When the mercury rises in the summer months, prices drop in the desert by a good 50 percent. So if you like the dry heat as much as I do, you can spend some time and save some money while staying at wonderful hotels and spas.
I recently went to Scottsdale for the first time with one of my best girlfriends, Gina (she also happens to be my dog’s vet). For three days and three nights, we left our busy work lives to relax, explore the Sonoran Desert, practice yoga, wine and dine, and laugh so hard we cried.
In the Arizona desert, we learned about the benefits of halotherapy, ate glacier lettuce (I’ll explain below), and crafted a personalized aromatherapy oil to soothe the body and mind.
Here are some highlights:
Day One: Omni Scottsdale Resort and Spa + FnB Restaurant
The Omni in Scottsdale is set up like an Andalucian village; for someone who has a soft spot for Southern Spain and Moorish architecture, this property is a dream. Aside from the colorful tiles, archways, fountains and floral walkways, Camelback Mountain (the best-known natural landmark in Phoenix resembling the hump and head of a kneeling camel) is right behind the resort.
Aside from the beautiful backdrop, one of my favorite parts about this place is the spa. There is a room with a domed ceiling and 888 stars light up and look like the Moroccan night sky. There is also a huge crystal that guests are told to touch to help release negative energy and stress.
On my visit, I had an amazing therapeutic massage that incorporated stretching and breathing exercises that left me feeling relaxed and calm. I felt like I was floating as I slowly walked back to the room.
Wearing matching Trina Turk dresses on our girls trip
Making shapes at Joya Spa
Our first dinner in Scottsdale was at a cozy place with about 10 tables in Old Town Scottsdale called FnB, which stands for “food and beverage.” The chef-owner Charleen Badman — who has been nominated multiple times for a James Beard award – sources local produce and Arizona wine. Who knew they grew grapes and produced wine in Arizona?! As a cool sidenote, one of the wines we tried was from a local Arizona vineyard called Caduceus, which is owned by Maynard James Keenan, the lead singer of Tool.
Our waiter, Nathan, walked us through the menu with enthusiasm and ease. Every dish tasted even better than it was described.
Gina and I tried something called Glacier Lettuce which isn’t really lettuce at all; it’s actually a leafy succulent that looks like its covered with ice. It was juicy, refreshing, crunchy, and delicious. Like most of the food served at FnB, the glacier lettuce is sourced from a local farmer.
While I’m not a foodie, I felt like one as I slowly ate and enjoyed every creative and unique dish that was presented to the table.
Strawberries, rhubarb, white beets, glacier lettuce, goat cheese, pistachios (above image from FnB IG)
Day Two: Hyatt Regency Scottsdale + Halotherapy + Custom Vegan 4-course Meal
On our second day, we hopped over to the Hyatt and spent a day at the spa which included a massage and visit to the Himalayan Salt Room. The aforementioned room includes floor-to-ceiling white Himalayan salt walls, salt on the floor, and the pharmaceutical grade sodium chloride is released into the room through a machine and hole in the wall. After lounging for about five minutes inside the room, Gina and I could literally taste the salt filling the air and feel it on our skin.
We spent 30 minutes sitting, breathing in, and absorbing the benefits of the special salt. The treatment is called halotherapy and, according to research, Himalayan salt helps neutralize the positive ions we are exposed to on a daily basis. Studies show that we are exposed to harmful, positive ions everyday (pollutants and electronics emit positive ions), and since Himalayan salt emits negative ions, it helps neutralize the effects of exposure. Halotherapy is said to help with an array of health issues including skin conditions like eczema and since it has anti-inflammatory properties, it is also believed to help with allergies.
After balancing out our positive and negative ions, we wined and dined at SWB, the hotel’s southwestern bistro on the ground floor. We sat at the bar in front of the open kitchen and ate a delicious four-course vegan dinner (Wine Me, Dine Me!) that was personally planned by the chef and his team. Each dish was paired with wine or a cocktail. Even though Gina is not a vegan, she ate an all-vegan dinner and said it was super tasty and she did not miss the meat.
Himalayan Salt Room
Bar Seating at SWB
Day Three: Hiking in the Sonoran Desert and The Phoenician Spa
On our third day, we woke up at sunrise and hiked in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve which is over 30,000 acres of land protected by the city. We took the Gateway Loop trail and spent about two-hours hiking through the beautiful desert landscape dotted with towering cactus and large rocks.
Our third and final stop was the Phoenician, a hotel that was originally built more than 30 years ago and recently underwent a major renovation. The interiors were sleek and modern. While the rooms were beautiful, the spa
was nothing short of spectacular. We chose to do an aroma design massage, which allowed us to pick our own essential oils depending on what we wanted to bring into our life.
I chose a fragrance that was called Peaceful Warrior that included Lavender, Orange, and Rosemary. I added Rose to the mix and later learned from my therapist that Rose oil has the highest vibrational frequency. So, if you want to elevate your mood, mind, and sense of well being, I suggest incorporating rose oil into your life!
This is what happens when a yogi goes to the Sonoran Desert
Quick Dip in the indoor pool at the Phoenician Spa
If you want to plan a trip to Scottsdale, check out the Tourism Board’s website