Arizona, the Grand (Canyon) State

Like many of our Adventure Travel clients, I’ve spent much of the past 18 months itching to travel. When I had the opportunity to book a vacation for my husband and I, I immediately knew the timing was perfect to head out West and visit one of my favorite domestic destinations—Arizona.

Andaz Scottsdale, an Urban Oasis

We kicked off the vacation with a night at the Andaz Scottsdale. This urban oasis is absolutely stunning—the grounds are impeccable and everything about the property gives such a sense of place. Just a 20-minute drive from PHX airport, the location definitely feels residential. However, once you enter the property, the calming atmosphere transports vacationers into immediate relaxation. The mid-century desert décor aesthetic had me wanting to explore the entire resort.
The room product here is amazing. Everything is well planned, and my bungalow was extremely spacious. I’m not one to write about a shower, but let me tell you—this shower is worth mentioning! The bathroom is fantastic with lots of natural light, and the private sun deck off the back of the bungalow is a really nice place to relax. The Southwestern desert décor and midcentury modern touches carry throughout the resort, and it fit perfectly in the destination.
In terms of location, Scottsdale has world-class golf and plenty of shopping, as well as hiking and outdoor activities for nature lovers. Old Town Scottsdale is a short drive from the resort, and is lined with adorable shops—perfect for picking up a local souvenir.
This property would be perfect for a long weekend getaway. Girls’ Trips, Guys’ Trips, couples’ trips—I think this resort is perfect for so many fun occasions! While there were children on property, I didn’t see many. This wasn’t a huge surprise since I visited during summer low-season, but I would rather go back to this fun, hip property on a kid-free trip.

The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain

After our short time in Scottsdale, it was time to make the drive south to Marana. The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain has long been on my short list of places to visit, so we knew this was a must during the trip out West. I thought that my years of sending clients to this secluded property would prepare me, but I must admit that it exceeded my expectations. The resort is nestled in the Tortolita Mountains in the Sonoran Desert, so it’s completely surrounded by stunning natural beauty.
I rode in the cart for my husband’s earliest tee time ever—6:30 AM. While I was really sad to miss a Ritz-Carlton breakfast, the property’s “To-Go” shop has the best green smoothie I’ve ever tasted, and they’re open early for grab-and-go breakfast. The views were so spectacular—I didn’t even mind the early wake-up call. He was fortunate to play with a sweet couple who were visiting the resort for their birthdays, even though they were local and lived just a short distance away. They pointed out interesting local flora and fauna along the course, and we realized we wanted to learn more about desert life. The next morning, we took a guided hike with the ranger on property. My husband and I are in decent shape and are capable hikers, but we were both very glad to have an expert to navigate the mountainous terrain. Ranger Steve kept us moving at a great pace so we were able to complete the hike before the heat really set in. We saw gorgeous cacti, epic views, and even some historic petroglyphs.
Back in the comfort of the Ritz-Carlton, we were happy to relax the day away poolside. There is also a waterslide and kid-friendly pool that will keep the entire family entertained for hours! Poolside service at the restaurant means you don’t have to leave your lounge chair for a cold drink or some delicious bites. While my husband and I were delighted to have a rare getaway for just the two of us, we did find ourselves laughing over how much the kids would have loved this resort. And the Ritz-Kids program means travelers can have the best of both worlds—time to relax and time for family fun. I can easily see myself taking the kids for a fun day of exciting activities while I enjoy another treatment at the incredible spa.

Fit for Foodies

You really don’t need a car here, and there are enough resort activities to keep the most active travelers busy. However, my husband and I like to explore so we were thrilled to have a Jeep to get out in the evenings and drive around. Admittedly, I mostly used him as a chauffeur so I could look for wildlife and witness the most amazing sunsets I’ve seen in my life. Tucson is less than 30 minutes from the resort, and I was probably too excited to learn of the city’s designation as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, boasting the “Best 23 miles of Mexican Food” in the United States. I cannot confirm that it is the best, but I gained at least five pounds on the trip if that tells you anything. Next time I visit, I will absolutely make time for a bike/food tour to visit some of the local favorites.

Weather: What to Expect in the Desert

Of course, weather is something my clients always want to discuss when considering a trip to the desert. “It’s a dry heat.” If I heard it once during my recent trip to Arizona, I heard it 100 times. However, I can honestly say that 115 degrees out West is definitely more manageable than 95 degrees and humidity in the South. While it was unseasonably warm during our trip, I was never miserable. A perk of the summer season is the hours of sunlight each day. You can be active in the morning, or watch wildlife activity from the balcony while drinking your morning coffee. During the heat of the day, the pool is the place to be!
Your travel advisor can help you narrow down the options best suited for your personal vacation needs. Domestic destinations are in high demand these days, so booking early is recommended. Arizona is a great destination for a getaway, no matter which part of the country you call home. From swanky Scottsdale to historic Tucson, a domestic flight is all you need to travel to this cultural gem.

About the Author

Stephanie Locke | Adventure Travel Advisor

Stephanie Locke is a travel advisor in Birmingham, AL, with a passion for experiential travel and off-the-beaten-path adventure. From cage diving with great white sharks in South Africa to taking food tours in Madrid, Stephanie always looks for ways to fully experience a destination. She travels often with her husband and children, gaining firsthand knowledge to helping her clients plan their special family trips.

When working with her clients, Stephanie loves to add unique cultural experiences to connect with each travel destination. She encourages clients to step out of their comfort zone and make their trip exceptionally memorable—even if it’s just sampling local cuisine! Stephanie focuses on building a personal relationship with each client in order to understand each individual’s vacation and travel dreams, and then works to make those a reality for each and every trip.

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