Wellness journey Camila Frederico takes the reins at Civana

By Alison Bailin Batz

On her second go-around in Arizona, Camila Frederico is taking it all in.

“As the new general manager of Civana Wellness Resort & Spa, doing so has been easy,” Frederico says. “It has certainly lived up to the hype from Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler and USA Today — and then some — so far.”

Frederico oversees the resort’s 22 acres, 144 rooms and suites, and 20,000-square-foot spa and wellness center. A Scottsdale Airpark resident, Frederico has trained for this position since before she could read, but she didn’t know it yet.

Born and raised in São Paulo, Frederico competed in gymnastics at 4, going so far as to be named to the country’s national team at ages 13 and 15.

During this time, Frederico earned local celebrity status when she became the first Brazilian woman to do a triple rotation on the floor exercise.

“I competed until age 17, when I finished high school and after about a dozen broken bones,” Frederico says. “I was ready for a new challenge, but I took the lessons learned about wellness and exercise with me the rest of my life.”

Unlike the United States, after high school one must declare a major before entering college.

“My brother suggested I go into economics, and for some reason I did, but with a twist,” Frederico says. “In Brazil, one may work toward a master’s degree at the same time as a bachelor’s, so I did.”

Admittedly, she says she was falling asleep working toward a B.A. in economics from the University Mackenzie in São Paulo. Frederico also worked toward an M.A. in journalism from the University Casper-Libero, also in São Paulo, with the goal of being a movie critic.

“After graduating with both by 21, however, there were neither journalism nor economics jobs in my home country,” Frederico says. “As such, I accompanied my travel agent mother to a convention, where I learned about J-1 visas to work in the hospitality industry in the United States.”

Intrigued by travel, Frederico booked a one-way ticket for Orlando, packing just one bag.

“I laugh at that now,” Frederico says. “The Camila of today would need 20 suitcases for shoes alone.”

Armed with that one suitcase and work ethic instilled by her family and years of gymnastics training, Frederico earned a job as the front desk clerk at the then-largest Marriott in the country.

She quickly fell in love with the pace and people of the industry. Frederico worked her way up in the industry over the next few years before driving cross-country to Phoenix to accept a role as a meeting and event coordinator at the then-Phoenix Ritz-Carlton in 2002.

“That iconic hotel became my home for the next decade,” says Frederico, who left the property as assistant director of meetings and events in 2012 to take on an even bigger role, director of food and beverage, at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay in California.

At Half Moon Bay, she successfully led a $40 million culinary operation.

“The first six months there were the toughest in my career, but doing something so far out of my comfort zone pushed me to learn, grow and accept new lessons in an industry I thought I knew pretty darned well,” Frederico says.

Her discipline was rewarded with a promotion to director of rooms at the resort and then the opportunity to join the W Hotel in a leadership role upon the Marriott’s purchase of it in 2017.

Life was moving along swimmingly for Frederico until 2020. As with the rest of the world, she was rocked by the global pandemic.

“It certainly was not the time to think about a job change, yet here I am,” Frederico says.

At first, she ignored a headhunter’s information about Civana and the idea of returning to Arizona.

However, on a whim, she Googled the resort, just to check it out.

“It was as if someone looked at my life, starting from my first floor routine at age 4, and built a resort with me in mind,” Frederico says.

“It was love at first sight with everything Civana stands for when it comes to wellness, health, relaxation, self-care and fun. I had to come out and see it for myself in person.”

The visit solidified it: In spring 2021, Frederico moved back to Arizona to be the resort’s general manager.

“Being on the property feels like home, but a home with aerial yoga, sunset sound healing and 25 spa treatment rooms,” she says.

She takes at least one wellness class per week on-site in addition to running the property to fully immerse herself in the culture.

“I am even working on my certification in aerial yoga, which I think will make me the first local hospitality leader who also happens to be able to teach yoga in the air, and to do so a full 25 years after retiring from high-flying stunts in the first place.”   

Civana Wellness Resort & Spa

37220 Mule Train Road, Carefree

480-653-9000, civanacarefree.com

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