Why be a tourist when you can be a resortist?
By Becky Bracken and Niki D’Andrea
Let’s just get the obvious out of the way. It’s hot. Like cook-eggs-on-the-sidewalk hot. There’s no denying it or trying to pretend otherwise. But Valley residents know all the best tricks to keep their cool, no matter how jaw-dropping – and sweat inducing – those triple-digit summer temps get. One crucial go-to summer life hack for experienced desert inhabitants is taking advantage of North Scottsdale’s top-notch resorts, particularly during the most sweltering of summer days when the rates are low, the drinks are flowing and the pool is the only refuge from the heat.
In fact, according to Stephanie Pressler, community affairs manager for Experience Scottsdale, more than a third of resort visitors during summer months are staycation-ers.
“According to Experience Scottsdale’s 2015 Visitor Industry Customer Analysis, 35 percent of summer visitors are Phoenix-area residents,” she says. “Los Angeles is our second largest market for summer visitors at 9 percent.”
With so many Valley residents heading to North Scottsdale’s resorts over the summer, here’s a handy guide for staycationing like a pro and how to choose among the ample, incredible properties and experiences available right in your own backyard.
Hyatt Regency Gainey Ranch
Totally beachin’ playground
The scene: Hyatt Regency Gainey Ranch is like an island in the middle of the city – in addition to its ten pools (including an adults-only pool with grotto bar), there’s a white sand beach complete with a fun zone featuring sandcastle competitions, giant Jenga, chess and Connect-Four; a putting green; shuffleboard; Ping Pong and a playground for kids. But really, this resort makes a playground for all ages. Did we mention the water volleyball, rock-climbing wall, laser tag and selfie scavenger hunts?
The specials: Summer rates run $149-$225 per night through September 9 (regular rates range from $322-$462 per night). Mention the “Splash into Summer” package when booking to receive a $50 resort credit and complimentary self-parking.
Insider tip: The resort’s Center Stage Bar features live, local music every night of the week – it’s the only hotel bar in town that does. Performers range from acoustic rock-folk singer-songwriters to smooth jazz trios.
7500 E. Doubletree Ranch Road
Hyatt_Splash Pad-Kids: Hyatt Regency Gainey Ranch is a playground for all ages.
The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch
Rock ‘n’ roll water park
The scene: Poolside’s the place to be. Though it retains its sprawling classic hacienda aesthetic, The Scottsdale Resort got a $10 million facelift last year, including the brand-new McCormick Pool, which feels like a water park, boasting features such as a centerpiece star fountain, a pedestrian bridge with a purple-lit fountain underneath, and splash pad spouts around the kiddie pool. While the resort’s restaurant, Kitchen West, serves American fare in a refined dining room, Twisted Vine Bar & Grill provides poolside food-and-beverage service (the Sonoran chili dog pairs well with a pitcher of Arizona craft beer), while the Mark Long Band plays classic rock covers. On Friday and Saturday nights, the resort projects music movies like The Buddy Holly Story and Walk the Line on a huge screen by the pool.
The specials: Through Labor Day, the resort offers rooms starting at $99 per night plus a $29 daily resort fee (a significant savings over high-season rates of around $229 per night). Use promo code DDFLT7 when booking. Summer specials at the resort’s Luna Spa include a 50-minute strawberry rhubarb facial for $89 and a 50-minute “Crescent Moon Cold Stone Massage” for $89 (regular price for each: $149).
Insider tip: Unlike many Scottsdale resorts, The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch has ample parking, both self-parking in the sun and valet parking in a garage – at no additional charge.
7700 E. McCormick Parkway
JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa
Cool “club” scene
The scene: An oasis of lily pad-laced lakes in the middle of the McDowell Mountains, JW Marriott Desert Ridge offers all the amenities of a high-class resort – golf courses (two 18-hole championship greens designed by Arnold Palmer and Nick Faldo), spa, a ream of restaurants (Stonegrill, Meritage, Twenty6 Lounge, Roy’s Restaurant and Spa Bistro), and pools (five of them!) – and then some. “Then some” is the Griffin Club (an extra $75 per night), an all-inclusive, exclusive space for guests age 21 and older that features hors d’oeuvres, chef-prepared meals, drinks (including the resort’s signature Twenty6 Golden Ale, made by Flagstaff-based Mother Road Brewing Co.), desserts, Wi-Fi, and access to Revive Spa.
