Insider's Guide to Spas
Mia Mackman, center, and AZ spa pros, gather at the AZSpaWell Scottsdale Summer Luncheon & Roundtable at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa.

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On Arizona as a Spa Destination

Mary Bemis


I’ll be heading to Phoenix soon for the 2018 ISPA Conference & Expo and look forward to connecting in person with spa colleagues from near and far. Speaking of connecting, this year’s Conference theme is just that—Connect. In the spirit of connection and community, I reached out to Mia Mackman, founder of the Arizona Spa & Wellness Association. Here’s just a taste of what makes Arizona a leading spa destination.

The International Spa Association is holding its 2018 ISPA Conference & Expo in Phoenix this year. As the founder of the Arizona Spa & Wellness Association, what do you think about that?

We are excited to see ISPA coming to Arizona this year. It’s a great opportunity for the Phoenix CVB to promote Arizona as an event destination and highlight some of the excellent spa and wellness properties in Arizona. ISPA is always a great time for people to get together. It’s a wonderful reunion of old friends and provides meeting space for people to meet new ones.

Arizona is a leading spa and wellness destination in the States. Can you tell us what makes Arizona special? 

Arizona has a remarkable footprint when it comes to spa and wellness. This is in part due to the longstanding overlaps of recreation, spirituality, and transformational wellbeing that Arizona has become known for. Sedona currently ranks #1 for Wellness Destinations in the US and #3 for Best Wellness Destinations Worldwide. In 2011, I wrote a case study on Global Wellness in Sedona. This included a market forecast of local nuances, modalities, and anticipated emergent growth centered on alternative health and wellbeing.  It’s rewarding to see that, years later, the advent of these wellness ideals have become evident not only in Sedona, but worldwide.

Arizona has a remarkable footprint when it comes to spa and wellness. This is in part due to the longstanding overlaps of recreation, spirituality, and transformational wellbeing . . .

It’s hard to choose favorites, but do you have any special spas you’d like to give a shout-out to?

One of my favorite spas is Sedona’s New Day Spa, in Sedona. My son just had his first spa treatment there. They have a talented team of people, provide excellent services, and are truly invested in the experiences they create.

Tenure and care are a powerful combination. People like Angee Smithee, Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa, Kirk Gregor, the Village Health Clubs & Spas, Teri Kramer, Talking Stick Resort and Spa, and Marissa Bernal, Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa—these people have incredible teams and extraordinary results because they are deeply invested in the long-game of their success.

With all of the amazing spa and wellness options in Arizona, where does one begin, how does one choose a spa stay?

Choosing a destination for spa and wellness experiences that aligns with personal and core values will always have the greatest lasting benefit. If one seeks transformation, healing, or personal development, choosing a property that has the resources and programs to empower these experiences is essential. Choosing a hotel, resort, or spa that is known for its genuine depth and extraordinary experiences will leave lasting impressions that extend far beyond the stay.

What is your hope for the future of spa in Arizona?

My hope for the industry has always been that it embraces the importance of integrative health, and wellbeing for all social, economic, and demographic backgrounds. For Arizona, health is a natural and complementary aspect of many of the spa and wellness programs found here. The ecosystem of our industry can do better to further this with more inclusivity and less exclusivity across the spa industry. The aim should be increasing quality of life, quality of service, and opportunities for career growth, for everyone.

More about Arizona Spa & Wellness Association

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More about ISPA

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Honoring the Legacy of Lori Hutchinson

2018 ISPA Foundation Scholarship

2018 ISPA Dedicated Contributor Award

Mary Bemis

Mary Bemis

Mary Bemis is editorial director of InsidersGuidetoSpas.com. She is an award-winning spa journalist, honored with Folio's Top Women in Media Award, and the distinguished ISPA Dedicated Contributor Award. In 1997, she launched American Spa magazine, and in 2007, Mary co-founded Organic Spa magazine. A pioneer in the sustainable spa and beauty worlds, Mary is co-curator of Cosmoprof North America's Discover Green Pavilion. She sits on the board of Wellness Warrior, is a Global Wellness Day Advisor and a co-founder of the Washington Spa Alliance.