If you haven’t visited the American South West, you’re probably familiar with the terrain from Western movies and sand-blown photography. However, it's not all desert and Hollywood film sets – there are destination spas that might just change your life. Summer Spy investigates…
The American South West is big and hot and dusty: not necessarily what you'd think of as spa. It’s an adventure playground for grown-ups with red rock landscapes, wide open deserts, canyons, mountains, starscapes – even dinosaur footprints. This is before we mention the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and Antelope Canyon.
It’s also a place where cultures meet. Native American Navajoland sits next to ancient Puebloan ruins. Modern day Hispanic cultures intersect with hippy Sedona or the shoppers’ paradise that is Scottsdale.
Amid the kaleidoscope are palaces of wellbeing. It feels obvious to talk about mental wellness in the USA, but beyond the odd spa that offers mindfulness or meditation, we don’t tend to find much in terms of mental health support in UK spas. Leaf through the treatment menu at Canyon Ranch or Miraval and you’ll find a host of treatments designed to help balance your mind and spirit.
The fascination with mental wellbeing goes beyond grand destination spas. Yoga, mindfulness and restorative massage are all found in shopping malls, community centres, even entertainment complexes. Many draw on the traditions of the Native Americans – there are 22 Native American reservations in the state – from food to treatments to design.
Walk beyond wellness as a state of physical wellbeing; discover the spas that treat you as a whole.
It’s difficult to imagine how life-full the Sonoran Desert is – forget what you know of drifting yellow sand, dusty dunes, and empty space until the edge of the horizon. The buildings at Canyon Ranch are mostly squat and sandstone orange, but there are plenty of signs warning of mountain lions or snakes. We arrived at Canyon Ranch in blistering heat – mid 40s – and the first thing we did was head to the shady Meditation Garden. Sculptures, trickling water and signs explaining the flora and fauna carefully segment the space. I gazed at The Sanctuary – a glass sided meditation room – and felt a sense of peace flood over me... Continue Reading
Miraval has a bit of a cult following. Two of America’s top talk show hosts rave about it, as do Vanity Fair, CN Traveller and The New York Times. It’s young and laid-back. It’s the happiness that shines through when you’re comfortable in your own skin. It just may be what you’re trying to achieve.
The resort backs onto the Santa Catalina Mountains and the Sonoran Desert. Turn off a dusty highway, past ranches and polarising political billboards; the driveway is short and sweet. The resort is south western but with a modern twist; calm white walls set off rich wooden furniture, slate floors and soft neutrals flash against occasional pops of colourful art or cushions... Continue Reading
The Phoenician is in downtown Scottsdale; it’s big, it’s glamorous and it’s a lot of fun.
The resort is set over 250 acres and has three accommodation options, 10 restaurants, 11 tennis courts, three golf courses, eight pools, a salon, a gym and The Centre for Well-Being. Phew.
It feels like a resort in the Caribbean with brilliant sunshine, pools and indulgent dining. Start your relaxation in the central pool which is surrounded by loungers and cabanas. The pool shimmers underfoot; it’s lined with mother of pearl tiles. Order drinks, snacks or cocktails to your cabana... Continue reading
Just outside of Scottsdale, seemingly encircled by the mountain ranges, Four Seasons Scottsdale is a resort in the truest sense of the word. Spend your time drifting in the pools, order waitress service to your lounger then head down to the spa for some serious relaxation.
There’s a distinct and honest South-Western feel at the resort; local artists have created sculptures, bold and bright textiles, wrought-iron lighting and kiva fireplaces... Continue reading