Our favorite spas in the desert oasis.
First there were organic foods and cosmetics, then energy-efficient cars, and now, even our spa treatments are going green. Willow Stream Spa at The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess has just introduced Desert Purification, a bodywork treatment inspired by Native American traditions and culture.
It may sound a little out there, but they certainly don’t oversell the “all natural” thing. The 90-minute treatment begins with an optional “smudging,” or burning of a sage stick to purify the space for healing, then a therapist applies a mask all over your body. Not only are the indigenous ingredients—cornmeal, oats, bentonite and kaolin clays, among others—free from preservatives, artificial colorings and synthetic fragrances, but even the fabric used to exfoliate your skin is made from the biodegradable fibers of a local Ayate cactus plant. (Cacuts?! Sounds prickly, but we promise, it's not so bad.)
Once you’ve been sufficiently smoothed and subsequently showered, you can get what you’ve really come for—a nourishing body massage featuring an aromatic blend of organic juniper, sage and rosemary essential oils. While we’re not sure just how much a getting green treatment reduces our impact on the environment, we love the idea that getting pampered might not be entirely self-indulgent after all.
Of all the services that you could return from a destination spa raving about, mani-pedis usually aren't among them. It's not that getting your hands and feet sandblasted, buffed and shellacked by a stranger isn't incredibly relaxing, but the perfectly polished nails you pay hand over fist for have usually chipped by the time you're back in your own area code.
That's why we were pretty jazzed by the just-introduced Double Happiness Manicure and Pedicure combo we received at the Spa at Camelback Inn. Created by skincare diva June Jacobs exclusively for the resort, the treatment is designed as a facial for the hands and feet. As our chatty, Russian-born therapist Marta got to work on our woefully neglected gams, she informed us that peppermint, the featured ingredient the scrub she was using, has both aromatic and antiseptic properties--and, as we'd soon discover, can also make your toes tingle!
Two hours of intense pampering later, we had to admit that our fingers and toes looked pretty damn good. But we didn't fully grasp how effective the treatment had been until a week or so later, when our skin still felt spa-day smooth and our Espresso Your Style OPI polish still looked freshly painted.
Sure, a full body massage might have been nice--but it was pretty cool reaping the benefits of our spa experience long after returning home.
[Photo: Spa at Camelback Inn]
On our recent trip to Scottsdale to get massages, pedicures and bodywork treatments in the name of, um, travel research, we learned that this desert oasis plays host to more than 40 spas, many of which are located in swank destination resorts. When you're in such close proximity to your five-star competition, you've got to offer something wacky, niche or ultra-luxe to win over guests--your basic Swedish rubdown or hydrating facial just won't cut the epicurean mustard.
Making our appointment at The Revive Spa at the JW Marriot Desert Ridge, we were urged to try The Turquoise Blue Sage Body Ritual, a 3-in-1 combination therapy designed to cleanse and purify our senses. As the name implies, the products used throughout the 80-minute experience feature the area's most recognizable rock, plus fragrant ingredients like sage and organic essential oils.
Guiding us into the treatment room, our spa therapist explained that turquoise possesses a kind of healing energy. We pondered this, more than a bit skeptical, as she began working a mineral-rich salt scrub into our skin. But as she coated us in a desert clay body mask, wrapped us inside a hydrating cocoon and worked us from head to toe in a full-body massage, we started to come around to her way of thinking. By the time the treatment rounded out with an energy ritual designed to cleanse our aura and balance our spirit, we were totally down with the whole desert healing vibe.
The Southwestern zen lingered for hours--at least, until we came inches from stepping on a live rattlesnake during hike in the nearby Sonoran desert. After such a traumatic, near-death event, we felt totally justified in booking another extra-long treatment at Revive.