Year-round warm weather and unique and beautiful landscapes make outdoor spa treatments a natural fit for Central and Southern Arizona. Here’s a sampling of world-class spas where visitors can be soothed – or enlightened – alfresco.
Waldorf Astoria Spa at The Boulders Resort, Carefree
Take the serenity of the Sonoran desert and add a labyrinth and a teepee: You’ve got the setting for The Boulders’ Shamanic Experiences, designed to help reduce stress and nurture connections with nature.
During guided meditations at the labyrinth, for example, participants are encouraged to contemplate a difficulty they would like to leave behind, symbolized by a stone they receive to carry through the maze.
Talking Tree Readings look to a system of ancient runes to provide insights about the individual’s place in the universe, while the Energy Field Balancing with Pulsors treatment is designed to foster inner harmony. Both services may be held in the teepee, weather permitting.
Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Spa, Paradise Valley
Imagine floating in warm water, cradled in the arms of a therapist who gently leads you in a slow dance, the light and shade of bamboo fronds playing against your closed eyelids. That’s just a hint of what to expect from Watsu, an aquatic version of Zen shiatsu highlighted at Sanctuary’s Asian-inspired spa; you can even experience it after dark, under a canopy of stars.
Also offered in the private heated pool is Lotus Flower Aquatic Reflexology. Here, a therapist releases energy through your hands and feet while floats are placed under your neck and knees to keep you buoyant. It doesn’t get much more laid-back than this.
Spa at L’Auberge, Sedona
Sedona is known for its red rock formations, but the shady woodlands of Oak Creek Canyon, where L’Auberge de Sedona’s creekside spa treatments are offered, are equally breathtaking.
A three-sided cabana tent provides views of sparkling Oak Creek, as well as privacy for everything from a couples massage to energy healing – pretty much anything on the spa menu that doesn’t require electricity or running water. Be sure to call ahead to book the ultra-popular creekside treatments. They can be a challenge to schedule because they depend on the light as well as on the weather – and because the lovely spot where they’re held is often bogarted by brides and grooms for wedding ceremonies.
Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain Spa, Marana
If your idea of a good time is hanging out by a pool with your honey or close friends for spa treatments – and whose isn’t? – the new mountain-view cabanas at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain Spa are for you.
A variety of day packages for two to five people might include skin consultations; collagen masks; and scalp, neck and shoulder massages; along with chilled towels, lemongrass-infused water and access to all the indoor spa facilities. Bonus: Each cabana is equipped with a refrigerator – the better to store cold beverages – and there’s poolside cocktail and lunch service.
Designed to bond visitors with their Southern Arizona surroundings, a mini-village within Miraval’s spa complex is devoted exclusively to outdoor spa treatments. Each private unit has a patio and alfresco shower and is surrounded by a live ocotillo fence.
Among the specialty services unique to this spa-within-a-spa are the Mindful Massage, incorporating hot and cool stones and an assortment of mind-body techniques that are central to the Miraval philosophy; and Bountiful Earth, a sensual journey around the world that includes a Yucatan-inspired coco-mole clay wrap and ends in the Southwest with a massage using oils hinting of the woodsy scents of cedarwood and juniper.