Journey: A Flight to Summertime in Arizona

Book a stay at one of these 10 resorts, and you’ll soon be toasting by the pool, cheering on the rockies, or gaping at a desert sunset.

Authored by Susan Fornoff

Photo courtesy of Hotel Valley Ho

We’re getting antsy waiting for spring. So, why wait? The Valley of the Sun calls to us with but a two-hour flight from DIA, and the Cactus League has scheduled baseball’s first pitches. Your big problem? Choosing a destination resort. The Phoenix-Scottsdale region abounds with options; here are 10 of our favorites, listed alphabetically.

Arizona Grand Resort & Spa

The kids will not let you escape without them to the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa, just south of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. This family-friendly oasis recently spent $17 million on renovations to its atll-suite accommodations, but its big attraction remains its seven-acre water park, with eight-story thrill slides, oasis wave pool, and rolling Zuni River.

Boulders Resort & Spa

The Boulders Resort & Spa makes this list because some who visit the desert want to sleep there, too, so it’s ideal for adventurers and the athletically inclined who would rather see the stars than the Rockies. With two wonderful, sprawling golf courses on the property, so far north of downtown Scottsdale that it has a Carefree mailing address, the resort has managed to maintain its luxurious remoteness. You don’t even drive here; the staff comes in golf carts to take you to meals and the serene spa with its labyrinth and tipi.

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Hotel Valley Ho

Hotel Valley Ho’s appeal reaches far beyond its location in the heart of Old Scottsdale, with easy walking access to shops full of turquoise jewelry and restaurants. Its mid-century modern design mimics that of the hotel-motel of the 1950s and ’60s, and it just feels fun. The contrast between the pools, one for readers and nappers and the other a little more, shall we say, active, is a nice touch.

Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale

Hotel Valley Ho’s sister property to the north, the new Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale, looks nothing like the mid-century modern haven that competed with Palm Springs for celebrities of the 1960s and ’70s. The ultra-contemporary design, with exposed concrete on guest room ceilings, thumbs its nose at the old while mixing in a retro alarm clock that ticks, a compact phone that rings, and a tiny Bose speaker that connects to wifi. The service, restaurants, pool, and charmingly redone golf course of 18 par-3 holes connect to the luxury of the past.

Photo courtesy of Mountain Shadows Resort


Charles Keating opened the 250-acre Phoenician in 1988, and it quickly built a reputation for luxury and pampering. Now owned by Host Hotels & Resorts, a recent renovation that included all guest rooms and public spaces, the spacious three-level pool complex, the Phil Smith signature golf course, and more has added an exclamation point to the Phoenician’s lure. Try the Canyon casitas for the ultimate experience.

The Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

The Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa shares its magical mountainside setting with other resorts, but none feel as private and exclusive, which may be why the Sanctuary lures the in crowd. It’s best for couples, tennis lovers, foodies, and those who love to explore exotic spa treatments with an Asian theme.

Scott Resort & Spa

The Scott Resort & Spa mixes convenient location, right on Scottsdale Road just north of all the action, with the feel of a desert retreat. A recent $15 million renovation gussied up the guest rooms, while a sandy beach pool and romantic fire pits bring guests outside day and night.

(Fairmont) Scottsdale Princess

With its Fairmont pedigree, the Scottsdale Princess warrants a drive north of the heart of Scottsdale for its incredible grounds (including six pools, one of them with 9,000 square feet of white sandy beach and another for adults only on the Well & Being spa rooftop), its outstanding food (including long acclaimed La Hacienda, by Richard Sandoval), and neighboring golf course. When the PGA is playing the adjacent TPC, look out: It’s the biggest-drawing tournament on the tour, full of noisy, social fun for golf fans. We can’t wait to see where its current renovations will lead.

Talking Stick

Talking Stick’s busy casino and entertainment venue distinguish it from other resorts on this list. It’s on reservation land, with two highly rated golf courses attached, and the Rockies play just across the road. Visit Orange Sky restaurant for its rooftop view of the sunset.


The renowned Wigwam has a year of festivities planned to celebrate its 90 years as a resort. It’s in Litchfield Park, west of Scottsdale and north of Phoenix, near the Goodyear, Peoria, Surprise, and Camelback Ranch ballparks, so you can enjoy elegant accommodations and dining, legendary golf, and a new 25-foot water tower along with easy access to spring training.