Photgraphy by Laura Segall
Spa Appreciation 101
Before we begin, hang up your robe, slip under the blanket and breathe in these goddess-level spa insights. Valley spa guru Lisa Kasanicky, founder and editor of the AZ Spa Girls wellness blog (azspagirls.com), offers these pointers for selecting and evaluating a spa.
Budget and value
“What do I get for my spa buck? Do they have a private spa pool, a fitness area? Am I just paying for the massage, or am I getting an immersive experience?”
“When time is limited, I just want [to get] a massage and go. And there are day spas designed that way – to get you in and out.”
“I do look at [online] reviews. They can be helpful. I try to avoid the Y word [Yelp] whenever possible, and I take those reviews with a grain of salt. AAA is very reliable. Google, too.”
“I like to go with the recommendations of friends. Especially since I’m in a new moms club. We’re looking for the same things [in a spa]: economy and efficiency.”
Not every treatment provider is created equal. So how do you scout them? According to Kasanicky, the high-end resort spas typically put therapists “through a more rigorous hiring and training,” a thought borne out by Vance, who says his therapists must have five years of experience to work for him at the Princess. The best therapists also “move from place to place,” according to Kasanicky, so if you like a service, be sure to get a card.
Turn your wellness amplifier up to 11 with our selection of luxury resort spas.
Well & Being Spa at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
Renovated and rebranded in 2011 to the tune of $10 million, this compact but elegantly proportioned facility has all the physical attributes one might expect in an elite luxury spa. The adults-only pool deck – located on a third-story mezzanine with meditative views of North Scottsdale – is one of the best spaces of its kind in the Valley, and the well-endowed warren of steam rooms, saunas and pleasantly scented, misty places with no obvious purpose will keep you occupied for hours. Also nice: the co-ed waterfall outside the locker rooms, which resolves into a peaceful meadow ideal for an hour of solitary reading or sunning.
All of that is great, but it’s general manager Robert Vance’s innovative menu of fitness programs, holistic medicine regimes and tech-flavored health services that most sets Well & Being apart. Want to get a precise body-fat (BMI) reading? Step into his bod-pod. Interested in a fun way to work your core? Take a virtual surfing class, complete with Dick Dale tunes and projection video. There’s also aerial yoga, wall yoga and the knowing hands of Dr. Ed, the spa’s resident energy-work whiz, trained in cupping, acupuncture and other next-level ministrations.
Must Try: The Hacienda Retreat
Essentially a full-body exfoliation and massage, this “foodie-friendly” treatment starts with a light dusting of corn meal on your bare skin, like a legion of light kisses, followed by a vigorous session of skin-layer-removal. Then comes the shea oil and lime zest, and a 30-minute rubdown. You won’t know whether to nap or have yourself for lunch.
Non-Guest Day Pass: Complimentary with a service; walk-ins otherwise not permitted
High-Season 60-Minute Massage: $169
A 7575 E. Princess Dr., Scottsdale, 480-585-4848, fairmont.com/scottsdale
Alvadora Spa at Royal Palms Resort and Spa
Secluded behind a vine-covered adobe wall and accessible only through a beautiful carved mahogany door, Alvadora evokes the feeling of a secret garden. The Mediterranean-themed oasis has the most intimate feel of any spa on our list, with eight treatment rooms connected by a labyrinth of dusky hallways, private indoor-outdoor courtyards and outdoor showers. Warm woodwork, striking stone, rich paint and abundant greenery make you feel like you’re relaxing at a private Tuscan villa. Continue the Italian theme with a Renaissance massage (herbal footbath, soothing tea) or Quattro de Palma (two therapists using rhythmic movements), or get romantic with a couple’s massage in the sensual couple’s suite (Alvadora custom massage, hot stone or prenatal). Alvadora was named the No. 1 spa in Phoenix by USA Today in 2015 and is the exclusive purveyor of Spa Dehp, a wellness therapy experience designed by body-mind expert Josette Sullins to unlock emotions, unblock creative flow and access each body’s intelligence processes.
