WHERE IS IT? This resort is a legendary property that has welcomed sun-seekers and conference guests for decades. The casita-style accommodations are laid out across the grounds in a village setup connected by grassy patios and garden walkways. The drive to Phoenix/Scottsdale airport is only about 25 minutes, and those interested in exploring the art galleries and entertainment of Old Town Scottsdale need only drive about five minutes to get there.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? The adobe-style architecture and beautiful grounds of the resort cover 125 acres in the Sonoran Desert. Entering the lobby, guests notice a sign that says “Where Time Stands Still,” and it certainly feels that way within the confines of this resort. The brick adobe walls of the lobby were handmade and date back to the 1930s. Clark Gable and Bette Davis are among the many celebrities who have stayed here in its 85 years of operation. Marriott acquired the property (its first resort) in the 1960s, and it continues to be a favorite of the Marriott family and serves as a flagship for the brand. During COVID times, the resort was following Marriott’s Commitment to Clean program with face masks required in public areas, limited housekeeping, hand sanitizer stations everywhere, and social distancing measures in place.
ROOM FACILITIES Fresh from renovations, the casitas and suites look modern without giving up the Southwestern accents that make this place so special. They feature their own private patios or balconies, and seven of the suites have their own pools. Plush JW Marriott duvets cover the pillowtop mattresses, and bedside power and USB outlets provide convenience. I found the power outlets in the alarm clock to be faster at charging, however. I appreciated how the rooms feature a microwave, refrigerator, wet bar and Keurig coffeemaker. In addition to a large dining table, which doubles as a desk, there are cozy armchairs and sofas to enjoy in the air conditioning. During my stay, the weather was perfect (not too warm, not too cold), and the option to sit on my patio was a great addition to my room. Bathrooms are bright with two separate vanity areas (one with the toilet and glass shower) and a second within the wardrobe area. This allows two people to get ready simultaneously without being in each other’s way. Stacks of towels and JW Marriott’s familiar and aromatic Aromatherapy Associates toiletries with lavender and ylang ylang were in full supply.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS With seven restaurants, it would be easy to stay on property and enjoy ample variety (although you’d miss out on Old Town Scottsdale’s great dining and shopping). Onsite restaurants include Rita’s Cantina and Patio serving three meals a day facing the resort’s outdoor lounge and fire pit area. Live music often entertains, and this is a popular gathering place with a Southwestern menu that is out of this world. The resort’s steakhouse serves as a fine dining option for dinner, and a Starbucks venue near reception is a convenient grab-and-go spot. There’s also light fare available by the pool and at the spa.
LEISURE FACILITIES This resort destination has it all with 36 holes of golf and six tennis courts for sports fans. Four swimming pools, a basketball court, and putting green provide ample options including an adults-only pool and one reserved for the use of spa goers. Hiking and biking trails (bikes are available to borrow from reception) surround the property. A 24-hour fitness center is well-stocked with high-end equipment and a fridge of bottled water (complimentary as part of the $35 resort fee). Other resort fee benefits include parking and use of the driving range among other things. The spa here is a don’t-miss experience with 32 treatment rooms, impressive men’s and women’s lounge areas with plunge pools, sauna, steam room and al fresco relaxation areas. There’s a heated, outdoor lap pool here reserved for those getting treatments. The main pool, known as Jackrabbit Pool has plenty of lounge chairs, umbrellas plus a whirlpool and family pool.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES Conventions are big business here with beautiful meeting spaces, some of which open to al fresco terraces for receptions. Many outdoor functions use the lawns spread across the grounds. Free wireless Internet works well all around the property including by the pools. I really appreciated the Distanced in the Desert (WFH) package that offers guests the chance to “work from hotel” rather than from home. I noticed several families doing this with their kids. The package includes a $100 resort credit for dining or spa services.
VERDICT Dramatic mountain vistas and a laidback charm make this resort a quintessential Scottsdale resort experience.
HOW MANY ROOMS? 453 rooms and suites
PROPERTY HIGHLIGHTS Beautiful backdrop of Camelback Mountain with impressive dining and a lavish spa
PRICE Internet rates for a traditional room start at $254
CONTACT 5402 East Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale, Arizona 85253, Phone 480-948-1700.