Relaxing spa treatment room with massage table

The best and most original spa treatments in and around Phoenix

Find new ways to heal, relax, and rejuvenate.

It seems we’re all facing a never-ending to-do list these days, which makes it even more important to carve out some self-care time to relax in between activities. A massage, facial or wrap may be the best gift you can give yourself — and you’re in luck, as Phoenix’s high-end resorts are known for their luxurious spas. Read on to discover the truly special experiences that harness the power of locally sourced ingredients, pay homage to the rituals of ancient practices and bring a unique perspective to wellness of the mind, body and spirit. 

The Spa at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North

Step into an oasis built right into the desert landscape at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale spa. During the truly magical 90-minute Nopal Massage, your massage therapist applies warm prickly pear cactus gel filled with antioxidants, minerals and vitamins all over by using the fleshy insides of cactus paddles directly on your skin.

Another signature therapy is the Prickly Pear Renewal, which gently exfoliates with a prickly pear body polish, followed by a soothing massage with prickly pear oil. And the Turquoise Sage Renewal treatment exfoliates dull skin with a turquoise sage body scrub native to the Sonoran Desert, followed by a full body massage with a turquoise sage oil. 

Finally, Desert Bathing is part of the rotating calendar of weekly programming, drawing inspiration from the resort’s setting in the high Sonoran Desert, amid towering saguaro cactus and craggy rock formations. The full-sensory experience begins with intention-setting, along with a mindfulness and grounding exercise. Guests then embark on a meditative hike and conclude at The Spa with cooling, aromatherapy-scented towels and a brief re-centering exercise.

Velvet Spa at Ambiente, a Landscape Hotel

Up for a little road trip north? Sedona is only a two-hour drive, but you’ll feel a million miles away from the hustle of Phoenix once you arrive — and that’s precisely why a spa experience among the iconic red rocks is so special. The Velvet Spa at the recently opened Ambiente property is rooted in blending ancient wellness practices with innovative technologies, specializing in treatments that integrate regionally sourced ingredients with mystical properties for which Sedona is widely revered. For instance, the 90-minute Sacred Sedona Clay Wrap uses detoxifying Sedona clay that your therapist will artistically paint on your body with a soft brush. 

Energy work is a big buzzword in Sedona, due to the region’s many vortexes (swirling centers of energy conducive to healing, meditation and self-reflection), so it’s no surprise you’ll find treatments drawing upon the city’s new-age culture. The Celestial Chakra session uses sound bowls, moon-shaped crystals and reflexology to bring your chakras back into balance, while the Natural Flow Reiki treatment helps improve energy flow to feel lighter and recharged.

Get the best of Localite right to your inbox.
Tibetan singing bowl in a relaxing room.

The Spa at Boulders Resort & Spa, Curio Collection by Hilton 

Located within the high Sonoran Desert of Carefree, Arizona, and named for the 12-million-year-old granite boulder formations that dot the landscape, Boulders Resort & Spa is a highly sought-after setting for relaxation. The ancient peoples who originally inhabited this sacred land considered the surrounding rock formations to be spiritual. Take some time to step outside and connect with the earth on your visit — there’s even a labyrinth onsite. 

One beloved service offered is a private or group Meditation in the Tipi, where guests can relax into the healing space of Mother Earth, emerging renewed and connected to the inner spirit. Another is Sound Meditation, which uses music and sound to clear the mind and deepen meditation. Native American Shamans used this ancient practice, which combined chanting with multi-dimensional music that links realms of the brain to immerse the mind and promote a sense of well-being.

View inside of a sauna with wooden walls and seating.

Well & Being Spa at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

With only three ultra-luxurious Sisley-Paris Spas in the entire country, we’re lucky to have one right here in Phoenix, as part of the Well & Being Spa at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. This white glove Euro-style experience pairs modern-day science with natural botanicals for innovative facial treatments. The signature Black Rose Facial is 90 minutes of pure sensorial bliss, as the aesthetician does a well-orchestrated dance across your face and decolletage with their fingers.

Plan to spend your entire day being pampered to take advantage of all the amenities. With any treatment (including those at Well & Being Spa, like the Desert Soul Body Ritual with cactus bloom scrub and cactus blossom oil or the 120-minute Havasupai Falls Rejuvenation sage smudging and thermal mineral magnesium soak), you’ll also have full-day access to the exclusive rooftop adults-only pool, a co-ed grotto waterfall pool, a hot therapeutic whirlpool and cold plunge pool, a eucalyptus aromatherapy room, Swiss shower, Swedish dry sauna, fitness center and classes (some fees may apply) and delicious spa cuisine at the pool or in the garden atrium.

