There are plenty of options for lodgings in the Phoenix area, so it really depends on what you’re into—such as pools, golf, or walking distance to a ballpark. With competition between hotels for your tourism dollars, you almost always have options. Peak months of January to April and October will spike the rates. But you can score some smoking deals outside of those heavier-traveled time periods, and the weather will still be much nicer than back home. One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is geographic.
This chapter will help you understand the difference between staying in downtown Phoenix, which is much more of a tourist destination now than ever before, and in Scottsdale or other popular suburbs like Tempe and Glendale. For example, you must consider the distances between places. The Valley is very much like Los Angeles: “20 minutes to everywhere.” Well, that’s only partly true, though you will have to drive most everywhere. Staying in north Scottsdale, for example, puts you more like 45 minutes away from Sky Harbor International Airport and downtown Phoenix.
Keep in mind that Valley hotels are known for their package deals that include golf discounts or spa treatments. Of course, some people might want to stay in a traditional Southwestern-style place, while others prefer a brand-new chic joint with fresh amenities. We have all the options for you to consider before booking your room.
There is nothing like the warm, sunny experience of a Valley resort. To people from cold-weather climates, it’s paradise. The expansive grounds of the resorts in Phoenix and Scottsdale are especially unique with their mansion-like common areas, condo-like casita rooms, and Sonoran Desert landscapes. Families stay on vacation, honeymooners after their wedding receptions, and business groups as part of annual meetings or ceremonies. But locals also take advantage of the resorts for day trips to the spas, golf courses, bars, restaurants, and other amenities considered among the best in the US.
The Valley’s top resorts include the Arizona Biltmore, the Phoenician, the Wigwam, the Boulders, the Four Seasons, and the Scottsdale Fairmont Princess. These are the heavyweights by history, reputation, and consistency. Their world-class offerings are detailed in the following chapter, but other listings outline newer luxury options like the Intercontinental Montelucia in Paradise Valley and reliable family resorts like the Pointe Hilton mountaintop resorts in north Phoenix. While the high-end resorts are worth every penny, and they run their share of tremendous package deals, there’s also a lot of value for travelers in some of the lesser-known Valley resorts that are located closer to casinos, ballparks, and downtown nightlife than some of the traditional spots. From golf getaways to wellness-related retreats, there are plenty of seasonal packages to choose from. Bargains between Thanksgiving and New Year’s are particularly popular; out of the peak spring and fall travel seasons, the area is still a winter getaway for cold-weather travelers.
State tourism authorities claimed 2009 was one of the worst for Valley resorts as fewer people vacationed or indulged in poolside cocktails and lavish meals in the down economy. Still, more than 35 million people visited Arizona and spent more than $16 billion, state officials said. And that was a down year. By 2011 resort occupancies and average daily room rates were up, according to the Arizona Office of Tourism.
The Valley will always be a national destination, no matter the economic forecast. Arizona is known as being a far better value than California. Its diverse mix of outdoor attractions and major cities sets it apart from other West Coast metro areas. People from Europe, Asia, and South America use Valley resorts as launching points to adventures through the Grand Canyon. But it’s the simple details that stand out. The cool of the pool. The green of a desert-framed fairway. The sweetness of that first vacation cocktail. Or the feeling of relaxation from a long-awaited massage. Valley resorts soothe, invigorate, energize, and generate memories with their truly Arizona characteristics.
For those who like to explore the country from a home on wheels, the Phoenix area provides a great place for a break from the highway, especially during the winter months when the desert sun’s power has diminished. Many RV parks nestle in locations with mountain views and come equipped with perks like grocery stores, recreational activities, and spacious shower facilities. Some of the parks are downright luxurious, protected by security gates and enhanced with championship golf courses and resort-like landscaping. The largest of these parks boasts between 1,500 and 2,000 spaces. The range of quality and rates offers something for everyone’s taste and pocketbook.
Most of the RV parks are in the outlying communities of the Northwest and Southeast Valley, like east Mesa and the Sun Cities. That’s also where most snowbirds, or winter-only residents, like to flock. Apache Junction, a few miles east of Mesa, is composed primarily of retirees who call their RVs and mobile homes home at least part of the year. Consequently, the Valley’s RV parks tend to fill with older or retired folks who stay for 2 to 3 months, sometimes longer. They hail from snowy climes such as North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Canada.
If you’re planning to winter in Phoenix at one of these parks, you’ll want to make your reservations early—even as much as a year ahead of time. The months of April and October are less crowded than winter. Because space is more available during the hot summer months, you can often find good summer rates if you ask around. If you enjoy your visit to the Valley enough to consider making the transition from resort to RV park, find an RV community you like and reserve a space for the following year.