Fourteen stories above the vast, dry Arizona desert prevails the highest spa in the state, a contrasting 13,000 square foot oasis of hydration and relaxation: The Spa At Talking Stick in Scottsdale, AZ. Stunning red mountains and expansive flatland views add a soothing touch seen from the spa’s terraces, Jacuzzi, showers, changing rooms, relaxation rooms and from the nail/hair salon and fitness center. Yet with all the beauty surrounding it, the real beauty started where it always should – from within. The spa’s facilities were excellent, and I was truly blown away by the treatment I received: The Desert Lavender Massage. But first, a few hours by the pool. From way up in the spa, you’d never know that downstairs in the Talking Stick lobby is a swinging casino, and outside a lively pool filled with people playing pool football and drinking beer. The “pool” situation upstairs looked more like this: And the lounge chairs like this: And the treatment room like this: And then the bliss began. My massage therapist Marcia left me in this beautifully appointed room to remove my robe and slippers and lay face-up on the soft, warm massage table. When she returned, the first part of the treatment began with a dry body brushing exfoliation. Gentle bristles “scratched” up and down the right side of my body, then the left, then I flipped and they made their way up and down my backside. My boyfriend Ray received the same massage as me (in a different room), and this was the part of the treatment he couldn’t stop raving about afterwards. The bristles were invigorating more than they were exfoliating, and certainly left you wanting more. The body brushing ended (noooo!), and the massage began (okay, fine), using desert lavender and wild chaparral oil. A hot rolled-up towel cradled my neck. What I found particularly interesting about the style of massage was that rather than doing the traditional back first, then legs, arms, etc., this massage started on the right side, covering all body parts, and then shifting the towel and massaging the entire left side. First laying face down, and then I flipped and Marcia did the right-left switchoff as I laid face up. Ray’s massage was the same right-then-left style – it wasn’t just Marcia – it was the spa’s signature style for this particular massage. A hot towel cocooned my feet at the end too. And it was INCREDIBLE – so incredible that I paid Marcia the biggest complement a massage therapist could be paid: I fell asleep. Lavender + amazing massages tend to have that effect on people. In a haze of half-slumber spa ecstasy, I felt the third part of the treatment begin, my personal highlight. Using ever-so-soft tufts of raw Pima cotton, Marcia lightly brushed my body using feather-light strokes. Up and down the right, up and down the left. My memory jogged back to a post from a few months ago about that tickling spa in Spain, and solidified to me that tickling spas must be opened in the United States as well. And they must invest in very large quantities of raw Pima cotton. And then the final touch: a spritz of Cucumber Hydrosol Mist on my face. I breathed in the misty veil as it awoke me with a refreshing dose of hydration, in my new beloved desert oasis. I slowly levitated (got up) from the the table, took a sip of water, re-robed, and floated out to meet Marcia outside the treatment room. She recommended I spend some time in the steam room, because in addition to the massage she had also done some energy work on me and that the steam would help relax my joints and muscles, and I was supposed to let the energy work sink in. Unfortunately I had a rehearsal dinner to be at in 45 minutes, but I can imagine the relaxation would have been taken to even greater heights. Speaking of heights, I snapped some photos from all the pretty viewpoints (shower, lockers, etc). There’s no place like Arizona to spa, especially when you can look out over it. Even the hallways are luminous! The Spa at Talking Stick’s Spa Week extension is over now, but they’re working on their holiday specials as we speak. Check out their spa menu for all their carefully crafted treatments to rebalance, restore and elevate your well-being. The Spa at Talking Stick Resort 9800 E Indian Bend Road Scottsdale, AZ 85256 877.724.4687 Disclosure: All treatments were comped for editorial consideration.