tucson and check out other golf courses look no further than the Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain, featuring a Jack Nicklaus designed course, or the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort showcasing two Tom Fazio designed 18-hole courses.
SCOTTSDALE LUXURY. If Arizona is known for spas, then Scottsdale is the pinnacle of pampering. The city boasts a concentration of four- and five-star spas that is hard to rival in the States, and the Phoenician’s Centre for Well Being is one of the top facilities in town. Not only does the five-star resort have a world-class spa, it will also keep the golfer in your group satisfied with a 27-hole course comprised of three unique nines that offer several 18-hole combinations. In addition to the courses, the resort features a full-service driving range, chipping green and putting green. The Phoenician Golf Academy offers full-day classes suitable for beginners to scratch golfers. The 22,000 square-foot spa offers 24 treatment rooms, a fitness studio, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. One of my favorite features is the Meditation Atrium, a calm oasis with leather chaise longues that I relax in while reading a magazine and listening to the trickling fountain in the sun-kissed room.
LOCAL DESERT PLANTS. The menu of services is broad, with many body treatments like the Desert Serenity Scrub and Prickly Pear Scrub, created from local desert plants and minerals like aloe vera, jojoba and chamomile. The spa also pays homage to Native American culture with the Well-Being Stone Ritual, a hot stone massage using the Native American custom of harnessing the power of warm basalt river stones and cool marble stones to soothe the body. I opted to try two signature services starting with the Holistic Massage. This divine 80-minute treatment uses your choice of up to three different massage options to create the most personalised massage experience you could have. As someone who, despite frequent spa visits, has a neck and shoulders with knots the size of the desert boulders you will see around town, I left it up to my therapist Gene to pick the best techniques to use. To try and break up tight muscles he used a combination of neuromuscular and sports massage. At times it felt blissful, at times it was intense, but he got results.
POPULAR WITH CELEBRITIES. The Intraceutical Infusion Facial was by far one of the most unique I’ve ever experienced. The feature of the treatment is the use of hyperbaric oxygen coupled with an anti-oxidant, Hyaluronic Acid and peptide cocktail. Hyperbolic oxygen is used to treat wounds and for desert sun-kissed skin it can soothe in one treatment. After cleansing my face, my therapist Luanne uses a wand, similar to that for air-brushing, aiming the concentrated oxygen on my face. It feels like a cool wind. When coupled with the anti-oxidants it’s like my face is being misted. The system is designed to drive the anti-oxidants deep into the skin. The results are a minimisation of fine lines and increased plumpness and brightness. It’s not surprising that the facial is a favourite of A-listers like Jennifer Lopez, Victoria Beckham and Naomi Campbell.
BOUTIQUE HOTEL. Guests of the Phoenician can book rooms in the main hotel, or opt for The Canyon Suites, a boutique hotel within the resort. With 11 tennis courts, the Phoenician is one of the only places that serves up four different surfaces, including grass, where guests can channel their inner Andy Murray. Or simply relax by one of the nine pools on property and end your day dining in Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s J&G Steakhouse.
SERENE SEDONA. A spa vacation is all about relaxing and looking inward and there is no better place to do that than Sedona. Sedona is known for its vortexes-- convergences of spiritual energy that dot the red rock landscape. Luxury Enchantment Resort sits in the base of Boynton Canyon where several vortexes come together creating a magical escape like no other. The resort just finished a $25 million renovation with modern south-west designed casitas, and new restaurants and lounges like View 180 and Che-Ah-Chi offering views stunning enough to complement the cuisine. The resort has one of the most extensive activity programmes I’ve seen. In addition to ‘spa-ing’ or golfing at the resort’s affiliated Seven Canyons course, you can spend your day in a tennis clinic, a yoga class, learning how to create a vision board, trying Tai Chi, watching a spa cuisine cooking demo (and tasting the results!), exploring Native American culture through lectures or a medicine walk as well as hearing about the area’s vortexes. And this is just a smattering of what is available.
WINE, MEDITATION AND HIKING. The wine tasting I did was one of the most informative I’ve ever attended; focusing on what makes old and new world wines different and featuring wines that drove the point home. I also loved the evening chakra meditation in the spa’s Crystal Grotto. I have a very hard time meditating but in this setting it worked and I felt relaxed and at peace afterwards. No stay at Enchantment would be complete without a hike on the Boynton Canyon Trail, an easy path that puts you up close and personal with the unique landscape. With all the activities, it was hard to remember I came here to relax and explore Enchantment’s Mii Amo spa. Guests can choose to stay in the spa suites if they sign up for a three, four or seven days or stay at Enchantment and simply pick and choose services from a huge spa menu.
NATIVE AMERICAN TRADITIONS. Like other spas in Arizona, there is a strong focus on incorporating Native American traditions and using locally sourced products. I tried the Anasazi Ubtan, which was created by Mii Amo and not available anywhere else. The Ayruvedic treatment began with a massage tailored to my Dosha using local products. It was followed by a herbal paste designed to detoxify and purify the skin. After a quick shower a lotion was applied to leave me hydrated, refreshed and smelling pretty. For my second treatment I decided to take advantage of Sedona’s energy and book the Reading of the Moment, where numerology, tarot and palm reading is used to help you understand the direction of your life. Having just gone through a traumatic experience I was anxious to see what insights I could gain, and was surprised how accurate the information about my past was. I can only hope that the future will be as rosy as my guide, Kamma, indicated.
NIGHT TIME MAGIC. At night even more of Boynton Canyon’s magic is revealed as the sky is covered in a blanket of bright stars. Take a stroll around the resort, or relax in View 180 with a glass of wine and drink in the spectacular view. While the Old West can still be found in Arizona, it’s clear that the stereotype of the state is just that, a stereotype. This south-western gem with its stark desert landscape soothes the soul with luxury spas, golf and dining that will make a trip to the Grand Canyon State something that will linger in your memory for a lifetime.
Miraval Resort & Spa
5000 E. Via Estancia Miraval
Tucson, AZ 85739
The Golf Club at Vistoso
955 West Vistoso Highlands Drive
Oro Valley, AZ. 85755
Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain
15000 North Secret Springs Drive
Marana, Arizona 85658
Loews Ventana Canyon
7000 North Resort Drive
Tucson, Arizona 85750
6000 East Camelback Road
Scottsdale, Arizona 85251
525 Boynton Canyon Road
Sedona, AZ 86336
The Club at Seven Canyons
755 Golf Club Way.
Sedona, Arizona 86336