This Scottsdale megaresort opened in 1985 as an Americanized vision of European style, which explains the white marble and gold-etched ceilings in the lobby, the mother-of-pearl tiles lining one of the pools, and the eleven Steinway baby grand pianos (including one in each of the two presidential suites). Over the years, though, the Phoenician has melded with its surroundings to become one of the classic Arizona desert hotel experiences. The 27-hole golf course, the 11 tennis courts, the seven pools (one with a 165-foot waterslide), the spa, the hiking, the alfresco dining, all make it the kind of place people contemplate when they find themselves looking at a closet full of winter coats and scarves. The rooms are spacious, with large Italian marble bathrooms, and have a private terrace or balcony. The service is tiptop, and the kids' club guests recommend not missing the Bunny Hoppy Hour.
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Sitting at the foot of Camelback Mountain, the Phoenician is spread across 250 acres of desert landscape but is within a few minutes' drive of many of the attractions of both Scottsdale and Phoenix. For a serious workout, sign up for the guided two-hour hike up the mountain; during the winter season hikers meet every morning at 7 a.m. in the lobby of the Centre for Well-Being Spa. The resort's $25 million collection of European, Asian, and Native American art is worth taking a tour of, and not just because guests who do will receive two free tickets to the Phoenix Art Museum. Culture satiated, it's less than five minutes from the museum to James Beard winner Nobuo Fukuda's Nobuo at Teeter House for a lunch of Japanese tavern nibbles such as warm duck salad or pork pancakes.
Need to Know
Rooms: From $109, low season; $279 high season. 583 rooms, including 26 suites. Check-in: 4 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Among the 10 restaurants and lounges, Il Terrazzo, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, labels itself nouveau Italia. But in the mornings its breakfast burrito and green ham-and-eggs bring in the crowds. Kobe burgers, 70 choices of beer, and golf course views are on the menu at Relish Burger Bistro, located on the upper level of the golf clubhouse. And it's not just beef lovers (the sautéed dover sole is a special treat) who are drawn to celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's J&G Steakhouse, although it could be that some vegetarians are there just for the desert views. Spa and gym details:Signature treatments at the Centre for Well Being Spa use minerals and plants indigenous to the Southwest.There are 24 treatment rooms, a full-service salon, a meditation atrium, and a 24-hour fitness center.
Who's it for: Travelers who want a classic Arizona resort stay and have kids who can't wait to get in the pool. Our favorite rooms: The room possibilities are so varied that it mostly comes down to personal choice. The casitas are quieter, allow guests to avoid valet parking charges, and can be more convenient for golfers. But they are slightly smaller than the rooms in the main building and can be a hike to the main lobby. In the main building, the choice is primarily between pool, mountain, and golf course views, the higher the better. For trivia buffs: The small double-tower adobe building just to the left when entering the resort is the Jokake Inn, constructed in 1925 as the first building on the property, and made famous in 1987 as a set in the Coen brothers film Raising Arizona.