Get the best of Localite right to your inbox.

Aji Spa, Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass 

Aji Spa — named after the sacred Aji Mountain in the Gila River Indian Community and translating to sanctuary in the Pima language — offers a one-of-a-kind spa experience in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. This healing hub for relaxation and rejuvenation brings together contemporary spa treatments with the sacred doctrines of the Pima and Maricopa tribes, with oversight from cultural caretakers to ensure the authenticity of cultural traditions and ideas. 

Three standout treatments include the Ho’ishp sacred prickly pear body treatment to help nourish and detoxify the skin; the Ancient Shegoi Wrap and Massage (shegoi is the oldest-living plant in the world and sacred to the Gila River community for its healing and medicinal properties) that includes dry brushing and a scalp massage; and Nahtogig, a one-of-a-kind treatment that represents the elements of sunset, illumination, sandstorm, and water. 

Interested in more ways to increase your well-being where you live? Subscribe to the Localite newsletter.

7 free and low-cost holiday events you’ll love in Atlanta

Put your money into a gift (for yourself) instead.

The holiday season is here and we’re ready for the spirit of the season—think mulled wine, sweaters and twinkling lights. In Atlanta, you can immerse yourself in all the joys of the season without dreading looking at your bank account in January. In and around the city you’ll find plenty of festivals, events and gatherings. Keep on reading for fun for the whole family starting during Thanksgiving week.

Buckhead Village

Ski into the holidays at Buckhead Village, where they’re kicking off their Après All Day events for 2023. Don your best “after-ski” gear and be whisked away to a winter wonderland with snow-capped trees and crackling fires. Every Saturday through Dec. 16, you’ll find a street festival that lasts from 12 – 7 p.m., alongside live DJs and performers, a wandering Santa, hot chocolate, vendors and special events like a kids’ crafting experience or wreath-making workshop. Stop by one of the ski-life photo ops to commemorate the day. 

Or, experience authentic German cuisine and drinks in a vibrant shopping atmosphere at the Atlanta Christkindl Market from Nov. 24 to Dec. 24. With all the traditional elements of a Bavarian market, you can indulge in delectable culinary treats and handcrafted treasures in an enchanting environment where old-world traditions meet the modern energy of a bustling city. 

Most events are free, but some require a reservation, so make sure to plan before you go.

Get the best of Localite right to your inbox.

Winter Wonderland at Fernbank Museum

Winter Wonderland: Celebrations & Traditions Around the World is a holiday exhibition that showcases diverse cultural celebrations and traditions through stunning displays on two floors, running from Nov. 18 to Jan. 7. The exhibition features unique festivities and traditions selected by cultural partners, including Sweden, Mexico, India, Kenya, Japan and more. 

Winter Wonderland is a holiday staple in Atlanta, and visitors can enjoy an artistic experience while immersing themselves in different cultures. As a bonus, visitors can participate in the Winter Wonderland scavenger hunt to guide them as they explore the exhibition. You can enter with the price of admission to the museum, but members can enjoy it for free. Teachers and veterans can also get special deals on museum memberships.

Tinsel Tavern at the Battery

Get ready for a festive holiday season at Tinsel Tavern! The pop-up experience will be filled with glittering tinsel and twinkling lights, as well as delicious seasonal cocktails and small bites. Great instagrammable backdrops are ready for all the selfies. 

Tinsel Tavern will be open from Nov. 23 to Dec. 23, and you don’t need a reservation to visit (but it’s recommended.) There will be themed nights, including an ugly sweater party and silent disco, as well as fun holiday karaoke. Entry is free, except on themed nights. ($5-10 cover)

Lights over Alpharetta

Are you ready for some holiday cheer? For those visiting family in the Atlanta suburbs, Lights over Alpharetta is an excellent and affordable option for the whole family to experience. Book in advance and get in for $29 per car Monday through Wednesday for a joy-filled driving and walking experience from Nov. 24 to Dec. 30. 

