My Spa Weekend at The Buttes Resort

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Click on the image for a magnified picture.

Arriving Friday morning, Oct 3, I was instantly greeted at the door by attendants in khaki shorts and yellow polo shirts with a cold bottle of water. "Welcome to the Buttes. Is this your first visit to the Buttes?" they asked me. "No actually I was here 20 years ago". 20 years ago!? Wow--you know you're getting old when you say "20 years ago". I recalled its exquisite desert beauty and surroundings and vowed I would return. 20 years ago the hotel was under the Wyndham flag. Now, the Buttes is part of the Marriott chain and recently completed a mult-million makeover. It appeared as new as my first visit in 1989. Perfect timing.

The Buttes is nestled on a craggy hilltop in quintessential Southwestern character. At the top of the hill is a circular "Top of the Rock" restaurant with an expansive view of the city and Camelback mountain. Next gradient below is the Market Cafe (with an indoor waterfall) offering contemporary cuisine with indoor and alfresco dining. The Market Cafe and some guestrooms overlook the heart of the resort-- cascading water falls spilling into two free form swiming pools, adorned by cactus-studded rock gardens, and a pots of bright fuschia -colored bougainvillea. A narrow stretch connects the two pools and a cutout wall with a see-through glass invites all to play mermaid or merman and take pictures.

I was in a juxtaposed heaven--the dry, arid rock and cactus with the sound of rushing waterfalls at each pool and inside the Market Cafe. A welcome change from humid, HUMID, hUmId, Miami.

After checking in at 10am, (fully aware that my room was not ready), I changed clothes and planned to go horseback riding at a nearby stables. The purpose of the trip was for pampering the body, mind and soul. So I started in reverse order. Well not pamper the soul, but nourish it with altruistic motives. Since my blog sister shared an enlightening story about abandoned horses in this country, I knew I had to do something. So I decided to support riding stables with my business which in turn, I hoped, would help the plight of abandoned horses. To read the full story, visit Alicia's blog by clicking here.

I visited the Ponderosa Stables, a 20 minute ride from a lavish resort to a remote, desolate, dirt road. I half expected Clint Eastwood and Shirley MacLaine to emerge from a cloud of horse-riding dust (from the movie: Two Mules for Sister Sara). An experience to remember, it required a separate posting. Please click here or visit the next posting for Christine's horse adventure.

The next two days at the resort was packed with spa treatments, lounging by the pool, dining at each bar, restaurant and outdoor patio area overlooking the amoeba shaped pools. I absorbed every sight, amenity and sound as if it were my last for another 20 years.

The Narande Spa is a recent addition to the resort from 2005. Narande, which is Japanese for "alongside flowing water", is a retreat from the everyday world. The spa is equipped with five treatment rooms, a couples room, a rainshower room and nail salon. Spa treatments range from $100-$134 for a 50 minute session. Each week the spa features one facial or massage and offered at a slightly lower rate, normally $20. Rates do not include tax and tip.

For my facial I chose the special the"Vitamin C Experience". This skin rejuvenation treatment left my skin re-texturized and revitalized. After the exfoliation ritual using hot towels and a potpourri of scents (lavender, rosemary), my skin is rehydrated with moisturizers full of Vitamin C--an antioxidant. This facial treatment is appropriate for any skin type, including extremely sensitive skin. I felt 20 years younger. OK maybe a few years younger.

The next day my body, worn from years of NOT horseback riding, yearned for a body massage.

I signed up for the Narande Custom Massage and my therapist, Marty, fulfilled every aching request: Moderate pressure, extra attention to my non-circulation feet, and untying the knots in my shoulder. Then my therapist gently placed hot rocks on my back. This was a new sensation and a soothing relief. My highly skilled therapist also used the soft rounded edges of the rocks to rub along the grain of my muscles and elongate them so I grew an inch (just kidding on the last part). Love the rocks! I highly recommend this massage.

The Narande does offer super discounted specials for one week in September, called "Spa Week". According to the attendant, treatments are reduced to an affordable $50 without skimping on time or techniques. So of course I asked to be added to the email list. If you're planning a spa getaway to the Buttes during the week, then take advantage of a $40 coupon offered by Arizona Spa Girls. It's valid Monday through Thursday only and expires November 30, 2008. Hmm, the idea of spending Thanksgiving in Phoenix is starting to open my pores.

My only recommendation to the Spa is to offer more than room temperature bottled water. Perhaps chilled, light juice (pomegranate water juice is the trend now in most health facilities and spas and even high-end stores like Neiman Marcus) would bring it to par with other spa resorts. The entire space is a little small and tight in the locker room and sitting area. But after a single spa treatment, your oblivious to any shortcomings and indulge in more pampering.


Overall The Buttes was everything I expected. The Staff was excellent--attentive, polite, and very helpful. Although the view of my guestroom ( the parking lot) was blocked by tree branches, it did not matter. Natural light illuminated the room which was spacious and comfortable with a glass enclosed shower, closet with bathrobe, and a separate vanity area --Love it! As a woman who loves to spread her toiletries and makeup like a breakfast buffet, I need countertop space!

Picture: Front Desk staff in the evening were the best!

Unfortunately there were no exercise classes at this spa resort but I knew this in advance when doing my homework before booking. But the gym, with a view of the mini city skyline and freeway fared better than many gyms with little or no windows or views. I love natural light so the wide window aided me while I trekked across the valley on the treadmill. The Buttes is a spa resort and not a full-fledged resort with tennis, golf or water sports on a lake. It's always important to conduct thorough research when picking the right resort.

The Buttes does not provide airport transportation and there is a daily parking fee for cars. Once you're at the resort, they do offer transportation to any destination but at a handsome price. However, the hotel is only three miles from the airport. Thankfully, Arizona residents are refreshingly helpful and kind, that one lady offered me a ride back to the hotel from the stables and another offered me a ride to the airport.

The Buttes is also in close proximity (driving) to many activities. During my weekend visit, Oktoberfest kicked off Friday night and ASU (Arizona State University) is a football field away. This weekend I dedicated to pure relaxation and pampering and secluded myself to the resort which never lacked in scenery, ambience or things to do.

For my next visit, I plan to explore another butte--weather-sculpted buttes punctuating the landscape of Arizona's desert parks, learn about the history behind the city's moniker of a persevering bird (Phoenix), and return to visit my new friend, Mississippi (a horse).

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  1. It is really important to get information about the spa center before you head for it. There is a website health spa guru ( that provides you all the information about different spa centers in your city as well as across the world. The reviews are very true and help you in finding the best spa center for you. I would suggest you to go through the site once before you choose another spa treatment.

  2. Thanks RJ for the tip. I did visit the website but unfortunately only one spa was listed for the state of Arizona under Hotel or Resort Spa. I knew I wanted to return to the Buttes but it is not listed or rated in Health Spa Guru. But I will file it for my future reference. Thank you again for sharing your tip. CHRISTINE