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Arizona: America’s Wellness Travel Destination

By Kathryn Romeyn

Jan 14, 2020

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At Mii Amo, spa treatments include blessings in a crystal grotto.

Courtesy of Mii Amo

At Mii Amo, spa treatments include blessings in a crystal grotto.

The Grand Canyon State is home to a thriving wellness industry, with hot springs, spa treatments, vortex experiences, and more.

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If any state can be called the U.S. capital of wellness, it’s Arizona. True, Los Angeles has a reputation for yoga, healthy food, and self-care, and major cities like Seattle and Denver are great for fitness and outdoor pursuits, but the Grand Canyon State is all that rolled into one. 

Across Arizona, you can find everything from hot springs, cycling trails, and glamping sites to more offbeat experiences like energy-aligning massages, desert yoga, sound bathing, and vortex hiking. These pursuits—along with wellness and spa resorts in sunny Tucson, upscale Scottsdale, and New Age-y Sedona—draw travelers from all over the world seeking outdoor activities (best reserved for the winter, spring, and fall months, when temperatures are slightly cooler), a digital detox, or even a total reset to start a new year. Here are eight ways to treat yourself in Arizona.

Set intentions at Mii Amo

Mindfulness is the name of the game at Mii Amo, a Sedona getaway famed for its all-inclusive approach to wellness. Here, a “Journey Guide” curates a custom itinerary for each guest, packed with unique workshops and spa treatments. Think quiet walks around the red rocks (also known as canyon bathing), new and full moon ceremonies in the resort’s Crystal Grotto, chanting sessions, and lessons on how to use prayer arrows to manifest your personal dreams and desires. Spa services include traditional massages and facials, reiki, and hypnosis.

Hit the trails in Boynton Canyon

Enchantment Resort offers access to more than 300 miles of exclusive biking trails.

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This summer, Sedona’s outdoor adventure destination, Enchantment Resort, will debut a 4,000-square-foot activity center as a hub for its 300-plus miles of exclusive ride-in, ride-out biking trails. Trail House—where guests will have access to 21 expert guides as well as a bike shop, retail space, and trail education area—will mark the expansion of an already robust lineup of exhilarating activities, including boot camp classes, hikes with yoga and meditation, and American Indian–inspired rituals with crystals. 

Enter the vortex at L’Auberge de Sedona

The Vortex Treehouse at L’Auberge de Sedona sits over a swirling center of energy.

In the midst of one of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural landscapes, L’Auberge de Sedona is known for healing arts like forest bathing and a Quiet Mind treatment with guided breathwork and facial acupressure tuning. The hotel’s pièce de résistance, however, is its Vortex Treehouse, a “spiritual sanctuary” with sweeping views of the surrounding red rocks. Here, guests can indulge in four different rituals inspired by Airport Mesa, Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, and Boynton Canyon, each involving personalized guided meditation, a sound bath, and time to practice mindfulness. 

Unplug and get moving at Civana

Try the Aqua Shiatsu Therapy treatment at Civana and enjoy a massage in a pool.

Opened in 2018, Civana Wellness Resort and Spa in Carefree offers an accessible approach to well-being, with five separate fitness and movement studios and a robust schedule of complimentary activities like floating meditation, cooking classes, and guided hikes. Cleanly designed guest rooms focus on desert views instead of TVs to inspire a connection between nature and self, while the 22,000-square-foot spa helps guests further disconnect with a hydrotherapy circuit, a sauna-meets-steam-room called a Sanarium, and a unique Aqua Shiatsu Therapy treatment that takes place in a heated pool and involves massage and movement to promote deep relaxation. 

Soak in thermal water at Castle Hot Springs

JFK himself sought refuge in the healing waters at Castle Hot Springs.

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There’s history behind the healing waters at Castle Hot Springs, a newly reopened resort outside of Phoenix that operates seasonally from October to June. Since it first debuted in the 1880s, no less than the likes of John F. Kennedy—not to mention various Vanderbilts, Astors, and Roosevelts—have sought out the hotel’s three mineral-rich, 120-degree pools for their rejuvenating properties. Take a good soak to relax your muscles and clear your mind, then unplug in one of the 32 luxurious guest rooms or connect with Mother Nature through activities like hiking, horseback riding, tai chi, stargazing, and gardening. An outdoor massage next to the soothing springs is also a must.

Detox to retox at W Scottsdale

It may look serene, but Away Spa at the W is known for its party vibe.

True to form for the decade-old W Scottsdale, its brand-new Away Spa has a bit of a party vibe. The reception desk plays double duty as a bar serving specialty drinks made with local ingredients, and there’s even a secret treatment menu accessible only to VIPs with the private code. Still, the ultimate goal at this buzzy oasis is revitalization, which guests can achieve through services like Detox massages to eliminate toxins and boost metabolism, and Rewind facials to soften lines and restore skin. Alternatively, Away can be booked for after-hours private parties, which come complete with DJs, glow-in-the-dark treatments, and intoxicating spa cocktails. 

Embrace color therapy at Hotel Valley Ho

The color therapy offered at VH Spa helps to balance the body and mind.

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Chromotherapy—a method of alternative medicine that uses colored lights to get the body operating on a healthy, harmonic frequency—is a hot topic in the wellness industry lately. Try it for yourself at VH Spa, located in the retro-chic Hotel Valley Ho, where the dry saunas feature adjustable lights in different hues. After a hot stone massage, head to the sauna and choose the color best suited to your desires—red is grounding and improves circulation, orange is calming and boosts immunity, yellow sparks creativity and aids digestion, green helps stabilize your emotions, blue fosters self-awareness, and violet eases stress and fosters a profound appreciation for life.

Sleep under the stars in the Grand Canyon

Stargaze from your tent at Under Canvas Grand Canyon.

If going back to basics is an appealing idea, glamping retreat Under Canvas in the Grand Canyon is a good bet. Luxurious platform tents—including Stargazer options, which boast arched windows over plush, king-size beds for galaxy gazing in comfort—sprawl across the desert, where hiking, horseback riding, and white-water rafting excursions are also on offer. Organic bath products, plus healthy meals and nightly s’mores, are standard amenities that further encourage self-care.

>>Next: Plan Your Trip With AFAR’s Travel Guide to Arizona

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