Valley resorts
Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia’s Joya has a strong local customer base.

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski


Arizonans love their spas. Sure, visitors partake in Sabai foot treatments at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa, “indestructible” manis and pedis at Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia’s Joya, or facials at the Alvadora Spa at Royal Palms Resort and Spa, too. But the summers are all about locals.

“Scottsdale and Paradise Valley region is home to the highest concentration of resort and day spas in the country,” says Scott Dunn with the Arizona Office of Tourism. “We’re really fortunate to have a nationally and internationally renowned spa community in Sedona, Tucson, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley.”

Spas are about more than looking good. It’s about feeling good, too, he adds.

“Wellness travel is no longer about just destination spas,” Dunn says. “When we talk about wellness, yes, we’re talking about spas, but we’re also talking about food, fitness and being outdoors.”

In Arizona, spa guests can be treated by American Indian healers, traditional massage therapists or feel solace within the Sonoran Desert.

“Arizona is really well positioned to be a national leader in wellness travel in my mind because we have the natural beauty,” Dunn says. “We have the recreation that natural beauty provides. We have a year-round growing season and the strong farm-to-table that fits into that food element of wellness. And we have the American Indian culture and tradition. All those things contribute to our wellness community.

“On top of that, we have an amazing destination spot.”

Here are some of the spas offering deals this summer for locals and guests alike.


Royal treatment

With its Mediterranean-inspired design and eight treatment rooms that spill into indoor-outdoor courtyards, the Royal Palms Resort and Spa’s Alvadora Spa pulls in locals and out of towners with its custom facials, scrubs and massages. The sweet scent of Neroli permeates from the adjacent orange grove and throughout the spa. The treatments feature warm-weather elements like citrus, eucalyptus, juniper and lavender.  

“The intimacy of our spa, as well as our hotel, is what really, really drives people to come here, versus our competitors that have larger spas,” says Sara Huddleson, spa director.

Locals receive a 20-percent discount on treatments Monday to Thursday. Through August 31, a 50-minute scrub, massage or facial—all custom—are $125 each any day.

“We are very specific about selecting the vendors we partner with, and we take pride in our sustainable practices as well as clean green products,” Huddleson says. “Even before Hyatt (acquired the property), we wanted people to be conscious of what’s being put on their skin. We don’t have any ingredients that would be considered ‘toxic’ ingredients.”

It’s not only important for the guests, but the providers who are using the products daily.

On the wellness side, Alvadora Spa specializes in Spa dēhp, a wellness therapy tailored to unlock the body’s intelligence process, integrating the guest’s stored experiences, promoting a sense of well-being and assisting him/her in new personal growth and development.

The word dēhp (pronounced “deep”) is an acronym for developed expression of human potential, and is intense, but noninvasive.

Alvadora Spa, Royal Palms Resort and Spa, 5200 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, 602.977.6300,


Gem of a spa: Amethyst

The Amethyst Spa at We-Ko-Pa Resort & Conference Center prides itself on its personal touch, according to Robert Holtsoi, licensed massage therapist and spa supervisor.

“We offer popular treatments like facials and massages, and we have a salon for services like manicures, pedicures and haircuts,” Holtsoi says.

But Amethyst found its spot with massages—Yavapai Swedish Legacy, Yavapai Deep Legacy, Upland Yuman, Four Peaks Hot Stone Massage, Lullaby Massage and Soothe Your Soul, which range in price from $60 to $185.

“I’m Native American, Navajo, and the influences are really strong here,” he says. “We incorporate herbs that are part of the Native American people’s lives. As far as our facials, we have the Amethyst Signature Facial.

“Our spa is named after the amethyst stone. There is an amethyst mine in the Four Peaks mountains. We wanted to incorporate that as well. It is actually known to have healing energy. We wanted to name the facial after that because it’s more of a hydrating facial.”

The resort’s Summer Splash package includes rate as low as $99 per room/per night and features $10 casino free play per room, per stay; 25 percent off regularly priced spa services, and a waived resort fee upon checkout.

