Desert Bloom

Produced with  Cadillac Magazine

A scenic Arizona drive is bookended by spa resorts that define serenity. 

In the center of Arizona, you can move from a place of sanctuary to a state of enchantment in less than three hours. I’m not talking about being moved by the spirit dances or drum circles for which this rugged, beautiful terrain is known. Scottsdale’s Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Sedona’s Enchantment Resort provide the enviable markers for a road trip that begins in desert affluence and ends in remote red rock country.

There’s a purity to Sanctuary, with its clean white-and-gray casita interiors inflected with midcentury modern design nods: the tiles in various sizes and textures, the sculptural egg-shaped soaking tub. One of the few flourishes is the reflective tiled wall behind that tub and the glassed-in shower. Those shimmering squares say “Linger; the rush of your daily ablutions is behind you.”

Heading to Arizona is always a cleansing opportunity for me, a place to refocus and find some clarity. And Sanctuary Spa is the perfect place to facilitate that: I happily discover that it offers Watsu®, the aquatic massage modality that was developed just north of Napa Valley. In a small pool of warm water, my therapist gently moves me and shifts me around from side to side. Something happens to time and space; there is just the water and the movement and my own breathing.

By the time I set out the next morning in the Escalade, a lot of the stress from the flight out West has drained away. Sliding into the sculpted, leather-appointed cockpit of the Escalade is a seamless experience, and the cooled driver’s seat is more than welcome under the desert sun. In roughly 20 miles the city peels away and there’s only one number to follow: I-17 north. Now that’s clarity.

See the spectacular grounds at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort
Visitors can indulge in the opulent dining at Sanctuary
See the spectacular grounds at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort
Visitors can indulge in the opulent dining at Sanctuary

Because I tend to get distracted by stunning scenery, I’m grateful for the Safety Alert Seat’s cushion pulses that keep me in line. The physical elevation of the Escalade allows me a clear view of the red rock formations outside Sedona, and I give in to the temptation of driving on red gravel roads, since the Magnetic Ride Control suspension reads the road up to 1,000 times a second, making adjustments to changing road conditions to keep the ride smooth.

Boynton Pass is a secluded road set within Sedona’s far reaches, but with the Escalade taking it on handily, I pull into Enchantment, its low-slung adobe buildings belying the fact that this is one the country’s most coveted getaways. The Mii amo spa pool, with its direct view of the canyon’s red rock panorama, is one of my favorite places. After a lunch of crusted wild salmon and heirloom tomatoes from Mii amo’s own organic garden, I wander inside to the circular meditation room. The sun streams through a skylight but it’s cooler than Scottsdale up here; I think about lighting a fire in my room.

Tomorrow I’ll take a morning hike among the red spires that surround the resort, followed by the Native American–inspired Hozhooji spa treatment—I’ll be slathered with turquoise mineral-rich clay. It’s not something I’d do in New York, but here you have a need to feel the earth, engage with the elements, be mindful of everything that composes this special place. For now, I’m content in the round room, with the motes drifting in the shaft of light, and the silence and no appointments to keep.

WHEN YOU GO

BEST LODGINGS: Sanctuary (sanctuaryoncamelback.com) commands a view of Paradise Valley. The casitas of Enchantment (enchantment-resort.com) are dispersed among magnificent red rock spires.

BEST DINING: The cuisine at both resorts is excellent, but top off-property picks include Scottsdale’s The House Brasserie (thehousebrasserie.com) for its black kale Caesar, and The Hudson in Sedona (thehudsonsedona.com) for its prickly pear BBQ ribs.

BEST SCENIC: You know you’re nearing Sedona when striated red rock formations emerge against a crisp blue sky.

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