Here comes the sun, little darlings!
With widespread vaccination and decreasing COVID-19 numbers, this summer offers shimmering hope – and smoking deals – for some good, old-fashioned fun at Valley resorts. Smiles are returning to the faces, indeed.
By Leah LeMoine, Craig Outhier & Madison Rutherford
From mega-resorts to luxe hideaways, the tony North Valley promises fun and pampering.
CIVANA Wellness Resort & Spa
CIVANA’s mantra is “happiness first, healthiness always,” and its commitment to strengthening guests’ mind, body and soul connection is bolstered by its brand-new Joyful Journey experience, launching this summer. The program offers a dozen mood-boosting fitness classes, culinary workshops and science-driven discussions designed to enhance guests’ health and personal growth goals. The wellness resort also recently partnered with Chopra Global to offer the Whole Health Retreat, a five-night holistic wellbeing program featuring personalized daily spa experiences, educational sessions, yoga, meditation, Ayurvedic seminars and nourishing plant-based meals. This programming supplements CIVANA’s year-round wellness offerings, which include 70-plus comprehensive classes, guided hikes, sound bath sessions and more.
37220 Mule Train Rd., Carefree, 480-653-9000, civanacarefree.com
Staycation deal: The resort’s Local Love deal allows Arizona residents to enjoy 20 percent off their stay. Rooms start at $204/night.
High-season rate: $349/night
Nearby attractions: Carefree Desert Gardens, Carefree Sundial, Cave Creek Regional Park, MacDonald’s Ranch
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
It’s easy to get lost in this luxurious wonderland, which boasts a lush lagoon, golf course, Trailblazers Kids Club & Family Recreation Center and six pools, including one with a white sand beach. The resort’s destination restaurants, including Bourbon Steak, Toro Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar and La Hacienda, are catnip for foodies. Kiddies, meanwhile, have a blast with seasonal themed offerings. This summer’s motif: Outta This World Summer at the Princess, with laser tag, Princess Space Force cadet badges and sunglasses, and a Galactic Glo party with alien pals and “DJ E.T.”
7575 E. Princess Dr., Scottsdale, 480-585-4848, scottsdaleprincess.com
Staycation deal: Locals enjoy an additional 35 percent off the best available rate with current Arizona driver’s license. Starting at $299/night with a $100 resort credit.
High-season rate: $599/night
Nearby attractions: TPC Scottsdale Champions Course, Scottsdale Quarter, CrackerJax Family Fun Park, McDowell Sonoran Preserve Gateway Trail
We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort
Endowed with four on-site restaurants and two superb 18-hole golf courses that showcase the clean desert beauty of the McDowell Mountain foothills, We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort belongs in a conversation of its own when it comes to gaming-friendly staycations. Must-do experiences: take those black jack winnings and splurge on the crab Oscar upgrade for your bone-in ribeye at Ember, the resort’s ritzy new chophouse; keep an eye peeled for slumbering coyotes on the back nine arroyos at Cholla, named one of the world’s best new public golf courses by Sports Illustrated after its debut in 2001; and take a gutsy, all-terrain Tomcar for a spin in the Verde River wilderness via Green Zebra Adventures, the resort’s affiliated outfitter.
10438 WeKoPa Way, Fort McDowell, 480-789-4957, wekopacasinoresort.com
Staycation deal: Get a $50 food and beverage credit, plus a $20 casino free play and waived resort fees with a two-night stay. Starting at $99/night.
High-season rate: $179/night
Nearby attractions: Salt River tubing, McDowell Mountain Regional Park, the record-setting geyser at Fountain Park
The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa
Staycation deal: The resort revamped its Adventure Water Park to include expanded reserved seating and refreshed features like the lazy river, FlowRider surfing simulator and more. Use code MAJ to book and get $50 resort credit plus $100 resort credit for suite guests. Starting at $159/night.
High-season rate: $549/night
The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch
Staycation deal: 20 percent off best available rate through Labor Day weekend; $25 spa coupon; 15 percent off Kitchen West dinner. Starting at $99/night midweek with 50 percent off daily resort fee and $139/night weekends.
High-season rate: $350+/night
Boulders Resort & Spa
Staycation deal: ReTreat Yourself package includes private casita accommodations, $50 dining credit per night per person and unlimited fitness classes at the spa. Starting at $214/night.
