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Joya spa
Joya spa

Phoenix's Joya Spa delivers an unexpectedly therapeutic dose of relaxation Add to ...

The Treatment
Until my visit to Phoenix's Joya Spa with resident organic alchemist Katie Hess, I didn't put much stock in "happy elixirs." Certainly not enough to merit a 60-minute spa session. Joya quickly established itself as one of Scottsdale's top spas in America's most competitive "feel good" zip code due to its fluid definition of what constitutes a spa treatment. To initiate my flower-essences consultation, Ms. Hess shows me pretty horticultural pictorials - the ice breaker - before going into the therapeutic bit - asking me to characterize my past relationship with fear and mood swings. Her serenity casts a spell on me and I find myself relaxing - despite rather probing, provocative questions. The more detail I reveal, the more she fiddles with her lineup of essence bottles and formulations. Watching her interpret both positive and negative narratives into a bottle is unexpectedly therapeutic, perhaps even more so than the remedial massage. She finishes by presenting me with a glass tincture bottle to take internally, along with a bespoke essential-oil scent to incorporate into my skincare.

The Benefits
The treatment is based on the idea of sympathetic resonance - the notion that certain flower essences affect human biology. Of the 24 images, I'm drawn to the blood-red blossoms of the pomegranate and the maniacally symmetrical petals of the white yarrow. According to Ms. Hess, the former governs balancing of reproductive organs and creative self-expression while the latter revitalizes after heavy cellphone use, exposure to pollution and air travel. I take the flower essences internally, three drops under the tongue. They taste a bit like Campari if the red ride wasn't so medicinal, and Pimms if the liqueur wasn't so soggy band-aid. Unlike essential oils, they're without scent and work through the body's meridians.

The Spa
Montelucia Resort is nestled in the foothills of spectacular Camelback Mountain in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Its spa is a valentine to the art of the amorous, a testament to the rise of big gestures in spa design - enough campaniles and cupolas, spiral walkways and quiet cloisters to keep you and your partner in a state of wonder. One of the menu standouts is the Amira Jewel Facial, a bestseller for its use of red-wine longevity extract resveratrol. The hotel comes alive at night - great music and a lively social scene. The smell of succulent wood-fired rib-eye from the Andalusia-inspired Prado Restaurant contributes to a heady atmosphere. Business travellers wary of lacklustre dining or who've permanently written off hotel food will be surprised - half the meats on the menu bear private labels and star in supremely confident, creative constructions. Expect spontaneous close-harmony singing, a mountain of grilled meat and toasts in whichever fiery local spirit you choose.

Montelucia Resort and Spa, 4949 E. Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale, Ariz.; 1-888-627-3010; montelucia.com; $199 for 60 minutes.


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