Destination Discovery: Greater Phoenix
Say Greater Phoenix, specifically Glendale, and sports enthusiasts will immediately reference Super Bowl 2015, aka Super Bowl XLIX. But for wellness fans, our first thought goes directly to the region’s healthy attitude. The area—comprising Phoenix, Glendale, Scottsdale, Chandler, Tempe, and more—boasts winning spa, fitness, and dining opportunities that are MVPs in the wellness game.
Greater Phoenix in the Sonoran Desert scores big with its bevy of overnight destinations, from all-encompassing, well-appointed resorts to chic hotels downtown. Here’s a quick sampling of the amazing options available in the area:
JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort and Spa (pictured): This historic 125-acre inn has grown spectacularly since its 1936 opening, encompassing multiple tennis courts, the 18-hole Padre Course with a 36,000-square-foot clubhouse, and casita-style accommodations. The property balances its sporty amenities with relaxation ones, including the 30,000-square-foot Spa at Camelback Inn, where treatments highlight indigenous healing elements (think pure Arizona honey in the Desert Nectar Honey Wrap and adobe clay in the Adobe Clay Purification Treatment).
Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch: Families flock to this 27-acre resort, and it’s easy to see why. Sheltered by cacti and palm trees, under the watchful eye of the McDowell Mountains, the destination boasts a 2.5-acre water park, 27 holes of championship golf, and nearly 500 guest rooms. Education and relaxation are also rolled into one here, complements of the on-site Native American Learning Center and the Spa Avania, the latter of which features garden treatment areas and a blend bar for handcrafted scrubs and body creams.
Hotel Palomar Phoenix, a Kimpton Hotel: If you’re looking for something in trendy downtown, this particular boutique-style hotel is located at CityScape, one block from U.S. Airways Arena and a short walk from the Convention Center. The modernly designed urban property offers a rooftop pool, live entertainment in its rooftop garden, and the rePose Salon and Spa, which has a good number of treatments.
As with its lengthy lineup of resorts and hotels, Greater Phoenix plays host to a truly impressive number of spas. Among them is the intricately decorated Joya Spa at Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia. Softly lit interiors cast a mysterious mystique, accented by a Moroccan-desert-meets-Andalusia design by Sylvia Sepielli. The signature Joyambrosia fragrance, based upon the Queen of the Night cactus flower, wafts throughout, and gracious appointments in treatment rooms comprise portable music docking stations so you can play your favorite tunes. In addition to steam rooms, whirlpools, saunas, and lounges, facilities include spa suites equipped with amenities like a fireplace, rooftop pool, copper tub, and mountain views.
Services vary from massage, skin-care, and body treatments like the 12 Flower Brightening Facial to naturopathic therapies with board-certified naturopathic physician Dr. Lauren Beardsley to wellness rituals such as hypnotherapy, numerology, and private meditation. For the ultimate enticement, book a hammam experience with your treatment.
A restaurant with a Food-Network-star-slash-Iron-Chef-America-winner at its helm makes Elements at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa a winner in our book. At this Scottsdale eatery, diners can indulge in creations by Executive Chef Beau MacMillan while savoring views of Camelback Mountain. Dishes (including fire-roasted quinoa and tofu fritters, black truffle chicken, and Hawaiian nairagi; there’s also a raw bar) accentuate American fare with an Asian twist and emphasize organic ingredients from local farmers and artisans.
What to See
Natives and travelers alike can appreciate Greater Phoenix’s many sports, cultural, artistic, and dining attractions, suitable for every interest. Nature enthusiasts can pay tribute to the local flora at the Desert Botanical Garden, while art fanatics may want to head to the expansive Phoenix Art Museum; galleries also line downtown’s Roosevelt Row. And of course, to accompany our various sports mentions throughout this story, football fans will want to visit the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, home of the Super Bowl XLIX, watch a Diamondbacks game at Chase Field, or buy tickets to a Phoenix Suns or Mercury game at U.S. Airways Arena. As a side note: Phoenix is a good starting off point for the Grand Canyon as well—it’s a 2.5-hour drive from the landmark.
You’ll have a ball in Greater Phoenix, where a jaw-dropping desert and mountain landscape and abundant sunshine beckon outdoor wellness pursuits. Hiking and biking are trendy endeavors, and a diverse collection of trails attracts amateurs and professional athletes alike. Tone up on Camelback Mountain’s steep Summit Trail or its less-crowded Cholla Trail, or meander on foot, bike, or horseback along one of the 50-plus miles of paths through South Mountain Park and Preserve, the country’s largest municipal park at 16,500 acres. Additionally, Greater Phoenix is a golf Mecca, boasting over 200 courses.
And to play fair, countless indoor fitness facilities also await when the southwestern sun heats up! Check them out here.
Packing tips: Toss light-colored, airy clothes into your suitcase if you’re visiting in the summer, spring, or fall seasons—hey, it gets hot here! (Average annual high temperatures reach 85° F, and the sun shines some 300 days a year.) Other items to pack: golf clubs, a sturdy pair of hiking shoes, a water bottle, and most importantly, a hat and sunscreen so you can safely play outdoors in the desert sun. However, if you’re planning a trip during winter, pack long sleeves—the average high temp hovers around 65° F, though it can dip as low as 45° F.