High-season rate: $449/night
Staycation deal: Summer Playcation Package runs May 15-September 6 and includes $25 food and beverage credit, waived resort fee with Arizona ID and discounts at nearby attractions including Topgolf, OdySea Aquarium and Butterfly Wonderland. Starting at $109/night Sunday-Thursday and $149/night Friday and Saturday.
High-season rate: $267/night
Staycation deal: Staycation in Style package includes a 20 percent discount at the resort’s on-site restaurant CIELO, free valet parking and late check-out. Starting at $175/night.
High-season rate: $359/night
Old Town SCOTTSDALE
If you want to be in the mix – from restaurants and nightlife to arts and culture – Old Town is your jam.
Hotel Valley Ho
Midcentury modern isn’t a trendy design choice for this historical property – it’s Hotel Valley Ho’s past, present and future. Built in 1956 and restored to its original glory in 2005, the Ho is a beacon of desert modernism that provides a time warp and modern touches like private yoga sessions and bathtub bottle service. Book a mental trip to the tropics with VH Spa’s seasonal treatment menu, including the Coco Beach Massage + Exfoliation with a coconut, lime and Caribbean rum sugar scrub. Also look for the summer Showstopper Shake, a themed milkshake with over-the-top ingredients and garnishes.
6850 E. Main St.
Staycation deal: To celebrate its 65th birthday, the resort is offering guests the ability to pay 65 percent of its normal rates Sunday-Thursday nights (35 percent off). Interested in a longer staycation? Stay three consecutive nights and your fourth is free.
High-season rate: $349/night
Nearby attractions: Scottsdale Wine Trail, Scottsdale Stadium, The Poisoned Pen Bookstore
Canopy by Hilton Scottsdale Old Town
Posh, pet-friendly Canopy is within walking distance of Scottsdale’s premier shopping, dining and nightlife destinations, but with a rooftop bar and restaurant with commanding Camelback Mountain views, a spacious pool and stylish suites, you may not want to leave the property. It also boasts swanky, Southwestern-inspired décor throughout the common areas and guestrooms, complimentary bikes for exploring, and regular regional beer, wine and spirit tastings.
7142 E. First St.
Staycation deal: The Travel & Save staycation deal offers 15 percent off the best available rate, early check-in, late checkout and no early departure fee. Starting at $184/night.
High-season rate: $439/night
Nearby attractions: Old Town Scottsdale bustle, Scottsdale Fashion Square, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West
Staycation deal: SIPS+SUNSHINE package – extended through December 31 –includes welcome cocktail amenity, $80 resort credit and 30 percent off spa treatments when booked for Friday and Saturday. Ask for rate plan ZJL. Starting at $199/night.
High-season rate: $410/night
The Scott Resort & Spa
Staycation deal: Special offer for PHOENIX magazine readers available June 30-September 9. Use code PHXMAG
for up to 50 percent off summer rates (blackout dates may apply; does not include resort fee or taxes). Starting
High-season rate: $399/night
Tempe is leading the resort renaissance in the East Valley – with art and beer, natch.
The Tempest Hotel
There’s an elevated college vibe at this boutique hotel near Arizona State University. Its 52 rooms look like an aesthetics-savvy grad student might have designed them – modular wooden furniture, prints of Southwestern nature scenes and funky accents like snakeskin-patterned pillows. An exclusive new partnership with nearby Pedal Haus Brewery provides grown-up revelry: The Around the World Beer Flight package ($25/person) includes a cicerone-led tour of the brewery followed by a flight of international brews. Hotel guests also get a 25 percent discount on brewery merchandise and can enjoy Pedal Haus’ Pils and Haus IPA in the lobby.
1375 E. University Dr., Tempe
Staycation deal: Arizona residents who show their ID at check-in get 10 percent off their stay. Rooms start at $99/night.
High-season rate: $149/night
Nearby attractions: Tempe Improv, Phoenix Rock Gym, Creamery Park, Simply Smashing Rage Release Room
The fun at this avant-garde, ASU-adjacent hotel starts right at check-in, where guests receive a complimentary cocktail with their room key. This summer, expect Moxy’s signature Phoenix Mule and house-made hard seltzer. Guestrooms mix modern and midcentury design elements and feature retro-cool components like a record player and a small selection of vinyl. The lobby boasts a larger library of records, arcade games and a lounge area. Tour Tempe on a beach cruiser (free for guests to use during their stay), play life-size Jenga on the terrace or park yourself at the pool in a cozy cabana.
1333 S. Rural Rd., Tempe
Staycation deal: Use promo code ZJL when booking to receive free parking, late checkout and 20 percent off sips and snacks at Moxy’s on-site market. From $136/night.
