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Travel Well: Fitness And Focus in The Desert

By , February 3rd, 2016

Most vacations are equipped with plenty of booze, fried edibles, late nights and maybe a few hazardous adventures. While these classifications are all acceptable in the sphere of pleasurable holidays, sometimes a little recess furnished with activities and food to nourish the body and soul can be just what the doctor ordered.

If you’re looking to take a vacation from your regularly scheduled ‘Netflix and chill’ with a side of butter-doused popcorn, I’ve got a couple destinations in mind. Take a step on the wellness-side and get your ‘om’ on in Arizona. Phoenix/Mesa are ready to take you on a meditation escapade.

Where to stay

The Phoenician

Phoenician Resort

View from out front of the Phoenician. Photo by Author.

Luxury and tranquility await at the stunning Phoenician resort in sunny Scottsdale. This hotel is fully stocked with ten restaurants and lounges, a fitness studio and spa center (The Center for Well-Being), a gorgeous pool complex complete with a 165-foot water slide and cascading waterfalls, mountain-view rooms and plenty of ways to find your center.

Sheraton Mesa


Photo courtesy of the Sheraton Mesa Hotel.

If you find yourself in Mesa, the newly built Sheraton Mesa at Wrigleyville West is the perfectly modern and chic place to relax from your daily activities. This hotel is less than eight miles from the Phoenix airport, and about two miles from the Valley Metro Light Rail line, which connects you to Downtown Mesa.

What to do


desert botanical gardens

Meditate surrounded by botanical gardens. Photo by Author.

The Desert Botanical Garden is a stunning collection of arid-land plants from deserts around the globe arranged in a distinctive outdoor museum. The most unique part about this gorgeous arrangement of nature are the classes offered by the Garden. Adults can come get their Tai-Chi on at sunrise, or say ‘namaste’ at Sundown Yoga. You can learn about the benefits of gardening in their Herbs for Patio Gardens, Organic Gardening, Urban Gardening and Home Landscape Design classes. If you’re looking for more adventure, the DBG offers a Lower Salt River Float Trip, Tonto Natural Bridge walk and an Aravaipa Canyon Field Trip.

If you’re in Mesa, the perfect place to get your OM on is at Floating Lotus Yoga Studio and Natural Healing Center. Not only do you have your pick at over 30 different yoga classes per week, but Floating Lotus offers different healing services like acupuncture and chiropractic treatments.



Saguaro cactus on the Cholla hiking trail. Photo by Author.

Release any lingering stress and take a hike up the majestic, tranquil Cholla Trailhead. Make sure to bring your camera since you’ll get a remarkable view of the city of Phoenix and the surrounding mountains. If you’re staying at the Phoenician, take one of their guided tours up the trailhead and learn about the wildlife, plant life, mountains, and general facts about Phoenix. Be sure to come equipped with rubber-soled hiking or tennis shoes – it can be a slippery hike due to rocks and pebbles. Total distance to the summit is 1.5 miles.

hike at usery mountain regional park

Views from the Usery Mountain Regional Park. Photo by Author.

For a a glimpse of Mesa from above, take your backpacks and hiking boots to Usery Mountain Regional Park. This park is on the Western end of the Goldfield Mountains, neighboring the Tonto National Forest. Recommended is the Wind Cave Trail; get a glimpse breathtaking views from a 2,840-ft elevation. Again, bring your camera! If you’re looking to take your vacation to wellness up a level, take your hike with Mandy Snell of Meaning in Motion – a guided hike focusing on self-discovery and concentration on intentions for the year ahead.

Spa and Meditation

The Phoenician is known for its world-class spa facility, The Centre for Well-Being. This space is the relaxing, peaceful retreat you dream of on those hectic days at work. Revitalize and rejuvenate with one of their many spa treatments, like holistic massage, hot stone rituals, body treatments, wraps, facials, and other well-being packages including meditation and tarot card readings.

If you’re staying elsewhere, not to worry, the very popular Fuchsia Day Spa is the perfect option for you. Featured in American Spa Magazine, Fuchsia Day Spa is a blissful haven that offers custom facials, massages, manicures, pedicures, body scrubs and more. You’ll be sure to leave feeling relaxed and ready to take on the rest of your week.

Where to eat

True Food Kitchen

true food kitchen

Delicious dishes at True Food Kitchen. Photo by Author.

Fuel your body the right way at True Food Kitchen, a healthy chain whose flagship is located in Phoenix. Their food principles are rooted in an anti-inflammatory perspective, serving food that provides your body with the nutrients it needs, and the flavor your cravings desire. Here you will find a large variety of gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options, along with meat-eater options like a bison burger or a turkey burger.

Gertrude’s at Desert Botanical Garden

A full-service restaurant located on the grounds of the Desert Botanical Garden, Gertrude’s provides lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Farm fresh ingredients grace the menu and are served to you under the direction of Executive Chef Matthew Taylor, a talented cook whose creativity shines through each dish. Each recipe contains components showcasing Arizona culture and are retrieved from local artisans and farmers.

St. Francis

chocolate salted caramel trifle at st francis

Yummy chocolate salted caramel dessert at St. Francis. Photo by Author.

Family-owned, built and run, St. Francis is a neighborhood restaurant showcasing a creative, wholesome interpretation of nourishment through food. Chef Aaron Chamberlin instills honesty and imagination into each dish, using whole foods and simple ingredients to create bursts of flavor with each bite.


ACV Mule cocktail at crudo

Mule cocktail at Crudo. Photo by Author.

Mixology and the desert don’t coincide in one’s mind when imagining a trip to Arizona, right? Crudo will twist your imagination with its progressive mixology and artistic creations. Certified sommelier and award-winning mixologist, Micah Olson, will blow your mind with his innovative mixing style – it’s worth a trip just for a cocktail.

Il Terrazzo

Take a trip to Italia for the night at Il Terrazzo, the luxurious yet modern eatery located at The Phoenician resort. An interior design established from tones of the Sonoran Desert, you’ll feel right at home with housemade, artisan breads and farm fresh ingredients on their seasonal menu, curated by Chef de Cuisine, Brian Cooper.

The Farm Kitchen at South Mountain

dessert at the farm kitchen

Dessert options at the Farm Kitchen. Photo by Author.

Have your choice at numerous mouthwatering, fresh sandwiches, salads, soups, seasonal vegetables and more. Build your ultimate picnic, you can put your food items into a picnic basket and explore the farm grounds, or sit at one of the many picnic tables on the property.

Queen Creek Olive Mill

lemon olive oil cupcake at queen creek olive mill

Delicate lemon and olive oil cupcake at the Queen Creek Olive Mill. Photo by Author.

Ever wonder where olive oil comes from? Have no idea what makes extra virgin olive oil, well, ‘extra virgin’? This is your spot. You’ll learn about all things olive oil, all while filling your tank with olive oil-fueled recipes. Queen Creek Olive Mill is Arizona’s only family-owned and operated olive mill/farm. Not the first thing you imagine you’ll see when you visit Arizona, this olive farm will exceed all expectations.

It can be difficult to escape our routine for a vacation to wellness when we are so used to indulging in gluttonous adventures, but once your toxins release in a stone massage or you’ve reached the summit at Cholla Trailhead, you’ll be thanking yourself for taking a walk on the wellness side.

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