Deserts have long been places tied to spiritual journeys and purification. And for those with a free spirit who also calculate the thread count on their sheets, Scottsdale Arizona could be the answer. Abutting Phoenix, the state’s capital, Scottsdale has a prodigious population of spas and hotels, not to mention a surplus of breathtaking views, outdoor action and a thriving food scene. Often ranked as one of the most liveable US cities, it’s a distinction that has no doubt been aided by its temperate winter climate and its annual 299 days of sun. Home to the saguaro cacti – Herculean finger-like plants that grow and flex for years – there’s a magic and a mesmerising beauty found in these desert surrounds.
Splayed across 40 acres of striking desert scenery, theFour Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North sits in a prime location between downtown Scottsdale and downtown Phoenix. The 210 well-proportioned rooms are spread out over the property in a series of one and two-storey casita-style designs. Offering sweeping views of the tangle of rocks that form Pinnacle Peak – notable features throughout include the rustic gas fireplaces, beckoning sitting chairs and certain suites come equipped with telescopes and star charts. Designed with Southwestern influences recurring throughout, you’ll find a palate of cream, purple, and burgundy, which reflects the cascade of colours from the surrounding desert.
While there is an excellent 24-hour gym with an exemplary complimentary class schedule, perhaps the best way to unwind and connect once here is to step outside and experience Pinnacle Peak on foot. Reaching an elevation of 1,300 feet, this moderate hike is both smooth and picturesque, an ideal first port of call.
Upon completion the 12,000-square-foot spa offers the ideal respite. Book in for the property’s signature moonlight massage. The menu here offers everything you’d expect in terms of top-notch massages, scrubs, nail treatments and facials, as well as a host of extras, such as the introduction of local and seasonal ingredients, including saguaro blossom, the state flower, into the treatments and formulations. Ask as well to experience the aroma therapy bar and design your own unique scented scrub or moisturiser. As for the surrounds, expect plush robes, a sauna, steam room and an excellent spa boutique brimming with both local and international brands.
In fact, the entire resort is designed with serenity in mind – from the mighty hot tub to the three swimming pools (one of which is adults only) to the welcoming sun-drenched deck chairs and commanding desert views.
And as of late, the hotel’s food has become a major talking point, ever since Samantha Sanz took hold of the kitchen. Just shy of 30 years old, Sanz is remarkable. Her reinvented Talavera is inspired, drawing influences from Spain, Mexico and even elements of Peru, the menu begets labelling, as it is something altogether unique. Try her twist on paella or splurge on her succulent 10 ounces of Wagyu beef.
One constant in the world of wellness is a concern over the exorbitant price tags. With websites like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop touting serenity crystals, psychic vampire repellents to rid the world of negative energy and golden dumbbells costing $125,000, it’s easy to feel disfranchised from this new breed of health gurus. Located just outside of Scottsdale, CIVANA spa and resort – in the aptly named Carefree – is trying to knit the void, offering a retreat venue with a more attainable price tag. Based around four pillars – movement, spa, nourishment and discovery – CIVANA is a holistic wellness destination with a seriously weighty list of classes, experiences and spa treatments. The spa has a whopping 22 treatment rooms and includes a kneippe walk, Sanarium, Watsu therapy pool, 25-meter pool, sundeck and salon. And while onsite you can book in for everything from adult art classes to bowl meditation to aerial yoga to myofascial release and TRX training.
Tipping the scales back towards the luxury side is the 65-acre Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. There is so much you can do here, it’s almost more sensible to mention what you can’t do than what is on offer – as the two golf courses, six pools (two for adults only), basketball court, four boutiques and five restaurants only skim the surface of these sprawling grounds. In fact, they’ve designed an in-house app – the Princess Navigator App – to help you get from a to b and everywhere else in between. Each of the 750 rooms and suites has its own balcony overlooking the golfing greens – a welcome design decision indeed. Decor is modern and muted, with touches of southwest peeking through in the artwork. Rooms also have all the latest gadgets – Nespresso machines, iHome clock radios, docking stations for iPods and clever mini fridges.
The Well Being Spa is a paean to health and renewal. A luxury sanctuary, there’s everything from a high-gloss boutique to the classic steam room, a restorative eucalyptus inhalation room, a Swedish dry sauna, cold plunge pool and a hot therapeutic whirlpool. There is also a sizeable fitness studio with a lengthy class list including Cirque du Soleil-inspired aerial yoga, as well as the more expected fitness offerings of Pilates, barre and spin. Make a stop at the adults-only rooftop pool – it’s a veritable sun trap – and wile away the afternoon in one of the private private cabanas. In between treatments place an order at the spa kitchen – the ample healthy menu is served all day in the spa atrium. Looking around, it’s little wonder the venue was recently recognised as one of the 10 best spas in America, courtesy of a USA Today readers poll.
The Phoenician is behemothic property with 645 rooms in total, including 107 casitas, 38 suites and 450 spacious guest rooms. A commanding resort sprawling over 250 acres edging the base of Camelback Mountain, this Luxury Collection Resort does not disappoint. Some of the largest rooms range from the 600-square-feet, while the one- to three-bedroom suites measure in at 3,000 square feet and the dramatic presidential suite is about 2,400 square feet. Art throughout the rooms and common spaces pays homage to horses – don’t forget this is cowboy country – while the knotted furnishings are clearly influenced by traditional Native American rugs and textiles. Rooms are finished with accents in rich ochre and the serene palm-fringed pool recalls something of a classic Hollywood film set.
In 2018, the hotel completed the largest renovation in its history, a huge focus of which was the Phoenicians Centre for Wellbeing. The resulting monolithic three-storey facility is now one of the most impressive spas in America. It only takes a minute of chatting with the spa team to find a host of loyal therapists who have worked for the luxury brand into the double digits. Take time to explore the rooftop pool, the 24 treatment rooms –including a lavish couple’s suite – the bustling blow-dry bar, the baroque full-service nail salon, and the fitness centre complete with a movement studio and personal training gym. The menu of treatments and classes far surpasses that of the typical deep tissue or stone massage. Here you can book in for everything from ballroom dancing to meditation, Tarot card reading to hypnotherapy.
Mark Boisclair Photography, Inc
Clean, compact and brimming with five-star amenities, Scottsdale is having a moment. Yes, this charismatic desert destination nestled amongst the rugged boulders and endless shades of green, offers just the right blend of tranquility and opulence of nature to help even the most tightly wound city slickers find a sense of calm.