There is a time and place for everything. I recently returned from a week’s stay at a challenging “boot-camp” where I hiked, swam, and worked out non-stop, surviving on only 1200 calories a day (no coffee or wine) and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. But it’s certainly not for whusses, gourmands, or sybaritics.
If you fall under one of these categories, then you’ll immediately want to talley ho over to Hotel Valley Ho, Scottsdale. But I’m warning you in advance–however long you’re thinking of booking a stay for, double it, because you won’t want to leave the VH Spa without trying every amazing treatment they offer. (No wonder it’s been touted as one of the World’s Top Spas.)
Granted I’m a little late to discover V.H. since it recently celebrated its 50th Birthday with an $80 million face-lift. The finished results feature old classic style with a chic new spin presented with a big serving of FUN! The gorgeous new swimming “Oh Pool” filled with attractive young “hotties” is now Scottsdale’s hippest scene. (Again, this is nothing new, since in the 60’s Valley Ho was THE meeting place for the top celebs, such as Natalie Wood, Tony Curtis, Bing Crosby, etc.
I could find nothing wrong with my big, bright glass-walled cabana room opening onto a private patio. Loved the bathroom set-up, where I could watch my big TV while luxuriating in the oversized soaking tub, partaking freely of the Red Flower Bath amenities (more about these lovelies later.)
Your dining options are tops—so plan on trying both. But if it’s a Monday night, you will definitely want to book the special Wine Dinner at Café ZuZu, which is still one of the best deals in town…hell, it’s one of the best deals in the country! (For more info check out a story from Vagablond’s archives).
Executive-Chef Wiley deserves every one of his numerous culinary awards for his modern interpretation of comfort foods, using only the best local seasonal ingredients. And his breakfasts ain’t too shabby either. Be sure try a side order of the addictive cheesy grits and the lighter-than-air homemade English Muffins!
The other dining choice is Trader Vic’s. And even though this Polynesian icon pairs perfectly with the V.H retro vibe, I have to admit I wasn’t looking forward to my meal there, having recently “dined” at the Trader Vic’s in San Francisco and finding everything we ordered nearly inedible. But under the expert culinary direction of Charles Wiley, this particular Trader Vics has re-blossomed. The Tidbits were tasty, the Pupu’s were a fun trip down memory lane, (Remember Crab Rangoon: sizzling Dungeness Crab Meat with Cream Cheese in a Crispy Won Ton?) and who could quibble with the steak or chicken that emerged “From Our Wood Fired Oven: Our ovens can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to A.D. 20).The natural smoke and heat is derived from Pecan & Oak Woods. The meats, fowl or fresh seafood are suspended from hooks and slowly cooked, producing a unique and original flavor.”
But the piece de resistance is the superb 8,000 sq.foot VH Spa (Vitality & Health) offering many unique treatments and an impeccably trained staff.
You might want to start your health regime with a workout in the bright and airy Fitness room loaded with FreeMotion workout equipment. Even though I used to be quite the gym-rat, I wasn’t familiar with these cutting-edge machines which gave one the best workouts I’ve ever experienced…much more like working with free weights but with the safety of machines. Followed this up with a good shvitzing in the eucalyptus scented steam room. Then you might then want to relax in the immaculate locker room, sipping an herbal tea while you peruse the calorie-free Spa Menu.
However tempting the “Nose to Toes” massage sounds, you MUST first try my mind-blowing favorites.
First, reserve a once- in- a -lifetime experience of having a Tibetan Yoginic Massage. “Darget”, (I’m spelling if phonetically and it rhymes with “tar-geh,”) was raised as a Tibetan Buddhist monk and has been mastering his unique form of Yoginic massage since he was seven. Words cannot adequately describe this treatment, but at dinner that night I heard others try uttering such statements as,
“I swear my body left the table and I was flying around the room,’ or “I didn’t realize how much pain I’ve been burying and Darget released it all and I just cried like a baby.”
After all that flying and crying you’ll want to submit to a
Red Flower Nature Full Body Treatment Massage
“Inspired by Finland’s expanse and spirit of life, this cooling treatment embraces the spirit of the icy sea, ripe anti-oxidant rich berries, powerful ions and physical elation. After cleansing with deep forest purifier, you will be scrubbed with bioactive berry white peat exfoliant to remove lifeless skin and invigorate your day. The lymphatic phytopower sea wrap increases cell turnover while a deeply relaxing Finnish massage with fresh berry oil nourishes your skin. The treatment ends with application of cloud milk cream to antioxidize and fortify. Beautiful, active, powerful, rushing, plunging and alive.” I just describe it as 90 minutes of “Dying and going to Heaven!”
Note: These are the exquisite Red Flower products I mentioned before. We met the creator of these wonderful nature based products, and she simply oozed vitality and health! After many years in the industry, (She was a biggie at Shisedo) she decided to develop her own anti-oxidant line based on many organic products from Finland – and we all know how serious they take their saunas!
Actually as I finish writing this I just had a great idea. I think next year what I’ll do is book Boot-Camp and then as my reward, a whole glorious week at Valley Ho — which would be the ultimate carrot at the end of the stick.