Retro Relaxation

Just minutes from the center of charming "Old Town" Scottsdale, AZ, a quaint area consisting of art galleries, restaurants, theaters, and music venues, sits the mid-century-inspired Hotel Valley Ho. The hotel, which opened in 1956 to accommodate the area's increased number of visitors during the winter months, was a hot spot for some of Hollywood's biggest stars of that era, including Cary Grant, Rock Hudson, and Zsa Zsa Gabor, and it served as the site of Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood's wedding reception in 1957. Since then, the hotel has remained a throwback to the Rat Pack era.

Today, the hotel's retro roots remain at the heart of its charm. Even after an $80-million renovation and expansion in 2004, which included the opening of the VH Spa for Vitality + Health in December 2005, the resort retained its signature mid-century modern architecture with retro furnishings. Music from the Golden Era still plays throughout the property.

VH Spa also honors the resort's mid-century beginnings with kitschy, brightly colored decor and design elements, but its clear-cut approach to wellness is distinctly modern. In fact, the spa is inspired by the words vitality and health, which represent the focus of its service menu. The 8,000-square-foot spa features seven single rooms, one couples' room, and men's and women's locker rooms supplied with a variety of amenities, including body lotion, body wash, shampoo, and conditioner in the hotel and spa's signature Red Flower Icelandic Moonflower scent, as well as TRUE facial cleanser and Aloe Up sunscreen. Quality, not quantity, is the spa's singular focus. "We have a limited menu of treatments," says spa director Brad Garrett. "A big menu confuses people."

 The spa's waiting area  and relaxation room
The spa's waiting area and relaxation room


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The menu includes comprehensive spa packages like Nose to Toes ($250, 120 minutes), which includes a 60-minute full-body massage and a 60-minute TRUE Facial or Youth-Reveal Facial, and Face Fingers Toes ($199, 120 minutes), which includes a 60-minute TRUE or Youth-Reveal Facial, a 30-minute manicure, and a 30-minute pedicure. A variety of inspired face, nail, and body treatments are also available. Other highlights include Quantum Biofeedback ($150, 60 minutes; $210, 90 minutes), which measures electrical impulses from the body and uses bioenergetics, a therapeutic approach that involves breathing and relaxation techniques, psychotherapy, and body movement, to bring the body into balance, and a Tibetan Yoginic Massage ($185, 90 minutes; $250, 120 min- utes) with an on-staff Tibetan monk who uses his full-body weight to work on certain nerves and stretch limbs.

Reflect the hotel's signature modern architecture and retro furnishings.
Reflect the hotel's signature modern architecture and retro furnishings.

The Red Flower Hammam Full-Body Treatment Massage ($185, 90 minutes), however, is the spa's most popular service. The decadent massage consists of a skin cleansing with Moroccan mint tea and silt, followed by an application of a body scrub consisting of coffee, olive pits, and lemon, and ends with a relaxing Turkish massage. Nail services are also popular. "Clients love our manicures and pedicures because they are done in private treatment rooms," says Garrett. "Clients lie on the table with a heated pillow under the neck and a pillow over the eyes while they get their nails done. The lights are dim, and soothing music is played in the background for a completely relaxing experience."

Garrett says that the special touches that go along with the treatments are what makes them so memorable and play a big part in encouraging return visits. "Halfway through the massage, the therapist takes a buckwheat pillow out of the hot cabbie in the room and places it under the client's head," says Garrett. "It warms and brings blood to the head while it supports the neck for the second half of the massage." What's more, when the pillow is removed from the hot cabbie, the client's robe is placed in it, so when the massage is over, the therapist assists the client off the table and into a warm robe. Guests can also choose from three different aromatherapy oils to be used during the treatment or they can opt for the SPF 30 sunscreen massage lotion. In order to give guests extra sun protection to battle Arizona's sometimes sweltering heat, every facial ends with an SPF 30 mineral makeup application for women and an SPF 30 bronzer for men.

The VH Spa Boutique sells a variety of spa products and clothing, including fun Spa Ho t-shirts
The VH Spa Boutique sells a variety of spa products and clothing, including fun Spa Ho t-shirts

Special spa accents can be found throughout the hotel, further adding to the spa's creative caché. For instance, the hotel provides guests with in-room bath amenities in the spa's signature Red Flower scent. "Icelandic Moonflower can be smelled throughout the entire property, and the guests love it," says Garrett. Additionally, Red Flower and TRUE products, as well as Ojon, Vital Botanicals, Tea Forté whole leaf tea, and Energy Muse jewelry, are available for purchase in the VH Spa Boutique.

Unlike many resort spas, VH Spa's clientele consists mostly of spa-savvy locals who "know when they are getting really good bodywork," says Garrett. Many hotel guests also utilize the spa's services, which go beyond spa treatments. A picturesque spa deck with mountain views allows guests to lounge in scenic style before and after a treatment.

Guests enjoy massages, facials, manicures, and pedicures in private treatment rooms.
Guests enjoy massages, facials, manicures, and pedicures in private treatment rooms.

Fitness is another component of the spa and an important element in its approach to wellness. Guests can exercise outside on the FreeMotion, Precor, and Concept2 fitness equipment with the choice of a poolside view or a private television. The spa's fitness center offers belly dancing, Pilates, and yoga classes, which can also take place on the spa deck, as well as guided hikes and bike tours. To accommodate guests utilizing the spa and fitness facilities, the spa employs 10 part-time and 25 full-time service providers.

The locker room provides guests with Red Flower, TRUE, and Aloe Up products.
The locker room provides guests with Red Flower, TRUE, and Aloe Up products.

Garrett claims that because the spa is so new, the biggest challenge has been visibility. He gets the word out through monthly email blasts, which he says have been very successful. The emails outline upcoming events, promotions, and special spa packages.

One ongoing promotion that clients benefit from is the "Spa Week Each Week" punch cards. For every three 60-minute massages or facials and for every three manicures or pedicures, a fourth is free. This promotion as well as other packages offered—including the Inner.Urban.Renewal ($1,160 to $1,250 per person), a relaxing two-day retreat that has a mission of enhancing and transforming physical, mental, and emotional well-being—encourage first-time guests to visit the spa and previous guests to return. Promotions help bring clients into the spa, but it's also the quality of treatments that keep them coming back, says Garrett. "Clients come to us because they expect good treatments, and they know they are going to get it here."

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