Last updated February 15, 2022
The desert area around well-to-do Scottsdale, Arizona, is a hotbed of destination spas and resorts offering desert wellness activities for women, men and couples.
There’s something powerful and magical about the Sonoran Desert. Sunrises and sunsets are spectacular, thanks to the wide open spaces. And the warm, dry climate in seasons other than the summer is gentle and soothing.
Desert wellness seekers flock to the state year-round. Here are Arizona’s best spas and resorts for desert wellness whatever time of year.
Sprawled across 125 beautifully landscaped acres of cacti and other desert flora with views of both Camelback and Mummy Mountains (although I defy you to discern a mummy in the latter mountain’s profile) sits this southwestern classic resort and spa.
A large clock with the time stuck at 12:25—the time at which the first-ever guest checked into the hotel—welcomes you into the resort and invites you to enter a world of relaxation and luxury “where time stands still.”
With its Adobe-style architecture, rich earth tones and nature-inspired accents, the JW Marriott exudes Southwestern style. Each of the recently renovated 453 guest casita rooms and suites has its own HVAC unit and patio.
The spa is perched on the top tier of the property and features a restaurant (Sprouts), pool, indoor hot tub, steam room, sauna, salt room and the other usual amenities. The treatments here are top notch, including a wonderfully therapeutic Swedish massage.
This was the first destination spa established under the JW Marriott brand, and the property is former Executive Chairman Bill Marriott’s favorite and one he returns to yearly to celebrate his birthday.
Just a few minutes away on the other side of East Lincoln Drive from the JW Marriott, tucked into the hills of Camelback Mountain, is the famed Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa.
Spread across 53 acres, the multilevel resort is luxurious, chic and sophisticated and hums with a feeling of tranquility that can only be found in the desert Southwest. The resort recently changed hands and is now part of the Gurney Resort & Spa chain of properties.
The spa, which is consistently ranked among the top destination spas in the U.S. and features a menu of Asian-inspired treatments with 12 indoor and outdoor treatment rooms, a reflection pool, a Zen meditation garden and a labyrinth.
Near the main building, which houses the lobby and Elements Restaurant, there is an infinity pool. At the bottom of the resort, guests can enjoy the social gameplay of pickleball as well as tennis on one of the championship courts.
The Boulders Resort & Spa
The first thing you notice about The Boulders is, well, the boulders. These prehistoric rock formations jutting out of the Sonoran Desert landscape come into view well before you reach the town of Carefree, where the resort is located.
The property is jaw-droppingly beautiful, featuring two lush green golf courses, eight tennis courts, five restaurants, a labyrinth and a spa that “models the paradigm of a Desert Zen lifestyle.”
Among an array of outdoor activities, including a hiking trail and climbing wall situated in the boulders that surround the main building, the Sonoran Explorin’ desert adventure by golf cart with guide Brandy De Nickles Anderson is a standout.
Not only is Brandy enthusiastic, but thanks to a degree in plant science, she is a fount of knowledge about cacti and the teeming desert ecosystem beyond the naked eye.
Hot springs are the operative words to describe this small luxury resort for adults located one hour north of Scottsdale, set way back on a long, dusty, unpaved road.
The resort, newly re-opened in 2018, was built around ancient thermal hot springs that contain healing minerals that may relieve joint and muscle aches and pain and clear the skin. These minerals give the water colors ranging from deep purple to rusty red and blue/green.
The hot springs flow from underground at a rate of 200,000 gallons a day, with temperatures around 100-plus degrees Fahrenheit. Given its remote location, the resort offers the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to soak in an outdoor spring while viewing an awe-inspiring Arizona sunrise or sunset.
The resort’s Spring Bungalows feature private outdoor stone tubs with mineral water sourced from the springs and a view of the desert mountains, while the Sky View Cabins maximize the potential for stargazing.
Horseback riding, hiking, yoga and meditation classes are de rigueur along with other outdoor activities. The organic farm-to-table menu is widely praised, and the resort has a “Digital Detox” policy, which asks guests to unplug from electronic devices (the Wi-Fi password offers a reminder—“RUsureUwant2?”—when you attempt to connect).
Situated in the desert scape just outside of Sedona, about two hours north of Scottsdale, this luxury resort is a magical revelation.
Encompassing 70 acres, the resort is surrounded by the magnificent red rock walls of Boynton Canyon, a powerful energy vortex—a spiritual center emanating from the earth that is said to be healing and conducive to meditation and self-reflection.
You feel calmer just enjoying a quiet lunch on the terrace here and gazing at the amazing red rocks of the canyon, hiking or biking, doing yoga or creating a cairn. Spa, well-being and fitness services are available in Enchantment’s Spa Suites and Yoga and Movement Studio, as well as other areas of the resort.
A new offering at Enchantment is Trail House, where experts will customize canyon tours for you by foot or mountain bike based on your skill level and the type of terrain and elevation you want to explore.
Nighttime hikes are also available, allowing you to view the stars, which are plentiful given that Sedona is a designated a Dark Sky Community that is committed to reducing light pollution.
Arizona’s spas and resorts are the perfect antidote to restore mind, body and soul. Need more inspiration? Check out all of our desert wellness vacations in Arizona.