Arizona hotels are emerging from the nadir of the pandemic with new looks and amenities.
The cosmetic surgery boom of 2020 wasn’t limited to humans – plenty of hotels had a little nip and tuck, too. While the pandemic has mostly been a calamity for the hospitality industry, it did provide a little downtime, albeit forced, for resorts to reassess and revamp.
“While no one would have wished for the pandemic shutdown, it [did] provide hoteliers with a unique opportunity to renovate and rethink their business models,” according to a blog post from Company Debt, a firm specializing in business insolvency. “Hotel owners are putting a greater emphasis on health-related features such as indoor/outdoor architecture, antimicrobial finishes and high-performance ventilation systems to reassure guests and heighten their sense of well-being and safety.”
So, while we were hoarding instant ramen and cutting our own hair, Arizona resorts were undergoing metamorphoses – in the name of safety, but also purely for aesthetics. “Beauty is the promise of the future,” as 19th-century Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote. These revamped classics, plus a slew of wholly new properties, paint a much rosier picture for statewide tourism in 2022.
Ambiente: A Landscape Hotel
When: This oft-delayed yet highly anticipated adults-only hostelry is set to open the second week of January 2022.
What: Ambiente bills itself as North America’s first “landscape hotel,” which means it was designed to flow with the existing natural landscape in Sedona, including its ancient waterway system. No elevators or hallways here – Ambiente’s lodging is composed of 40 striking glass cubes called “atriums,” which provide panoramic views of Red Rock Country. Most atriums have private rooftop decks suitable for sunbathing, stargazing or even sleeping alfresco on a daybed. Each comes equipped with a petite kitchen refreshed daily, complimentary refreshments and – prepare yourselves, winos – on-demand wine dispensers stocked with Northern Arizona wines. Yoga, stargazing sessions with local astronomers and poolside movies round out the luxury adult Disneyland vibe.
Woo-Hoo: An ETrikeCo electric vehicle larded with coffee, fresh juices, snacks, gourmet goodies and craft cocktails will zip around the property throughout the day. Street-safe ETrikes will also be available for guests for town excursions.
The Citizen Hotel
When: At press time in October 2021, this Tucson lodging house was set to open any day.
What: Arizona wine lovers, this is the boutique hotel for you. The sister property to The Downtown Clifton hotel is set in the historical Tucson Citizen building, which was once home to the city’s oldest newspaper of the same name (1870-2009). Following a $2.5 million renovation, it’s reopening as a 10-room inn that will double as a tasting room and barreling facility for Sand-Reckoner Vineyards.
Woo-Hoo: Sip Sand-Reckoner on-site or take advantage of day trips to Southern Arizona’s wine regions.
Where: 82 S. Stone Ave., Tucson, 520-335-5064, thecitizenhoteltucson.com
The Clinkscale Hotel, Bar + Grill
When: Jerome’s buzzy new boutique hotel opened in December 2020.
What: After opening and running a cadre of Verde Valley hospitality outfits – The Tavern Hotel and Pizzeria Bocce in Cottonwood and The Haunted Hamburger in Jerome, to name a few – The Haunted group hit it out of the park again with The Clinkscale. Built in 1899, the building underwent a massive renovation in 2019 and now boasts six guest rooms. It occupies a prime location in downtown Jerome, so guests are just steps away from the town’s famed art galleries, wineries and bars.
Woo-Hoo: The Clinkscale’s on-site restaurant has quickly become a date-night destination for locals, as well as one of the best brunches in the Verde Valley. Lemon ricotta pancakes, hot chicken and biscuits, and wood-fired cauliflower “steak” burgers are dishes you might find on the regularly changing menu.
Where: 309 Main St., Jerome, 928-634-5094, theclinkscale.com
When: Arizona’s first Marriott International Design Hotels property opened near Sentinel Peak in Tucson in July 2020.
What: Design is paramount at The Tuxon, which houses 112 guest rooms decorated with materials, finishes and color palettes inspired by the Old Pueblo’s mix of Mexican, Native American and Anglo cultures and art. Local artwork, potted succulents, saddled leather and gray wood reinforce the hotel’s desert surroundings. At night, the pool area turns into a casual cocktail lounge.
Woo-Hoo: Cultural programming is a hallmark of the Design Hotels portfolio, and The Tuxon delivers with on- and off-site cultural immersions ranging from vision board workshops to live music.
Where: 960 S. Freeway Rd., Tucson, 520-372-2853, thetuxonhotel.com
The Wilde Resort and Spa
When: Sedona’s newest boutique resort – until Ambiente opens in January – welcomed its first guests in October 2021.
