Heidi Lamar didn't know much about spas when she first purchased Spa Lamar. As she explained to reporters from Skin Inc., "not coming from a spa background, there were things I didn't know I couldn't do." Unhindered by industry conventions or previously fixed ideas, Heidi set about filling her 14,000-square-foot spa with innovative amenities—from a luxurious waterfall-fed pool to an onsite yoga and dance studio. She also cultivates locals instead of the typical resort crowd, banishing cacti from the decor in favor of a Caribbean-style ambiance that, as she told the Arizona Republic, caters to those who already live in Arizona and want to get away to a tropical island. Today, her media-lauded spa is the largest privately owned spa in Scottsdale and is frequented by locals, including members of the Phoenix Suns Dancers.
Before treatments that include massages, acupuncture, mani-pedis, and facials, guests garbed in fluffy complimentary robes duck into the steam room. They sample wholesome lunches and fruit plates from the tropical tea bar and relax in the sauna while waiting for a haircut or warm algae wrap. Sunbathers float around the pool on loungers, whereas others simmer in a bubbling whirlpool. Unlike many traditional spas, Spa Lamar is completely coed, making it an ideal place for couples that are on a first date or permanently trapped together inside a horse costume with a broken zipper.
Randy Long entered the working world as a travel agent, a vocation that whet his appetite for globetrotting, adventure, and haggling with airlines. When he became a father and husband, he passed a passion for thrill seeking on to his family, and their recent escapades include scuba diving in Barbados and dog sledding in Alaska. It was this thirst for exploration and a love of aviation that drove Randy to become an FAA-certified powered-parachute instructor and found Arizona Powerchutes.
Powered parachutes are comprised of two-seater, wheeled carts that float 20 feet beneath 40-foot parachutes. At sunrise—or sunset during the cooler months—Randy and a passenger climb aboard the cart, and Randy hits the throttle, gathering speed for about 100 feet before the parachute fully inflates and hoists the cart into the air. Randy adjusts the altitude to his patron's comfort level and steers crafts over the exotic plants and mountain silhouettes of the Sonoran Desert, averaging a speed of 26 miles per hour. After journeys, powered parachutes float to land safely, as they are inspected by the pilot prior to each flight and by an FAA-approved facility after every 100 hours of operation.
At the age of 14, Baltimore Yoga Village founder Anjali Sunita traveled to India, where she discovered the joys of simple living mixed with the sorrows of yearning for a greater purpose. After years of expanding her education and worldview through reading and the guidance of a college mentor, Anjali found peace within the rigid discipline and spiritual focus of a South Indian ashram. Soon setting her mind to sharing the physical and mental benefits of yoga with others, she taught in private homes and underserved schools before opening her own pair of studios known collectively as Baltimore Yoga Village.
There, a team of certified yoga instructors oversees a supportive community dedicated to peace, health, and spiritual growth. Whereas many studios’ teachers spend too much time teaching students to knit their own mats, Baltimore Yoga Village’s programs focus on the ancient practice of Hatha yoga, which includes deep breathing techniques, yoga postures with attention to physical alignment, and guided relaxation. The staff also leads regular workshops in a variety of topics, from Thai-yoga bodywork to meditation through devotional songs.
It's hard to say which is more distinctive: the karts zipping around Octane Raceway or the track itself. During each lap on the 1/3-mile course, drivers zoom through an indoor area, then weave around an outdoor section that's covered by a permanent steel canopy, making for a hybrid experience rarely found in American go-kart tracks not owned by bored supervillains.
An equally rare find in the U.S. is the raceway's fleet of 32 Sodi RTX karts, all imported from France, whose electric motors give off zero emissions while reaching speeds of up to 45 miles per hour. Drivers who can stay in control at these top speeds are in for success: the winner of each race is determined not by who finishes a given number of laps first, but by who puts up the fastest single lap time, a result that's posted both at the track and online for posterity.
Races take place in a 65,000-square-foot space that doubles as a gathering place for parties and corporate events for up to 500 attendees. In addition to racing, the raceway is also home to off-track activities that include shooting pool in the billiards room, scaling a 21-foot rock-climbing wall, and melting burgers and pizza into rocket fuel at the Trackside Bar and Grill.
Although La Vita E Bella Cafe is physically distant from its Italian roots, it preserves one of the most important parts of home: the coast. Seafood infuses its menu—from appetizers of garlic-marinated octopus to the Siciliana pizza, topped with tuna, onions, kalamata olives, and capers. The kitchen's emphasis on freshness persists beyond its sautéed prawns, though. Owner Giuseppe Forte heads out multiple times a week to purchase groceries for his chefs, ensuring that their bruschetta and pollo cacciatora contain crisp veggies and fresh herbs. Then there’s the crepes—three kinds enveloping such Old-World ingredients as champignon mushrooms and prosciutto di parma.
Yet it’s pizzas that form the base of the menu. More than 20 specialty-topping combinations include the salsiccia, which boasts sausage and broccoli, and the gorgonzola, which mixes its namesake cheese with walnuts. As diners match their slices to a selection from the sprawling wine list, they can tune in to the lilt of live accordion music, which evokes the ambiance of Italy's streets and keeps dates from trying to fill conversational pauses by reciting their favorite Matlock plotlines.