REVIEW: The Boulders Resort and Spa, Scottsdale, Arizona
By Helen Wright
- Location North Scottsdale
- Bed comfiness 9/10
- Pool Three pools
- WIFI Resort-wide free wifi
- Parking Valet parking and (free) self parking available.
- Best thing? Unique landscape
- Worst thing? Air con noise
- The all-important plug by the bed? Yes
Welcome to passportstamps.uk. Below is my honest review of Boulders Resort Scottsdale after our amazing trip to Arizona. This stay was not comped or gifted by the hotel.
The Boulders Resort and Spa represents everything that I love about Arizona. Those who follow my travels on this site and on social media know that I have a love affair with Arizona going back a fair few years now. On my first visit, in 2010, I admit I had no idea what to expect. But, I now know it’s somewhere you can go to just relax, look out at the infinite desert view and feel small (in a good way), forget your troubles and enjoy the simple luxury of peace and quiet. If that sounds like the kind of thing you’re after – look no further. The Boulders, Scottsdale is a luxury resort set over 1,300 acres of Sonoran desert and designed around a collection of 12 million-year-old balancing rocks (boulders). A celebration of the natural landscape coupled with luxury lodgings make this a perfect hideaway in the desert and we loved it.
ROOM TO STRETCH OUT
I would describe this hotel as being like the neighbourhood The Flintstones would live in if they won the Stone Age lottery. Like the Andaz Scottsdale, the resort is made up of a series of Casitas (the Spanish word for little house), although there is nothing little about the rooms here. The private entranceway leads onto a huge open-plan room with an enormous bed, two cosy chairs sat around a fireplace and patio doors which open onto a small balcony.
I loved the design of the hotel which was minimalist yet cosy. The rooms have traditional stone walls and floors, with accents throughout showcasing Arizona prints and motifs. Design-wise, the resort manages the near impossible feat of being flashy and proud, whilst remaining understated in its quiet luxury. The room welcomes you with a hug and you just want to stoke up the fire and sit around it wrapped in a blanket – even though it’s almost 100 degrees fahrenheit outside!
The bed was enormous. At a guess I would say you could fit five full-size men in there but I’m guessing that probably isn’t encouraged… On a couple of mornings, Simon got up early to play golf on one of two beautiful courses and I got the rare chance to just sit in bed with a large cup of coffee and enjoy in the view outside. Certainly not complaining but super soft pillows and sheets made it pretty difficult to get up. Luckily there was plenty to see and do outside!
My only real criticism of the room is that the air conditioning unit was quite noisy. The constant hum wasn’t too bad but as we had set climate control, if the unit switched off, it would suddenly thunder on again with a roar once the temperature went up, waking us up. We solved the problem by turning it off during the night, which was fine as the stone walls and floor do keep the room cool.
ARIZONA LOVES A BIG BATHROOM
The theme of Scottsdale’s oversized bathrooms continues here. There was a separate bath and shower alongside a huge dresser and mirror. Tucked away in the corner was also a sizeable walk-in wardrobe. Other amenities like a safe, ironing board, umbrella, coffee machine, fridge and hairdryer were also in the room as standard. Yes, I could happily move in here.
When it comes to storage and space to arrange your luggage, this can be an underrated luxury if you are staying somewhere for more than a week. Our casita had so much room to unpack and organise your personal belongings and that created a home-away-from-home feel.
TOP DOLLAR VIEW
The unique layout of the resort meant that almost every room has a stunning view of the surrounding desert. I had some work to do during my trip and relocating my ‘office’ to the balcony was a joy. In the evening, we sat outside in the dark and enjoyed a bottle of wine with a view of only the stars and the sound of the odd scurry from desert animals and birds. It was gorgeous.
A tour of The Boulders, Scottsdale including room and resort videos can be seen on my Instagram Story Highlights – check them out here!
