An All-Inclusive Spa Experience

By local contributor
Dena Roche

Scottsdale has the most resort spas per capita in the country, but despite that, there isn’t a true destination spa (defined as a spa offering a comprehensive program of spa and fitness services, usually over a seven day period) in town. Sanctuary Resort & Spa is trying to change that with its Satori Wellness Program. The four-day/three night package attempts to create an immersive spa experience within a four-diamond luxury resort.

Satori is the Japanese word for enlightenment, and is reflected in the Asian philosophy and minimalist design of the entire property. The Satori package was created to spark an interest in wellness and provide a path to follow long after the trip is over. For me, it will just be more immersion - I drank the wellness Kool-Aid long ago!

The Satori package is totally customizable to each guest and the tailoring begins well before checking-in. Once my Satori package is booked, I receive an email from the program’s coordinator, asking me to select the three spa services and one private fitness class I’d like to experience. Not only does the Satori package include my treatments and private fitness class,  it also includes all of my meals (although no wine!), accommodations in a luxurious mountain view suite, unlimited general fitness classes, transportation from Sky Harbor Airport and more!

I arrive on a Friday afternoon and am immediately met by the fitness director and retreat liaison who gives me a tour of the property and a welcome gift, and runs me through the schedule for my stay. Afterwards I settle into my Mountain View casita and enjoy the fruit and cheese plate that arrived seconds after I did, before heading to the spa.

My first treatment is a signature service called the Tok Sen. Sanctuary is the only spa in the country that offers it. Tok Sen originated in Thailand and the technique has been passed down orally to therapists ever since.  Tok Sen means “Take off Energy Lines” and is designed to clear blocked energy.  To do this, the therapist works with the body’s meridians using a wooden instrument to tap away negative energy and soothe muscles. My therapist tells me that the wood used was struck by lightening. Apparently, this infuses energy into the mallets. I’m not sure I’m buying that, but the mix of the rhythmatic tapping with Thai massage moves makes for an interesting and relaxing service.

After my treatment, I elect for the fine dining experience of Elements, helmed by celebrity chef Beau McMillan. Tonight’s meal is exactly what I want in a gourmet experience –good company and good food that is properly paced to savor both. I decide to trust my waitress and believe that the Maine Lobster Udon is only lightly dressed in a cream sauce (this is a wellness weekend after all!).

Early Saturday morning, I meet with an expert to do my personal fitness assessment. My metabolic age is 21 years younger than I am - score! But to get my flat abs back I’m going to have to pick up the weight lifting routine. Sigh. They also assesses my mobility, flexibility and balance, while giving me tips on alternative ways to lift besides hitting the free-weights at the gym. As a former college tennis player, the courts are calling to me despite the heat and I hit a few balls before the sun drives me into the Pilates reformer class taught by a former ballerina. No intimidation factor there! The class is a great marriage of strength and flexibility work. I round out the afternoon with a deep tissue massage followed by drinks and dinner in Jade Bar.

Sundays are meant to be lazy so I order breakfast to the room and lounge until my private yoga class mid-morning. I don’t do a lot of yoga and it’s nice to have an instructor position and help me get deeper into poses. Another great private class option is to take a swim lesson with Olympian Missy Hyman. My afternoon is spent by the infinity pool, drinking in the views of Camelback Mountain before another trip to the spa, this time for the Tao of Golf service. I’m not a golfer, but anyone who works out can benefit from this deep pressure massage.

While the Satori experience isn’t the same as a trip to a destination spa, it is the best multiple-day wellness program offered at a Scottsdale resort. For me it’s the best of both worlds—all the city has to offer at your fingertips, coupled with programming that can make your trip to Scottsdale a truly transformative life event.