Scottsdale Spa Experiences from a Medical Perspective

By local contributor
Cacinda Maloney

When I first entered the treatment room, the lighting was dim with the faint smell of essential oils and oranges wrapped into one.

Native American flute music wafted softly in the air. On the wall hung Native American photography and there was a chair with a basket-weave design. It had been a hectic day and I was ready to unwind, relax, and get revitalized. Scottsdale is steeped in Native American history and I felt as if I had just entered into a sacred sanctuary.

As a licensed Chiropractor for more than 20 years, I have a lot of experience when it comes wellness therapy.  During the course of this time, I’ve found that people try different types of therapy to help improve their health and many use spa facilities to do so. I was surprised to see the wide range of wellness therapies that are available in luxury spas in Scottsdale. I believe true wellness comes from a complete sense of physical, mental and social well-being and there are many ways to get there.

Innately, I think we know if something helps us or at least moves us toward feeling better. While there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that some treatments can be effective, few clinical studies have been conducted on many of them, making it hard to “prove” their benefits. That being said, the fact that many of these alternative therapies have been used for centuries and still remain popular today is worth noting.

The following is not licensed medical advice but provides recommendations on wellness therapies in Scottsdale that I have found to be helpful, along with the benefits of each.  Wherever possible, I have provided information from medical journals about the therapy. 


Well & Being Spa at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess


Cupping Therapy: A therapist uses heat to create a vacuum and then places cups on the body with a gliding motion along the skin in this 3000-year-old traditional Chinese treatment. It typically causes mild and temporary bruising of the skin.

Benefits: The Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine (July 2015) says cupping can  help with acne, shingles and pain management. It works by expanding the capillaries and increasing the amount of fluid entering and leaving the tissues. The suction loosens muscles and encourages blood flow to the area.


Joya Spa at the Omni Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Montelucia’s


Acupuncture: Licensed acupuncturists provide treatment by relying on this traditional form Chinese medicine. The acupuncturist looks for imbalances in the flow of energy in the body, then gently inserts a series of fine needles at strategic points along the energy merdians to improve energy circulation..

Benefits:  The Annals of Internal Medicine (Dec. 2004) stated that acupuncture led to greater improvement in function after eight weeks of treatment and improvement in both function and pain levels after 26 weeks!  


Alvadora Spa at Royal Palms Resort


Hot stones: Prior to stone placement, the therapist prepares your body with a light, sweeping application of oils, then the heated stones are placed at different points on your body for 20-30 minutes. A massage is done afterwards.

Benefits: When heat is applied, it stimulates the thermoreceptors in your skin which blocks your body’s pain transmitters from sending pain signals to your brain. Heat also increases circulation, which means there is more oxygen and nutrients present.


Spa Avania at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch


Desert Essence Body Wrap: This treatment uses trehalose extract found in desert cacti. It is a warm, dry wrap with a full body exfoliation that finishes with a full-body application of hydrating serum .

Benefits: Body wraps draw out skin toxins via the skin’s pores, which have a negative charge while the extract has a positive charge. Trehalose is said to help the skin retain moisture and stay hydrated longer, while improving circulation and relieving joint pain through heat application.


The Spa at Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North


Thai Massage: A blend of stretching, acupressure, and meditation is done while a skilled therapist uses their body to move you into various yoga-like positions.

Benefits: According to Bodywork and Movement Therapies Journal (Oct. 2005), a study indicated that patients receiving Thai massage saw a decrease of back pain after three weeks of treatment, which lasted for up to one month after treatment.

Thanks Scottsdale Spa Scene, you have provided great respite from my daily grind!