Desert Bathing Is the Key to Total Relaxation — and This Gorgeous Hotel in Arizona Will Show You How to Do It

It’s the perfect way to slow down and soak in your surroundings.

Scottsdale, Arizona, has become nearly synonymous with bachelorette parties and balloons, pools packed with inflatables, and Instagram photos featuring sunsets and saguaro cacti. Its dry heat, thriving restaurant and bar scene, and vast assortment of outdoor activities — from day clubs to country clubs — are magnets for group trips and carefully planned itineraries.

If the aforementioned features don’t equate to your ideal adventure, you may have steered clear of Scottsdale in the past. However, a quick 30-minute drive north will have you rethinking that idea.

Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North is a far cry from the bustling nightlife of Old Town Scottsdale. The property’s focus on nature, wellness, and its food and beverage program landed it on Travel + Leisure’s list of best Arizona resorts for luxury travelers, and it’s grounded in its desire to create a tranquil atmosphere for guests, starting from the moment they pull under the portico.

Related: 21 Beautiful Places to Visit in Arizona — From Stunning National Parks to an Underground Restaurant

While many hotels strictly rely on their interiors and amenities to create an experience, the Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North’s exact brand of calmness stems, in part, from its location. Built in the foothills of Pinnacle Peak, the 210 guest rooms, bi-level pool, and various common spaces are merely foils — albeit beautiful ones — to the main character: 40 acres of the Sonoran Desert. “The property’s natural desert setting is inherently calming,” says Jaana Roth, the resort’s senior spa director.

<p>Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North</p>

Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North

The resort offers a number of immersive outdoor activities to ensure travelers take in the full breadth of the desert and its magic. In 2022, “desert bathing” was added on a rotating basis as part of the weekly fitness and wellness programming. Similar to forest bathing, desert bathing is “designed to help participants unplug from technology and slow down,” says Roth. Led by a wellness instructor, it begins with a moment of intention setting and a mindfulness exercise. What follows is best described as a meditative hike — where stopping, deep breathing, and simply taking a moment to soak in the setting are encouraged.

“The key to desert bathing is to use all five senses,” she explains. “Listen to the birds, notice the different varieties of cacti and native plants, smell the rich scent of creosote bushes and desert sage, taste the freshness of the air, and feel the desert sand beneath you.”

<p>Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North</p>

Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North

At first, desert bathing appears to be a straightforward concept — even with additional yoga poses incorporated along the way. But there’s another level to it. Desert bathing encourages a “deeper connection to place and the natural desert beauty,” says Roth, one that benefits our physical health and mental wellness. According to Roth, guests should feel a boost of energy, experience a better night’s sleep, and achieve a “more relaxed state of mind” after a hike. From a scientific perspective, many studies have demonstrated the benefits of simply being outside. According to one 2018 study, natural environments lead to lower stress levels. Another study published in the same year credits greenspaces — and yes, the Sonoran Desert features a variety of green plants — with a reduction in diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, and salivary cortisol, as well as the incidence of type II diabetes and stroke. When viewed with a more qualitative lens, desert bathing is the perfect time to leave your phone in your room (you can take photos later) and force yourself to focus on the present. For those who have never tried — or succeeded with — meditation, desert bathing can be used as a gateway to other mindfulness practices.

<p>Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North</p>

Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North

Desert bathing isn’t the only way Roth’s team incorporates the desert into its offerings, though. Inside the spa, guests can enjoy the Nopal Massage or the Prickly Pear Renewal treatment. In the former, warm cactus gel is applied to the skin using cactus paddles. Also known as the prickly pear cactus, the nopal cactus has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties — both of which can be useful for anyone who frequently travels or is in need of a reset. The Prickly Pear Renewal treatment follows the same idea, but it uses a prickly pear body polish to exfoliate before the massage.

Whether you choose to desert bathe, relax in the spa, or hide from the sun in one of the resort’s pool cabanas, there’s a high chance you’ll be able to, as Roth puts it, “hit the pause button” at the Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North. Just don’t forget to pack hiking bootssunscreen, and some UPF apparel.

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