Scottsdale, Arizona, in the Sonoran Desert, is rich in sunshine, scenic resorts, golf courses, spas, shopping and Native American art and history. Resorts run the gamut from boutique facilities in the historic Old Town district, to lakeside resorts, to places where golfers can get private lessons and play on world-class courses.
Old Town Resorts
If you want to stay in the heart of Scottsdale -- named The Most Livable City in the United States in 1993 by the U.S. Conference of Mayors -- you'll have numerous selections in the Old Town district. An example is the AAA Four-Diamond FireSky Resort & Spa, which was designed using the four elements of fire, water, air and earth. The 204-room property boasts two pools and a Mediterranean-style lagoon, illustrating the element of water. Fire is represented in the fire pits near the lagoon and earth in the sandy beach featuring cabanas. Air is represented by the clear desert air and the atrium's airy cathedral ceilings.The 3,500-square-foot Jurlique Spa offers treatments and services rooted in Native American culture. Guests can dine in the resort's coastal Italian restaurant or any of the nearby fine dining and casual establishments. The resort offers easy access to Fashion Square and museums and art galleries featuring Native American arts and crafts. Another option is the Scottsdale Marriott Suites Old Town, in the heart of the historic district. The smoke-free AAA Three-Diamond property has 243 suites with oversized marble bathrooms. Other features are a business center, restaurant serving American food with Southwestern flavor, a bar and easy access to fine restaurants, shopping, golf, museums and baseball spring training.
If you'd rather stay near the water, try Millennium Resort McCormick Ranch on Camelback Lake, which bills itself as the "only lakeside resort in Scottsdale." The resort is about three miles from Old Town and 20 miles from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. It offers views of Camelback, fine dining and casual restaurants, a pool with a 20-foot horizontal waterfall, spa facilities and two 18-hole PGA golf courses. Guests can play sand volleyball and tennis or fish the lake. Just a few miles from the attractions in Scottsdale, the resort also provides a good jumping-off point for a visit to Taliesin West, the National Historic Landmark facility that was the winter home and school of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
If you really want to experience the desert, including cacti, cottontail rabbits and quails, there are many resorts that fit the bill. For example, the Scottsdale Cottonwoods Resort & Suites is a secluded 25-acre property set in the Sonoran Desert at the foot of Camelback Mountain. It boasts two pools, putting greens, a restaurant and both rooms and suites -- some with wood-burning beehive fireplaces and patios. The Cottonwoods staff can arrange for guest activities such as hot-air balloon rides, Jeep safaris and tours of Scottsdale. The Borgata shopping center is close to the resort, as are Rawhide Western Town, the Kerr Cultural Center and the Scottsdale Center of the Arts. The luxurious Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale is another expansive desert resort. Guests stay in Southwestern-style casitas high in the foothills of Pinnacle Peak. In addition to its Troon North golf course, fitness center, spa, restaurants and shops, the Four Seasons offers guests activities such as hiking, mountain climbing and biking. The resort is 20 miles from Old Town and 20 minutes from Cave Creek & Carefree Galleries, a colony of artists and craftspeople.
Serious golfers have 250 golf courses from which to choose in Scottsdale, where golf is definitely a year-round sport. For an intense golf focus, try the Orange Tree Golf Resort, a traditional golf property located in a former orange grove in a residential area. Guests can play the resort's 18-hole course, take private lessons from PGA pros, participate in a tournament with other guests or play some of the area's other top courses. The 160 smoke-free suites feature two-person whirlpools and patios or decks. Orange Tree is minutes from downtown Scottsdale and within walking distance of fine dining and casual restaurants. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is another option for serious golfers. The 65-acre resort, which overlooks the Sonoran Desert and offers views of the McDowell Mountains, has two 18-hole courses. The 71-par Stadium Course, with an extra-challenging 15th hole, is host to the annual PGA Tour's Waste Management Phoenix Tournament. The 71-par Champions Course includes a clubhouse with pro shop, patio and large party facilities. A golf concierge will make arrangements for guests and special packages are available. The resort, which features Spanish-style architecture, has five heated pools, five restaurants, a full-service spa and a National Geographic Explorer Camp for Kids.
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