found! not lost blog

“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” ― Mary Oliver

Review: Sanctuary Spa Resort

When last I wrote, I was starting a whirlwind weekend in Scottsdale with a few friends. Our time at Sanctuary Resort & Spa was relaxing and rejuvenating, I came home refreshed and with the requisite glowing skin of someone who has been polished, masqued, and massaged into looking like she gets way more sleep than she actually does!

This was my first visit to Sanctuary, and it was nearly everything I imagined (we’ll get to the “nearly” later). It is a smallish resort, with beautiful grounds made up of a number of casitas – little stand alone buildings with one or two guest rooms in them, and a main building with restaurant and bar, and a spa building.

20140305-213036.jpg{view up to the pool area, and above it the Jade Bar and Elements restaurant}

The infinity pool and hot tub were not huge, but seemed fine for the number of guests. There was never a shortage of pool lounge chairs – and the pool service was top-notch. Sunscreen, plush towels, refreshments, whatever your need, they had the bases covered. The mere thought of a drink, and a tall glass of ice water seemed to materialize at the table. Cocktails, salads, chips and fresh made guac and salsa, along with grilled shishito peppers were all brought out quickly and in generous amounts.

On the subject of food, I should mention that we ate so much on site, at the beautiful Elements for dinner, poolside, room service, and in the spa between treatments. 

20140305-212948.jpg{clockwise from left: yummy yogurt parfait with homemade granola, macadamia nuts, bananas, and maple syrup, with my morning latte; beautiful grounds surrounding the casitas; the tranquil courtyard in the spa}

And how could I forget the Jade bar, with its sweeping 180 views of the mountains, and stellar line-up of local live music? We heard a fun contemporary pop cover band the first night, the second night a funk/jazz band, and on Sunday another cover band, mixing it up with some fun 80’s and modern music. Spectacular, really. To wander out from our casitas and sit and listen to music while enjoying a cocktail or two before dinner, it all felt so carefree – just what a vacation should be!

Beyond maximum time enjoying the beautiful pool, we were at the spa. The treatment rooms were comfortable and opened to the outdoors if you wished, where you could hear the bubbling fountain in the courtyard. The spa changing rooms had a steam room, a small whirlpool/soaking pool, and a small lounge for waiting with teas, ice water, and a few light snacks. I had a facial, body treatment with massage, and pedicure. My favorite was the Bodhi body contouring treatment: 90 minutes in heaven. An exfoliating scrub, body mask, and a full body and facial massage. I repeat: heaven. I was drifting in and out of sleep I was so relaxed.

The only minor issues were that it is high season in Arizona, so the spa waiting room felt a bit crowded at times considering how many treatment rooms they had going. Also, the casitas themselves were not as well-designed as you might like, and were more worn than you’d expect for the steep price. For example, only one sink in the bathroom, a smallish glass enclosed shower, and a room that felt clean, spacious, but not as new as you might like. I think the Spa Casitas, which were more expensive, are newer and nicer, but we didn’t want to pay the extra. We really weren’t in the room all that much, and since this was the view, that made up for a lot:

20140305-213016.jpg{view from our Mountain View Casita, #262}

On our last day I hiked Camelback Mountain with one of my friends. We chose the Echo Canyon Trail because it was walking distance from Sanctuary… though we knew it was a more difficult trail. Well, “trail” is a term applied loosely, because parts of it looked like the pic below, left, and parts were just big hills of boulders. Guess we worked off some of those big meals! We didn’t go all the way to the top, because we had to get back and pack-up for checkout, so we stopped a little more than half a mile from the top. But, the views were still amazing, see for yourself…20140305-213541.jpg20140305-213045.jpgI know I travel more than many, and have had some great experiences. But, going on this trip really made me wonder, “why have I not done this before?” Usually my trips have a lot more activity built into them and while that is fun too, it was great to sit around and do nothing. I didn’t know if I’d like it, but oh – it was  amazing. Also, this group of girls was so much fun. We were all cool to do things together or on our own. I also appreciated talking about a range of things with all four of us being MBA-grads, but two of us still working in corporate, two of us home with kids, and all of us married to wonderful, supportive men who don’t mind us ditching them with the kids for a weekend. 🙂 By the time we were leaving we were already brainstorming where we might go next year…personally, I hope another spa retreat’s on the list – a girl could get used to this!


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This entry was posted on March 6, 2014 by in adventures and tagged , , , , .
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