The specials: With high-season rates beginning around $529 per night, JW Marriott Desert Ridge’s summer sales (valid through September 9) are sweet indeed. The resort’s trio of staycation specials consists of a golf package (starts at $179 and includes unlimited golf), a spa program (from $199, featuring a 50-minute massage plus 25 percent discount on additional spa services) and a “Margarita Package” from $159 (complete with two hand-crafted margaritas per night).
Insider tip: If you add the Griffin Club onto your stay, you will have access to unlimited drinks until 10 p.m., and you can take those drinks anywhere on resort property.
5350 E. Marriott Drive
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
Full service with flourish
The scene: The five-star Fairmont Scottsdale Princess aims to be as full service and luxurious as you can imagine. Actually, maybe even a little more luxurious than you can imagine. The 64-acre grounds are lush and expansive enough to lose yourself in a world far more lovely and manicured than anything beyond the resort’s gates. For families, the Princess offers activities to keep kids busy while parents relax, like a poolside story time with Moon Mermaid and a pirate who directs games for kids and is the spitting image of Johnny Depp in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. He’s even armed with a squirt bottle to keep the kiddos cool while they play. For adults, there are plenty of options to choose from, even a “Mermaids and Mai Tais” experience in the spa’s rooftop pool. Fine dining options include Bourbon Steak by Michael Mina and the out-of-this-world elevated Mexican cuisine of La Hacienda by Richard Sandoval. Weekend evenings wrap-up during the summer months with a full-on fireworks display best viewed from the property’s lagoon.
The specials: During summer months, you can pay less than half the peak-season rates for a room at the Princess. In addition to the typical summer specials, this summer marks the resort’s 30th anniversary and they’re celebrating with the Summer Splash 30th Birthday Bash, which includes $30 food-and-drink specials and spa treatments, in addition to regular events and attractions like dive-in movies.
Insider tip: The in-room provided Le Labo Rose 31-scented shampoo, conditioner, soap and moisturizer are ridiculously high quality and leave behind a luscious rose scent. Don’t forget to indulge. Also, if you treat yourself to La Hacienda for dinner, don’t skip the flaming coffee with dessert. It’s quite a show.
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
7575 E. Princess Drive
Westin Kierland Resort & Spa
Wave runs and summer fun
The scene: Steeped in Scottish history, the Westin Kierland puts a subdued, contemporary spin on North Scottsdale’s resort landscape. While there are still a few brave souls willing to hike the golf course in June, most of the resort’s summertime action is centered on their monster Adventure Pool for kids and families and the tranquil adults-only pool near the resort’s spa. The Adventure Pool is the place for Freezin’ Fridays with games, live music, unlimited s’mores, an extended poolside menu, two-for-one frozen drinks and discounts on rides on the resort’s FlowRider, which simulates surfing and boogie boarding. The Adventure Pool also has a killer lazy river and two monster water slides. On Saturday nights, they hold the Polar Plunge at the Adventure Pool and drop hundreds of pounds of ice in the water. For adults, the Scotch Library hosts tasting events on Friday nights. Every evening features bagpipes at sunset.
The specials: This summer, Westin Kierland Resport & Spa is offering a Big Chill Package that includes credits for dining and FlowRider sessions. Big Chill rates start at $149 per room, per night.
Insider tip: Float the lazy river with a cocktail and when you need a refill, just use one of the bungees provided to dock at the full-service, float-up bar and never leave your inner tube.
Westin Kierland Resort & Spa
6902 E. Greenway Parkway
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North
Escape from the everyday
The scene: Tucked behind a butte on an exquisite piece of North Scottsdale desert, the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North offers a staycation that will make you feel like you’re miles away from the everyday. The rooms are luxurious and furnished in the Mexican Mission style rooted in the area’s history. Nothing at the Four Seasons Troon is loud or overstated; instead the surrounding natural beauty does all the communicating. Views are spectacular from just about every vantage point. But while tranquility takes center stage at the resort there’s still plenty for kids, including a Kids for All Seasons team devoted to keeping the youngest guests happy. Every Saturday night features a dive-in movie for kids. Proof, An American Canteen, offers comfort food like burgers and sandwiches, re-imagined for even the most discerning palates, but casual enough for the whole family. In addition to Proof, the property also includes steakhouse Talavera and Onyx Bar & Lounge.
The specials: During summer months, rooms start at $189 per night, compared to almost twice that rate during peak season. The spa offers special prices on treatments during the spa’s happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m.
Insider tip: Kids who complete their resort “passport” by visiting different areas on the property and collecting stamps get a free ice cream treat at Proof.
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale At Troon North
10600 East Crescent Moon Drive