Vacay.ca occasionally publishes articles on destinations outside of Canada. As our readers begin to plan their winter escapes to warmer climates we will often have our experts report from sun destinations. In this article, Vacay.ca Contributor Colleen Friesen reports from Phoenix and Scottsdale in Arizona.
Story by Colleen Friesen
PHOENIX, ARIZONA — I’m not saying all of this was about my birthday. But it should be noted that I’ve often referred to having a “birthday week.” So, when the opportunity arose for a multi-day, spa-focused trip where the last evening landed on my actual birth date in June, well … let’s just say, it seemed more than coincidental. And what a lovely treat.
A good friend, however, had a different opinion.
“June!” she gasped. “Are you nuts? Do you know how hot it’s going to be?”
“Spas,” I replied, wondering how she could have missed such an obvious answer. “My birthday and spas.”
Enticingly, the trip was billed as: Wine. Dine. Unwind.
You might think that would include a lot of downtime.
You’d be wrong.
We were thrust into the spa-focused-fray soon after checking in to our luxury rooms at the Royal Palms Resort & Spa. As my friend had predicted, it was hellishly hot.
But the resort! Oh my. It looked like a palm-lined movie set for a Tuscan villa.
After a quick dip in the pool, I changed into my coolest outfit and then sat down to a groaning table of crazy-good, local delights at the resort’s restaurant, T. Cook’s. (As we all know, when it comes to healthy food, the more we eat the healthier we get … right?)
With an oh-so-healthy bellyful topped off with a local goat’s cheese, peach and quinoa salad, I staggered over to my hour-long massage at the resort’s Alvadora Spa.
The spa’s signature scent is neroli, an essential oil distilled from orange blossoms. No surprise, given that the Royal Palms has an on-site orange grove dating from 1929 (from when it was still a private estate). The heavenly citrus concoction, combined with the masseuse’s strong hands, had me blissing out and dreaming of flowering groves.
Rising to the Occasion in Phoenix
Another dip in the pool and then it was off to dinner at Sumo Maya in neighbouring Scottsdale, where (are you beginning to detect the theme?) we indulged in another feeding extravaganza of Asian/Mexican fusion food, along with lip-smacking sumoritas — a deadly twist on a margarita.
We kept up this gruelling schedule for the next four days, shuttling from Phoenix to Scottsdale to Gilbert to Mesa.
Over and over we schlepped between sugar scrubs, pedicures and massages. I was beginning to wonder if the tour organizers understood what a birthday week actually meant? How was a woman supposed to endure such an itinerary. Repeatedly we soaked in healing mineral waters and cooling pools. Again and again our muscles were kneaded into quiet submission. In between, we had incredible lunches, enormous dinners and bountiful breakfasts.
I was living the modified instructions on a shampoo bottle: Eat. Spa. Repeat.
The heat proved to be a non-issue as we moved from our air-conditioned car into the serene and ambient temperatures of therapy rooms, pools and restaurants.
In between all those meals and spalicious treatments we checked out the stunning displays at the Musical Instrument Museum, took part in a hot-air balloon ride at dawn, and kayaked the Salt River.
The last night, my actual birthday, I was joined by two friends as we were poled in an authentic Venetian gondola. I assumed it would be a little cheesy. I mean, seriously, what was up with genuine Venetian gondolas at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch?
As our gondolier, Candace Ibanez, steered us into the middle of the dark lake, she began to sing.
A classically trained vocalist, her voice was powerful. It swelled over the indigo light on the still waters as she sang “Casta Diva” from the Bellini opera, Norma. For the first time I understood what it meant to be serenaded. It was magical and moving.
And then, for her finale, as she guided us through the warm evening calm, she sang a beautiful Italian version of “Happy Birthday.”
And, with that, the trip finished on a perfect note.
Please don’t wait until it’s your birthday and don’t worry about the summer heat.
Just head down to Phoenix and recite this mantra: Spa. Eat. Repeat.
It’s a sweaty-tough schedule but you can do it.
MORE ABOUT VISITING PHOENIX AND ARIZONA
Phoenix Tourism Website: www.visitphoenix.com
Visit Arizona Website: www.visitarizona.com
When to Go: The added bonus to traveling to Phoenix in the summer? Crazy-good rates. In an effort to entice locals to staycation and to convince the snowbirds that winter isn’t the only season, Phoenix resorts offer some incredible deals. Some of my first-hand recommendations include:
Royal Palms Resort & Spa
5200 E. Camelback Road,
6560 N. Scottsdale Road,
Musical Instruments Museum
4725 East Mayo Blvd.,
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North
10600 East Crescent Moon Drive
Hot Air Expeditions (for balloon rides over the Sonoran Desert)
Deer Valley Airport
702 W. Deer Valley Rd.
Flower Child Restaurant (for healthy eats and a fun granola-ish vibe)
10460 N. 90th Street
Arizona Outback Adventures (for kayaking the Salt River)
16447 N 91st St,
Queen Creek Olive Mill (tastings and restaurant)
25062 S Meridian Rd
Queen Creek, Arizona
Fuchsia Day Spa in Mesa (great manicures/pedicures)
Village Square at Dana Park Shopping Center
1822 S Val Vista Drive, Suite 103
Postino East Wine Cafe (popular wine and Italian tastings in Gilbert)
301 North Gilbert Road
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
7575 East Princess Drive
10600 East Crescent Moon Drive,