By Brianna Moore
It’s no secret that Arizona is chock full of natural resources. From the sage plant to the prickly pear cactus, there is an endless array of desert plants to appreciate.
For thousands of years, people have incorporated these natural elements into their treatments, remedies and ailments. Today, spas across the Valley are spoiling guests with Sonoran Desert-inspired treatments for a unique spa experience.
Aji Spa @ Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass
The Aji Spa at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass prides itself on offering authentic Native American spa services. In the Pima Tribal language, “aji” means “sanctuary,” which aptly describes the spa.
The spa, located near the Gila River Indian Community, has implemented many Pima and Maricopa tribe practices into its treatments. The tribes’ influences can also be seen in the building’s architecture and artwork.
The Aji Spa sits alone, separate from the hotel and golf course, so guests can immerse themselves in the surrounding nature. Many Aji Spa treatments incorporate the natural resources that surround the facility, including the Shegoi (creosote) bush.
One of the oldest-living plants, the creosote bush has been used in Native American culture for hundreds of years as a healing property. The Pima people consider it “the most important medicinal plant.”
Maxine Lopez, a member of the Gila River Indian Community and Aji Spa employee, has used the Shegoi plant for herself for years.
“Shegoi has been here since our ancestors,” Lopez says. “Back in the day, we didn’t have doctors. We had to come up with our own remedies and different ways to survive and take care of ourselves.”
One treatment that uses the Shegoi plant’s healing powers is the hour-long Shegoi Ch Onh – Ancient Shegoi and Salt Pedicure ($70 Monday to Thursday; $80 Friday to Sunday). The treatment uses its exfoliating Indigenous body scrub, which mixes the Shegoi plant and other local herbs. Polish by the Chandler-based Dazzle Dry comes with the service. Founded in 2007, Dazzle Dry is an all-natural, quick-drying nail polish. The spa formerly used the popular Essie and O.P.I., but Dazzle Dry has proven to be a healthier, more convenient product to use.
The Aji Spa carries its signature Indigenous Collection, created with organic ingredients that have been used by the Maricopa and Pima people as cleansers and remedies. They can be purchased in the spa’s gift store.
Products that can be purchased include the Indigenous Hand Made Goat Milk Soap with Creosote, the Indigenous Organic Silky Conditioner, and the Indigenous Soy Candle.
Aji Spa @ Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass, 5594 W. Wild Horse Pass Boulevard, Chandler, 602.385.5759, wildhorsepass.com.
Boulders Resort and Spa Scottsdale
The Spa at The Boulders embodies the North Valley’s “desert-zen lifestyle” that restores the mind and body.
“We want to give our travelers an option to get grounded and become one with the desert,” says Parker Fales, the four-year spa operations supervisor. “Our biggest thing here is staying true to the roots of Arizona and trying to zone into what those features are.”
The Boulders Resort and Spa was built as an homage to the Sonoran Desert. Before The Boulders Resort was built in 1985, its architect spent over a year living on the land and learning about the environment that would soon surround the hotel.
After charting sun and moon patterns, discovering plants and learning about the nearby animals, the architect began to build the hotel, all while being respectful to the land.
The Spa at Boulders came 16 years later, in October 2001, with natural elements incorporated, emphasizing the Sonoran Desert’s beauty. This can even be seen in the spa’s yoga room, where light coming through the windows bounces off of the red-clay walls, creating the perfect environment for sunrise yoga. An on-site organic garden is available for guests to visit and forage.
“We switch out our (garden) beds seasonally to make sure we’re always getting the best crop at that time,” Fales says. “A lot of our products and services are inspired by the garden and we take a lot from it. For example, when it’s citrus season, we really try to play to Vitamin C. We’d use a lot of those type of natural ingredients to really showcase the healing properties that it can hold. We also usually pair it with a specialty drink, a ginger detox shot, or something of that nature.”
Staying true to its roots, The Spa at the Boulders carries products from Arizona-based companies. Sedona-based Body Bliss provides The Spa at Boulders with organic products like red healing clay, turquoise bush and essential oils to use in treatments.
Body Bliss is also used in the spa’s Ayurvedic treatments, like 80-minute Bindi Balancing ($250), the 50-minute Shirodhara ($175), the 110-minute head-to-toe Spirit of Life ($335) and the 80-minute Abhyanga($265), all of which provide full-body relief.
The Bindi Balancing treatment includes a warm herb exfoliation, meant to sooth the body, a light massage, cocoon wrap and facial cleanse. The Shirodhara is a harmonizing treatment that is meant to ease the mind and includes a hot oil hair and scalp massage, followed by a facial massage.
The Spirit of Life treatment combines both the Bindi Balancing and Shirodhara treatments, providing a complete head-to-toe Ayurvedic experience. Lastly, the Abhyanga treatment includes an Indian oleation massage, followed by an herbal wrap meant to release toxins from the body.
The store carries the spa’s signature scented Enlighten Candles, which was founded by Julianna Lyddon in Prescott in 2014. She creates organic, slow-burning candles that deliver light, calming aromas.
The Spa at Boulders, 34631 N. Tom Darlington Drive, Carefree, 480.595.3500, theboulders.com.
Agave, The Arizona Spa & Salon @ The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa
Agave, The Arizona Spa & Salon integrates traditional therapies, ancient healing treatments and Arizona’s natural elements into its services to provide guests with a unique spa experience. The native agave plant serves as the spa’s main inspiration and is used in many of the spa’s services.
The agave plant is the base ingredient for tequila and it provides a moisture-rich nectar. At Agave, The Arizona Spa, guests can experience the agave plant’s benefits through a variety of hair, skin, nail and body treatments.
The spa also offers a number of tequila-infused services as a part of its signature “Tequila & Lime” series, including the 50-mninute Tequila Lime Refresher Facial and the 50-minute Salted Tequila and Lime Body Glow. The “Tequila & Lime” series includes an exfoliant infused with agave pulp, lime, neroli oil, and a hint of tequila. There’s also a lotion with the same ingredients.
The Tequila Lime Refresher Facial leaves the skin luminous using the agave plant’s hydrating and nourishing properties. Organic lime stimulates the skin cells, while a jalapeno booster improves circulation and tones the skin. For manicures, tequila and neroli hand cream hydrates the hands.
The Salted Tequila and Lime Body Glow treatment uses the agave, lime, tequila, and salt-infused scrub to heal and exfoliate the skin. Then, a lime and neroli shea butter is applied to leave the skin moisturized and refreshed.
The scrub is offered as an option in the manicure and pedicure services.
“We have a scrub that is a salt base and one that is a sugar base,” says Rachel Rock, spa director at Agave. “That’s because sugar is going to be a gentler exfoliant, whereas salt is a bit more aggressive. Just depending on the nature of the skin, we utilize different exfoliant levels for that.”
The agave pulp moisturizes and exfoliates, while the tequila serves as an astringent. The tequila’s alcoholic properties rid the skin of oil and bacteria.
“It also has neroli, which is the scent of the orange blossom,” Rock says. “That just brings the beautiful essence of Arizona and amplifies that Arizona aspect.”
The spa’s “Tequila & Lime” products are also provided by the Arizona company, Body Bliss.
“We love to support other Arizona companies. We love partnering with them and providing their products, which are excellent to our guests,” Rock says.
Agave, The Arizona Spa @ The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, 6902 E. Greenway Parkway, Scottsdale, 480.624.1000, kierlandresort.com.