REVIEW OF THE BOULDERS, SCOTTSDALE CONTINUES BELOW:
EATING IN – the Palo Verde restaurant
I really liked the hotel’s main house area too, which also embodied the understated luxury vibe with spacious lounge areas and striking art, fittings and furniture. We had dinner at the Palo Verde restaurant, which looks over the south golf course and has a relaxed feel. Cheekily, we got a table in the restaurant’s wine room, which is never a bad thing in my eyes!
A resort like this is, by its appeal, quite remote and so a restaurant that serves interesting and good quality food is a must. Eating off-resort requires a drive and there is a comfort in knowing you can eat too much and then waddle back to your room. There was a wide choice, but we sampled the Gnocchi, fish of the day and charred octopus and all were delicious.
This spot, Rosie’s Rock, made it into our list of the Most Instagrammable places in Scottsdale.
Exploring outside is, surely, the reason most guests come to Scottsdale and there is so much to do and see here without leaving the resort. First up was a chance to find out more about the incredible boulders and the history behind them. The 12 million-year-old granite rock formations are also known as precarious boulders and were a result of an earthquake along the San Andreas fault line in California (pretty cool, huh? Although, probably not if you lived here at the time I would imagine). Through the resort concierge, we booked a Boulder Walk Tour with in-house guide, Rico. The tour is tailored to your ability and interests and resident local, Rico, is a wealth of knowledge about the area. The ‘hike’ required some fitness but was on a marked trail and as we neared the top we were given the option of an extra, more strenuous, climb to get a fantastic panoramic view of Scottsdale. For real adventure-seekers, there is a more extreme tour that gives visitors the chance to climb the rock and abseil down which looked terrifying but brilliant fun.
AWARD-WINNING GOLF COURSE
The resort actually has two beautiful golf courses and many guests come here to get out on the fairway. There is an exclusive members-only clubhouse with its own restaurant, bar and pool, but this is also open to guests of the Boulders Scottsdale. The award-winning courses, as well as being wonderful to play on (Simon tells me) are intimately weaved around the natural landscape making it one of the most unique places in the world to play a round of golf. The year-round weather in Scottsdale (this place has 310 sunny days a year) clearly adds to the appeal but expect to be up early to tee off as that desert heat can intensify after lunch. Sporty types can also rent bikes and play tennis with the opportunity to book a session with a professional coach.
PLACES TO RELAX
Fear not, you can visit The Boulders, Scottsdale if you don’t play golf and there is so much to do. The Spa at The Boulders is another top area for relaxing – 33,000q ft of space, to be exact. That is the thing about Arizona – there is space to stretch out. Living in London, this is something very appealing to many. Situated separately from the main resort, with its own cafe and spa, those who prefer their R&R horizontal can kick back for a day of peace and pampering. After the marginally strenuous boulder climb, I opted for the 50 minute Desert Zen massage, $155 (spot a theme here?). It was so relaxing I tragically fell asleep through some of it! I woke up feeling refreshed and rebooted though and I guess that’s the point.
SUNSET OVER SCOTTSDALE
I love the energetic vibe of Scottsdale with the added opportunity to get away from it all in your own desert hideaway, just half an hour away. The Boulders Resort and Spa is just shy of the Scottsdale city limit and around 45 minutes to Pheonix Sky Harbor airport. Staying at this beautiful resort (voted best hotel in Arizona in 2017!) reminded me of the Four Seasons, Scottsdale where I stayed on my first visit. A luxury hotel that embraces and celebrates its landscape while providing a perfect place to chill out in the sun. When Simon wants to go back and play golf, I will happily sit in bed for a week, drinking coffee in a fluffy robe looking out at the saguaro in my garden. Bliss.
READ MORE ARIZONA POSTS:
Where to find the best Instagram spots in Scottsdale
Want to live the cowboy life? Our time at Arizona Cowboy College
TRIVIA: Things you probably don’t know about Arizona
VIDEO: Our first trip to Scottsdale, Arizona