It’s hot here in Phoenix, with temperatures rising steadily above 110 degrees. While this is reason enough for most of the part-timers and vacationers to leave the city, there’s actually several great reasons to stay in Phoenix. The traffic is cut in half, the golf is cheap, and there are many hotels that one can staycation at for a fraction of the normal price. When we saw the Boulders going for $87 a night with a Hilton MVP rate, we jumped on it!
An Overview of the Boulders
The Boulders was built in the 1980s, with 221 guestrooms spread out over a large amount of acreage. It was once a Waldorf=Astoria resort, but is now a “Curio Collection” hotel, still under Hilton management. Rooms are “casitas” here, starting at 550 square feet, which is what we stayed in, though they can grow in size all the way to full-blown 3-bedroom standalone villas.
The resort features the main lodge, with its main restaurant Palo Verde and lobby bar, as well as one of the resorts’ four pools. This pool straddles one of the amazing boulder rockpiles on the resort property, and is open 24 hours, which I find amazing. Countless times, I arrive too late to use pool facilities, so I thought this was a great feature, especially given the heat during the day.
Other hot spots in the resort is its massive spa complex, complete with its own pool and gym. The resort includes fitness classes in its resort fee. There’s also a restaurant in this area as well. Further on, there is the golf and tennis facilities, which has the Grill and Bogey’s restaurant facilities, 7 tennis courts, and two 18-hole golf courses. Slightly off property, but still associated with the resort, is the Salted Donkey, featuring casual Mexican food.
The Boulders is a bit north of Scottsdale, about 15 miles in the upscale community of Carefree, Arizona. We drove north up Scottsdale Road, and arrived at the gate of the property. We were met by a guard, who handed us a printed parking pass with our name on it, and told us to drive about a mile up the entry road until we hit the Lodge. There, a man met us with our check-in information, Diamond amenities envelope, and certificates and directed us to the self-parking lot, where a golf cart met us to take us to our room.
This part of the experience was flawless- we didn’t even have to step out of our car to check into the hotel. A quick golf cart ride winding through the resort led us to Casita #265, on the second story in a secluded corner on the north side of the resort.
Keep in mind when visiting- there is a $30 per night resort fee, but this includes fitness classes, internet, and tips for the golf cart drivers. You’ll be using them often during your stay, so I was actually happy that they included that in the fee.
The room itself is brand-new, having been renovated in 2015. An entry way led to a living room-area with flatscreen and fireplace.
Of course, it being summer in Arizona, you don’t need it, but it’s available for when you’re there in the winter months.
A very comfortable king bed awaited us, with end tables on either side.
A nice touch were the electrical plugs on either side of the bed, with USB inputs in the wall. The bathroom was spacious, with a separate tub and shower, as well as two sinks with plenty of counter space.
We had a private balcony as well, outfitted with a table and two chairs, and views of the surrounding valley.
Check out the video of the room below:
Note- this resort is in the middle of the desert, and we actually had to kill a scorpion in our room in the middle of our last night. The resort is crawling with wildlife, so if that at all alarms you, maybe try to stay somewhere more in town. You’ll need a flashlight at night, which they thoughtfully provide:
Hilton HHonors Amenities
As a Diamond Member, I received a welcome letter detailing my special amenities:
Complimentary Water Replenished Daily
Complimentary Welcome Beverage in the Discovery Lounge
Complimentary Room Upgrade based on Availability
Notice anything missing? Apparently, Curio is transitioning into a similar category as the Waldorf-Astoria properties, and won’t be required to offer free breakfast in the future. Nothing on the website denotes this, however, and a quick call to the front desk had breakfast vouchers delivered to our door in minutes.
Drinks are expensive in the Discovery Lounge, at $14 each for a cocktail. So, we managed to get about $32 in value after tax and tip from that amenity. Plus, our daily breakfast tab came out to over $50, so $132 plus an upgraded room is good value for my status. Our water, however, was not replenished on the second day.
We had a dinner on property at the Salted Donkey Cantina. They barrel-age their own tequila, which I thought was unique, though be prepared to pay $16 for a margarita to try (though I’ll say it was one of the best I’ve ever had). I went with the carne asada, while Laura went for the fish and shrimp tacos. I thought my carne asada was perfect, but Laura thought the fish was too much batter, not enough fish. Overall, very good quality food, if a bit expensive.
Breakfast at Palo Verde was delicious, though overpriced if you were paying out of pocket. I went with the blue corn waffles, and Laura with the pulled pork and egg. Both were scrumptious, but we both thought service was a little slow.
Our drinks at the Discovery Lounge were delicious, but too expensive, even for a resort. We had the Lemon Berry Crush and the Grapefruit Paloma, which paired well with a dip in the pool.
The first morning, we got up and did a cycling/core class. We found the instructor to be a little rude (possibly hungover?) when setting up our bikes, and the whole class felt a little low energy for the normally-exhausting spin classes we’re used to. The second half of the class was suppose to work our core, but it was more of an instruction on how to use a Bosu Balance Ball. We were left disappointed.
Golf was exceptional, however. With two of the prettiest golf courses around, winding in and around the boulders of the resort, it’s truly one-of-a-kind. Pace of play was a little slow on the back 9, but that’s to be expected.
While we didn’t have a chance to try out the tennis courts, they are free after 11 AM in the summer (normally $25 per hour). Also on offer during the winter months is on-resort rock climbing, at $165 per person.
While it is advertised as a 5-star resort, I feel as if the resort is a solid 4.5 star. My new benchmark for 5-star service is the Conrad Dubai, so the Boulders didn’t quite meet that. The setting is stellar, the resort is great, but I can’t help but feel that it would feel overpriced in the winter months. While many on the resort were incredibly nice, including all of the golf cart drivers, others like the marshalls at the golf course and the fitness instructor were less than courteous.