On the Horizon in Arizona

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These days, not only are the classic properties upping the ante on new amenities but new hotels and resorts continue to crop up on this destination’s auburn-hued horizons.

The InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa in Paradise Valley near Phoenix and Tucson is the latest tony resort to debut in Arizona. Opened in August, the resort is in the process of transferring ownership but is still up and running as planned under the ICHbrand. The layout and design of the property gives a little taste of Andalusia in Spain with the use of wrought iron furnishings and motifs, lots of stone, earth tones, fireplaces and solid Euro-style appointments all in the shadow of Camelback Mountain. It spreads out over 34 acres with 252 guestrooms, 39 suites, two presidential abodes, a fine dining restaurant, plus a bar and spa cafe, 24-hour room service and a host of other amenities—starting with the spa.

The $250 million development did not shortchange the hotel’s offerings when it comes to spa space. The 31,000-sq.-ft. facility was designed by Sylvia Sepielli, a renowned spa designer whose works can be experienced at such luxury resorts as Pangkor Laut in Malaysia, and the Mi Amo Spa at Sedona’s Enchantment Resort. Naturally, Montelucia’s Joya Spa experience comes with one of Sepielli’s signature features: the pre-spa preparation ritual, and here those moments are considered “jewels of discovery.” It starts with hand ablutions in the courtyard reflection pool before guests are led into starry domed rooms where they are scrubbed clean and then left alone to make a wish to the stars. In the second room, they look into a crystal ball to start meditating and connecting with their spirit selves. Then comes the wet room that is in the style of a Moroccan hammam where the guest is scrubbed in black soap and doused in Oriental oils to prepare for the treatment. Then they are left to steam, have a cold deluge and sit in a whirlpool that offers a sense of weightlessness as waves of water roll under the lower back. Finally, they move to the quiet room and wait for their treatment.

For the golfing set, Montelucia works with a variety of courses and offers tee times starting at $95. Guestroom rack rates start at $345 per night in the winter high season and gradually hit $145 per night in summer. Through June 14, a $300 value added resort credit is available for guests to use in the spa or restaurants with a stay of three nights or more.

The red dirt in Sedona is moving around the famed L’Auberge de Sedona in a $25 million expansion geared to be completed in time for the resort’s 25th anniversary this summer. “Project Elevation” includes the building of 20 new expansive creekside cottages, a new spa, new spa cottages, and upgraded standing cottages. The new suite cottages by the creek will encompass 1,200 sq. ft. of indoor/outdoor living space including large observation decks for outdoor dining, outdoor showers and gas fireplaces. And all will command views of the surrounding ferrous-infused cliffs. Currently, L’Auberge offers 31 secluded cottages, 21 lodge rooms, and a 4-bedroom Creek House all presenting an ambiance that mixes mountain cabin simplicity with French country cottage chic. All cottage suites contain wood-burning fireplaces and comfortable covered porches. The rustic Spa at L’Auberge offers an array of rare treatments, including Ear Candling (a treatment usually not seen outside of Sedona), Moonstone Massage and Ayurvedic consultation. Treatments can be experienced in creekside cabanas as well as in guest cottages or in spa treatment rooms.

While the expansion is in progress the resort continues to operate without interruption. Lodge room rates start at $175 per night while cottage rates start at $275. A Spa on the Creek Retreat requires two nights in a lodge or cottage, and includes a $200 spa credit during the stay, and a $30 breakfast credit each morning at L’Auberge Restaurant for rates starting at $275 per night. (A $25 per night resort fee is added to cover all gratuities for hotel staff, wireless Internet access throughout the resort and use of the business center.)

Incidentally, recommend the new wine tour of Sedona offered by DeTours of Arizona. For $170 pp guests enjoy an all-day guided tour of Red Rock Country, a look through Uptown Sedona, tastings at wineries, a vineyard and winery tour plus a picnic at the Page Springs Winery.