Must Try: Citrus Ritual
Alvadora’s signature treatment begins on a heated stone table in the Acqua Dolce treatment room, where you’re covered in a warm, wet towel and showered with gently cascading water from three Vichy showerheads. Follow your gentle, full-body exfoliation with a rinse in an outdoor shower and a swim in the treatment room’s adjoining garden tub before lounging on a private patio with a raindrop shower. Floral, citrusy neroli (orange blossom) lotion ends the session on a fragrant note that nods to the resort’s setting in what was once a sea of orange groves. The ritual is also available as a couple’s treatment.
Non-Guest Day Pass: Complimentary with a service
High-Season 50-Minute Massage: $150
A 5200 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 602-283-1234, royalpalmshotel.com/spa/alvadora-spa-phoenix
Best Sporty Spa
The Spa at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North
It may not be the most ornate or striking on this list, but The Spa at Scottsdale’s Four Seasons Resort screams luxury through its five-star services offered in an intimate, cozy space. Plus, the renowned customer service of the Four Seasons brand will make you feel immediately at home, primed for relaxation. Their treatment list is extensive, with body wraps and polishes, facials and massages designed to maximize relaxation for active desert dwellers and tourists alike. Think: The Golfer’s Massage that uses warmed golf balls to knead tight muscles; a Healing Hiker’s massage that utilizes mountain arnica and sage to soothe tired legs; and a cooling After Sun Soother wrap of cucumber and aloe vera for pool bums. Before treatment, get your sweat on with a private personal training session. After, spa guests can enjoy the oasis-like resort grounds with a dip in the adults-only pool and a sunset cocktail and delicious nibbles on Proof canteen’s patio, which has unparalleled views of Pinnacle Peak.
Must Try: The Aroma Design Bar Experience
First, you collaborate with your massage therapist to customize a take-home sugar scrub and body lotion with an essential oil combo that reflects your soul and state of mind, all based on your birth date. Then, the therapist uses the scrub for a thorough body polish to shed all those pesky dead skin cells, and the lotion for a deep-tissue massage that will leave your skin baby-butt-soft and your soul re-centered. Hokey? Who cares? It’s heavenly.
Non-Guest Day Pass: Complimentary with a service
High-Season 50-Minute Massage: Su-Th $165; F-Sa $175
A 10600 E. Crescent Moon Dr., Scottsdale, 480-513-5145, fourseasons.com/scottsdale/spa
Best Daily Spa
The Spa at Sanctuary Resort & Spa
The best $300 you’ll spend in any given month? Membership dues at this destination spa perched on the leeward side of Camelback Mountain. A rarity among resort spas, the non-guest spa membership gives holders access to all amenities at the resort, including an outdoor Watsu pool, gym, salon, tennis court, lap pool, Zen meditation garden and soothing reflection pond. The view from Sanctuary alone – named one of the top five hotel spas in the continental U.S. by Travel + Leisure in 2014 – is a guaranteed daily cup of chill. Throw in the rest of the amenities, plus 12 Asian-inspired massage services in indoor and outdoor treatment rooms, and movement classes such as Pilates Reformer, TRX suspension training, restorative yoga and Barre Biz – and you might very well stop aging. Anyway, it beats jostling for the thigh-abductor machine at L.A. Fitness.
Must Try: Golden Lotus Balancing Ritual
Descended from traditional Chinese and Japanese herbal medicine, an herbal blend helps restore energy balance as it’s massaged into the body. A cloth wrap that lets the oils penetrate the skin for full moisturization is followed by a unique massage that feels as much spiritual as it is physical. Often, the therapist’s hands will not even touch the body, but simply coax energy flow while hovering above it. Being in the “now” has never been so easy.
Non-Guest Day Pass: Complimentary with a service; walk-ins otherwise not permitted
High-Season 60-Minute Massage: $165
A 5700 E. McDonald Dr., Paradise Valley, 888-722-6230, sanctuaryoncamelback.com
Joya Spa at Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia
Singled out by spa maven Lisa Kasanicky as the single most “beautiful” spa in the Valley – and, consequently, its best value – Joya greets guests with the calming scent of Queen of the Night, an elusive cactus flower that blooms only one evening a year. Entering the lavish facility, one’s gaze is drawn upward along a winding staircase lined with arch-shaped grooves and finally to six Moroccan-style punched-metal lamps suspended from the sky-high ceiling. It’s the stuff of Spanish-Moroccan royalty, an intriguing welcome to a transformative retreat.
