Who wants to celebrate Valentine’s Day on a Wednesday? Not this girl. So instead, we planned a little weekend spa getaway with the help of our friends at Visit Phoenix to see what’s new and exciting in this warm winter city! If my husband and I are at home, we are either working or completely zoning out. Which isn’t exactly romantic. So this past weekend was the perfect place to reconnect and get away from the snow in Colorado!
When we landed in Phoenix, we went straight to The Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass. This resort is huge and showcases the heritage, culture, art and legends of the Pima and Maricopa Tribes. The resort offers 500 culturally themed rooms, Forbes Five-Star/AAA Five-Diamond Dining at Kai restaurant, the Forbes Four-Star Aji Spa, 36-holes of Troon-managed golf at Whirlwind Golf Club and the 1,000-acre Koli Equestrian Center. We only spent time at the spa but whenever I decide to head back to Phoenix again, I’m adding Kai Restaurant to my list and making a reservation early! Kai Restaurant is a full 3 hour experience and you definitely have to plan ahead to make sure you get in! And I want in!!
But luckily their spa was an amazing experience on it’s own. What I love about the Aji Spa is that it is huge. And many of it’s spaces are for both men and women so you can spend a ton of romantic time together while also having private time to enjoy their amenities. They have a large pool and jacuzzi along with a comfortable sitting area for both men and women where you can enjoy delicious snacks and beverages before your appointment. And they also have a large fitness center for a great workout before your spa treatment!
When this trip was all booked, I was suppose to enjoy the HO’ISHP (Sacred Prickly Pear Body Treatment) but since I decided to get a spray tan at Glamour Bar last minute, I decided to change to a 90 minute hot stone massage with 20 minutes of reflexology at the end. Even though the spray tan was totally needed, I wish I could have tried that amazing signature treatment because you’re in a therapeutic steam capsule where they apply Sacred Prickly Pear Red Clay and use a combination of steam and antioxidants to help to detoxify the body and tone the skin. The treatment ends with a full body massage to rehydrate the skin and leave the skin feeling silky smooth. Luckily, my hot stone massage was super calming and lovely. What I thought was interesting during the reflexology was when she did the reflexology on my toes, I was super tender there. Well guess what? That spot correlates to the neck and spine and I’ve been having issues there from workouts and being on my computer all day and that has led to headaches. How crazy is that? Everywhere else felt totally fine!
For lunch that day, we grabbed a delicious light meal at the Aji Café. On their café menu, they specify what is gluten free and vegan. But what is really cool is that if you have more strict dietary needs, you can call in before and the spa will work with you to make sure they go above and beyond to fit your dietary restrictions. I enjoyed a golden beet and carrot salad with arugula, feta, carrot puree, orange segments, and thyme vinaigrette. I rarely ever order a salad when I eat out but this one was SO good and left me feeling amazing afterwards. And now I totally want to recreate the recipe for the blog!
After an afternoon of massages, lunch and some time in the jacuzzi with my husband, we headed over to our hotel for the weekend! Mountain Shadows is a brand new resort set in the shadow of Camelback Mountain in the serene town of Paradise Valley, just ten minutes from downtown Scottsdale. It first opened in 1959 but has be re-envisioned with a contemporary design with just a dash of the 1950’s modernism that the original resort was famous for. Inside Mountain Shadows, you’ll find Hearth ’61 restaurant, bar and living room; beautiful rooms, outdoor spaces, along with ballrooms and boardrooms for any events you may have. While I was at Mountain Shadows, we saw a wedding, then a yoga with your dog fundraiser, and they also shot a really cool commercial. There is always something fun and exciting going on when you’re there. Since we did a destination wedding and loved it so much, I was thinking how Phoenix would be such a great alternative to a destination wedding, but still feel like you’re abroad in a warm, beautiful place.
Mountain Shadows also has a ton of different amenities to choose from and to keep the whole family entertained. You can head into The Citizens Club for fitness classes, organic drinks from their juice bar or have a relaxing afternoon poolside. The resort also offers The Short Course with 18 holes of par-3 golf, with options for the novice player and the experienced golfer. After a round, visit Rusty’s for grille fare and brews while you sit outside and enjoy the warm weather overlooking Camelback Mountain.
While I was at Mountain Shadows, I tried out their Blue Sky Bootcamp class that focused on bodyweight exercises, kettlebell and medicine ball training, calisthenics and whatever else the instructor thought up. But the best part of the class was that it was outside so you could enjoy the weather and the great views. And if bootcamp isn’t your style, they also offer yoga, ariel yoga, yin yoga, pilates (yes, they actually have reformers on site!), and TRX classes!
After my bootcamp class, we enjoyed a day at the pool in a poolside cabana where we sipped cocktails, soaked up some Vitamin D and my husband even watched some professional golf on the TV in our cabana between naps! It was so relaxing and the weather was 75 degrees that day so it was the perfect weather to enjoy the sunshine without completely sweating our faces off.
But one of my favorite parts about Mountain Shadows was the food and drink I got to experience. When I’ve been in Phoenix in the past, I’ve been extremely surprised by the meals I had at the hotels I stayed at, and Mountain Shadows was no different. They CRUSH it when it comes to their meals and cocktails. We had a few meals at Hearth ’61 bar and in the restaurant and everything we had was AMAZING! My first meal included pan roasted king salmon with potato, leeks, béarnaise and rainbow chard, and it was outstanding. Truly outstanding. I think it was the best salmon I’ve ever had! And we also washed it down with a flourless chocolate cake, which obviously never disappoints!
Their cocktails were no different. They were so damn good and I found myself ordering the same cocktail over and over. The paradise lost cocktail comes with fortaleza reposado, lime juice, mango syrup and a sriracha salt lined rim. It was addictive!
