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Best Vacation Getaways

Even with all Scottsdale has to offer, sometimes the best vacations involve never leaving your resort.- By Caroline Hatano

Scottsdale’s perpetual warm weather, world-class golf courses and impressive art scene have begun to attract travelers year-round. Among the top three U.S. cities with the most AAA Five-Diamond hotels, and the highest number of destination spas per capita of any U.S. city, there’s plenty of incentive to just stay put at some of the best resorts in the world.

With a little bit of planning, you can enjoy everything that draws visitors to Scottsdale in one quintessential day. Start with one of these top-tier resorts and then add their innumerable amenities—from renowned golf courses and spas, to high-end shops and pools, to breathtaking outdoor activities and fine dining.

The Family Getaway

In the heat of the desert it can be easy to conjure up mirages that are too good to be true. With equal parts kid-friendly attractions and grown-up style relaxation, however, The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa is no such trick.

Morning: Start your day with a casual breakfast at Nellie Cashman’s, where locally-grown produce is the norm and chorizo flatbread with chipotle hollandaise is just one of many inventive dishes. Or for a quick bite, grab coffee and a pastry at Coffee Flats & Snowbowls. Just make sure you and your family are fueled up for a self-guided walking tour through the resort’s collections of rare photos and paintings to learn about Arizona’s rich history.

Afternoon: When temperatures begin to rise, let the kids cool off at the resort’s Adventure Water Park, where they’ll find endless amusement among the lazy river ride, a 110-foot waterslide, a surf stimulator and many other poolside games. Relaxation-seekers can opt to spend an afternoon in the warm embrace of Agave, The Arizona Spa, with native treatments, or taking a swing at one of the resort’s climate-controlled driving ranges.

Night: Linger outdoors with cocktails and appetizers at Dreamweaver’s Canyon before making your way inside to Deseo, where James Beard Award-winning chef Douglas Rodriguez will wow taste buds with a fresh take on Latin cuisine. Stop by the OK Corral on your way home to finish off your jam-packed day with an Arizona S’more at Kierland Kampfires. (kierlandresort.com)

Steakhouse Stampede

Though Scottsdale is now home to some of the most expensive real estate in the country, it was once overrun with more cowboys and cattle than art galleries and golf courses. Suitably, celebrity chefs have taken on the role of the cowboy, wrangling for steakhouse supremacy. First up is internationally acclaimed chef and restaurateur Michael Mina, who serves the finest cuts of American Kobe and certified all-natural Angus beef in his upscale American steakhouse, Bourbon Steak, at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess.

Perched atop The Phoenician, J&G Steakhouse offers diners timeless steakhouse classics dreamed up by Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, as well as panoramic views of the picturesque Camelback Mountain.

Last but not least is BLT Steak inside the JW Marriott Camelback Inn Scottsdale Resort & Spa, where you’ll discover chef Laurent Tourondel’s spin on the American steakhouse that began in New York City with naturally aged, tender cuts of quality meats. After all, what better way is there to appreciate Scottsdale’s ranch history than with a juicy steak?

The AAA Five-Diamond Award Winners

The Phoenician

This property is all about luxury, from its $25 million art collection to the Italian-imported marble throughout the resort. If you have a taste for the decadent, you won’t be disappointed.

Morning: Savor the resort’s breathtaking views of the Sonoran Desert while enjoying a classic American breakfast on the patio at Il Terrazzo. If you brought the kids along, drop them off at the Funician Kids Club for a day of activities, or hit one of the resort’s nine pools—one of which has a 164-foot waterslide. If you’re up for competition, bring your game to the tennis complex or the 27-hole championship golf course. Otherwise, kick back at the four-star Centre for Well-Being spa with a holistic massage or hot stone ritual.

Afternoon: Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the resort’s 250 acres with a guided tour of the 2-acre cactus garden, an audio tour of the resort’s extensive art collection, including Navajo rugs and French tapestries, or getting your fashion fix at The Phoenician Retail Arcade. Voted Best Afternoon Tea by the Phoenix New Times, the traditional English tea service at the Lobby Tea Court, complete with finger sandwiches, scones, pastries and a selection of fine blends, is a can’t-miss amenity.

Night: After your day in the sun, settle down for gourmet burgers—think Kobe and salmon—at Relish Burger Bistro, which also happens to have one of the largest tequila collections in Arizona and more than 70 selections of premium beer. Top it all off with homemade ice cream and pastries at the Café & Ice Cream Parlor, or with a cigar on the scenic patio of the Thirsty Camel. (thephoenician.com)

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale

 With its rustic sophistication, adobe-style architecture and mountainous location, the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North’s services complement its environment and provide a Scottsdale experience like no other.

Morning: Take a stroll from your casita to the resort’s new restaurant, Proof American Canteen, for a menu that features everything from smoked salmon to chocolate waffles with bacon brittle. If you’re feeling up to the challenge, become a cowboy or cowgirl for the day with horseback riding and gun shooting lessons. For a more modern Scottsdale experience, you can opt to play at one of the resort’s two championship golf courses—which earned the resort a place among Golf Digest’s Top 75 Best Golf Resorts—or at a Nova Pro tennis court.