And there’s more to ogle still, including a brilliant color-changing crystal canopied by sparkling “stars” in the upstairs spa service area. Designed to stimulate relaxation and engage presence of mind and body, the display warms you up for the therapeutic experience to come. Warm hues and geometric patterns reminiscent of the works of M.C. Escher continue throughout the spa facilities, which include a pool, steam room, hot tub, whirlpool, sauna and relaxation lounges.
Must Try: The Transformation Facial
A perfect spring fling for faces felled by winter dryness, this treatment gently exfoliates, tones and replenishes moisture and essential nutrients to delicate skin while increasing elasticity. Afterward, be sure to swim a few laps in the pool on the scenic Joya Terrace, which overlooks a serene Camelback Mountain.
Non-Guest Day Pass: $75; complimentary with a service
High-Season 50-Minute Massage: $159
A 4949 E. Lincoln Dr., Scottsdale, 480-627-3200, omnihotels.com/hotels/scottsdale-montelucia/spa
Bargain Body Work
The best spas, treatments and experiences for when you want to splurge but not break the bank.
The Spa at Talking Stick
Spa and travel website SpasofAmerica.com named Talking Stick Resort’s spa No. 87 on its list of the top spas in North America in 2015. We can see why. With its 13,000-square-foot, open-air layout, 14th floor hot tub and comprehensive list of treatments – from a Fairways to Heaven golf massage to spray tanning to facial enhancements (need a quick face-lift add-in?) – it has you covered for a day of maximum pampering. Spa packages like the Tradition (Swedish massage and manicure/pedicure, $232) and the Elevation (Swedish massage, facial, Mission Fig body treatment and manicure/pedicure, $491) save you money on multiple services, and seasonal specials save you $10-$30 on regular treatments.
A 9800 E. Talking Stick Way, Scottsdale, 480-850-4065, talkingstickresort.com/spa
Village Health Clubs & Spas
Village members save a substantial amount on each treatment and service, from $10-$30, but even non-members can pop into these tony health clubs for resort-quality pampering at day spa prices. The seasonal body treatment is a steal at $117 for 60 minutes, and waxing services start at an affordable $15 for smaller areas. Additional discounts are offered throughout the year as part of special spa service series, so don’t be afraid to ask about the current deal. The best bang for your buck is the Village Experience, which includes a breakfast or lunch entrée, a soft drink, a glass of wine or beer, and any three services for $295 for non-members ($240 for members) or any four services for $410 for non-members ($310 for members). You can choose from a menu including a 60-minute massage, 60-minute facial, 60-minute seasonal body treatment, haircut and blow-dry, and a Village Signature manicure and pedicure. Guests also get full use of the club on the day of their spa services, membership or not.
Four Valley locations, villageclubs.com
Revive Spa at J.W. Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa
Soothing water greets you as soon as you enter Revive, in the form of a two-story rotunda lobby with a dramatic waterfall cascading below a skylight. Swim in the spa’s Sanctuary lap pool or meditate in the Zen Loft on the second floor pre- or post-treatments. Regular treatment prices are on par with other local resort spas, but packages save you a bundle and include gratuities. The Revive package includes a 50-minute facial and 50-minute massage ($370) and the Gentlemen’s Escape package features an 80-minute therapeutic massage and Guys’ Total Wellness Facial ($400). Revive has quite the streak going with Condé Nast Traveler: It has consistently been named one of the best resort spas in America by the travel titan since 2008.
A 5350 E. Marriott Dr., Phoenix, 480-293-3700, marriott.com
Saguaro Spa at the Saguaro Scottsdale Hotel
This colorful, funky hotel in Old Town Scottsdale has a spa menu with prices that elicit double-takes. A 60-minute Swedish massage for $115? A 60-minute deep-tissue massage for $135? Specialty massages and treatments like the Desert Flower Herbal Poultice (90 minutes, $185) and Turquoise Sage Mountain Arnica Massage (60 minutes, $130) for less than $200? You’ll have to pinch yourself – or just look around at the trendy, electro-Southwest décor – to remember you’re not in a massage chain. Not surprisingly, the Saguaro’s spa packages are also a steal: The Refresh comes with a Swedish massage and prickly pear sugar scrub for $160 and the Relax comes with the aforementioned poultice massage and an orange neck and scalp massage for $210. You’ll leave feeling far less prickly for having parted with such little cash.
