Spa Avania

In a desert valley populated with luxury resorts and spas, a unique relaxation destination has arisen at Spa Avania, the new 21,000-square-foot, $9 million spa at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch (Scottsdale, AZ). Like many of the spas in the area, Avania offers a host of luxurious treatments in a stunning setting. But that is where the similarity ends. Spa Avania, which opened in July, has created a one-of-a-kind, holistic, total-immersion experience that is synchronized with the body's changing rhythms and requirements. "Everything we do has been designed to guide guests through the different times of day while working with the natural biorhythms of the body," explains spa director Kyra Johnson. "From the music to the aromas to the teas to the cuisine to the therapist's techniques and the actual treatments, everything has been choreographed for the time of day."

 Avania's contemporary design accents, which fuse desert and Asian influences, can been seen throughout the spa, including the pedicure area.
Avania's contemporary design accents, which fuse desert and Asian influences, can been seen throughout the spa, including the pedicure area.

Spa guests can enjoy treatments geared to complement the body's cycles during three periods of the day. Morning treatments focus on awakening and revitalizing. They incorporate more rigorous techniques and such invigorating essential oils as grapefruit, orange, and rosemary. Midday treatments are harmonizing and geared toward restoration and balance, utilizing scents like chamomile and mint. Jasmine, lavender, and sandalwood are infused in the more soothing evening treatments and help therapists focus on relaxation and repair.

Native ingredients are also part of the Avania experience. One of the most popular signature treatments, the Desert Essence Wrap ($130, 60 minutes), incorporates trehalous, a hydrating component found in cacti that helps them retain moisture in the arid desert climate. The Avania Manicure ($55, 30 minutes), Avania Pedicure ($75, 45 minutes), and Avania Scrub ($150, 60 minutes) all feature white sage, which is harvested in the area. According to Johnson, this locally focused philosophy is important to the Hyatt Corporation in the creation of all of its spas and is also important to its guests. "Although we absolutely share policies, procedures, and standards, we adapt to where we are and are mindful of our geographic setting," she says.

Cuisine, music, and tea are three other elements in the spa that incorporate the time-of-day philosophy. As guests go from arrival to treatment to departure, they move through 14 different music zones, which are designed to complement the body's progression through the spa. Additionally, each treatment room features an iPod and speaker system that offers 10 customizable playlists that are also centered around the body's reaction to the time of day. "As guests enter and move further into Avania, deeper relaxation sets in to decompress them and transport them fully into their spa experience," says Johnson. "As they depart, guests move back out through the zones, which prepare them to face the day."

The outdoor relaxation lounge features cold and hot plunge pools and storm showers in a garden setting.
The outdoor relaxation lounge features cold and hot plunge pools and storm showers in a garden setting.

A host of rare tea blends from China, Egypt, the Himalayas, Italy, and Japan are also available as an add-on amenity for guests to supplement their treatments. Johnson says the spa is the first of its kind to offer distinctive teas that are biodynamic, organic, and planted and harvested according to the lunar cycle. Specific teas are only available during certain times of day. Additionally, several gourmet spa meals, called "Flights," are designed to cater to the body's specific nutritional needs throughout the day. "No stone is left unturned," says Johnson about the Spa Avania experience. "Every fiber of what we do has been thought through and choreographed to make sure it is authentic and effective at different times of the day to work with what is happening within our bodies."

Johnson says that to promote a true, all-inclusive encounter for guests, she and her staff encourage them to partake in "Experiences," "Journeys," and "Passages," the Avania version of packages that combine treatments, teas, and cuisines; range from two to four hours; and are priced up to $459. Johnson says the packages have proven to be a financial payoff for the spa and an in-depth relaxation experience for the guests. "We have had a wonderful response to the experiences, journeys, and passages, and have noticed some great numbers," she says.

Natural light and a scenic desert view enhance the ambience of the indoor relaxation lounge.
Natural light and a scenic desert view enhance the ambience of the indoor relaxation lounge.

So far, resort guests and local spa-goers alike are embracing the spa's synchronized philosophy. Johnson attributes the easy acceptance to education. All of the spa employees undergo extensive, ongoing training about the treatments and spa amenities, their correlation to the time of day, and their effects on the body's biorhythms. They then translate this knowledge to guests. "We articulate the concept at the point of reservation, and our therapists' role is to explain further," says Johnson. "When guests are educated, they love the concept. I haven't had any feedback other than that guests really enjoy their experience and have learned something, too."

At maximum capacity, the spa can handle approximately 250 guests per day in its 18 treatment rooms, men's station and salon, and outdoor garden suites. Johnson says she anticipates reaching this number within the year. Local clientele and resort guests are currently flocking to the spa based solely on word-of-mouth buzz. Once full-blown marketing and promotion efforts kick in, Johnson says she expects numbers to skyrocket. Even at its busiest, however, Johnson says the spa's open design and carefully planned space will never make guests feel crowded. The spa comprises 2.7 acres of indoor and outdoor treatment rooms, gardens, pools, and meditative spaces. The architects and designers were instructed to keep avania, the Greek word for tranquil, in mind for all aspects of the facility's development and to create an inviting, private, and spacious environment.

As guests enter the spa, they pass through 14 different music zones, which are designed to complement the body's progression from arrival to treatment to departure.
As guests enter the spa, they pass through 14 different music zones, which are designed to complement the body's progression from arrival to treatment to departure.

In fact, it was the extensive planning that has thus far made the opening of Spa Avania rather seamless, a feat unto itself. "By and large it has been a wonderful experience, and we have been fortunate that things have fallen into place," says Johnson. "This has to do with how much planning and research went into the spa prior to opening. We've really created a gem out here in the desert—it's been wonderful."

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