A wise man once said, “Go West, young man.” Although he was referring to a chance at prosperity, prosperity still awaits for women looking for a getaway in rich in indulgence. Arizona is known for its red rocks, beautiful desert sunset and Native American healing rituals, not to mention spas catering to women looking to rejuvenate the body, as well as the mind. Take a look at the rising city of Phoenix and its host of resorts and spas ready and able to wrap you in luxury.
Phoenix became a winter getaway for the north’s rich and Hollywood’s famous decades ago when the Jewel of the Desert, the Biltmore Hotel, was erected turning to Frank Lloyd Wright for structural inspiration. Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Frank Sinatra and John and Jackie Kennedy all sought refuge from the crowds in this oasis hidden in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains. So many turned to the rocky area with dry, warm air to soothe the soul that other resorts followed and today, Phoenix and its connecting city Scottsdale provide a plethora of more-than-comfortable places to place your hat as you soak up poolside rays and ultimately, get pampered. When planning your next girls’-only getaway, visit one of these resorts and spas to truly indulge.
Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa
When the Biltmore opened its doors in 1929, it was amidst much publicized fanfare. Built eight miles away from the original eight-block city of Phoenix by the Wrigley family of Chicago, the 39-acre resort at the base of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve was worlds away from civilization, yet old-world luxury was just inside its doors. Passing a well-manicured drive and lawn, you are welcomed by two Frank Lloyd Wright concrete sprites as you enter the lobby and registration area set beneath a 400-pound copper-hued tin with gold leaf ceiling (only the Taj Mahal used more gold leaf before the Biltmore’s opening).
Every United States president since Herbert Hoover has stayed here — Ronald and Nancy Reagan visited as both honeymooners and heads of state — in one of the more than 700 very private and very large rooms, villas and cottages with vaulted ceilings. Also found roaming the property? Pampered pooches as the resort caters to pets with pet room service menus, pet walks, welcome treats and areas with enclosed, grassy yards.
The pursuit of leisure was and remains the feature of this legendary resort. Eight swimming pools, including Marilyn Monroe’s favorite Catalina Pool, tennis courts, two 18-hole championship golf courses with putting green and driving ranges, hiking and mountain biking trails, croquet, lawn chess, basketball and, oh yeah, a 22,000-square-foot spa and fitness center complete with exercise classes and programs, state-of-the-art equipment, three spa pools, steam rooms, saunas and 17 treatment rooms. Make a point to try the signature Dream Catcher Aromatherapy Massage utilizing Native American massage techniques, essential oils and heated stones. Then take time from all the fun to indulge the palate at one of the resort’s numerous restaurants and bars, including a poolside sunken bar with fire pits to keep you toasty at night, the Tea Court for afternoon tea and the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Wright’s at the Biltmore, which serves up American Lodge cuisine with vegetables and herbs grown right on the property. (You may catch the chef in the afternoon selecting items for the evening’s specials.)
The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
Just at the outskirts of Scottsdale is what the locals refer to simple as The Princess, and that is precisely how you will be treated during a stay on its 450 acres. More than 800 over-sized rooms with private balconies or patios await, including suites and villas, as well as casitas tucked away in their own little world complete with private butler service and working fireplaces for cool desert evenings that creates a home away from home. The five diamond resort’s award-winning restaurants and five heated pools surrounded by beautifully manicured palm trees would be enough to indulge the senses, but it is the Willow Stream Spa that is truly awe-inspiring.
Designed to incorporate nature’s five elements — air, earth, fire, water and wood — the 44,000-square-foot, adults-only spa works with your to find your energy. Inspired by the Grand Canyon’s Havasupai Falls, the three-story spa is linked by water, beginning at the rooftop with a pool surrounded by private cabins, making its way down a rocky stream to a waterfall massage pool in the spa’s “valley,” and winding into the “canyon” level of the spa with a yin and yang hot tub and cold plunge pool. Start the day with a visit to the eucalyptus inhalation room to awaken the body with invigorating scents, then choose one of the more than 50 body, massage or facial experiences (not to mention salon services), each tailored to bring out your best Arizona’s natural surroundings. The Arizona Aromatherapy Facial, for example, incorporates desert lavender-rich foot, scalp and hand massage. The beds are covered in goose down, allowing you to wrap yourself in a cloud as soft hands leave your skin silky smooth but not greasy or heavily manipulated.
Coming up the winding drive to the Phoenician, guests receive a dramatic image of the resort rising into the area’s most prominent mountain, Camelback. Native American spirits surround visitors in the presence of artistic bronze statues, part of a $25-million art collection that includes rare European paintings and antiques. Nine pools sparkle in the Arizona sun, including the eggless swimming pool covering more than 2,800 square feet and the signature pool with iridescent Mother of Pearl tiles surrounded by bold yellow cabanas. Also located in Scottsdale, this five-diamond resort provides nearly 700 guest rooms and suites throughout the main resort, a boutique hotel and private villas and casitas. And like the Princess, it is the Phoenician’s spa that is its focal point.
The Centre for Well-Being is not your typical spa. While traditional spa and salon services are available, the Centre is a sanctuary for women who seek balance and renewal in its 22,000-square-foot complex. Ancient eastern practices found to rejuvenate health abound at the Centre, including Reiki Chakra Balancing Treatments that create a sensation of deep relaxation through guided visualizations, Table Thai Massage that manipulates bodies with flexibility moves designed to relieve stress and pain, and acupuncture, in which thin needles are inserted into trigger points on the body to restore the energy. (As a skeptic, I was surprised to feel a tingling sensation move through the areas receiving treatment.) Visitors can indulge in 90-minute body wraps and massage as well as take part in Tarot Card readings.
Still R&R may not be the only thing on your agenda. When you want to go off resort for a little more fun, Phoenix is an outdoor and cultural paradise. Try hiking and mountain biking in the mountains or horseback riding in the desert on Native American horses. You can even soar above the landscape in a slow-moving and tranquil hot air balloon ride. Visit downtown’s Copper Square for nightlife, the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass for casino action, or join the throes of art connoisseurs who roam the art galleries found along the streets of Scottsdale.
Of course, Scottsdale is known for its shopping districts and mall, none better than Scottsdale Fashion Square with its luxe brands. Kierland Commons offers prime shopping under palm trees with high-end retailers from beloved chains to whimsical boutiques.