Anatomy of a Grand Weekend Getaway at Boulders Resort & Spa Arizona
Amid my considerably hectic work schedule and family life, I’ve become a master of the “micro-vacation” – those long weekend getaways that strike just the right balance of relaxation, adventure and indulgence to suitably satisfy my persistent wanderlust.
A recent micro-jaunt took me to Phoenix, Ariz., America’s sixth-largest city, where cowboys continue to roam and the red rock-laden topography is peppered with the kind of cactus some only see in cartoons. The city’s enduring southwestern backdrop is not only an indelible draw for me, but also for 16 million other leisure visitors who trek to Greater Phoenix each year for some fun in the Sonoran Desert sun.
At the center of this itinerary is the Boulders Resort & Spa, which is located just north of Phoenix in the quaint town of Carefree.
Noon: Arrive in Phoenix.
1 p.m.: Lunch at Gertrude’s Restaurant in Phoenix’s famed Desert Botanical Garden.
Gertrude’s is known for its seasonally inspired cooking that combines American favorites with classic cooking techniques and avors from around the globe. Fresh herbs and vegetables from Gertrude’s patio and the community garden located on property at the Desert Botanical Garden are found in most everything that is served. The Desert Botanical Garden offers the world’s nest collection of arid land plants from deserts around the world in a unique outdoor setting.
4 p.m.: Check into the Boulders Resort & Spa.
One of the world’s most celebrated hideaways, Boulders Resort & Spa is named for the 12-million-year-old granite boulders that dot the landscape. The resort’s newly renovated guest casitas and villas are shaped into the natural terrain, many bordering the two 18-hole championship golf courses. This special desert hideaway also offers eight tennis courts, six distinctive on- site restaurants and a 33,000-square-foot spa. The Boulders also offers outdoor adventure activities that begin right on the resort grounds, from rock climbing, the new waterfall rappel, horseback rides, hikes, bicycling and desert fly fishing to hot air balloon rides, private helicopter tours and desert photo tours.
7:30 p.m.: Dinner at the Boulders’ on-site Palo Verde Restaurant.
Chef Brian Archibald offers a new contemporary southwestern cuisine that respects the integrity of the region and incorporates local Arizona ingredients and freshly foraged products from the resort’s organic garden.
8 a.m.: Fitness center.
10 a.m.: Breakfast at the resort’s on-site Spa Cafe.
There is a special energy and spirit here, where people can interact in easy harmony with nature. Early mornings are magical when the spectacular desert sunrise casts a warm golden glow on the 12-million-year-old boulder formations.
11 a.m.: Boulder Trek guided walk.
This 50-minute adventure trek includes information about how, 12 million years ago, a geologic eruption left a series of massive rock formations. There is also fascinating background on the topography, ora, fauna and historical sites, with petroglyphs, solstice sightings and more.
12:30 p.m.: Check into the Spa at the Boulders.
This 33,000-square-foot facility is a full service spa where guests find restoration, pampering and renewed energy. The facility incorporates the elements of feng shui and a Zen-like ambiance while staying true to the natural environs and Native American influences of the region. Its 24 treatment spaces are complemented by such signature elements as a labyrinth (path to tranquility), an authentic Tipi for guided meditation, private Watsu pool, Vichy treatments, couples spa suites and a 5,600-square-foot organic garden.
Afternoon at leisure: Enjoy many other fun and relaxing activities the resort has to offer.
Lounging poolside at your choice of four resort pools is always a great option, especially during the hotter months. Or, if you’re hankerin’ to get out on the gorgeous greens, play a round of golf.
8 p.m.: Dinner and evening activities at the nearby Carefree Cave Creek.
Located in the foothills north of Phoenix, Cave Creek and Carefree, Ariz., are adjacent towns with a unique natural environment in common but contrasting personalities. The air is cooler and cleaner than in the city, and the location is ideal for day trips south to Phoenix or north to Sedona, Prescott, Jerome and Flagstaff. With so much going for them, it’s hardly surprising that these sister communities have been capturing the hearts and imaginations of countless visitors for well over a century.
8 a.m.: Fitness center.
9:30 a.m.: Breakfast at the resort’s on-site Bakery Cafe.
Grab your morning coffee, some sweet and savory pastries or a quick breakfast-to-go in this cozy Bakery Café.
10:30 a.m.: Shopping and horseback riding at Carefree Cave Creek.
2 p.m.: Day trip to Butter y Wonderland and OdySea Aquarium.
Butterfly Wonderland is Scottsdale’s newest destination attraction and largest glass-enclosed butter y conservatory in America. It features a magnificent glass atrium that brings a tropical rainforest environment to the Arizona desert, as well as educational laboratories and interactive exhibits, a 3D movie theater, gift shop and a café-style dining area. OdySea Aquarium offers an entertaining, educational and interactive experience for guests of all ages by combining theme-park-style amusement with highly engaging presentations of aquatic life. It is located adjacent to Butterfly Wonderland.
8 p.m.: Dinner at the resort’s on-site Spotted Donkey Cantina.
Fresh, lively and energetic, the resort’s Spotted Donkey Cantina embraces Arizona’s southwestern influences with cantina-style dishes and western flavors in a relaxing atmosphere.
By Merilee Kern