InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa
4949 E Lincoln Drive
Paradise Valley, Arizona 85253
I spent 2 nights (3/28/09 to 3/30/09) at the InterContinental Montelucia Resort and Spa in Paradise Valley, Arizona – near Scottsdale. This luxury hotel opened in November of 2008. Before I get into the spa review, here is a bit about the resort itself.
- 253 guest rooms and 40 suites in 5 distinct villages located throughout the property
- 5 pools (2 private)
- 24 hour fitness center
- Motion/spinning studio and classes
- Glass-walled walk-in showers
- Oversize sunken soaking tubs
- Semi-private or private patios
- 31,000 square foot spa and salon
- 19 treatment rooms including 5 luxury treatment suites
- Arrival dome topped with a replica of a starry night in Spain
- Whisper room – a quiet room for deep relaxation
When you arrive at Joya, there are a number of rituals that you are invited to perform. After climbing the 40 stairs from the first floor spa reception desk to the second floor fitness center, motion studio and spa you are invited to perform the Joy of Intention. During this ritual, you can select from 5 jewels symbolizing love, work, health, clarity and strength. You choose a stone, then place it on the blessing blow to clarify your intentions. Next, you enter a circular room for the Joy of Illumination – 888 twinkling lights on the ceiling that represent a starry night in Grenada, Spain. The next room you arrive at is the Women’s Social Lounge. This is where you can relax before or after a treatment and can have conversations with friends or other guests. You can help yourself to walnuts, dried cherries, dried mango, fresh fruit, iced herbal tea, ice water, and hot tea. The spa and guest rooms feature Mighty Leaf Teas in a silken teach pouch, much like a sachet filled with tea. Magazines are available for your reading pleasure and there is also a large flat screen tv.
The spa was large enough that it never felt crowded, even though the spa staff indicated that there were a couple of bridal parties enjoying the spa and that 130 guests came through on one of the days of my visit. The bathroom area consists of 6 sinks, 4 vanities with a large variety of hair products and 7 showers, including a handicapped accessible shower.
The wet are of the spa features a semi-circle shaped cold deluge chamber. You pull the handle to release 46 degree water from overhead. This cold therapy is alternated with warm and hot therapies. You climb a few stairs to reach the whirlpool. Very soothing but a bit too shallow to soak up to your shoulders like many whirlpools. The whirlpool is accessible to the handicapped. There is a dry sauna, which was closed for maintenance during my visit. As a substitute, guests could use the Hamman room even if they weren’t getting a Hammam treatment. The Hammam is a warming room featuring iridescent seats and rose water mist. If you purchase the treatment, you will be scrubbed briskly with herbal black soap applied with a special cloth. This is to be followed by steam, whirlpool, sauna and cold deluge. There was a small relaxation area in the wet room, which was a nice touch if you want a place to rest between the warm/hot/cold rituals.
In the Whisper Lounge, 5 double daybeds exist for deep relaxation pre and post-treatment. Gauzy curtains can be drawn around each bed for privacy. The beds – memory foam mattresses, soft padding, blankets and pillows beckon to guests to rest, meditate, relax and sleep. Most of the time I had the room to myself. Low lighting and candles add to the atmosphere of the room. If the daybeds aren’t your thing, curved seating along the perimeter is comfortable too.
If you venture outside of the spa, you’ll find a glorious, private rooftop terrace pool that is accessible only to guests of the spa. A rectangular shaped pool, which is heated or cooled depending on the season. The spa pool area overlooks the resort and has spectacular views of Camelback Mountain – probably some of the best views from anywhere on the property.
Guests enjoy thickly cushioned lounge chairs, sun umbrellas, shaded areas, plush, oversize pool towels. The pool itself is 3’ 6” deep. The poolside service is outstanding – an energetic attendant never missed an opportunity to bring guests glasses of iced water and to inquire how we were doing and if we needed anything. Lunch and beverage service is available to enjoy on the Joya Terrace.
Joya Terrace is adjacent to the fitness center and motion studio. There was some fitness equipment available on the terrace outside of the fitness center, which also overlooked the resort and Camelback Mountain.
Paula called me for my treatment, a Moroccan Inspired Body Treatment called the Harvest Festival – 60 minutes, $155. Here is the description of treatment from the spa brochure:
This oasis town nestled among nearly a million date-palm trees celebrates a bountiful harvest each October with music, dance and a camel race. A pumpkin, orange and quince apple body masque is followed by a pear and apple hydrating body soufflé to provide a deeply hydrating and toning wrap especially effective for dry skin.
Note: The pumpkin, orange and quince apple body mask was substituted with a cranberry scrub.
Paula left me for a moment while I arranged myself on the treatment table and covered myself with a towel, per her instructions. When she returned, she applied the cranberry scrub to my back. After a series of professional draping techniques, she applied the scrub to the rest of my body. I was wrapped in warm towels and cellophane, then given a warm, scented eye pillow and told to relax. While the wrap was working its magic, Paula massaged my scalp. The table was warm too and I felt like I was in a cocoon. After a while, Paula instructed me to step into the pre-warmed shower (what temperature did I like my shower, she asked) and rinse the scrub off. While I did, she prepared the treatment room for the second part of my treatment. Paula applied a warm green apple and pear soufflé. It smelled fresh and just the fruits themselves. As the treatment ended, Paula misted me with Joya Signature Oil – a blend of oils extracted from the essence of the Queen of the Night cactus. This is Joya Spa’s signature scent and is available in many forms in the spa gift shop. At the end of each treatment, guests are given a signature Joya chocolate to enjoy. “Don’t bite it, just let it melt in your mouth”, instructed Paula.
I loved Joya Spa so much that I came back the next day for another treatment – a 90 minute Customized Aromatherapy Massage with Uli. The massage is $215, $20 for the aromatherapy add-on. I usually don’t go for the upgrade, but it was tastefully offered at the beginning of my treatment and I was in the mood for scented oil. Uli offered me several scents to try – I settled on one with basil and Ylang Ylang in a unscented carrier oil. As I entered the treatment room, Uli presented me with a basket filled with little printed cards. I selcted one and opened it, like a fortune. It said “How beautiful it is to be alive”. I couldn’t have agreed more!
I have never had a 90 minute massage before. I usually go for the 50-60 minute treatments. It was really nice to experience the different timing and flow that a 90 minute treatment allows. Some notable features of my treatment: some light stretching during the massage, warm towels and a warm bean filled bag scented with cinnamon, cloves and eucalyptus.
At the end of the treatment, Uli removed the oil from my feet with warm, moist washcloth. Before she left the room, she misted me with Joya signature oil and gave me a Joya signature chocolate. She also left behind a warmed cloth that I could use to remove oil from my hands.
Appointments at the spa were spaced out to avoid the top of the hour rush felt at so many spas. Despite the resort being sold out, an on site wedding on the day of one of my treatments and a steady crowd of spa-goers, the spa never felt even remotely crowded. In fact, I had more of the areas to myself most of the time.
If you are in Scottsdale or Paradise Valley, Joya Spa is well worth the visit. During my stay, I toured a few of the areas other legacy spas (those that have been around for a while). Each place I visited was luxurious and beautiful and different in design and decor – but I was glad I had chosen the Montelucia and Joya Spa to spend my time at. Having said that, if you are a fan of Watsu massage or Vichy showers, you’ll have to go elsewhere. But with so many treatments to choose from at Joya, you won’t be disappointed.