By Kara Williams, on September 17, 2015

Spa scene in Phoenix

Phoenix, Arizona and its Scottsdale suburb, in particular, have combined to become one of those destinations to which I envision myself returning year after year. Granted, I’ve only spent time in Phoenix twice, but each short visit resulted in my returning home feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and relaxed. That’s because Phoenix is a Mecca for spa-goers, with an incredibly high concentration of some of the most luxurious and pampering hotel spas in the U.S. West.

Here’s a peek at some of the spa-tastic highlights from my most recent visit to Phoenix this year.

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch

There are plenty of reasons to love Spa Avania at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch: its huge women’s locker room, immersed-in-nature outdoor showers and trellis-covered relaxation areas, spacious steam room, sauna, and hot/cold plunge pools. But the spa’s crowning joy is the marvelous French-Celtic mineral pool (pictured at top), filled with an incredible 82 trace minerals that the body needs for optimal health (or so the marketing materials say). The large outdoor pool, set under towering palms, is kept at a wonderfully moderate temperature and features in-pool mood lighting and piped-in underwater music.

Viewfinder Tip: For an after-dinner treat at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale, take a  gondola ride by moonlight on the property’s large lake.

Throughout the spa, music, lighting, infused ice water and recommended aromatherapy oils change depending on what time of day you visit. The amenities and enhancements are designed to awaken guests in the morning (so, for example, you’ll find limes and oranges in the water), rejuvenate them at midday (mint and ginger), and relax them in the evening (melon and cucumbers). It’s a neat concept to have the spa environment mirror your body’s natural rhythm and needs throughout the day. Personally, I wouldn’t mind spending the day, sun-up to sundown, at the spa to test this theory fully.

Royal Palms Resort and Spa

The grounds of the Royal Palms Resort and Spa are peaceful and secluded. Originally a private estate with a generous on-site orange grove in the 1920s, today the Royal Palms Resort and Spa features Mediterranean-style architecture with plenty of stucco archways and colorful tiles, clusters of casitas and villas, flowering gardens, a pool with private cabanas, and a classy croquet lawn.


The resort’s Alvadora Spa is intimate; not a ton of bells and whistles here. But it certainly provides a soothing backdrop for services that often include neroli, an essential oil distilled from the blossom of the orange tree. In fact, the scent permeates from nearby orange trees and throughout the spa. Other natural botanicals in treatments might include eucalyptus, juniper, and lavender; the essences are heavenly, truly a delight for all senses. To indulge your “taste” sense, visit T. Cook’s restaurant for breakfast to savor a healthy fresh-pressed juice (specials change daily) and the house-made granola and goat-milk custard, some of the creamiest yogurt I’ve ever enjoyed.

Well & Being Spa at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

So much more than a pampering place to get a massage or facial, the Well & Being Spa at the upscale Fairmont Scottsdale Princess focuses on catering to a healthy overall lifestyle with a variety of wellness services such as acupuncture, nutrition counseling, and body composition testing. Elsewhere in the spa, the array of funky and fun fitness classes is impressive, with options including Aerial Hammock Yoga (I tried this and loved how far I could extend my stretches in the air); SURFSET classes, where you use your core to balance on a surfboard simulator; and Hooping with a hula hoop. I love that the Well & Being Spa has introduced a So Sound Acoustic Resonance Room, which includes a zero-gravity So Sound Lounger. Here, you can book a 30-minute “adult nap” in the chair, during which harmonic music ripples through your body after essential oils have been massaged into your pulse points.

If you’re a traditionalist, if all you’d like to do at the Well & Being Spa is get rubbed and kick back in a standard chaise lounge, no one there will bat an eye. The co-ed waterfall grotto, plunge pools, eucalyptus inhalation room, multi-jet Swiss shower, and sauna are other spots to get your Zen on, while the rooftop pool area is an oasis for relaxation, with floating beanbags, private cabanas, and poolside food and drink service, all with views of surrounding palm trees and neighboring Scottsdale.

What’s your favorite place to spa?