Arizona makes a great getaway any time of the year. Lounging around a languid pool with an icy cocktail in hand or teeing off on a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course with a crazy mix of grass—the deepest green you’ve ever seen—and stark red mountains in the background, there are more than enough activities—including chill time—to take up a week or more.
But figuring out how to fill your time is easier than choosing the hotel that will best fit the bill during your stay. One of the most popular getaway cities, Scottsdale, has a plethora of accommodations to choose from. So how do you know which is the one for you and your fellow pool buffs, spa lovers, greens-loving golfers, cuisine connoisseurs and cocktail aficionados? Well, look no further, fellow travelers. We’ve done our homework and have picked the best hotels to suit your style from A-Z.
Best spa retreat: Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North
Set on the site of the former Crescent Moon Ranch, a finishing school for wealthy debutantes run by a member of the Kellogg family, the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale is a pleasantly meandering home-away-from-home for those looking for some serious R+R+R—rest, relaxation and a good recharge.
After checking in, you’ll be whisked away by golf cart to your pueblo-style casita while your driver fills you in on the lay of the land. Pay attention because with three dining options, one lounge, two pro tennis courts, and a bi-level pool, spread out over 40 acres, it’s easy to get lost. If you have nowhere to be, though, it can be like walking along a calming labyrinth. (The resort is laid out in a circular pattern so you’ll eventually make it back to point A.)
Wellness is the name of the game at this resort. Guided hikes up Pinnacle Peak, yoga on the outdoor Troon Lawn, mountain biking trips, nighttime stargazing sessions, Tai Chi classes, even the complimentary sunscreen offered at the pool—all of the resort’s activities and not-so-active doings are focused on wellbeing and are meant to cajole your overworked mind into finding peace.
Aside from offering yoga and fitness classes, the Spa at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale helps you find and hold onto your bliss with signature treatments that include a Golfer’s Massage which incorporates warm golf balls to work out the kinks you get from swinging at the links all day, a Healing Hiker’s Massage that utilizes mountain arnica and sage to help reduce inflammation and soreness, or an invigorating Jojoba and Prickly Pear Polish. (Be sure to pick up the complimentary prickly pear iced tea at Proof, the American-style restaurant, or outside the lobby on your way back to your casita to stay hydrated.)
A personal favorite spa experience is the ‘Four Seasons in One’ signature sensory treatment that takes you through summer, fall, winter and spring in the desert. You’ll be treated to a nourishing summer-rich cocoa and vanilla shea butter massage, a brisk exfoliation, wintry wintergreen body lotion application and a soothing scalp massage using ylang-ylang, pink grapefruit, and sage. Afterward, you can relax in the seasonally-scented steam rooms before a leisurely stroll back to your room. Once there, laze on your private patio or terrace and gaze at the landscaped grounds with 100-old saguaro cacti.View Hotel
Best pool scene: Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch
The recently renovated, 493-room Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch may have an ungainly name, but it has a perfectly sized pool playground within its edges. This chic resort has an astonishing 2.5 acres dedicated to water fun and includes 10 pools, a 30-foot 3-story heart-lurching waterslide, 45 waterfalls, 20 fountains and a man-made sand beach—which just makes sense when you consider the desert landscape outside of the resort. You’ll even find gondola rides traversing the resort’s many waterways.
Plenty of loungers are placed around this watery oasis and, as a special treat, you can rent pool cabanas that have seating inside and out, internet access, a TV sporting DirectTV, a phone, ceiling fan and a fridge to store some water and ice for a hot-weather cool down when you’re too relaxed to move. There’s even a dedicated cabana attendant to grab you a towel or some iced tea.
With swaying palm trees, bright wildflowers and lush greenery surrounding each pool, and the McDowell Mountains in the background, all you need to do is find your favorite spot and order a Prickly Pear Margarita.
Once pool playtime is over, head back to your Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired room to freshen up and then feel the heat of southwestern flavors at SWB—complete with tequila pairing—or try one of the other restaurants on site, in particular, Noh, serving Japanese or Alto ristorante e bar, with award-winning Italian fare.
Before calling it a night. listen to live music at Center Stage Bar — a delightful lounge with open-air indoor seating where the scene is smart casual and hosts a mix of well-heeled guests so relaxed you can feel the chill in the air.View Hotel
Best golf: JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa
Bill Marriott, the hospitality guru responsible for making Marriott International one of the world’s largest lodging companies, has often said that the JW Marriott at Camelback Inn, the oldest resort in the brand’s portfolio, is his favorite. If you’re a golfer, it certainly may become yours.
Aside from the eight dining and drinking options, a spacious spa, pretty pool, and casitas with terraces looking out over landscaped grounds, the resort has two championship golf courses spread out on its 125-acres. While many, if not most of the top Arizona resorts have excellent courses, these are two of the best-looking. Rolling greens, lush plants, low-rise desert architecture and stark cacti set against scrubby Camelback Mountain all set the scene for a great few days of golf.
Both of the 18-holers—Ambiente and Padre—are par 72 courses and offer challenges for golfers at all levels, but each one has a specific feel to it. Ambiente, designed by the well-known golf architect Jason Straka is a true desert course. Wild grasses and flowers dot the landscape, a clay-colored mountain rises against the blue sky and a plethora of sandpits make you feel like you are truly in the desert. Padre, on the other hand, is a verdant, undulating course with towering trees and numerous lakes. Designed by big-name golf guru Arthur Hills, the 18th hole at Padre was, in fact, voted to be the best water hole in the state by Arizona Golf Magazine.