Ice skating at The Rink at Park Tavern

Located in the heart of Midtown Atlanta, the ice rink offers a winter oasis that brings joy to all ages from Nov. 25 to Jan. 15. The stunning backdrop features Piedmont Park and the Midtown skyline. You can grab a warm drink and skate in the city’s heart while enjoying the beautiful view. Stay until after 8:30 p.m. for an adults-only skate. If you’re looking for a great deal, go during the week for a special discounted rate of $15 per ticket (Monday-Thursday). The rink is open until midnight, making it a perfect after-work treat. Plus, only those who wish to skate need to purchase a ticket.

Oakland Cemetery’s Holiday Spirit Festival

Experience the holiday spirit on Dec. 2 at Oakland Cemetery’s Tour of Eternal Homes during the Holiday Spirit Festival. Explore select mausoleums with a Victorian guide, learn about the iconic stone structures and enjoy the holiday decorations. Buy tickets ($18/adults $14/child) to choose your preferred tour time. Tours run every 15 minutes and last approximately 75 minutes. Enjoy holiday festivities around Oakland’s Bell Tower before and after your tour. Celebrate with photos with Santa, a holiday artist market, a wreath sale, snacks, hot drinks and more.

Misfit makers workshops with Scraplanta 

Scraplanta collects and reuses old art supplies to make Atlanta’s art scene more sustainable. They’re hosting free art workshops at Misfit DIY Wrapping Co. on the first three Tuesdays of Dec. Each week’s workshop will have a theme: Gaudy Garlands on Dec. 5, Unconventional Wreaths on Dec. 23 and Toilet Paper Candles and Poinsettias on Dec. 19. Check Scraplanta’s calendar for more details.

Want access to even more events, good deals and things to do? Sign up for the Localite newsletter.

Get the best of Localite right to your inbox.

Where to try out 2024’s hottest fitness trends in Phoenix

If you’re looking to shake up your fitness routine this year, check out the new kids on the fitness block.

Remember hula hoops from the ‘60s, Jazzercise from the ‘80s and Tae Bo from the ‘90s? While these fitness trends were all the rage at one time, the exercise industry continues to evolve — even if it’s just finding a more modern way to do the same old moves.

As with most fads, from fashion to cuisine, the fitness industry keeps consumers on its toes — motivating people with fun and unexpected activities, offering accessible and convenient options and making them feel like part of a like-minded community. Here are five of the hottest trends for 2024 and where to find them in Phoenix.

1. “Hot Girl Walks” Outside

Sometimes fitness just doesn’t need to be that intense — and those are the times to head out for some fresh air on a Hot Girl Walk to get your 10,000 steps in and contemplate life. The experts at Lifespan Fitness have been tracking more than 7.6 billion TikTok views for #Fittok alone, and #hotgirlwalks have 1 billion million views — one of the top 10 most searched for fitness trends. 

What exactly is a hot girl walk? It’s a consistent walking routine where you can maximize the benefits of the outdoors, elevate your fitness and focus on self-care in a low-impact workout. Just grab some music, focus on yourself or your goals and take a stroll. And, since you don’t need any special gear to get started, there’s no upfront cost and you can start today.  

Thankfully, in Phoenix, there are tons of great places to get your walk on. Of course, you can just tour your neighborhood, but if you’d prefer some more scenic options or ones with less traffic for your physical and mental health break, the following fit the bill.

Cruise the Arizona Canal, starting at Scottsdale Fashion Square in Old Town and heading west through Arcadia to the Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria Resort. Or, meander the Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt, which is an oasis of parks, lakes, paths and golf courses over 11 miles from Shea Boulevard and 92nd Street to Tempe Beach Park. You can even stroll the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert while enjoying the wildlife sanctuary. 

Get the best of Localite right to your inbox.

2. Electro-Muscle Stimulation Classes

While high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been the buzzword for the past decade, a shift is happening. “People are looking for low-impact exercises that leave them feeling energized, not drained,” says Jason Sani, director of wellness at OHM Fitness, which has three locations in the Valley. 

He points specifically to electro-muscle stimulation (EMS) technology, a group training class where you wear a bodysuit with electrode pads that deliver electrical stimulation to large areas of the body as you exercise simultaneously. “It allows you to activate and recruit fibers that are often neglected and challenging to activate,” says Sani.

