A stay at The Boulders Resort & Spa is a must for anyone seeking serenity in a stunning desert setting. Built around a 12 million-year old, massive boulder pile that evokes a sense of awe, this luxury Hilton Curio resort located half hour from Scottsdale is a perfect hideaway for rest and rejuvenation. On the mile long drive up to the main lodge, you’ll find yourself passing tall saguaro cacti and vibrant palo verde trees set amidst the rugged Sonoran. The newly renovated main lodge invites guests to take in the ambience of the Old West, complete with authentic accent rugs on the walls and warmth permeating from the large fireplace.
Casitas and Villas
The resort features 160 guest casitas and 62 villas. Spread over 1,300 acres and blending into the natural terrain, many border two 18-hole championship golf courses designed by Jay Morrish, Arizona’s only Platinum Medal award winner. Accommodations feature Southwestern décor and amenities including wood-burning fireplaces, beamed ceilings, natural stone showers, expansive dressing areas, and balconies that open to the stunning landscaping. Don’t be surprised if you see a bunny scurrying around the trees. Those seeking family get togethers can rent the standalone villas and haciendas.
With four crystal-blue swimming pools, eight tennis courts and golfing – including a special package for women, where margaritas and chips are served in the practice room – there’s plenty to do on the property. If that’s not enough, there’s shopping at El Pedregal, a short walk from the resort, where you can find upscale boutiques and specialty stores featuring clothing, accessories, art, and souvenirs.
For nature lovers, there’s moonlight biking, stargazing with an astronomer, scenic guided hikes, and a tour of the boulders with Rico Riley. Rico is not just an experienced hiker and mountain climber; he has spent decades at the resort, providing guests with valuable information about the fascinating topography, flora, fauna, and the story behind the boulders. His “Walk the Rock” hiking tour includes a close-up look at the amazing Levitation Rock formation, and a search for artifacts left behind by the Hohokam Indians, who mysteriously disappeared in the mid-1400s. Those interested in rock climbing can get a thrill from scaling one of the boulders with Rico’s help.
The best part of The Boulders is the spa experience, where guests are invited to reflect in the outdoor Zen garden or traipse the labyrinth prior to treatments. The 33,000 square foot spa incorporates elements of feng shui while staying true to the Native American influences of the region, evident in the authentic Tipi designated for guided meditation. The 24 treatment spaces are named after earth elements, including Sun, Eagle, and Waves. Whether you’re indulging in an Ayurvedic massage, an eco-conscious facial, or detoxifying in the steam room or sauna, you’ll find this luxurious spa offers everything you need for an ultimate renewal. The Sun Room overlooking the boulders can be rented out by couples looking to spend a half day or longer to enjoy the hot tub and have a gourmet lunch brought to the room.
The 5,000 square foot organic garden provides the herbs – such as sage, lavender, sweet Italian basil, spearmint – that are used in the Spa Cafe. After an invigorating treatment, treat yourself to a gourmet, healthy meal, where you can walk in with your robe. Now, that’s catering to your comfort! It’s no wonder the Boulders Spa is considered one of the best wellness retreats in the country.
For a fun dining experience, head to the Spotted Donkey Cantina at El Pedregal. This energetic restaurant, which is part of the resort but open to the public, offers a contemporary spin on Mexican cuisine with a touch of Southwestern influence. Dishes are made from locally sourced ingredients, and the service is top notch. From fresh, sizzling fajitas to an impressive tequila list including Herradura Reposado, there’s surely something for every palate.
Other restaurants on property include the Palo Verde, located in the main lodge overlooking the South Course and the charming duck pond, and the Grill Kitchen & Bar featuring an exhibition kitchen, fireplace, and outdoor seating with sweeping views of the lush 18th hole fairways.
Sonoran Desert Experience
If you’re up for a true Sonoran Desert adventure, the resort will arrange pickup for an early morning or late afternoon hot air balloon flight with Hot Air Expeditions. Soar above the landscape with the help of an experienced pilot. Take in the expansiveness and grandeur of the desert as you gently glide 5,000 feet above the terrain with towering mountain ranges in the distance. Upon landing, enjoy a picnic with your fellow mates, complete with flutes of champagne and gourmet cuisine, a custom dating back more than 100 years.
We hope you have a wonderful stay at the enchanting desert oasis of The Boulders on your next visit to Scottsdale!
About the Author: Lavanya Sunkara is a writer based in New York. Her love of adventure has taken her all over the world from Australia to Zanzibar. When she’s not traveling, she’s hiking with her dog, and planning her next getaway. Follow her on twitter @Nature_Traveler. Read her articles at www.nature-traveler.com.
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