A 4+ hour direct flight from Toronto and we are in a much different, sunny and warm place.
We started our trip visiting good friends, enjoying lots of laughs and reflecting on nearly 20 years to friendship. 18 holes at the Trilogy Golf Club at Vistancia in Peoria, and sharing a fabulous SuperBowl party and win for the Broncos with like-minded Bronco fans were added bonuses.
After a few days visit, our next stop was the Boulders Resort in North Scottsdale. It is truly a special place that has remained unchanged over the years. Driving the winding road through the high Sonoran desert en route to the Resort, we feel an immediate sense of tranquility. Honestly, once you are here you do not want to leave.
Located just south of Carefree and set amidst multiple rock outcroppings on the shoulder of Black Mountain (hence the name), the pueblo-style resort buildings almost disappear into the surrounding landscape. Our room for the next few days is rustic yet elegant, with a view of the desert. They even offer night vision binoculars to spot the many critters that inhabit the desert after nightfall. After settling in we enjoy the afternoon lounging at the pool and looking up at the water trickling down the rock face – absolutely lovely.
Scottsdale is a golfer’s paradise. And, if you are a golfer, we highly recommend playing one or both of the two award-winning courses at the Boulders. This time, we played 18 holes on the North course which was a very beautiful, somewhat challenging course. Our iPhone cameras were out on many holes to capture the North course scenery – and the South is even more spectacular.
If you prefer tennis, the first-class tennis facilities at the Boulders have been ranked as one of the “Top 50 Tennis Resorts in America” by TENNIS Magazine.
We didn’t have an opportunity to indulge in a spa treatment, but would recommend it as the spa building and environment are very nice, complete with its own pool, fitness center (including yoga room), herb garden, juice bar and cafe.
Our thoughts on dining in the Boulders area:
The Spotted Donkey – very good Mexican fare. Unfortunately the service was spotty the night we dined there – our waitress actually forgot about us – but perhaps that was because the restaurant was packed. 3 1/2*
Palo Verde – located at the Boulders resort, we dined here our first night. While the atmosphere is very nice, the food was good, not great. We were, however, happy to enjoy a selection of California wines at reasonable prices which probably added to our rating! 3 1/2*
The Boulders is world famous and highly ranked by many writers as one of America’s top golf resorts (including the likes of Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, Forbes and Golf Magazine). This high praise is well-deserved for those who love serenity, high desert, and great golf.
After the Boulders, we were excited to connect with family at the Phoenician, a bit South in the heart of Scottsdale. Very different from the Boulders, on entering this grand resort with meticulously manicured grounds at the foot of Camelback Mountain one gets a feel that is reminiscent of a fine Las Vegas casino.
The Phoenician also is a highly rated property and has received many accolades over the years, including the AAA 5 diamond ranking. Our home for the next fews days is a very nice suite overlooking one of the many pools in this 200+ acre resort. Shortly after we arrive, we head to the pool to relax and enjoy the sun.
On Saturday we met up with family for a fun-filled weekend, including a golf day at the Phoenician. The Phoenician has a 27-hole championship course comprised of three nine hole courses. Mark played the Desert and Oasis 9s with the fam, both stunning courses. The Phoenician has been ranked among the “Top 75 Golf Resorts in America” by Golf Digest, and was named “North America’s Leading Golf Resort” by the World Travel Awards. Well worth the price.
Fantastic tennis and spa facilities are also available – unfortunately, neither of which we had the opportunity to experience first-hand. Visiting the facilities, however, there is little doubt that the Forbes 4* ranked luxury spa and full-service salon are certain to please. As is the picture perfect, award-winning Tennis Garden.
On Valentines Day we headed North to the Cave Creek Regional Park for a fantastic 5+ mile hike on the Go John trail with scenic views of the Sonoran Desert. A must hike but be sure to bring lots of water!
Our thoughts re dining in Scottsdale:
Blue Adobe Grill – very good Mexican fare. Live music, outdoor seating – in a mall parking lot – but otherwise really enjoyable. 4*
The Thirsty Camel – located on the terrace at the Phoenician, we enjoyed a light sushi dinner under the stars. 3 1/2*
Il Terrazzo – Italian cuisine also located at the Phoenician. A very nice atmosphere and good cuisine. A price fix menu only is offered on Holidays. 3 1/2*
After another beautiful Scottsdale sunset and 10 warm days with blue skies and no clouds, we head home to a Toronto winter. We hope to return to Arizona soon.
… Mark & Dana …