Nestled in the aptly named town of Carefree just outside Scottsdale, Arizona, CIVANA Wellness Resort and Spa is a playground of wellbeing in the high Sonoran desert. The destination wellness resort—recently ranked third on Travel + Leisure’s 2020 World’s Best Awards list for “Top 15 Domestic Spas”—invites guests to reconnect and reinvigorate their senses with personalized wellness experiences and empathetic hospitality. Set in nature’s breathtaking vistas, the property boasts a gorgeous cactus garden, an on-site labyrinth, two salt-water pools, morning and afternoon grounding rituals, and a courtyard with a medicine wheel featuring a vortex point where guests are encouraged to visit and share their intentions. There is also a variety of meeting spaces available on property for retreats or meetings, with 23,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor meeting areas.
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CIVANA opened its doors in February 2019 and completed its expansive 22,000-square-foot spa later that year. Although it closed for several months due to the pandemic, CIVANA reopened in September 2020.
“We’re very happy to have our doors back open and guests on property once again,” says CIVANA’s Chief Brand Officer, Julia Lavine. To maintain adaptations to current health and safety standards, CIVANA has reimagined its signature wellness offerings to take greater advantage of nature’s inherent capacity for self-healing; from morning meditation in the rose garden, to twice daily desert hikes (weather permitting), to outdoor sunset spin classes, to sound-bowl and stargazing sessions on the yoga lawn, and more.
Health and wellbeing are the very core of CIVANA, with more than ten wellness classes offered each day.
“It’s why we’re here—our mission is to inspire wellness,” states Lavine. “For us that meant creating a wellness resort that invited more into wellness—more people, more choices, more affirmation and celebration, and more unbounded joy and exploration. Historically, immersive wellness resorts have had incredible offerings, but are often restrictive for travelers. Price point is not always accessible—or ‘prescriptive’—in that there is a set agenda that has to be done each day.”
While well-intentioned, these inflexible schedules can become exhausting to maintain and leave travelers feeling obligated to participate in every offering—including hikes before the break of dawn!
CIVANA, however, takes a different approach and realizes that people generally have fewer vacation days than they’ve had in the past, and, instead of a wellness experience that is pre-determined by a specific agenda, everyone is on their own unique journey.
“At CIVANA, we removed this notion that wellness travel requires a set of finite rules,” shares Lavine. “We removed the notion that it needed to be restrictive, prescriptive, or regimented. We intentionally wanted to say ‘hello’ to the idea that sleeping in is just as good for your wellbeing as waking up for that five a.m. hike, and that this is also a vacation—plenty of pool-time and a great margarita are very much smiled upon here.”
For all the hikers out there, there typically is one morning hike available each day that is led by CIVANA staff, and weather permitting, an afternoon hike, as well.
“Centered around a holistic approach to wellbeing, CIVANA’s healing spa treatments, yoga, meditation, fitness classes, and inventive culinary experiences focus on positive change that fosters greater happiness—both physically and mentally. It’s all part of our ‘happy-plus-healthy’ approach to wellness.” -Lavine
To achieve the wellness of which Lavine speaks, all experiences at CIVANA are supported by the following Four Pillars of Wellness:
An active body is a happy body, and guests are invited to participate in more than a dozen daily complimentary movement and fitness classes. “In its simplest form, we believe that everything we do, think, feel and believe has an effect on our state of wellbeing,” notes Lavine. Lace up for a hike, dangle and reenergize with aerial yoga, try the benefits of myofascial release, and work up a sweat with TRX training. You can even try cycling classes, cardio dance sessions, Total Body Barre, and HIIT—there truly is something for everyone! And if not moving is your idea of wellness, three pools on property offer the opportunity for a dip, a float, and a snack or cocktail—because that’s wellness, too!
The second pillar of CIVANA is the rejuvenating and healing experiences of the spa. The spa focuses on the critical elements of healing through water, and CIVANA has honored that while also addressing the current health and safety measures of our current times.
“We’ve highly curated our spa menu to ensure the safety and wellbeing of guests and team members,” Lavine assures. “Not that there is anything wrong with having a total bliss-out day at the spa, but our spa experience is built around a healing approach to spa therapies,” she explains. “In a normal, COVID-19-free world, water-based therapies play such a critical role in our offerings at our spa in our aqua therapy circuit.”