High-season rate: $250-$400/night
Nearby attractions: ASU Art Museum, Hayden Butte, Mill Avenue, Tempe Town Lake
Staycation deal: Use promo code SPLASH to book the Pool Package, which includes a cocktail kit and sparkling wine. Starting from $99/night.
High-season rate: $249/night
Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass
Staycation deal: Sip, Soak and Splash package includes $50 daily resort credit, two complimentary welcome drinks and free breakfast for kids ages 12 and younger. Valid May 1-September 6. Starting at $159/night.
High-season rate: $350/night
Feel the energy of the city with these urban getaways.
You say you haven’t visited the Valley’s primeval resort property in a while? Well, there’s a reason for that: The 92-year-old resort essentially spent the entire pandemic in hibernation, using the downtime to implement a $70 million “reimagining” of its pool, dining and common areas, while preserving Frank Lloyd Wright’s prairie architecture and original Art Deco elements. A quick hit list of the improvements:
Renata’s Hearth, an indoor/outdoor grill specializing in Central and South American cuisine.
• The Spire Bar near an entirely new adult pool complex called Saguaro Pool.
A new, three-story water slide at the family-oriented Paradise Pool.
• A Gatsby-esque, glass-enclosed pavilion for parties and events.
Tierra Luna Spa, a reconceived wellness retreat with a one-of-a-kind mud and crustal bar.
The initiative also upgraded 250,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, and included a refresh of the resort’s signature cottages, now with bespoke furniture and lighting by Virserius Studio and Imaggo Production. The new, reimagined Biltmore is officially open May 1.
2400 E. Missouri Ave.
Staycation deal: The Biltmore offers a buffet of incentives for staycation clients, including the All-Inclusive package featuring three meals for two and spa discounts. Rooms starting at $270/night.
High-season rate: $479/night
Nearby attractions: Piestewa Peak, Biltmore Fashion Park, Wrigley Mansion, Arizona Canal biking
The hotel formerly known as ARRIVE Phoenix has a new moniker, but all the same fun, local features including Cartel Coffee Lab, Lylo Swim Club, complimentary popsicles at check-in and guestrooms designed to reflect the unique style of its desert surroundings – think saguaro-studded wallpaper, succulents and pillows sporting the Arizona flag. Bespoke bathroom fixtures and midcentury modern fireplaces in select rooms add to Rise Uptown’s funky flair. New this summer: a rooftop bar with a cocktail menu curated by local mixology maestro Ross Simon, who also oversees the beverage program at Lylo.
400 W. Camelback Rd., 480-536-8900, riseuptownhotel.com
Staycation deal: Summer rates start at $125/night.
High-season rate: $300/night
Nearby attractions: Changing Hands Bookstore, Stinkweeds record store, Uptown Plaza, Upwards Projects dining concepts (Postino WineCafe, Joyride Taco House, Windsor and Federal Pizza)
FOUND:RE Phoenix Hotel
Art is around every corner at FOUND:RE, which features a fully functioning gallery with regularly rotating exhibits in its lobby. Contemporary artwork also adorns the loft-inspired rooms, hallways, on-site restaurant and even the pool. The guestrooms evoke an urban industrial feel with inviting accents like king beds, custom-made chandeliers and private patios and balconies. The hip hotel’s signature restaurant, Match Market & Bar, was recently reinvented to offer full-service dining and grab-and-go options plus pantry provisions and locally crafted souvenirs.
1100 N. Central Ave., 602-875-8000, foundrehotels.com
Staycation deal: FOUND:RE recognizes that its pool will be a popular place this summer, so it’s offering a summer staycation package that includes a $25 poolside food and beverage credit and a swim-friendly swag bag featuring sunglasses, a pool floatie and sunblock. Rates start at $179.99/night.
High-season rate: $229/night
Nearby attractions: Heard Museum, Heritage Square, Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix, Margaret T. Hance Park, Phoenix Art Museum, Roosevelt Row arts district
Staycation deal: Summer Camp Palomar includes two welcome Camp Cocktails, nightly social hour and Summer Camp activities (game nights, cocktail experiences, pool parties, etc.). Starting at $99/night. Book by May 21; offer good May 28-September 6.
High-season rate: $299-$349/night
Staycation deal: Locals enjoy 20 percent off current rate at time of booking. Starting at $169/night.
