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.
When you’re ready to escape the heat, head to the spa. The reception area is wide and open, with helpful staff on the front desk and a spa boutique to one side. The décor is calm and neutral, with earthy browns and flashes of warm pinks and terracotta.
The sauna, steam and whirlpools are in the single sex changing facilities. Once you’ve checked in at reception, you’ll be assigned a locker and given a tour of the wet and thermal facilities. Bubble in the large hot tub and warm up your muscles pre-treatment in the sauna and steam.
The relaxation room has comfortable armchairs, more upright seating and a bar with plenty of fruit and infused waters to keep you hydrated. But, step through the glass doors and you’ll find a light-filled and serene meditation room. The room has a glass ceiling which floods the space with sunshine; a large fountain at the back trickles with water and a sign asks everyone to be quiet... and they are. It’s peaceful, relaxing and a beautifully-designed space. The dark brown padded loungers slide back so you can lie down in a very supported position. A meditation class is held here each day at 12pm -- join for an hour’s guided meditation in the peaceful surroundings.
Tell us about the treatments
We tried the Desert Serenity Scrub, Wrap and Massage (110 minutes, from $260) and Illumination Through Tarot (50 minutes, $135).
Heather, my therapist for the body ritual, met me in the relaxation area and took me through to our treatment room. She carefully explained the different steps of the treatments and talked to me about my skin condition and areas of tension. I settled on the wide treatment bed and Heather used a salt scrub to slough off old skin on my back, legs, stomach, décolletage and arms. Heather left the room while I showered off the product and laid back onto the treatment bed. Next was a warm dark clay wrap which Heather explained was rich in green tea and essential oils. She painted the clay onto my skin in the same pattern as the scrub. I turned over half way through. While the wrap set, Heather massaged my face and scalp -- complete bliss.
I stepped in the shower again to get rid of the clay and then settled down for the final step of the treatment: a full-body massage using Swedish techniques. Heather used some soft flowing movements before stepping up to longer stretching with her forearms and elbows. She was very intuitive, knowing exactly where my body held tension and focusing on areas which were painful. Heather was very caring and considerate -- I felt genuinely nurtured.
My second treatment was with James. This time we set up in a smaller room with a table and two chairs. James explained a little bit about himself and how the reading would work (I had never had a tarot reading before). He laid out the cards in different patterns, interpreting as he went along. It gave me a way of focussing on life questions that I’ve been mulling over in a different and unusual way. It’s not a treatment you’d see at many UK spas, but it did allow me to think through issues that I’ve found stressful or worrisome -- that’s definitely a wellness issue.
The treatment menu at The Centre for Well-Being has a good range of traditional spa treatments including massages, facials, wraps and scrubs. It also has more unusual therapies such as cupping and craniosacral therapy, tarot and guided meditation.
There are 10 dining outlets at the Phoenician, many to explore during your stay. Try Italian at Il Terrazzo, huge American steaks at J&G Steakhouse, informal dining at Relish Burger Bistro, poolside meals at Canyon Pool or Oasis Grill, or cool off at the Ice Cream Parlor.
We loved J&G Steakhouse; we tried the beautifully-cooked grilled swordfish and prime NY steak watching the lights twinkle over Scottsdale and Phoenix. We were also tempted into the Ice Cream Parlor, which has a vast selection of ice creams, sauces and chocolate-y accompaniments; make sure you’re hungry and go all out.
Who would like it?
The resort is very versatile, but we saw lots of extremely happy children here. There’s so much for them to do: pools aplenty, a waterslide and splash pad, the Ice Cream Parlour and the Cactus Garden. The Funicians Kids Club is a daily kids club for 5-12 year olds, and Leisure on the Lawn has activities for teens.
If you’re feeling a little far from home, book in for afternoon tea. Served at the Lobby Tea Court, you can watch the grand southern ladies in hats enjoy finger sandwiches, buttermilk scones and petit fours. You could almost forget you’re 5,000 miles from London.
The Canyon Suites: the newly-refurbished suites give you a little bit of peace, but you still have the bustle of the hotel and all its facilities on your doorstep.
9th December 2016
Warmth and sunshine; spas which take me away to another country; fruit infused waters; beach-worth pedicures; deep tissue massages.
High footfalls; treatments that over promise and under deliver; heavy lunches; loungers drapped in used towels.
Behind the scenes