Camelback Inn will shuttle you to and from your chosen course for the day and, onsite, you’ll also find the Camelback Clubhouse, with a well-equipped pro shop and Acacia restaurant, where you can have a bite and reminisce about what could have been if the sun hadn’t been in your eyes on that 13th hole. You might want to look into hiring one of the resort’s golf instructors the next day to work on that full swing or short game. Or you can always stick to the miniature golf course at the resort.View Hotel
Best restaurant: Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is the big dog when it comes to Arizona resorts. Before it finished its renovation in 2016, it had 648 rooms. Now it has a staggering 750 rooms, suites, and casitas spread out over 65 acres of Sonoran Desert land. The resort’s chic, contemporary southwestern style is seen in all of its rooms and public areas, including restaurants, with a color palette of sandy creams, golden-hued yellows and burnt oranges, simple ironwork and rich, dark woods.
La Hacienda is spearheaded by celebrity chef Richard Sandoval, said to be the “father of modern Mexican cuisine.” This restaurant and lounge offer updated Mexican classics that make you want to throw any diet out the window, at least for one evening. Dishes such as the freshly made pear and pomegranate guacamole, costilla de res (braised short rib with ancho chile mashed potatoes, baby carrots and herbed heirloom tomatoes, accompanied by cherry chipotle mole sauce) and the carnitas enchiladas with slow-braised pork, plantain and mole are a delicious mix of rich, smoky flavors lightened by equally rich but a zingy flavorsome fruitiness.
The warmly decorated restaurant with its flagstone floors and wood-beamed ceiling, extends outside, giving you the best seats in the house after dark. Outdoor fireplaces, live music, friendly servers and great food are all good reasons to make an evening out of it, but there’s more. If you’re a fan of tequila, La Hacienda has no less than 240 different types. Katie Schnurr, the tequila sommelier for both the restaurant and lounge will help you choose, and then sip and savor tequilas ranging in price from $9 to $450 per shot. Or go with one of her recommended tequila flights categorized as sweet, sipping, anejo and elite (for a pretty price tag). If you’re bold, do choose the Snakebite flight: three Mexican-made spirits—tequila, mezcal and sotol, the up-and-coming spirit with origins in Chihuahua—served on a platter decorated with a rattlesnake head and tail to prove, perhaps, that nothing bites back like a tequila hangover. Caution encouraged!View Hotel
Best cocktails: The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician
Canyon Suites is the luxe, 60-room boutique hotel found within The Phoenician’s hotel grounds. Against the grand handsomeness of The Phoenician Resort, it’s the smaller, more elegant cousin to the much larger property. The private building has a discreet entrance way that leads to the quiet lobby before opening to The Canyon Lounge. This refined lounge is where the magic happens.
Along with a nice selection of wines by the bottle or glass, anything but plain-Jane brews and a fine list of whiskeys predominantly from the U.S., Scotland, Ireland, and Japan, it’s the cocktail creations that should tempt you to go to the lounge for a pre-dinner cocktail.
The bartenders create liquid libations based on the season. In summer, for instance, you’ll find a tasty cucumber and thyme beverage made with vodka, Limoncello, muddled cucumber, fresh thyme, lemon juice and simple syrup. But it’s the 2704 that will keep you coming back for more and, maybe, settle in for dinner. Created with the hotel’s specially-made bourbon, Phoenician Woodford Reserve, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, house-made rosemary-infused mesquite honey, lemon juice, lemon bitters and a rosemary sprig to top it off, this cocktail is then lightly smoked under glass before being presented in a swirl of smoke and burning wood. Yes, it’s trendy, but it truly is one of the most delightful cocktails around.
Canyon Suites reopened in 2016 and rooms are both spacious and stylish, with Bali beds on the private terraces that look out over the hotel’s pool or grounds and lagoon. In fact, those beds are so comfy you may just want to order in room service and settle in your room for the night instead.
If you’re staying in the main hotel and not the Suites, never fear: The Phoenician has eight other dining and drinking options where you can whet your whistle.View Hotel
Best room design: Hotel Valley Ho
In the 1950s and 60s, Hotel Valley Ho was all the rage, providing refuge for stars like Ingrid Bergman, Janet Leigh, Tony Curtis, and Bing Crosby. It was even the secret wedding reception locale for Hollywood lovebirds, Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood. Cocktails in the Arabian Lounge and poolside fashion shows were de rigeur at this Edward Varney-designed celeb hideaway. Then in 2002, this mid-century modern classic shut its doors, needing some serious love and repair.
With the arrival of new owners in 2006 came renovations and, now, this iconic property is once again the cool kid on the block, attracting stars like Hugh Jackman and Katy Perry, who like to stay here during their own getaways.
The 239 rooms that make up this urban resort represent the modern version of 1956 design, playing with vibrant colors and geometric shapes. Outrageous teal, mustard yellow, moss green and tomato red dominate the color palette. Furnishings that prove everything old is new again can be found in each room, such as the classic Barcelona chairs.
All rooms come with floor-to-ceiling windows that lead to a private patio or balcony, a Cuisinart coffee maker for your morning, noon and night coffee fix and a separate bathtub and shower in the terrazzo-tiled bathroom.
If you have a true love for this design aesthetic, concierge Ace Bailey is an expert in the subject. She will tell you everything you need to know about mid-century design and architecture and will even take you on a guided tour around the hotel and its grounds to show you the highlights, demonstrating how design theory can be brought into stunning practice.View Hotel