While we stayed at Mountain Shadows, we also enjoyed breakfast and brunch. One day we ordered room service so we could have a meal on our balcony that overlooked the pool and the mountain. And then on our last day, we had brunch at the bar where I ordered steak frites and had the most perfectly cooked and tender steak! I love a resort that cares about the food as much as they care the hotel itself. And it’s obvious that this resort takes their time at perfecting their menu before sharing it with their guests.
When we finally decided to have a meal off the resort, we headed to The Gladly for dinner. This beautiful restaurant offers a stylish bar that boasts a world class craft beverage program and over 200 whiskies! And on their menu, they offer a raw bar that includes with fresh items like oysters and scallop crudo along with unique items like lobster toast. And one of the items on their menu that they are known for the most is their original chopped salad. SO MANY people recommended this salad, but since I rarely ordered salads, I went with roasted brussels sprouts to start that cam in sweet corn grits, shaved Pecorino Romano, and truffle oil. Then I ordered the coffee short ribs that came with a cherry bbq sauce, parsnip puree and sautéed greens. But if I were to go back, I would totally get what my husband ordered – the sea bass. It was so insanely delicious!
For our last day in Phoenix, we decided to wake up extra early for a sunrise hot air balloon ride with Hot Air Expeditions. They picked us up in the lobby of our hotel then we headed to the Sonoran Desert to head up high in the sky for sunrise! Last time we were in Phoenix, we tried to go but it was too windy. Luckily the weather held up for us this time around and we were able to experience what a bird’s eye view is like.
With Hot Air Expeditions, you can fit about 9-12 people in the basket comfortably. And when you look up in the sky to see all the balloons floating by, you can always spot Hot Air Expeditions with their giant cactus on the side of the balloon! After we all climbed in, we floated with the wind for about an hour, overlooking the mountains, desert, and creeping on all the beautiful homes and their pools as dogs barked on while we floated over them. Then once we landed, we were welcomed back down to the ground with champagne and breakfast! It was such a cool experience that I’m so glad we did!
After our hot air balloon experience, we went straight to one of the country’s most adored luxury resorts – Sanctuary. It was super easy to get to from our original hotel, being less than a mile away from Mountain Shadows. The resort is boutique property with a contemporary design with amazing views. So amazing that a lovely wedding was going on at sunset. Maybe my husband and I should have a 2 year marriage renewal at Sanctuary. That’s totally a thing, right?!
While we were at Sanctuary, I enjoyed a workout in their amazing gym, then spent some time in the private whirlpool and steam room before my massage. Sanctuary Spa has an Asian-inspired design and philosophy which includes indoor and outdoor treatment rooms, a movement studio, meditation garden, a therapeutic Watsu® pool and a shaded, outdoor lap pool that I enjoyed with my husband in the afternoon. I mentioned above that The Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass was a great spa for couples…well I think Sanctuary is the perfect spa for a girls getaway. Most spas I’ve been to are very quiet and calm, but the spa at Sanctuary was buzzing with all kinds of women who were enjoying the spa amenities together and having the best time. There was a couple groups of women my age and another group of women in their 80’s talking about how much they love their spa getaways together every year. It was so cute.
But the best part about this spa was definitely the treatment I enjoyed. If you ever go to this spa, do yourself a favor and request Nikki. If I lived in Phoenix, I would see her monthly. She was fantastic. Her unique style made for a fantastic deep tissue massage that was thorough while still relaxing. I’ve been having a lot of issues in my neck and traps, and I left feeling better than I have in years. YEARS. I can’t recommend her enough. She was so so good!
After our time at the spa and in the gym, we headed up to enjoy a couple pre-dinner cocktails at Jade Bar while they had live music playing. Then after having a couple grapefruit vodka cocktails and watching the sunset, we enjoyed an early dinner at Elements before we caught a flight home. Elements offers farm-fresh American cuisine while enjoying beautiful views of Arizona. And they also mention what is gluten free on their menu so it’s easy to choose what will work with your dietary needs! I ordered the bacon wrapped filet of beef that came with balsamic onions, trumpet mushrooms, blue cheese and whipped potatoes. It was PERFECTION! And since it was our last meal on our spa getaway, we went all out and ordered the pb bombe for dessert which came with chocolate, peanut butter, macadamia nuts and cracker jack popcorn. It was so delicious and rich that we could barely finish it!
Since we live in Colorado where February is obviously quite cold, Phoenix has become one of our favorite places to visit in the winter. And every time we go, we are continually impressed by the amazing food, the amenities at every hotel, and the fantastic spas that grace many of the resorts. When you’re in Phoenix, you feel like you’ve traveled to a destination overseas and that’s something I love about it the most! Instead of traveling to Mexico or the Caribbean, I can hop on a quick flight to Phoenix and feel just as pampered! I can’t wait for 2019 because I know I’ll be heading back for another romantic getaway with my husband…or a girls getaway. Obviously.
Quick Summary of Phoenix Favorites:
- Mountain Shadows – Stay here for amazing food, rooms, pool, golf and activities
- The Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass – Go here for an amazing spa experience with your special person
- Sanctuary Spa – Go here for an amazing spa experience with your girlfriend and ask for Nikki for a massage
- The Gladly – Go here if you love whiskey, but if you don’t, get the Thai margarita and the sea bass
- Elements – For a beautiful view at sunset and order the filet of beef
- Hot Air Expeditions – For a wonderful experience high in the sky and delicious champagne after
- Visit Phoenix – For all things to do in Phoenix
- And don’t forget to check out my other blog post all about my first experience in Phoenix!
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This trip was sponsored by Visit Phoenix, but all opinions are your own!