The Best Spas to Make a Day of it

By local contributor
Dena Roche

When friends ask me what they shouldn’t miss in Scottsdale, my first answer isn’t one of the fabulous museums or historic Old Town, hands down it’s one Scottsdale’s renowned spas.

Scottsdale is the spa capital of the country, with the most resort spas per capita, and six Forbes Four Star spas. So don’t short-change yourself. Plan to make a day of it by having a treatment or two, using the spa amenities, trying out a fitness class, enjoying spa cuisine poolside and simply relaxing. After all, isn’t that what vacation is all about?

I’ve had the pleasure of spa-ing all over town and these are my favorites.

Well & Being Spa at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

The largest spa in the city, is also the most holistic and health focused. The robust menu can be overwhelming, so make it easy on yourself and book the signature Havasupai Falls Rejuvenation.

Before this two-hour service, I take part in my favorite yoga class in the city, aerial yoga. This playful hour lets me channel my inner child and indulge in the fantasy that in another life I’m a Cirque du Soleil performer. It also works up my appetite to enjoy the curry chicken breast lettuce wraps on the deck of the spa pool.

My treatment is billed as the ultimate Southwest experience and starts with a desert salt scrub followed by some tub time relaxing in herbal infused water. My favorite part is the hot stone massage and if it ended there, I would have been a happy spa camper, but next I'm cocooned in a wrap while the therapist works her magic fingers during a carefully orchestrated scalp massage. Ladies, take note – this is NOT the treatment to do before hitting the town or you’ll have to wash the nourishing hair oil out too quickly.

I end my day relaxing in the Jacuzzi, sauna, steam and eucalyptus inhalation room.

Joya Spa at Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia

I admit, this is one of my favorite spas in the world. The combination of stunning Moroccan design, great treatments, and the best relaxation room of any spa anywhere adds up to a memorable spa day.

Walking into the spa and its soothing soft lighting, I reach a juncture where I select a stone that has the properties for the intention I hope to cultivate. Hmm, do I need more help with love, career, or peace? (Where is the “all of the above” stone?) I select the rose quartz because what trumps love?

I decide to go through the spa’s water circuit, which includes a steam room, cold deluge (I skipped this icy endeavor), whirlpool and sauna before meeting my therapist for the Hammam ritual. Joya has the only Hammam in Arizona, and the service begins with a brisk scrubbing with traditional black soap before relaxing on the heated seats inside the Hammam. After about 15 minutes, I head back into the treatment room for the Arnica and hot towel massage. The combination of heat and soothing herbs combined with a deep tissue massage encourages my shoulders to get out of my ears and back in place!

Completely relaxed, I wrap up my spa day with a nap on the tempurpedic beds in the relaxation room followed by a cocktail by the spa pool, which has the best views of Camelback Mountain in the entire resort.

Spa at the Boulders

If you’re looking for a spa day with a sense of place, head to the Spa at the Boulders Resort in far north Scottsdale. The property is surrounded by 12 million-year-old boulders, and celebrates the areas Native American roots with interesting amenities and services.

I start my day with a flow yoga class. I love that the spa has a wealth of complimentary fitness classes from yoga to TRX and Barre. With my Zen already on, I go outside to walk through the labyrinth to focus my thoughts and let the problem I’m wrestling with go, at least for the day.

The lotus blossoming chakra massage , which uses products created in nearby Sedona, Arizona, helps me let go even more.  The 80-minute service combines a massage tuned to my pressure preference with seven different oils corresponding to the seven chakras of the body. My therapist has me smell each oil and explains its purpose before applying. The treatment starts with me face down moving from the crown to the root chakra and then back up the body while face up.

Massage always makes me hungry, so I’m grateful that the spa café is steps away. Despite the heat, it’s comfortable (enough) in the shade to have an al fresco lunch of a salmon peach salad while enjoying the beautiful landscape. The only care in the world I have is the tough decision to spend the afternoon enjoying the indoor water circuit in the locker room, or lounge poolside with a trashy romance book I’m embarrassed to admit I’m reading!