Written by Catherine Tse
With over 330 days of sunshine every year, Scottsdale, Arizona beckons with its steady, heady heat. During Hollywood’s golden era, Scottsdale was a natural extension to the playground of the stars, drawing the likes of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, who favoured hotel lounges and poolside parties. Decades later, “snowbirds” – mostly Canadians escaping cold winters – and retirees discovered this nearby paradise with its sunny, semi-arid climate and dramatic palm-lined boulevards. Coming full circle, Scottsdale has once again piqued the interest of celebrities, with sightings of Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and Jennifer Aniston frequently being reported. The main draw this time? Spas. This is spa country. The Greater Phoenix area (including Scottsdale) has over 400,000 sq. ft of dedicated spa space. Many of these luxury spas and resorts routinely top every American and international “best of” spa list. Combined with a magnificent food scene and the charming, warm Southwest aesthetic, Scottsdale is becoming a top destination for those seeking some serious pampering.
When planning your trip, keep in mind this area is in the Sonoran Desert – it’s hot. Peak season is usually from November through March. But if soaring temperatures don’t bother you, coming in the summer will fetch you a great deal as many resorts reduce prices dramatically during this period. Golf carts are a given at these expansive properties, so don’t worry, you’ll never be out in the open sun longer than you choose to. Bring your bathing suit to your spa treatment and plan on going early and staying late to make the most of the spectacular amenities at these luxury resorts.
OMNI SCOTTSDALE RESORT & SPA AT MONTELUCIA
Inspired by the Andalusia region in Spain, the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia is an intimate, picturesque property dotted with lively fountains and floral walkways. This is where former US President, Barack Obama was based when he visited the area in February 2009.
The resort’s Joya Spa is modeled after Moroccan hammams – rich in deep, earthy colours and exotic with Moorish flourishes. Treatment rooms feel as if they’re extensions of a plush bedroom lavishly decorated with jewel-toned throws and pillows. Indulge in the Arnica and Hot Towel Massage (starting at US$239 for 80 min), a deep tissue massage using the essential oils of arnica, sage, lavender and spearmint, all proven to help soothe inflamed, sore muscles. As the massage progresses, a series of hot towels are placed over the treated areas, promoting the extracts’ healing properties.
Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia
4949 E. Lincoln Drive Paradise Valley, AZ
BOULDERS RESORT AND SPA
Technically located in the town of Carefree, that says it all. Boulders is nestled amongst dramatic, towering boulders dating back 12 million years. The profile is relatively low-level upon arriving, with the golf course across from the main building. But once you wind your way to your casita, the enormous boulders are centre stage. The impact leaves you feeling both humbled, thrilled and exhilaratingly carefree.
Boulders is one of the very few resorts in the US that has a dedicated, private Watsu pool (starting at US$190 for 50 min). The water offers both resistance and support, making it an incredibly healing environment. This kind of gentle aquatic bodywork is ideal for anyone looking for a safe, intense treatment focused on increasing circulation and flexibility. You are supported by a certified Watsu therapist at all time, being pulled through the water in undulating, organic movements. You’ll get the most out of this treatment if you trust your therapist and completely relax your body.
Boulders Resort and Spa
34631 N Tom Darlington Dr, Carefree, AZ
SANCTUARY ON CAMELBACK MOUNTAIN RESORT AND SPA
If celebrity sightings are on your agenda, Sanctuary on Camelback is your best bet for a casual encounter. While privacy and discretion are paramount no matter the guest’s name, celebrities like Beyoncé and Jay-Z make no secret about their multiple visits to this resort (including their honeymoon). With features such as the newly renovated Spa House (a private enclave within Sanctuary), nightly sunset champagne toasts and candlelight turndown service, everybody gets star service.
Sanctuary on Camelback is built right up against its namesake mountain, giving this expansive, contemporary resort a surprisingly cosy and intimate feel. Even the entrance to the spa feels sheltered, with towering bamboo thickets flanking either side of the walkway leading to the front door. This Asian-inspired spa specialises in treatments such as Sumatra Coconut Body Ritual, Zen Shiatsu and Thai massage. Their reflexology treatment (starting at US$105 for 30 min) releases pressure points on the feet, guaranteed to lull you asleep halfway through your session, but leave you energised when you awake.
Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa
5700 East McDonald Drive, Paradise Valley, AZ
HYATT REGENCY SCOTTSDALE RESORT & SPA AT GAINEY RANCH
Take a moment to soak in the lavish, palm-lined entrance to the Hyatt Regency at Gainey Ranch as you arrive. Framed by the McDowell Mountains, this is an impressive introduction to this flagship property. As you enter the sweeping three-story lobby atrium, look beyond the cavernous expanse of restaurants and bars below to get a glimpse of what lies beyond: acres of pools (including a sand beach), a water playground and even a waterway system with authentic Venetian gondolas.
At Spa Avania, book a session in their Himalayan Salt Room, which is lined (walls, floor, ceiling) with pharmaceutical Grade A salt, which releases negative ions, helping to absorb excess positive ions and refresh the air, leaving you clear-headed and calm. After that, you’ll be in a perfect state to take a dip in their stunning French Celtic mineral pool or try their customised Sacred Nature Facial, featuring beautiful all-organic skincare from Italy.
Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch
7500 East Doubletree Ranch Road Scottsdale, AZ
ROYAL PALMS RESORT AND SPA
This glamorous property started off as a private home in 1929 and is today an historic hotel of America. Members of the Rat Pack, namely Frank Sinatra Jr. and Dean Martin were frequent guests, favouring the hotel’s then-heart shaped pool. As a private home, it was enormous and built for entertaining; as a resort, it’s decidedly intimate and private – perfect for anyone looking for a true escape.
The resort’s spa, Alvadora, is housed in a separate two-storey building with fantastic views of Camelback Mountain. Their signature treatment, Citrus Ritual, takes place in the purpose-built Acqua Dolce room, featuring heated stone tables and three copper Vichy shower heads hanging over each one. As you lie on the bed, the adjustable shower heads are positioned over different points on your body, stimulating the chakras while you’re thoroughly exfoliated, massaged and moisturised. The treatment ends with two different outdoor showers, a jetted tub and relaxing outdoors.
Royal Palms Resort and Spa
5200 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, AZ