If there’s one phenomenon that’s unique to Arizona, it’s gotta be the "cowboy zen" style of decor and attitude. On the design side, it’s a blend of the rough and tough — think rawhide, leather and distressed pine — with the soft and mellow — sage green hues, feathery soft chamois throws and a purposeful use of natural light. In attitude, it’s a gracious, down-home, let’s-get-those-kinks-out approach from the reception staff and therapists. And the Spa at Rancho de los Caballeros has the cowboy zen thing down to a horseshoe.
Thanks to a nagging heal injury and two days of horseback riding, I hobbled my way to the spa, which thankfully, is only a short walk from the main resort lodge. It was a brilliantly sunny day and the brisk February desert air made the walk through a forest of Staghorn Cholla cactus seem almost unreal. Just beyond a fountain, a porch flanked by lazy rocking chairs marked the spot. As I entered through the French doors, it felt very much like walking into a home. A friendly receptionist at the end of the hall welcomed me and off I went on my Wild West spa adventure.
Young and spunky, my massage therapist Jocelyn escorted me out the back door of the spa, where a stunning view of Vulture’s Peak is framed by a walking labyrinth and untamed desert vegetation. As she settled me into one of the two spacious couple’s suites, I worried that this young buckaroo wasn’t ready for my sad little tale of why I was limping along beside her. Heck, if all I got out of this visit was a relaxing time out before heading back to the big city of Phoenix, then so be it. But as Jocelyn guided me through my 60-minute Desert Oasis Massage, I was genuinely surprised and impressed by her depth of physiological knowledge. She took great care of my injured foot and other areas of muscle soreness, while sprinkling in helpful advice and relaxing touches like a heated neck rest and eye pillow. By the time it was all over, my skin was laced with an uplifting floral aroma and my muscles had been cooed into quiet submission.
Before I headed out, I took in a final mental picture of the room: meticulously clean bathroom and shower, crisp hardwood floors, beehive wood-burning fireplace, softly covered windows to take advantage of the natural sunlight, tactful Western artwork and wooden cabinets along one wall where all bottles, jars and massage gizmos were neatly tucked out of sight. The perfect cowboy zen blend if I ever saw it.