Carefree, Arizona

Photo: CIVANA Wellness Resort & Spa

It’s supposed to be a new year, new you, right? Or something like that. You keep falling back into old bad habits, though. The regular routine just isn’t going to cut it. It’s time to shake things up while it’s still January.

A change of scenery—and temperature—might be the perfect remedy. When it’s cold and gray at home, you feel like hibernating for the winter. That doesn’t mean the whole country is dreary. Arizona is warm and sunny right now. The daytime thermometer rarely dips below 60 degrees in the Valley of the Sun. It’s the ideal weather to bike, hike, play tennis, and even swim. So, at least for a few days, you’re going to become a snowbird.

Aptly named Carefree is a great spot to escape winter. It’s a 40-minute drive north of Phoenix and its well-connected airport. It’s on the edge of Tonto National Forest, which is known for its diverse scenery that includes a desert full of saguaro cacti, ponderosa pine forests, and cold-water reservoirs. It’s the sister town of Cave Creek; together they’re considered one of the best small towns in the country. Plus it’s home to CIVANA, a new wellness resort and spa.

Photo: CIVANA Wellness Resort & Spa

CIVANA opened last year on the outskirts of Carefree. The resort sits on 20 acres, though the property feels much larger with Black Mountain looming over it. Low-slung buildings, pools, and more cacti cover most of it. The open lobby sets up the oasis vibe with its flagstone walls, huge glass windows, and a roaring fireplace. Its subtle color scheme—lots of beige and cream—extends into the airy rooms. You originally booked a studio king but upgraded to a mountain view spa king when you heard about its soaking tub. You immediately plan a long soak after a 3.5-mile hike on the Overton Trail first thing tomorrow morning. Be sure to fill your stainless steel water bottle at the Hydration Station before you leave and pick up a digestion booster shot at Cafe Meto when you return.

Those are just the first of many activities and relaxation moments at CIVANA. The fitness center offers more than 70 complimentary programs, ranging from morning meditation to core training to aerial yoga, each week. There are wellness experts, walks to learn about the desert’s healing plants, and culinary clinics, too. The spa is the centerpiece of the resort. Its Aqua Therapy Circuit features a Sanarium, hot and cold Kneipp Walks, a Tepidarium pool, and a cold deluge shower. There are 13 massage rooms and wellness cocktails when you finish. Plus the pools are just steps away when you want to move into the sun. Sustainable canned beverages (a sparkling margarita, perhaps?) will be delivered to your sun lounger. It’s a true holistic experience.

The last piece of CIVANA’s puzzle is food. You can’t focus this much on your body without taking a healthy diet into account. In addition to wellness shots and juices, Cafe Meto serves healthy bowls for breakfast, and salads and wraps for lunch. Grab a spot on its terrace any time of the day. Terras, the more refined spot, focuses on local ingredients and bold flavors. You might have a watermelon-basil panzanella salad and caramelized-onion polenta lasagna one night, and heirloom beets and chili-honey-glazed salmon the next. Vegetarians and vegans are catered to instead of dealt with. Cocktails and dessert aren’t ignored either. It looks like those New Year’s resolutions might actually work.


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