For Cuisine Noir magazine. March 2017.
Arizona is known to be one of the best spa destinations in the world. There’s no doubt that its native plants and herbs discovered by Native American healers have many spiritual and physical medicinal properties. Arizona’s dry climate, ample sunshine and warm temperatures make it a good place to visit any time of the year and get a boost in vitamin D. From Phoenix’s upscale spas to Sedona’s concentrated vortexes (or high energy points), Arizona has serene landscapes, natural resources, historic traditions and a variety of techniques that makes it popular as a place for wellbeing. The state also attracts alternative healing practitioners so you know the therapists are not only well trained, but passionate about what they do.
Sheraton Grand At Wild Horse Pass, Phoenix
The Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass (www.wildhorsepassresort.com) is one of the few resorts in the area that is operated entirely in partnership with the Native-American community. Located on the Gila River Indian Community, the décor of the property, guestrooms, cuisine and surroundings reflect the traditions of the Pima and Maricopa people.
Take a stroll through the contemplative trail that runs past a river, golf course and dirt path where you can hear birds sing and read about the local flora. Check in to Aji, Arizona’s only Native American-owned spa for Thoachta traditional healing offered by native Belen Stoneman. She uses techniques that she learned from her ancestors at the reservation which include tapping into the energy of the spirits while she massages, and communicating those messages through a brief consultation. It is a unique experience that makes one feel grounded, relaxed, and ready to live one’s potential.
The spa also offers nourishing white clay body masks, healing agave wraps, and a relaxing watsu pool in a serene setting of desert architecture, gardens and trails.
Boulders Resort & Spa, Carefree
Boulders Resort & Spa (www.theboulders.com) is named for the 12-million-year-old granite boulders that dot the landscape. The resort’s 33,000 square foot facility incorporates the elements of feng shui through natural rocks, water features, sand gardens, flower beds, a labyrinth, and a Tipi built by the local Native American community for guided meditation. There is also an organic garden which supplies to the Spa Café and hosts cooking classes.
Get a well-deserved deep tissue massage using a potent sage and arnica infused oil that helps reduce discomfort and inflammation, and speeds recovery. Then, sit at the open-air patio, sip a strawberry-mint smoothie, snack on a hummus plate, and watch the Black Mountain in the distance. The resort also has private casitas and villas that are surrounded by nature and good place to get away from it all.
Sedona Yoga Festival
Drive an hour and a half north to the magical city of Sedona for the Sedona Yoga Festival (SYF) that takes place in early spring each year. The four-day consciousness evolution conference attracts over 1400 attendees who come to work on their physical, emotional and spiritual growth. The workshops, guided meditations, yoga classes and hikes led by over 100 instructors are meant to inspire, heal and renew in a sacred environment.
The festival days involve early morning yoga to the tunes of reggae on the deck while watching a beautiful sunrise, a stroll through the marketplace where you can buy trendy clothing, jewelry made of alleviating gemstones, and healthy snacks including vegan chocolates, followed by choices of numerous workshops. Learn to tap into your intuition, communicate with loved ones, eat superfoods and find alternative medicinal treatments like Ayurveda and light therapy. Session on music and dance stress how vibrations of gong, chimes, Tibetan bowls and other relaxing instruments open the flow of energy and create body-mind state changes for healing.
Each night, there are satsangs (communal gathering), healthy happy hours and dance parties. And if you need a break, go down the street for psychic readers, crystal shops, art galleries and a variety of fine dining restaurants.
Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, Sedona
Nestled along the Red Rock Scenic Byway, Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock (www.hiltonsedonaresort.com) is the only resort in Sedona that offers a full-service spa along with a golf course, with spectacular views of the red rocks.
Book yourself a Signature Full Circle Message, a 90-minute service inspired by the metaphysical properties of Sedona. The experience includes aromatherapy, meditation to discover intuition, massage, energy balancing and visualization, and is delivered by one of the spa’s therapists that are certified to practice “energy medicine.” After some pampering, relax in one of the spa’s pools, Jacuzzi, sauna or steam. Allow yourself to renew with the energy of Sedona’s vortexes.
Photo credit: Sucheta Rawal
~ Written for Cuisine Noir magazine. March 2017.