A 4000 N. Drinkwater Blvd., Scottsdale, 480-444-0547, thesaguaro.com/scottsdale/#hotel-spa
Treat yo’ self (and your gal pals) on a budget at this locally owned, female-centric day spa. Unlike its chain competitors, Fuchsia provides resort-level services and passes on the pushy sales pitches. Members do save a pretty penny – including discounts on nail services, skincare and body care products – but non-members also get great deals, from a 50-minute massage for $79.99 to microdermabrasion for $75. Monthly specials yield even more savings and perks (February’s $49 pedicure included a chocolate-covered strawberry cocktail), and first-time clients are privy to offers like a custom facial for $59, an 80-minute custom massage and scalp massage for $84 and a custom facial and massage combo for $99. Fuchsia pumps up the girl power with budget-friendly party packages for bridal showers, bachelorette parties, birthdays, girls’ getaways, work retreats and more – and they’ll let you bring your own food and drink. Where have you been all our life, BYOB spa?
• Three Valley locations, fuchsiaspa.com
— Leah LeMoine
5 Spa Trends
Keep abreast of the latest and greatest in wellness science with these emerging Valley spa trends.
Renowned for its powers of purification, Himalayan salt – forged in hypogenic isolation under the Earth’s crust for 250 million years – has been credited with everything from reducing the signs of aging to promoting healthy sleep patterns. But you don’t need to sprinkle it on your mashed potatoes to enjoy its benefits. Find an entire wall made of the stuff at Spa Avania at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch (7500 E. Doubletree Ranch Rd., Scottsdale, 480-444-1234, scottsdale.hyatt.com) and lounge in comfort while a fine layer of free-radical-neutralizing salt settles over you. If that’s not enough salt, there’s always Salt Chalet Arizona
(5011 N. Granite Reef Rd., Scottsdale, 480-621-6041, saltchaletaz.com), an entire facility conceived around salt therapy.
Lifted into the popular consciousness during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, when superstar swimmer Michael Phelps and others were spotted with curious, circular bruises on their bodies, this New Age wellness scheme harnesses the power of suction to treat pain, disrupt deep scar tissue and relieve swelling – theoretically, anyway. The therapy involves placing heated bowls on critical joints and connective-tissue bundles, and lets the resultant vacuum do the rest. Find it at most major Valley spas, including The Well & Being Spa at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess (7575 E. Princess Dr., Scottsdale, 480-585-4848, fairmont.com/scottsdale).
Tibetan Singing Bowls
We first experienced this Eastern therapy, fittingly, at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas – after all, where better to unlock your chakra energy with gong-like sound waves than a spa devoted to the grandeur of music? Striking a series of artfully shaped brass bowls, a therapist then places said bowls at key points on the body, creating an enveloping sense of warmth and well-being. The process is also said to aid healing and reduce stress. Anahata Yoga (14148 N. 100th St., Scottsdale, 480-699-9600, anahatayogaaz.com) holds regular workshops and classes, and insiders predict that sound-bowl therapy will be embraced by mainstream spa programs in the coming years.
Colloquially known as “assisted yoga,” Thailand’s contribution to the global massage culture involves much stretching, twisting and contorting, often with the client splayed over the therapist’s body in a modern-wellness approximation of a medieval rack. It’s much more intimate and intense than a traditional spa massage, and arguably more therapeutic – advocates tout its regenerative benefits, joint relief and deep-tissue disruption. Having crossed the Pacific as a legitimate spa trend in the 1990s, Thai massage is fairly ubiquitous in Valley spas by now. Lisa Kasanicky of AZ Spa Girls speaks highly of the Thai massage program at the Sanctuary Resort Spa (5700 E. McDonald Dr., Paradise Valley, 888-722-6230, sanctuaryoncamelback.com).