Amethyst Spa, We-Ko-Pa Resort & Conference Center, 10438 N. Fort McDowell Road, Scottsdale, 480.789.5300,


Finding Sanctuary

Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa’s LaRae Verros is thrilled her facility’s renovation is wrapping up, as it needed the additional space since 2002.

“It was always busy in the ladies’ lounge, considering the volume we do here in the spa,” she says. “Our relaxing lounge was no longer really relaxing. It was busy.”

It needed a refresh as well, so everything—the flooring, walls, showers, etc.—were gutted. Now there is time, space and the environment in which to relax after treatments.

“It’s a nice place to have that transition back into the real world after the services and not to have to worry about anything,” Verros says. “Cellphones, computers or any type of device are not allowed in the room. It’s just you and our relaxation chairs.”

The women’s steam room and showers were expanded. The treatment rooms surround the Zen garden. The men’s area was refreshed, too.

The environment aside, the Asian-inspired services are foremost at Sanctuary, nestled within 53 acres of Scottsdale desert. The “experience,” as they call it, is shared in 12 indoor and outdoor treatment rooms. Birds in and around the Zen garden provide a sweet, simple soundtrack to treatments.

The 60-minute Sabai Foot treatment is among the popular treatments. The Thai ritual begins with kaffir lime exfoliation. The therapist continues by massaging the feet and lower legs with a heated herbal poultice and a wooden dowel, and it wraps up peppermint cream to create a sense of well-being. ($165 Monday to Thursday; $175 Friday to Sunday.)

“Our providers are, by far, the best I’ve ever worked with in my 27 years in this industry and I’ve worked a lot with five-star, or five-diamond properties,” Verros says.

“These individuals come to work every day to be here for their guests. I have no doubt in my mind that the providers are fully there for their guests. If they have a massage, that guest will walk out with the best massage they’ve ever had.”

But the experience doesn’t end there.

“If you go up to the pool or Elements for lunch or dinner, the views are incredible,” she says. “We’re situated on the side of Camelback Mountain and all of my spa team will tell you there’s an energy to this mountain that’s so amazing. It lends to the entire environment.

“The Praying Monk is right there. It’s ours. I think all of that great, wonderful energy does lend itself to us.”

Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa, 5700 E. McDonald Drive, Paradise Valley, 480.948.2100,



In a cozy Paradise Valley corner, Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia’s Joya has a strong local customer base.

“We’ve been very, very lucky to have the local clientele we do because, during the summers, we slow down, obviously,” says Stevie White, spa director.

“It’s great to see how spas have become part of people’s everyday life, instead of just the extra luxury it used to be. I think the wellness part of it and the healing part have really come into its own.

The “indestructible” manicure and pedicure is a great go-to, she says. The spa is known for the Joya Signature Massage, a Moroccan-inspired Joyambrosia argon oil blend of essential oils, flower and gem essences and infused energy from the rare night-blooming cactus flower “Queen of the Night” that warms the system. A strong, deep touch is used in this massage, incorporating circular movements and stretching borrowed from traditional Thai to stimulate blood and lymph circulation while easing tension from the body. The 80-minute treatment is $239 to $269.

“It really releases all the tension with the stretching at the end,” she says. “People really enjoy it. It’s not just because of the smell, but because it’s nontraditional.”

The spa offers a series of specials throughout the summer for treatments like the Summer Splash Manicure and Pedicure, which features a fresh exfoliating “cocktail” body polish – a mix of organic vodka, basil and watermelon seed oils, sugar and rice bran oil. 45minutes per treatment, $59 each.

“It’s been great to see how our business has continued to grow each year,” White says. “People are making it more and more important to have their facials and have their body work done and make sure they’re taking care of themselves.

“It’s a testament to the entire industry to see people really embracing it. It’s something that’s very real and people see the benefits of having services a couple times.”

Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia, 4949 E. Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale, 480.627.3020,

For fun activities in Scottsdale, check out our events page.