Spa Reviews in the Southwestern, United States
final leg of the flight into the city seemed destined
to last forever. The Airbus A320 hovered above the ground
as if it were suspended by an invisible string, gliding
endlessly over the vast, horizontal landscape. Looking
past the wing, I could see Phoenix, Arizona rising out
of the desert, a shimmering oasis in an otherwise scorched
land filled with red rock and Saguaro cactus.
the summer, it's not uncommon for temperatures to soar
past 42°C; the dry heat evaporating sweat faster than
you can replenish it. But this was March, a perfect time
of year to travel in the southwest, and I wasn't anticipating
anything above 23°C. Even so, it would be a welcome
change from the below zero temperatures I left back home.
highways are exceptional and stand in sharp contrast to
those found throughout the eastern United States. Rarely
does the temperature dip below freezing, and for the most
part the only wrinkles in the road are the ones designed
by the engineers. The drive over the next week would be
enjoyable for many reasons.
is a city whose outward boundaries seem constructed with
a rubber band. From California to Canada, vast hordes
of sun worshippers make their yearly pilgrimage to winter
in Arizona. Many visitors end up staying, allowing Phoenix
to maintain its position as one of the fastest growing
cities in North America. A Mecca for golfers, athletes
and plastic surgeons, it offers something for everyone.
Phoenician Resort is a member of The Luxury Collection
operated by Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide
and is an AAA Five Diamond Award winner.
Phoenician Resort & Spa is located at the base of
the Camelback Mountains in Scottsdale, AZ. A stroll through
the pristine property showcases the resort's 250 acres
of prime southwest real estate. The main building contains
474 guest rooms, 107 private casitas and 73 luxurious
suites. Each room is superbly decorated, with plush carpeting,
rich wood furnishings and luxurious marble and ceramic
are a total of 9 swimming pools, one featuring a cool
165 ft. water slide. Guests looking to bite into a little
sports action can head to the challenging 27-hole championship
golf course, or pick up a racket and pound a ball on one
of 12 tennis courts. With 11 restaurants to choose from,
it is impossible to go hungry.
Centre for Well-Being Spa takes inspiration from the mythical
phoenix, a creature that rose from the ashes to be born
anew. At 22,000 sq. ft, it offers a state of the art facility
to revitalize both mind and body. The expert staff at
the spa offer treatments indigenous to the area in 24
private treatment rooms. My personal favourite was the
80-minute Acussage, a Phoenician Signature Treatment
incorporating the healing powers of both acupuncture and
Phoenician Resort is a member of The Luxury Collection
operated by Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide and
is an AAA Five Diamond Award winner.
the city, the drive south to Tucson on Highway #10 took
less than 90 minutes and two cups of really bad roadside
coffee. Differing from Phoenix, the city of Tucson is
inspired by a definitive Mexican flavour.
total of 6 floors, 540 rooms and 35 suites define
The JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort, with 88,000 sq.
JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort is the newest addition to
the Tucson resort scene, first opening its doors in February,
2005. With the distinction of being the only resort in
Tucson Mountain Park, it offers exclusive amenities to
discerning guests on a grand scale. From the balcony of
my room, there are spectacular views of the surrounding
mountains and the cityscape below. At night, the city's
lights dance in the distance, a competitive balance to
the canopy of stars above. Tucson is renowned as a top
destination for star gazing, and the Starr Pass Resort
& Spa is perfectly positioned to take advantage of
the many cloudless nights.
resort is comprised of 6 floors, 540 rooms and 35 suites
and includes 88,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. From the
outside, the resort looks as if it were carved directly
from the mountain. Inside, each room is defined by a southwest
styled décor; with marble tiled bathrooms and expansive
views of the freeform pool and the Arnold Palmer designed,
27 hole golf course.
options abound with a total of eight restaurants on site,
including the locally renowned Signature Grill and a Starbucks.
Hashani Spa at the Starr Pass Resort is equally as grand,
but still manages to provide a sense of familiarity and
solitude. A spectacular stone entrance greets guests,
while a spiral staircase winds itself around a three-story
Saguaro cactus sculpture.
spa offers 23 deluxe treatment rooms and a menu featuring
unique treatments inspired by the healing principles of
the Sonoran Desert. The private pool is a great place
to meet new people under the Arizona sun, while a large
outdoor terrace provides the perfect setting for yoga,
tai chi or to just sit and enjoy the view.
a sense of regret, it was time to leave the newest JW
Marriott Resort and head north. Just outside Tucson was
my next destination and I was looking forward to spending
several days at what many consider to be the pre-eminent
spa in North America.
forty minute drive from Tucson, the city of Catalina is
an endless series of shopping malls, restaurants and banks.
Situated in the Santa Catalina Mountains, it is very easy
to miss the iron gates that mark the entrance to the resort.
In one way, this is part of the charm that separates Miraval
Resort & Spa from the competition. The theory being,
if you can find it, then you were meant to be there.
