Andaz is an oasis in the Scottsdale desert.Stephanie Russo
Travel has always been my preferred method of self-care. In fact, the only reason I’m able to write articulately about World Mental Health Day today is because my husband and I just came back from three rejuvenating days in the Wellness Suite at Andaz Scottsdale Resort and Bungalows in Arizona. I want to tell you why this was so important and why you should consider a visit there yourself – especially if you really need a break.
This has obviously been an exhausting and challenging year and a half for everyone. Although we did take a couple of short trips this summer, travel has become exhausting and challenging itself these days because of flight delays, cancellations and restrictions.
So, while we craved a change of scenery, we knew it had to be someplace easy. Someplace where we could settle in, relax and be pampered but also find enough to do if the mood struck.
It's easy to thrive at Andaz.Lois Alter Mark
We liked that Hyatt was focusing on wellbeing – after all, they had acquired our beloved Miraval, which we’ve already booked for a family wellness vacation – so we started researching Hyatt properties in Arizona, which is an easy trip for us and a place we’ve always gone to enjoy spa, art and food.
The Turquoise PoolLois Alter Mark
When we came across Andaz, we couldn’t believe we’d never been there before. With 185 bungalows and suites spread out over 23 acres next to Camelback Mountain, it sounded like exactly what we needed.
We knew we were right as soon as we walked into the Guest House, the beautiful reception area filled with local art, and we were greeted with prickly pear lemonade and sprinkle cookies.
The Wellness Suite
The Wellness Suite at Andaz is a mid-century modern design lover's delight.ERIC LAIGNEL
When we opened the door to 23E, the Wellness Suite – which is conveniently located near the Turquoise Pool and the Guest House – we immediately felt at home. With its mid-century modern aesthetic, king bedroom, roomy living room (which features a queen sized sleeper couch), two full bathrooms and two personal outdoor terraces, it was so comfortable, we were sorry we hadn’t booked more than two nights.
My husband was happily surprised to see the two Atlantic Coast Cruiser bikes there for our personal use and the Tonal Home Gym on the wall of the bedroom. He had always wanted to try it, and after using it a shocking amount considering the short time we were there, it’s climbed to the top of his holiday wish list. There were even hand weights for him to use with it.
The Tonal Home Gym is a great amenity in the Wellness Suite.Stephanie Russo
There was also a diffuser in the room with a selection of essential oils to set the mood for a wellness stay.
Our shoulders relaxed and I’m sure our blood pressure dropped into a healthier range.
Although it was tempting to just spend the day in this beautiful suite, we were already in a better state of mind and ready to experience some of the resort’s dedicated wellness and create and cultivate activities. Some of them are free, some have a fee, all are limited to just a few people. You’re given a schedule when you arrive so you can sign up for whichever appeal to you.
After baking cookies, we made jars of sprinkle art with the pastry chef.Lois Alter Mark
Here are the ones we did over the three days:
. Sound healing. As four of us lay on mats with our eyes closed, a master sound practitioner “played” alchemy crystal singing bowls, releasing vibrational energy that was transporting and transformative. This was a wonderful, surprising experience.
. Sweet Escape. We baked chocolate chip cookies with the pastry chef and it was fascinating to learn that Andaz used to feature cookie decorating as the wellness experience but guests were so focused on perfection that, instead of finding it relaxing, many of them actually left feeling bad about themselves. I can totally relate to this and can honestly say I felt great after this fun hour. It was freeing to immerse our hands in the dough and the cookies were so good, we polished them off in our suite that night.
. Birds of Prey. During breakfast, a volunteer from nearby Liberty Wildlife comes around to introduce guests to one of their avian residents. We got to meet a peregrine falcon, the fastest animal in the world (yes, faster than a cheetah!), and an owl. Animals are so good for the soul and it made us really consider getting a dog again.
We got to meet a peregrine falcon at breakfast.Lois Alter Mark
The Art of Andaz
Andaz has partnerships with Cattle Track Arts Preservation and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, and this foundation in art is the heart of the resort’s wellness initiative.
Although we were supposed to take the regular Cattle Track tour, we ended up having the resort car take us there on our own and we had the most amazing, enriching afternoon getting to know the artists. We spent hours talking to the extraordinary Mark McDowell, who runs the compound and who has led a life that warrants a movie. He made us feel like family and we hope to visit again soon. We’re still deciding which pieces we want from textile artist Chance Phillips, whose felted balls add so much warmth to the spaces at Andaz, and ceramic artist Mary Van Dusen, whose beautiful tea pieces caught my eye in the spa.
Guests on the Cattle Track Tour.Michael Vanarey
We also had the resort car drop us off in Old Town so we could explore the galleries. We practically moved in to Altamira Fine Art once Diana Gruenig introduced us to Helen, the joyful subject of what will ultimately be dozens of Robert Townsend’s larger than life paintings of a larger than life housewife he discovered through random slides he bought on eBay. Diana shared incredible stories and sent us the link to a documentary, My Indiana Muse, which we watched back in our suite and which made us even more obsessed with Helen. We would love for her to grace one of our walls at home.
Because your room key will get you into Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art for free, we squeezed in a quick visit, where we especially enjoyed Mimi O Chun’s It’s all cake exhibit and the Meet Cute video in Forever Becoming: Young Phoenix Artists.
One of our key takeaways from our mini-escape is that art – and being surrounded by beauty – is such an important part of wellness and does wonders for your mental health.
Palo Verde Spa
A treatment room at Palo Verde SpaaaaaaaahERIC LAIGNEL
To me, nothing spells stress reduction like S-P-A. The Palo Verde Spa at Andaz is intimate and lovely, with its own pool and a cozy relaxation room conducive to sleeping away the afternoon.
I opted for the Soul Essence massage, which started with creating a custom scent at the apothecary bar. Using the aromatherapy app to answer a few questions about my intention for the day, my massage therapist blended a fragrance using oils like lemon and clary to leave me blissed out and loosen up my too-tight muscles. There is truly nothing as restorative as a good massage.
Dining at Andaz
Breakfast of champions at Weft WarpAndaz Scottsdale Resort Bungalows
We ate all our meals at the resort because the food was excellent and we wanted to try as much of it as we could. Breakfast is all about cage-free eggs served traditionally or with a local flavor via chilaquiles verde and dirty hash. Lunch, served at the Turquoise Pool, features great bites like Baja shrimp ceviche and carne asada fries accompanied by an eclectic drink menu.
We had dinner in our suite one night – yummy burgers, salads and a chocoholic’s dream dessert, Sonoran Soil (dark chocolate ganache, cookies and cream mousse, blackout chocolate cake). The next night, we ate in Weft Warp Art Bar + Kitchen, where we indulged in simple – and simply delicious – fish and pasta while listening to Mark McDowell’s band play live music on the patio.
This is the stuff of self-care.
Because our few days away was so good for our mental health, we vowed to make Andaz a regular escape. I suggest you do, too.