High-season rate: $289/night
Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs
Staycation deal: Tap Into Suite Savings includes suite, $50 daily food and beverage credit and waived resort fee (starting at $139/night; ask for plan code P7 when booking). Valid through September 30. Tap Into Fun in the Sun includes 30 percent off best available suite rate (as low as $97/night; ask for plan code OZ when booking). Starting at $112/night.
High-season rate: $309/night
The West Valley’s premier resort was built in 1929 and still feels like an old-timey hacienda with adobe-style buildings and cobblestone courtyards. Today it’s a hot spot for golfers, who flock to its 18-hole championship golf course, and for families, who can while away a hot summer day in Superhero Training Camp and cap it off with a poolside movie. On-site restaurant Litchfield’s is the area’s best fine dining option.
300 E. Wigwam Blvd., Litchfield Park 866-976-6894, wigwamarizona.com
Staycation deal: Arizona residents who show their ID at check-in get up to 25 percent off their stay (dependent on length of stay; resort charge not included). Starting at $149-$159/night.
High-season rate: $289/night
Nearby attractions: Phoenix Raceway, Estrella Mountain Regional Park, Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park
It’s a regular Resort Row in this affluent area, which includes Paradise Valley, Arcadia and parts of Scottsdale.
JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa
This 125-acre desert oasis has been a haven for well-heeled travelers since it was built in 1936 – early guests included Jimmy Stewart, Bette Davis and Clark Gable. The resort underwent a revamp in recent years, but charming Southwestern accents and a stunning array of desert flora remain. Take in a sunset at the Secret Spot by JW, an outdoor space with a jaw-dropping view with layers of beauty beneath the watercolor sky: rushing water, slumping boulders, riotous flowers, majestic cacti and stately palm trees.
5402 E. Lincoln Dr., Scottsdale
Staycation deal: The Casitas & Ritas package includes two margaritas each night, a $50 resort credit and accommodations in a resort casita with private garden or patio (use promo code ES1 in the corporate/promotional code box when booking online, or call 1-800-228-9290; available May 15-September 15). Rooms start at $179/night.
High-season rate: $649-$799/night
Nearby attractions: Camelback Mountain, Franciscan Renewal Center, McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa
Pop culinary quiz: What is the only restaurant in Arizona that concurrently employs an Iron Chef winner and a James Beard Award nominee in the same kitchen? The answer is elements, the mountaintop dining palace at Sanctuary, where ex-Talavera sous chef Samantha Sanz (Beard nominee in 2020) joined Food Network star Beau MacMillan (Iron Chef America winner 2006) late last year, adding dishes like Moroccan lamb shank with smoked eggplant to his much-admired New Asian menu. Make an elements meal the cornerstone of the resort’s Romance in Paradise package, which also includes a choice of suite and a strawberries-Champagne welcome setup. Formerly a tennis academy, the rarified Paradise Valley resort also offers a wellness-based package built around its impeccably staffed spa.
5700 E. McDonald Dr., Paradise Valley
Staycation deal: Arizona residents get 15 percent off best available rates through December 22, meaning rates effectively start at $290/night.
High-season rate: $704/night
Nearby attractions: Camelback Mountain, Scottsdale Fashion Square, Cosanti
Staycation deal: Fee Free Summer Stay package offers more than 50 percent off peak season, and a two-night minimum stay waives parking, resort and pet fees. Valid April 30-September 6. Starting at $259/night.
High-season rate: $679/night
Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia
Staycation deal: The resort was still finalizing details at press time, but the offer will be in line with the current Scottsdale neighbor rate (20 percent off) and the summer 2020 offer (up to 30 percent off for Omni Select members). Starting at $269/night weekday and $289/night weekend. Summer spa deals include the Summer Afternoon Escape: 50-minute massage or facial for $135 (Monday-Thursday, 2-5 p.m.).
High-season rate: $609/night weekday, $699/night weekend
The Hermosa Inn
Staycation deal: Summer in Paradise Getaway (offered exclusively online) is available May 17-September 30 and includes two drink tickets, $25 daily food and beverage credit and daily poolside treats. Starting at $169/night weekday and $189/night weekend (plus tax and resort fee). Foodies can try the Taste of Summer Menu ($55/person) and Cool Dining in LON’S Underground Wine Cellar ($75/person; additional $35/person for wine pairing).
High-season rate: $500/night
Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows
Staycation deal: Desert Date Night package includes a chef-curated picnic lunch, a side-by-side chair massage and Apothecary Blend Bar experience in a private spa cabana, charcuterie tasting and Champagne toast (starting at $575). Summer rates starting at $299/night.