Though the research is still emerging on the benefits, Hollywood celebrities like Chrissy Teigen, Jessica Alba, Heidi Klum and Madonna gush about EMS as their secret to building muscle without breaking a sweat, and OHM Fitness is planning to have up to 30 locations open by the end of 2024 to meet the rising demand for classes.

OHM Fitness

Desert Ridge: 21001 N. Tatum Boulevard, Suite 18-1090, Phoenix

McDowell Mountain Village: 15029 N. Thompson Peak Parkway, Scottsdale

Gilbert Cooley Station: 3919 E Williams Field Road, Suite 101, Gilbert

Woman sitting on fitness equipment in a public gym.

3. Muscle Building in the Gym

For those who would rather stick to the basics, strength training and muscle-building will never go out of style — the only thing that seems to shift each year is which body parts those muscles should dominate. For 2024, Megan Smith, Fitness Director at Camelback Village says, “It’s the year of the strong glutes and legs, like Carrie Underwood legs.” 

Since you clearly won’t be skipping leg day, the only big decision is how you’d like to get your workout done — and gyms are experiencing a resurgence after COVID lockdowns. Sure, you could still do your strength training at home with any number of apps, but gyms offer a real-life community that’s impossible to replicate combined with access to top-notch equipment. 

At Village Health Clubs & Spas, there’s no shortage of options to meet your needs: one-on-one person training to help maximize results and keep you motivated, group training classes for accountability and support, specialized weightlifting sessions with Gainey XFit Sport, or hitting the state-of-the-art weight room on your own. 

Village Health Clubs & Spas

Camelback Village: 4444 East Camelback Road, Phoenix

Gainey Village: 7477 East Doubletree Ranch Road, Scottsdale

Ocotillo Village: 4200 South Alma School Road, Chandler

DC Ranch Village: 18501 North Thompson Peak Parkway, Scottsdale

4. Pickleball for Social Gameplay 

America’s fastest-growing sport for three consecutive years, pickleball, is sweeping the nation and has no signs of letting up anytime soon. And it’s especially popular in the Phoenix Valley, considering the governing body for the sport, USA Pickleball, is located just 35 miles north of central Phoenix in Surprise.

This fast-paced and competitive game is easy for beginners to learn, and is played on a court the same size as a doubles badminton court. There is singles and doubles play, making for a social outlet alongside a great workout. You’ll need a paddle and ball, can wear any athletic wear you’d like, and there are free and paid courts all over town.

The Pecos Park Pickleball Courts in Phoenix has 16 outdoor courts that are free to use (there is a fee to use the indoor ones) and open from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Pickleball Kingdom in Chandler is a dedicated facility with 15 indoor courts, locker rooms and shower facilities, a snack bar and air conditioning — the perfect summertime solution. This facility also offers free Pickleball 101 classes for beginners, so you can work up to playing in open sessions, leagues, or tournaments. And Chicken N Pickle at the Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale, is a growing chain of indoor and outdoor pickleball courts (plus ping pong, bocce, Jenga and more) serviced by a range of bars and dining areas.

Pecos Park Pickleball Courts: 17010 S. 48th Street, Phoenix

Pickleball Kingdom: 4950 W. Ray Road, Chandler

Chicken N Pickle: 9330 W. Hanna Lane, Glendale

View inside of a sauna with benches and hot rocks.

5. Biohacking Recovery with Ice Baths and Saunas 

Ask any trainer and they’ll tell you that the real magic of exercise happens in the recovery phase — so it’s important to place an emphasis on giving your body time to rest and heal after tough workouts. A technique called biohacking may help. 

“Biohacking is when a person takes their biology into their own hand and does little things to trigger biological changes,” explains fitness and recovery expert Devon Jackson, owner of LiveColder. “The most popular of which is ice baths and saunas. Look for the number of people partaking in ice baths, saunas, red light therapy, cryotherapy and other modalities to shoot through the roof in 2024.”

Though experts don’t have a clear consensus on the benefits of cold-water immersion, or ice baths, proponents say users may report improved mental and physical benefits, like sore-muscle relief or a boost in mood. Initial research on infrared saunas point to a variety of short- and long-term benefits, like helping with pain relief, promoting better sleep and fighting illnesses like the common cold. 

Live Colder

14201 North Hayden Rd., Suite A2, Scottsdale

Want to learn more about where to experience the trends in eating, dining, wellness and more in Phoenix? Subscribe to the Localite newsletter.

Get the best of Localite right to your inbox.