Resort & Spa is a member of the Leading Small
Hotels of the World.
on over 300 unspoiled acres, Miraval was at one time an
addiction recovery centre. Converted to a luxury resort
in the mid 1990's, it offers therapeutic programs of varying
length in an unmatched tranquil setting. Mountain biking,
horseback riding and an onsite challenge course keep the
sweat flowing, along with tennis, golf and swimming.
the resort, the blissful sounds of a trickling stream
add to the relaxing ambience provided by the indigenous
animals and birds who roam freely throughout.
of the 104 rooms and suites is casually decorated, the
focus being on comfort and rest, not on lavish decoration
or furnishings. From my room, sliding doors opened to
a covered sitting area with two lounge chairs. At Miraval,
life slows down quickly and it doesn't take long to get
comfortable with the easy pace.
Spa at Miraval is one reason why Condé Nast readers
voted it the #1 Destination Spa in 2004. Here knowledge
and skill meld together with the therapeutic qualities
of massage and pampering.
full menu of body and facial treatments are available
by appointment. I took the opportunity to experience a
Thai Body Workout- an ancient treatment from Thailand
performed on a mat, incorporating yoga stretches with
compressions. The basic 80 minute treatment stretches
the muscles and stimulates energy flow. It also turns
your body into a pretzel, but I happily survived to live
at Miraval plays an essential part in defining a life
in balance. Healthy food is one thing, but if it isn't
appealing, the guests may never return for a second visit.
Local ingredients are highlighted at every opportunity
and the presentation of food, as well as the portions,
is exceptional. A culinary experience with few rivals,
Miraval is truly a first class resort spa in every way.
Resort & Spa holds the distinction of being a member
of the Leading Small Hotels of the World.
next leg of the journey would prove to be the most challenging.
What lay ahead was an eleven hour drive from Tucson to
Taos, New Mexico. Once in Taos, my destination would be
the newest gem to arrive on the North American spa scene,
the El Monte Sagrado Living Resort & Spa.
Tucson, I headed north, eventually connecting with Hwy
#66 as it winds its way through the San Carlos region
and into Snowflake, Arizona. If the colors had been extraordinary
in Phoenix, the mountainous regions of Arizona almost
defied description. Noble red rock formations contrasted
sharply with the deep hues of purple, blue and green provided
by cactus and other desert vegetation.
as stunning was the drive. I succumbed to the magic of
deep mountain canyons and the twisting two lane highways
that charted a steady course through the Apache backcountry.
New Mexico is first a skiing community and second an arts
and culture haven with a history that dates back more
than 6,000 years. It has been the backdrop for countless
Hollywood movies and can even lay claim to having the
original Doc Martin as the local country physician.
El Monte Sagrado Living Resort & Spa boasts
35 luxurious suites and casitas that offer a unique
portrayal on the world as a whole.
short drive out of city leads to the El Monte Sagrado
Living Resort & Spa, a destination as unique as the
city it resides in. The dream of entrepreneur Thomas Worrell,
the resort is founded on the principles of environmentalism,
replenishing the natural surroundings through the use
of unique creations like the Living Machine®.
Living Machine® treats and recycles water with natural
filters and purifiers. This in turn creates a lavish garden
paradise throughout the resort, where walking paths and
wooden bridges traverse small ponds stocked with various
fish and plant life.
resort boasts 35 luxurious suites and casitas that offer
a unique portrayal on the world as a whole.
junior suites are featured as part of the Native American
collection, taking their names from heroic figures such
as Geronimo, Crazy Horse and football legend Jim Thorpe.
The Trout and Magpie inspired Spa casitas offer a eccentric
look into the local artistry of Jim Wagner, while the
Exclusive casitas take on the flavour of exotic destinations
such as Tibet, Bali and Egypt.
the two bedroom Global suite in which I stayed, was awash
in deep red wall coloring and rich black pagoda styled
cabinets. Each suite offers the ambience of a gas fireplace
in the living area and an outdoor hot tub on a private
dining experiences await guests staying at El Monte Sagrado.
The Spanish style De la Tierra restaurant serves as the
main dining room, while The Gardens offers a casual atmosphere
for breakfast and lunch. For something a little more fun,
the Anaconda Bar serves as the resort's hot spot.
Spa at El Monte Sagrado offers an extensive menu of treatments
including massage, body polish, facials and fitness classes.
Never one to shy away from trying new things, I opted
for the Signature High Desert Body Treatment. First, the
body is exfoliated with a Zuni salt mixture. Then it is
wrapped in a volcanic ash mask that is mineral rich and
draws toxins from the body. The treatment finishes with
a gentle hands-on massage.
Monte Sagrado is also a distinguished member of the Leading
Small Hotels of the World.
of the Road:
it was time to return home, and my time spent wandering
the grounds of the various spas turned into drifting through
the airports of Denver and Pittsburgh. Such is life. For
now, I will take comfort in the fact that I was able to
experience the ecstasy of driving through some of the
most amazing country in America and of having the opportunity
to enjoy all the trappings of a spa-taneous experience
in the U.S. southwest.
6000 East Camelback Road,
Scottsdale, AZ 85251 USA
North America: 800-888-8234
JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa
3800 W. Starr Pass Blvd.
Tucson, AZ 85745
Resort & Spa
5000 E. Via Estancia Miraval
Catalina, Arizona 85739
Toll Free: 800-825-4000
317 Kit Carson Rd
Taos, New Mexico 87571
Toll free: 800-828-TAOS