High-season rate: Starting at $600/night
The Phoenician & The Canyon Suites
Staycation deal: The Phoenician – Starting from $199/night with $50 nightly resort credit. The Canyon Suites – Starting from $285/night for a guestroom and $385/night for a suite. Specials running May 9-September 10.
High-season rate: The Phoenician – $659/night; The Canyon Suites – Starting at $1,200/night (suite)
From Our Partners
Tara’s BIG Travels
JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa
by Tara Hitchcock
“Is your wallet thick?” my husband Kenn asks his pal Chris DeSavino as they head to one of the 17 professionally surfaced JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa world-class pickleball courts. “It is, but there isn’t any money in it,” DeSavino jokes.
“That’s OK,” Kenn says, “They have ATMs here.” When it comes to friendly financial wagers, stemming from a shared competitive spirit and love of the outdoors, these two have more than 20 years of experience. They’ve heli-skied together in Canada, hiked in Greece and have mountain-biked most of Arizona’s beautiful trails. But pickleball, followed by a poolside cabana lunch and challenging round of 18 holes on Wildfire Golf Club’s bunker-filled Faldo Course? In other words, a true “guys’ staycation?” This is a first.
Kenn and I have been to the AAA Four Diamond resort many times, but it had been a few years since DeSavino visited the largest luxury resort in Arizona, routinely named by PHOENIX as one of the Valley’s most family-friendly staycations. So he was unaware that general manager Steve Hart, who somehow predicted the pickleball craze early on (remind me to ask him for stock advice), had turned the resort into a top pickleball destination for families looking to bond outdoors and disconnect from their iPhones and gadgets.
The resort just hosted its first PPA Pickleball tournament on its 400-person capacity Center Court, with a first prize purse of $75,000! It has even partnered with local nutritional supplement company Jigsaw Health to provide “pickleball cocktails” that contain electrolytes to help hydrate resort guests and players.
Sadly, Jigsaw’s pickleball beverages didn’t do much for my husband’s backhand. DeSavino managed to keep it “out of the kitchen” – pickleball no-no – and win the round 11-6. “This is our kind of sport,” the victor declares. “Within 10 minutes, you can get as good as you’re going to be without lessons.”
We’ve Got a Drifter!
“When was the last time you guys rented a pool cabana for some drinks and great people watching?” I ask the two as we head toward Desert Ridge’s 4 acres of landscaped waterways.
“Probably some bachelor party in my 20s,” DeSavino laughs. Since these guys rarely slow down, I know they’re in for a treat at Just A Splash, the resort’s $3.6 million renovated pool complex. The guys have one of the resort’s 500-square-foot pool suites for the afternoon, each one equipped with AC, several big-screen TVs and a changing area with a private bathroom.
Their suite attendant Don brings over a bucket of Coronas, but before Kenn’s turkey wrap and Chris’s grilled shrimp salad arrive, the two head over to the 1,600-foot Lazy River for some fun.
“This river is no joke,” DeSavino laughs. “It’s fast!”
Sounds like another friendly wager might be in the works. He finds his balance on a bright blue inner tube and heads around the bend before I can even snap a photo. However, my husband and his neon-pink floatie take the lead after his pal gets suckd into an alcove, most likely caused by some sort of centrifugal spring-breaker energy force.
Is this the Oregon Coast?
After a great lunch back on dry land, it’s off to play 18 holes on the resort’s 6,846-yard, par 71 Faldo Championship Course, one of two great golf courses on JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge’s 316 scenic Sonoran Desert acres. Known as the more challenging of the two, the Faldo Course at Wildfire Golf Club features 108 bunkers, basically about the same amount of sand as you’d find in the famed Oregon Dunes. It’s tough, just the way former PGA star Sir Nick Faldo likes it. “Actually, I’d like to have a few words with Nick,” my husband smiles over drinks at the resort’s stonegrill. “The few times I hit my driver with perfect precision, I still ended up in a bunker.” Kenn reaches for his wallet.
“Don’t ask,” he tells me. Another friendly wager about to get settled as the guys’ staycation comes to a close.
If You Go
5350 E. Marriott Dr., Phoenix
Splash into Summer includes a $50 resort credit toward food and beverage, spa, golf, pool or pickleball, plus a waived resort fee. Rates starting at $198/night. Must use promo code SPJ when booking. Valid May 16-September 15, 2021.
High-season rate: $359/night