Using breathing exercises and other guided somatic techniques, relaxation therapy seeks to quiet the mind and allow thoughts to flow in a smooth, predictable rhythm. The subsequent “mental quiet” allows for rest and rejuvenation that does not always occur, even during sleep. “It’s like guided imagery and visualization,” says Valley spa guru Voncelle Mull, founder of the Valley-based Southwest Spa Alliance. “The ultimate goal is achieving a peaceful state of mind.” In a twist on a theme, Healing Path Day Spa (13610 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-588-6163, thehealingpathaz.com) offers flotation therapy, in which clients achieve mental quietude while floating on a pad.
— Craig Outhier
Spa In, Spa Out
Our necks don’t wait to crick and our pores won’t wait to grow until we save up the time and money for an all-day spa-cation. when your bod is in need of a tuneup between full-blown spa sessions, stop in at one of these express day and salon spas in every corner of the valley for a quick treatment.
Ethereal Nails & Express Spa
This sister-owned spot in South Scottsdale proclaims itself a “fume-free” salon that uses essential oils and Dead Sea minerals. Ethereal offers facials and waxing, but the stars of the show are the manicures and pedicures, including a “MANicure” for gentlemen.
Quick Treat: The $75 Heel Rescue is a chemical-free pedicure that promises up to 80
percent reduction of lines, cracks and roughness in severely cracked heels.
A 2925 N. 67th Pl., 480-626-4343, etherealnails.com
Sure, the name is a little bougie, but aren’t we all a little vain when it comes to taking care of our faces? Find microdermabrasion facials, chemical peels, laser hair removal and advanced anti-aging treatments like near infrared skin-tightening.
Quick Treat: First-timers get a 50-minute custom facial for $49.
A 20511 N. Hayden Rd., 480-419-8267, purevanityspa.com
The Roose Parlour & Spa
Tucked away in a charming bungalow in Downtown’s historic Roosevelt neighborhood, The Roose offers facials customized by skin type – do you need to rebalance, moisturize, purify or recover?
Quick Treat: The $45 express facial is like the full-hour, standard European facial but sped up, featuring a treatment mask, exfoliation and facial massage. Do it on your lunch break.
A 918 N. Sixth St., 602-274-6942, theroose.com
The Red Door Salon & Spa
The Red Door by Elizabeth Arden spa and salon concept has been around for more than 100 years – plenty of time to perfect its massage and facial techniques.
Quick Treat: The Red Door at Phoenix Biltmore boasts an entire “Time Saver” menu including a 25-minute oxygen-infusion mini facial ($125) and a 25-minute, ecstatic eye-roll-inducing hair and scalp massage ($75).
A 2502 E. Camelback Rd., 602-553-8800, thereddoor.com
Sleek and dark with cement floors and pops of – you guessed it – fuchsia, this spa fits the bill for a flirty girls’ night out.
Quick Treat: First-time guests score a $59 custom facial or massage, featuring extractions and aromatherapy, respectively.
A 1822 S. Val Vista Dr., Mesa, 480-813-7465, fuchsiaspa.com
Other locations: North Phoenix, Gilbert
Bring out your inner sex kitten at Minx, which offers interesting facials including the Fountain of Youth Facial, which strengthens skin with antioxidants, and the Got Your Back Facial, which preps your back for bikinis and backless dresses.
Quick Treat: The 30-minute Happy Hour Facial includes either LED (light emitting diode) therapy for $85 or oxygen infusion for $100.
A 5735 E. McKellips Rd., Mesa, 480-654-2695, minxaz.com
Alvea at Vistancia
With Alvea’s resort-quality amenities, including private relaxation rooms and an outdoor pool, you could easily spend all day sampling services, including a full-body scrub, prenatal massage and aloe vera and lavender wrap.
Quick Treat: Alvea offers a lengthy menu of massages, such as hot rock therapy and deep-tissue, that are available in 25-minute formats ($70 non-members; $55 members).
A 27980 N. Trilogy Blvd., Peoria, 623-215-6290, alveaspa.com
Other location: San Tan Valley
Massage Green Spa
The most chain-y and corporate on the list, to be sure, but sometimes all you want is the most standard item on the menu. Hold the frills, please.
Quick Treat: Introductory one-hour massage or facial is $39.95 for new guests.
A 20118 N. 67th Ave., Glendale, 623-242-2777, www.massagegreenspas.com
Other locations: Scottsdale, Queen Creek
— Lauren Loftus
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