What: After a wellness-focused reimagining, the hotel formerly known as Sedona Rouge now has a bit of a Miraval vibe – and we’re here for it. Located at the base of Sedona’s Thunder Mountain, The Wilde’s lush grounds include a healing garden and a meditative labyrinth. Stargazing, yoga, fire-pit storytelling, cocktail classes and evening Native American flute blessing rituals all lend relaxation, but the main attraction is The Wilde Haven Spa. Guests can unwind with treatments including an Oak Creek stone facial, energy work, forest massage, Japanese bathing ritual and sound healing.
Woo-Hoo: The Wilde is a haven for hikers, too – the property has easy access to multiple trailheads, including Sugar Loaf and Soldier Pass.
Where: 2250 W. SR 89-A, Sedona, 928-264-7246, thewilderesort.com
In January 2021, Tucson’s Hotel McCoy debuted a one-of-a-kind renovation: One of its guest rooms opened to the public as the first brick-and-mortar location of Barrio Books. The new and used bookstore focuses on POC and local authors and is the first tenant in the hotel’s community support program, in which select guest rooms are offered to local businesses as rent-free storefronts. 720 W. Silverlake Rd., Tucson, hotelmccoy.com, barriobooks520.com
THE “LIKE NEW”
Amara Resort and Spa
When: This Sedona hot spot completed a multimillion-dollar renovation in fall 2021.
What: Condé Nast Traveler darling Amara took inspiration from the five elements of nature – fire, water, earth, wood and metal – for its “tree lodge” aesthetic. A neutral palette and organic textures create calming spaces in its 100 guest rooms, which are each anchored by a deep-blue feature wall that symbolizes the nearby creek. A new 24-hour fitness center and retail shop round out Amara Spa’s revitalization, which also includes new features and finishes.
Woo-Hoo: The spa vibe is present in Amara’s signature restaurant, SaltRock Southwest Kitchen, which features Himalayan salt accent walls and privacy screens in the shades of Sedona’s famed rock formations. An expanded patio offers al fresco diners views of Cleopatra Red Rock Formation and Snoopy Rock.
Where: 100 Amara Ln., Sedona, 844-489-9662, amararesort.com
Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort
When: The historical Tucson property opened in 1929 but got a significant refresh and expansion in April 2021.
What: This Forbes 4-Star resort is on the National Registry of Historic Places in Arizona and is a member of the Historic Hotels of America, but it didn’t let its storied past get in the way of a little makeover. This spring, it debuted 40 new guest rooms with lovely views of the Santa Catalina and Rincon Mountains; a new outdoor terrace with two pools and a sun deck; and an extended collection of art and sculptures by local artists dotted throughout the botanical gardens on the grounds. The hotel’s restaurant and bar staff harvest citrus fruit, fresh herbs
and seasonal veggies from an on-site organic garden for uber-fresh cocktails and dishes.
Woo-Hoo: The hotel is a hub for live music, with many touring acts popping in for concerts. Check the website for upcoming events.
Where: 5501 N. Hacienda Del Sol Rd., Tucson, 855-969-3033, haciendadelsol.com
Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas
When: Glen Canyon National Recreation Area’s only lodging option debuted its revamped restaurant, the Rainbow Room, in early 2020.
What: Of Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas’ five restaurants, the Rainbow Room is perhaps the most picturesque, with wraparound windows providing breathtaking views of the water and canyon walls. The restaurant’s insides needed to match its stunning outsides, so it closed in late 2019 for a full renovation. Now the eatery’s design complements its surroundings, with teal napkins mirroring the blue-green water and earthy desert tones and dark chocolate upholstery supplementing the artfully eroded rock formations. Sleek yet relaxed new outdoor furnishings complete
Woo-Hoo: The restaurant’s vegetarian and gluten-free options have also been revamped. Guests can now enjoy a beet salad with tahini-lemon dressing, a wintry farro and roasted squash salad and an herb-roasted cauliflower steak.
Where: 100 Lake Shore Dr., Page, 888-896-3829, lakepowell.com
When: Renovations are ongoing at this destination spa resort set in Sedona’s Boynton Canyon. The new and improved Mii Amo is set to open in spring 2022.
What: The revitalization of this intimate getaway – 16 casitas, with additional casita rooms and suites on the way – began in January 2021. Co-owner Dana Tang and her firm, Gluckman Tang Architects, masterminded the spa’s original design as well as its recent rebirth, which will include expanded and enhanced fitness studios, a nutrition-focused indoor/outdoor restaurant, private courtyards and refreshed facilities. Mii Amo has also developed a new collection of spiritual and well-being experiences, including some designed to educate and connect guests with Native American beliefs and practices and the “energetic perspectives” of the Sedona area.
Woo-Hoo: Guests can still take part in wellness experiences via the Spa Suites at Boynton Canyon at sister property Enchantment Resort, and through Mii Time virtual offerings like meditation series, lectures and live events.
Where: 525 Boynton Canyon Rd., Sedona, 844-993-9518, miiamo.com