For years, the country’s finest resorts have needed to offer more than luxury lodging and gourmet dining in addition to outstanding golf. To rank as truly elite, a property must also boast a state-of-the-art spa. The "golfer’s massage" has become ubiquitous, and although the traditional Swedish massage remains the most requested treatment, it’s increasingly being offered to couples in alluring private rooms strewn with rose petals, say, or stocked with champagne. What’s more, beyond such pure indulgences, the best resorts provide expertly led conditioning and yoga classes. These trends converge with particular harmony in the Southwest, where warm, dry weather and indigenous resources are the perfect raw materials for a restorative golf and spa vacation. From Southern California to San Antonio, here are six resorts that define the standard.
The Boulders Resort and Golden Door Spa
Gigantic granite formations provide an inspiring and otherworldly natural setting for this desert hideaway in the Sonoran foothills thirty minutes north of Scottsdale. Carefree, Arizona; 800-553-1717, theboulders.com; rooms from $489.
The Golf Jay Moorish expanded his original layout here—flanked by saguaros and veined with desert washes—into two eighteens, the Boulders North and South ($80-$285). The longer North course provides more opportunity for better players to hit driver off the tee, but it’s the South that draws more attention, thanks to its towering outcroppings.
The Spa The Boulders Golden Door Spa combines the Zen-like serenity of the original Golden Door (opened in Escondido, California, in 1958) with Native American spirituality. Try the Ashiatsu massage, in which the therapist holds onto ceiling bars and works into your muscles with bare feet. You can also treat yourself to a blue-cornmeal "turquoise wrap" or take a golf-conditioning class.
The Dining The Boulders offers organic options at all of its restaurants, including the Golden Door Spa Café, whose chef is a trained dietitian. For pure romance, have a "tee-box dinner" under a vivid sunset at one of three scenic spots on the South course.
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North
Casitas and guest rooms are nestled into an elevated, meticulously landscaped desert setting. The city lights of Scottsdale and Phoenix twinkle below after dark. Scottsdale, Arizona; 888-207-9696, fourseasons.com; rooms from $345.
The Golf Even in the golf-rich environs of Scottsdale, Troon North’s Pinnacle and Monument courses ($140-$295) are both must plays as sterling examples of target-style desert golf. Golfers willingly pay some of the area’s highest greens fees to play here.
The Spa The Spa at Four Seasons offers a full range of services in an intimate space downstairs from the lobby of the resort. The golfer’s massage requires some active stretching before the relaxing experience of having your muscles kneaded with warmed golf balls, a twist on the hot-stone massage. Dodie Mazzuca, a former LPGA player, teaches yoga to help increase flexibility in the swing.
The Dining The resort’s flagship restaurant, Acacia, offers gourmet cuisine and dramatic views, and Crescent Moon specializes in regional Southwestern cooking. Both accommodate requests to customize meals for special dietary needs.