Afternoon: To maximize your sun time, lounge by one of the pools while cooling down with complimentary chilled towels, frozen fruit and Evian spritzes. Pop by Saguaro Blossom for light lunch fare before heading to the spa for Massage 101, where you’ll learn massage techniques while receiving a massage. For even more of an escape, book an appointment for head-to-toe pampering while the kids relax with the spa’s Bubble Gum Bash for Kids, which includes hair, manicure and pedicure services for little heads, hands and feet.

Night: Begin your night with wine tasting at Talavera, where you’ll sip top wines from around the world. When the sun goes down, take to the outdoors for a picnic under the stars (you can set the kids up with a movie and snacks in the casita). The resort offers stargazing with a professional telescope and a picnic basket dining option. After all, the ideal way to spend a night in Scottsdale is outdoors. (fourseasons.com/scottsdale)

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

 Experience royal treatment Scottsdale style at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, where Spanish colonial architecture collides with the majestic Arizona desert landscape.

Morning: Grab a seat at LV Bistro for a casual breakfast with classics like eggs Benedict and Belgian waffles while enjoying a beautiful view of the south pool. After breakfast, take your pick of the five swimming pools, including the Sonoran splash with two water slides, to spend the morning soaking up the sun.

Afternoon: In the afternoon, take aim where the pros do at either the Stadium Course or the Champions Course, where the annual PGA Tour Waste Management Phoenix Open takes place. If relaxation is what you’re seeking, make your way to the Willow Stream Spa, inspired by the Havasupai falls and named among The Best Scottsdale Spas by Travel + Leisure. With a rooftop pool and traditional Native American treatments that involve local ingredients—like jojoba oil and cloth made with fiber from cacti plants—the spa makes the most of its locale. There are also a number of treatments specifically created for men, like the Gentleman’s Barber Facial.

Night: A modern approach to a 1950s beach club, The Stone Rose Lounge features outdoor fire pits and signature cocktails, making it the perfect spot for a pre-dinner drink in this desert escape. After you quench your thirst, treat yourself to Richard Sandoval’s award-winning Mexican cuisine at La Hacienda. Try one of the 200 tequila varieties while savoring traditional Mexican recipes with a fresh twist. (fairmont.com/scottsdale)

The Hip Hotel

The W Scottsdale is cutting-edge and comfortable all at once. With a prime location downtown that allows easy access to all of the city’s attractions, W guests are the exception to the don’t-leave-the-resort rule.

Morning: Take a few laps around the Wet Pool, which is outfitted with underwater lighting and music, or a quick run through the Sweat Fitness Center to jumpstart your day. Walk over to Old Town Scottsdale for boutiques, art galleries and restaurants galore. With the myriad of museums in the Scottsdale Art District and Scottsdale Fashion Square’s many shops ranging from fine to funky, you’ll have plenty to explore. If you’re up for a trek, hop on a bike and ride to Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, studio and architectural campus, Taliesin West.

Afternoon: After you get your fill of shopping and sightseeing, head back to your hotel for a rejuvenating treatment at Bliss Spa. With a luxe nail lounge, a long list of relaxing treatments and 4,000 square feet of beautifying space, the spa ensures that you’ll come out looking and feeling your best. Choose from whimsical services like the head-to-‘glow’ and fatgirlslim treatments.

Night: Once you’ve been scrubbed and polished, stop by the hotel’s indoor/outdoor bar, Shade Lounge, for a fresh fruit mojito and music, or head to Sushi Roku for fresh sushi rolls and hot and cold sakes. Old Town Scottsdale offers many equally enticing dining options within walking distance, including FnB, a local farm-to-table favorite, as well as lounges, bars and clubs in the entertainment district. Check what shows are playing at nearby theaters for an evening of entertainment to end your Scottsdale day on a high note. (wscottsdalehotel.com)

The Spa Retreat

Book your spa treatments when you book your room at Montelucia Resort & Spa, a Mediterranean-inspired sanctuary tucked away at the foot of Camelback Mountain.

Morning: Detoxify your body and clear your mind with an early morning Flow Yoga class or guided hike up the awe-inspiring Camelback Mountain. After your workout, cool off with a dip at one of the resort’s three pools—the seaside-inspired Kasbah Pool, peaceful Oasis Pool or rooftop Joya Terrace Pool.

Afternoon: Before your spa session, head to the spa’s rooftop to Joya Terrace & Juice Bar, where you’ll find cocktails, light dishes and snacks. The spa, which boasts a full-service salon, uses signature products and treatments inspired by a special night blooming cactus, known as Arizona queen of the night. You can also enjoy Moroccan-themed treatments with aromatherapy argan oil blends to help clients achieve calm.

Night: Make sure to stop by one of the resort’s stores—Dulcinea, which carries high-end designers, or the more casual Joya Boutique, to pick up a little something for yourself or your loved ones. Finish off your day of tranquility with outdoor dining at Prado, where you’ll enjoy international cuisine prepared with Arizona’s freshest ingredients. For more of a kick, take a seat inside at Mbar to choose from a large selection of 100 percent agave tequilas. (montelucia.com) LBM

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