Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe Feature

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Spa Time in Arizona: Say Ahhh

OK, so you came, you saw, you shopped, you dined, you recreated. Now it's time for some rest and relaxation at one, or even several, of the many area spas. Arizona's own approach to pampered repose is world-renowned and worth exploring with all of your senses.

Whether you're looking for a simple massage or an entire lifestyle change, Arizona rubs just about everyone the right way—from exclusive "immersion environments" of remote destination spas, to more accessible and affordable resort and day spas around the state. Each has its own signature style and blend of services, including purely local luxury at Sanctuary Spa on Camelback Mountain. In the midst of the Southwest's deserts and cities, you're sure to find spa menus boasting treatments and treats from around the world: Swedish and Japanese massages, French manicures and Vichy showers, Turkish-style baths, ayurvedic practices from India, California cuisine, and mood music from the Middle East and New Mexico.

A History of Healing

Arizona's hot, arid climate was considered a cure-all for respiratory ailments and joint pain. The East Coast power elite (Astors, Vanderbilts, and Rockefellers, to name a few) who grew sick of brutal winters and humid summers made a second home out of local resorts and spas. The hospitality industry has been striving to meet high standards for rejuvenation and health ever since.

RULES TO RELAX BY

Observing simple spa rules can ensure ultimate spa satisfaction versus an uncomfortable experience. First, decide on a budget beforehand and research spa menus; many are available online. Plan on a 15%-20% gratuity (cash preferred) for each treatment, though some spas include gratuity in their pricing. Second, book at least a week ahead, longer for the most popular spas like Sanctuary Camelback Mountain in Paradise Valley. Third, check in at least 20 minutes prior to your first treatment. The earlier you arrive, the longer you can enjoy the spa's gratis amenities, such as pools and steam rooms.

DAY OR DESTINATION?

Day spas are just that. They keep daytime hours and offer luxury treatments, but not long-term wellness programs. Destination spas, like Mii amo at Sedona's Enchantment Resort and Tucson's exclusive Canyon Ranch, have "immersion environments" with on-site accommodations and curricula designed for an inner- and outer-body overhaul. Most resort spas operate like day spas and don't require an overnight stay; however, hotel guests take precedence when it comes to booking.

LOCAL LURE AND LORE

A few spas are sanctioned to offer the innovative treatments and environments inspired by the traditions of local Native American tribes. Just south of Phoenix, Aji Spa at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort draws on the surrounding Pima and Maricopa communities to create unique experiences. Many of their treatments employ time-honored healing methods, approved by tribal elders.

A TOUCH OF ROMANCE

If an indulgent spa visit is your ideal romantic getaway, pick a place that truly specializes in making it special. Most spa menus include a couples massage, but some focus on creating an entire experience for pairs. Alvadora Spa at the Royal Palms in Phoenix offers frequent romance packages (and discounted rates during the hot summer months) along with twosome-oriented treatments and amenities, while Joya at Paradise Valley's Montelucia offers a specially outfitted couples' day suite.

TASTE TREATMENT

If you're focusing on a detoxifying spa experience, the last thing you want to do is replenish with unsavory elements. Camelback Inn in Scottsdale and The Boulders in Carefree have restaurants or cafés that specialize in "spa cuisine," often surprisingly delicious, health-conscious dishes made with locally grown ingredients. Good for you and the planet.

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Fodor's Arizona & the Grand Canyon 2014

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