10 Desert Escapes That Will Restore Your Soul
Redefining what it means to be an oasis
The desert is a sacred place of great energy and transformation. No, that’s not just some woo-woo idea. For millennia, people around the world have made pilgrimages to arid, cacti-dotted expanses to learn from the wisdom of the land. Even if you don’t subscribe to the spiritual side of things, it’s impossible not to be moved by the mystical beauty of red rocks or sand stretching in all directions as far as the eye can see. The desert also has a stillness and serenity. At night, it’s silent save the faint howls of coyotes and the hissing of snakes. Amidst the vastness of deserts in the United States (so, mainly Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and California), overnight oases that tap into the divine life force of the land — not to mention are just really stunning spots to chill out for a few days — have sprung up. Whether you’re looking for a holistic wellness-centric retreat or a five-star spa hotel, the relaxing desert escapes ahead promise peace, quiet and plenty of ways to unwind.
Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa
The OG wellness-centric escape in the Sonoran Desert, Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa goes all in on deepening the mind-body-spirit connection. Upon check-in, guests are encouraged to stash all devices for the duration of the trip. It’s the first step in ditching distractions and living in the present moment. The extraordinary catalog of well-being offerings ranges from breathwork and equine meditation to chakra cleansing ceremonies and hands-on kintsugi workshops. Because the entire experience is customized for each guest, you can sign up for a spate of life-enriching activities or spend the whole trip blissing out at the spa.
Castle Hot Springs
Castle Hot Springs may be most famous for its therapeutic waters, however, the wellness-oriented pursuits certainly don’t end with soothing soaks during the day and underneath the twinkling stars. This award-winning all-inclusive resort also offers sound baths, yoga and meditation. There are gardening workshops for those interested in growing their green thumb and farm tours. Hiking, horseback riding and e-bike adventures through the Sonoran Desert appeal to active travelers. The craft classes such as arranging succulents and making candles give guests a positive outlet to channel creativity Dreaming of catching some quality zzzs? The property recently announced sleep retreats to prioritize rest in 2023.
Bishops Lodge, Auberge Resorts Collection
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Bishops Lodge, Auberge Resorts Collection in Santa Fe has everything guests need to recharge ensconced by the breathtaking arid beauty of the desert. The list of activities for expanding the mind and letting creativity flourish is extensive. Classes in ancient lettering, al-fresco painting and local art tours are just a few of the highlights. With access to many hiking trails, it’s easy to commune with nature (and get in your daily steps). Rooted in ancient traditions and the power of locally-grown ingredients, spa rituals don’t just target the physical body but aim to heal and recalibrate on an energetic level.
Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, A Gurney’s Resort & Spa
Paradise Valley, Arizona
With more spas per capita than anywhere else in the U.S., Scottsdale stands out as a terrific destination for a little R&R. Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, A Gurney’s Resort & Spa boasts a 12,000-square-foot spa with indoor and outdoor treatment rooms, a meditation garden and a menu of revitalizing rituals such as detox wraps, acupressure and reiki. The property also has multiple swimming pools and miles of hiking trails. When it’s time to call it a night, mountainside villas provide a peaceful setting to catch some restful zzzs and rise early enough to watch the sun rise above the peaks.
Canyon Point, Utah
Amangiri is a splurge-worthy haven of halcyon, posh pampering and outdoor adventure that’s tucked away within 600 acres of protected desert wilderness in Canyon Point. Everyone from Justin and Hailey Bieber to Emily Ratajkowski has decamped to this exclusive celeb-favored hotspot for a few days of reawakening. Constructed with natural materials, suites are architecturally striking examples of minimal design with ample creature comforts like king-size beds, fireplaces and outdoor lounges facing flat-topped mesas. The swimming pool curves around a giant rock escarpment. Restorative pastimes range from spa treatments to guided hikes and meditation.
The Good House
Desert Hot Springs, California
A pint-sized, adults-only boutique hideaway in the middle of the desert, The Good House packs a ton of serenity into a tiny package. The smaller size lends itself to an exceedingly intimate stay, which many travelers will find more appealing than an expansive resort. There are seven contemporary guest rooms with king mattresses for a breakfast-in-bed moment, mineral-rich hot springs, a spa with a range of stress-melting massages — including a four-handed rubdown — and a serviced pool area. As a holistic complement to all the relaxation, the newly launched juice cleanse program focuses on digestive health.
The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain
Travelers who like luxury with a side of wellness and otherworldly desert scenery should consider The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain just outside of Tucson. This gorgeous five-star property is home to one of the top-rated spas in the country, which translates to ample opportunities to relish pampering remedies that endeavor to quiet the mind, nurture the body and revive the soul. That might look like healers using indigo poultices to combat energetic blockages and ease tension or schvitzing out toxins in the sauna. The landscape supplies ingredients for transformative treatments as well as excellent hiking and mountain biking.
Finding moments to take a break and unplug in daily life tends to feel quite difficult. And yet it’s somehow supremely easy at Enchantment Resort, a Sedona sanctuary hidden away in Boynton Canyon. Days begin with sun salutations, followed by guided hikes to energy vortexes. In the afternoon, meander over to the spa for consciousness-shifting cupping or a nourishing prickly pear butter wrap. Maybe schedule an integrative coaching session? Alternatively, you could just sit in the pool, staring at the red rock escarpments and allowing the outpouring of desert energy to permeate every cell.
Sensei Porcupine Creek
Rancho Mirage, California
The guiding ethos at Sensei Porcupine Creek in Rancho Mirage? Holistic rejuvenation at the hands of leading wellness pros. It’s a 230-acre zen oasis that’s completely geared toward self-improvement and enjoying every moment of the journey. The tranquil and scenic environment sets the tone for a truly metamorphic trip — whether that entails tailor-made workouts based on biometrics, nutrition counseling, guided hikes in the foothills, playing 18 holes of golf, practicing serving during a lesson with a pro on the clay tennis courts or indulging in a desert herb poultice massage is up to you.
Canyon Ranch Tucson
Situated in the Sonoran Desert, Canyon Ranch Tucson is a wellness destination with global acclaim. People come from near and far to reconnect with nature, develop a deeper sense of self and lay the foundation for a healthier lifestyle. The property takes an integrative approach to well-being. Most guests opt to have the team of experts create a tailor-made itinerary to meet their personal goals. However, that doesn’t mean you have to follow a super strict schedule. In between stretching, intuitive archery, detoxifying herbal wraps, crystal sound activation and refueling with organic cuisine, there’s still sure to be plenty of downtime.
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