Friday, May 11, 2012

Spa and Casita Living at Sanctuary at Camelback

The weather was starting to warm up a bit in the Phoenix area of Arizona. Susan Campbell, a friend and fellow travel writer, and I were happy to keep the car parked while we enjoyed the scenery and learned more about the Sanctuary at Camelback.

We were supposed to go on a hike in the morning, but my cold had turned into a sinus infection and walking steady was not my strong point. Susan did take off for a while and examine the breathtaking grounds of the property. I was not at a total loss as you didn’t have to walk far at the Sanctuary at Camelback to be blown away by the views.

Breakfast was in the Elements restaurant, which is full of windows so we didn’t miss a moment of the mountains. The menu ranged from healthy, gluten-free and vegetarian, to slightly indulgent. Susan went for the eggs and bacon with an Arizona Sunrise Smoothie, while I had a decadent Brioche French Toast, with cherries, almonds and whipped mascarpone.

After breakfast she headed to the pool and I met with the spa director and operations manager to learn more about Sanctuary at Camelback and what they offer.  I was told the spa is focused more on “wellness” than “pampering,” though I found the personal attention from the moment you walk in to be one of the most pampering I’ve received (thanks again to Daphne for taking such good care of me). They are also said working with guests to plan customized experiences in advance, whether you want to train for a marathon, get in better shape, or find yourself through guided imagery and meditation.

The spa at the Sanctuary is very comforting. I spent the rest of the afternoon there, reading between the eucalyptus steam baths, Jacuzzi and a Sabai Foot treatment. Sabai is the Thai word for relax and I’m not sure that I found it overly relaxing, but my feet never felt so soft and the day had certainly been relaxing.

Susan was thrilled with her Swedish massage and we were both ready to continue the relaxation into the evening with drinks on the patio of the Jade Bar. We got a cheese platter and I had a Moscow Mule (Ultimat Vodka, house made ginger syrup and ginger beer) and she sipped her beer while the sun went down. We then walked over to the Elements restaurant, where we had the same table with a view as breakfast.

Dinner was even better than breakfast thanks to some helpful hints from our waiter, Mark. My Potato Leek Soup was very good and I continued the vegetarian evening with an excellent Carrot & Millet Ravioli, surrounded by sugar snap peas, shitake mushrooms and Yuku mint chimici. Susan had the duck, which came with forbidden rice (my first time trying this treat) and was in a boy choy black bean sauce. We also had side of roasted Brussels sprouts and Truffled Macaroni and Cheese, both of which were great.

It’s a rare night that I don’t at least sample some dessert, but even the thought of the PB Bomb (peanut butter mousse and dark chocolate ganache in a crispy Nutella base) could not make room in my stomach. We instead went back to the room and retired early. A full day at the Sanctuary at Camelback left us rested, relaxed and ready to fall into deep sleep. It was a good thing because the next day was a full one as we headed to The Boulders.

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