CIVANA’s state-of-the-art spa offers twenty-two treatment rooms, a Watsu therapy pool, twenty-five-meter pool, sundeck, salon, and a wide range of therapeutic and rejuvenating treatments focused on healing through water. Watsu massage is a unique experience where the guest and a CIVANA therapist are in a body-temperature-controlled pool.
The therapist uses the weight of the water to gently move and guide the guest’s body to circulate like a traditional massage. While temporarily paused, Watsu will be back on the menu of services once COVID-19 has subsided. Other massage modalities currently available include Swedish soothing massage, pre-natal nurture massage, sports massage, deep muscle relief massage, and spa reflexology.
CIVANA’s aqua therapy circuit encourages guests to take a journey through waters of varying temperatures in the European-designed Knepp hot/cold wading pool and Tepidarium therapeutic soaking pool. Pause in the KLAFS SANARIUM®—the only one in the continental U.S—to balance yourself, and then find inspiration in the bracing cold deluge shower. Contrast therapy modalities in the circuit are designed to increase circulation and promote relaxation.
“As part of every service at the Spa, we encourage all guests to begin or end their journey with this one-of-a-kind experience,” Lavine recommends.
CIVANA also offers the Essential Marine Oxygen Facial, a signature treatment that features DNA repairing enzymes, pharmaceutical-grade liquid oxygen, hyaluronic acid, peptides, and Vitamin-C for hydrated, balanced, smooth skin. Choose from a heavenly sixty or ninety-minute treatment! Other available unique treatments include reiki, cranial sacral treatment, and a variety of facials. Consult with any CIVANA staff member for assistance in deciding which service is right for you.
True health is grounded in nature—that’s why the nourishment of cuisine is the third pillar of CIVANA. All food at the resort is sourced from the best local farmers and artisanal growers, and herbs and greens are grown on site in the resort’s garden. CIVANA boasts two dining options led by executive chef Scott Winegard. Winegard possesses extensive experience in both domestic and internationally acclaimed kitchens including Michelin Star Noma (Copenhagen), Nasturtium (Brooklyn), Pure Food & Wine (New York City), and most recently, Farm Spirit (Portland).
At CIVANA, Chef Winegard shapes nourishing and hyper-seasonal offerings at Seed, the on-site café and specialty market open for breakfast and lunch. Seed’s menu is largely plant-based with many gluten-free, grain-free, vegetarian, vegan, anti-inflammatory, and gut-friendly options. Seed offers options for breakfast and lunch, including salads and nourishing protein additions, a fresh juice bar, and organic coffee. For dinner, the signature destination at CIVANA is Terras, a dining experience offering farm-to-table produce, grass-fed meats, sustainable seafood, and delectable desserts.
At the core of the way in which we understand wellness is CIVANA’s commitment to providing paths of change, growth, and discovery. This element varies with each guest, but the resort offers classes that target internal elements including meditation, yoga, human intelligence building workshops, positive mindset building, and astrology readings. Be it an appreciation of the natural beauty around us, new experiences or relationships, or a deeper understanding of the self, CIVANA will help get you there.
Using these pillars, CIVANA offers around seventy complimentary wellness experiences each week—approximately ten each day.
“Each day we touch on our four domains of wellness,” says Lavine. “We have a core library of offerings as well as seasonal offerings. For example, November and December were dedicated to gratitude and many of our offerings took the shape of different ways to cultivate gratitude.”
All resort classes are exclusively for guests, but spa offerings are available to anyone in search of outstanding spa treatments or services. CIVANA guests will now have access to new classes inspired by the lifestyle teachings of Deepak Chopra and Team, including Ayurvedic Attunement—an experiential workshop focused on the six most important pillars of health and practical tools for leading a healthy and happy life. Chopra has chosen CIVANA Wellness Resort and Spa as its new home for all Chopra Whole Health retreats beginning in late fall/early winter of 2020.
Whether your version of wellness is a glass of wine with a friend or meditation on the yoga lawn, CIVANA Wellness Resort and Spa provides you with the opportunity to take a break from reality and engage your mind, body, and senses. Wellness may be a moving target at the mercy of the stressors of daily life, but with abundant space and a multitude of thoughtfully curated offerings to spark healthy and positive change, CIVANA Wellness Resort and Spa certainly hits the mark.