Scottsdale, two ways

Waking up with the warm sun at Civana Wellness Resort & Spa just outside Scottsdale, Arizona, the raw beauty and peaceful pace of the Sonoran desert beckoned, along with a full itinerary of healing spa treatments, creative movement, enrichment arts and healthy cuisine. Stretching, pausing for a prayer of gratitude, pushing aside the black-out drapes, there’s that sun splashing across my very own patio not far from the pool. Civana was graced with a multi-million dollar renovation four years ago, with new wellness space filling former conference rooms with art therapy classrooms, yoga studios, a fitness club and self-discovery programing and soothing treatments to make even the most practiced yogi say, “namaste.”

The  184-room resort, located in Carefree (where else?) is an easy drive from Phoenix Sky Harbor airport with a gem of a spa, 22,000 square feet of bliss. Consider one of the spa’s signature treatments as your reward for weathering a pandemic. An hour-long body exfoliation and layered body wrap with essential oils (your choice) combined with organic seaweed or Arizona mud to detox work for even the tightest of uptights. If that’s you, stay put for another hour on the table for a full body replenishing massage with infused shea butter, performed by a quiet but strong therapist, an angel in disguise. Later in the afternoon, after a magical wander through the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area, we joined a guided meditation that will remind you who you are, or who you want to become.

Meals at Civana are colorful and veggie-forward, but not as an afterthought, and staff are welcoming and respectful of everyone’s individual wellness journey.

The Desert Botanical Garden offers the world’s finest collection of arid-land plants from deserts around the world and is a perfect pandemic outing, with five thematic trails, grand outdoor art installations, and an outdoor café.  Design fans must visit Taliesen West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s home, studio, and architectural laboratory built by gathering rocks from the desert floor and sand from the washes to keep the design in balance with the environment. Book the 90- minute guided tour by (likely) a retired architect in sensible shoes and endless anecdotes about the iconic artist and his family of apprentices. Check COVID hours before you go.

Heading out of Carefree in a dreamy state of semi-self actualization, we were skeptical of reintegrating to the general population. But, checking into The Scott Resort & Spa in the heart of Old Town was comforting and exciting, thanks to a color palette of old Havana, a New Orleans flair, and recognizable geometry of Bauhaus accents. If this combo sounds jarring, it’s not. It’s a lush retreat, a low rise collection of 200-plus guest rooms around a shady courtyard with two pools, one sand-bottomed, and one with a pool bar and private cabanas.  Classic black and white movies are screened on the covered patio and conversation nooks dot the property, in case you need time and space for further contemplation. And, who doesn’t?

Dinner at nearby FnB fed our bodies and souls. Chef Charleen Badman, is a recipient of the James Beard Foundation’s 2019 Best Chef: Southwest and along with her partner and wine aficionado, Pavle Milic, creates an intimate experience with locally sourced elevated vegetable dishes and paired local wines.

Visit Scottsdale when you need to get away. Far away, to find that part of you that’s stale or neglected. The Sonoran Desert and a spa stay that won’t break the bank will soothe and reassure. Body and soul.


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