Aji Spa at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass and Resort

Aji Spa at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass and Resort, calves are massaged with Shegoi (creosote) leaves before skin is exfoliated with a mix of salt and indigenous herbs, then dipped in paraffin and lathered with indigenous body butter.

That pesky creosote bush that refuses to leave your yard can now give you a facial.

A nationwide trend of using locally grown or produced ingredients in spas has reached the Valley. Spas are integrating herbs, wild plants and even chocolate from local farms or businesses to add a unique aspect to customers’ spa experience.

Aji Spa at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa near Chandler offers what it calls “indigenous” treatments. The line uses native materials found in the desert to incorporate the legend and lore of the area’s Pima and Maricopa Indian population.

“(The increased use of our) indigenous product line began in 2005 and 2006,” says Aji spokeswoman Stephanie Heckathorne. “We really announced it as our own unique product line, using freshly picked creosote, aloe, lavender, yucca and willow bark.”

One service is Otham Kuklan, a native herb cleansing wrap. Patrons receive a dry exfoliation, followed by a treatment with warm towels soaked in creosote, lavender and sage. Another treatment is Gaiwesa, a blue corn manicure. Clients receive a lavender hand soak before gentle exfoliation with finely ground blue cornmeal.

Aji gets its ingredients from the nearby Gila River Indian Community. Only people who are deemed cultural safeguards, and who are of Pima and Maricopa descent, go into the desert to pick the plants, according to Heckathorne.

Not all local treatments are as complicated to cultivate.

Lotus Wei Flower Essences provides Arizona spas with water-based flower solutions for use in spa treatments. Lotus Wei collects essences from plants grown in secluded habitats or in organic gardens, turning them into serums that can be applied to the body or energy mists that can improve mood.

“In the case of (Joya Spa at) Montelucia (Resort and Spa in Scottsdale), the executive chefs were very focused on local ingredients and farm-to-table, and they encouraged the spa to do the same by supporting a local vendor and local ingredients,” says Katie Hess, organic alchemist for Lotus Wei.

The flower essence company’s sister company Wei of Chocolate also supplies ingredients to Valley spas. Chocolate is infused with flower essences, such as Hong Kong orchid to enhance self-appreciation or mountain laurel to release tension.

“In the beginning, (spa owners) sought us out,” says Wei of Chocolate’s Lisa Reinhardt. “Now we attend spa industry events and the spa directors say, ‘This is just what we’ve been looking for!’ and are happy to find us.”

Kirk Gregor, spa director at The Village Health Club & Spa at Gainey Village in Scottsdale, says there are benefits to working with local businesses.

“We’re a locally owned business, so the idea of working with local businesses is very appealing to keep it in state. It’s also difficult because we’re in such a spa-saturated market, with lines that come from all over the world, so coming up with something unique is something fun to do.”

The Gainey Village Spa infuses traditional massage oils with flower essences in all its signature massages. During the summer, the spa offers body scrubs and wraps with seasonal ingredients, like aloe vera or cranberry, provided by Herb Stop, an herbal product company from Pine.

“Using local products in spa treatments can provide a deeper experience for the spa guest, because it puts them in touch with the richness of the present moment and location,” Reinhardt says. “Whether the guest lives in this area or is visiting, the message becomes one of appreciating the beauty of where we are, instead of attempting some kind of ‘escape’ that has become so cliché in the spa business.”

For Heckathorne, the ultimate motivator for pursuing local options is a spa’s ability to be a cultural ambassador for our state. “We’re trying to be responsible with corporate decisions in order to transmit a sense of place that is true to Arizona and true to the sense, stories and history that have made this part of Arizona what it is,” she says. “Whether you are local or not, it is the true reflection of what you might see, smell, taste or find in Arizona.”

Natural spa treatments around the Valley:

Shegoi Ch Onh (Ancient Shegoi and Salt Pedicure)

What: Calves are massaged with Shegoi (creosote) leaves before skin is exfoliated with a mix of salt and indigenous herbs, then dipped in paraffin and lathered with indigenous body butter.

Where: Aji Spa at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass and Resort, 5594 W. Wild Horse Pass Blvd., Chandler

Cost: $70-$90

Information: (602) 385-5759 or www.wildhorsepassresort.com/spa-wild-horse-pass.html

Chocolate Body Polish

What: A chocolate scrub invigorates the senses and rejuvenates the skin

Where: Southwest Institute of Natural Aesthetics, 1460 E. Southern Ave., Tempe

Cost: $40

Information: Call (480) 393-1415 or www.naturalbeautyaz.com

Lemon & Paprika Facial

What: A deep-cleansing, anti-aging treatment that uses a lemon cleanser, a fruit pulp and paprika herbal exfoliant, a tomato masque, cucumber eye gel, wild plum eye cream and citrus lip balm

Where: Joya Spa at Montelucia Resort and Spa (4949 E. Lincoln Dr. in Paradise Valley)

Cost: $149-$159

Information: (888) 691-5692 or www.joyaspa.com

Agave Body Glow

What: A full-body polish using a salt

scrub infused with grapefruit essential oil and natural agave extract, followed by an application of agave lotion.

Where: Agave Spa at the Westin Kierland, 6902 E. Greenway Parkway, Scottsdale

Cost: From $149

Information: (480) 624-1202 or www.kierlandresort.com

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