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Phoenix

Ritzy Retreat

Ritz-Carlton, PhoenixFrom the outside, the Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix seems almost quaint: Surrounded by taller and swankier-looking condominiums, a spa, golf courses, a popular steakhouse — even Senator John McCain’s office — the Ritz isn’t even the ritziest piece of real estate on the block. With such perfect proximity, the Ritz-Carlton makes a perfect base for your next business trip. Clients will be impressed by the digs on the top floor, the only true executive club lounge in the city. Snacks and libations lighten the mood day and night, while a club concierge is on hand for more than 14 hours a day, ready to book your every dinner reservation, massage or tee time. Hint: Parking is limited to valet and a separate underground lot. The underground lot (in the rear of the hotel) is free and sparsely populated on Friday and Saturday nights, but valet is worth the upgrade on weekdays.

2401 E. Camelback Rd.
602-468-0700
www.ritzcarlton.com

Active Arizona

Active-Arizona-smallThe name says “Carefree,” but the picture in my room of a cowboy on horseback roping cattle says “get out and do something!” Not a problem at the Carefree Resort. Hiking trails, a golf course and a botanical garden sit close by, and hot air balloon rides, bicycles, Jeep tours and scooters are all just a phone call away. Power up at the breakfast buffet at the in-house restaurant, The Lariat — which offers plenty of protein and fresh, succulent fruit imported from California — and you’re on your way. Don’t forget to stop and watch the sun set over Phoenix, a picturesque (and dare we say, carefree?) ending to your day.

37220 Mule Train Rd., Carefree
480-488-5300
www.carefree-resort.com

Retro Wonder

Every room at Scottsdale’s Hotel Valley Ho provides plenty of space to work, play, and groove. From the wide-open studio guest rooms to the Tower suites with supremely high ceilings, guests enjoy an abundance of room to stretch and flex in this mid-century modern landmark hotel. The original 1956 property was the first in Phoenix to boast central air conditioning and hosted a steady stream of guests on their way to the Grand Canyon. Hollywood’s Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood held their private wedding reception at Hotel Valley Ho in 1957, and celebrities from Cary Grant, Rock Hudson, Janet Leigh, Tony Curtis, Marilyn Monroe, and Betty Grable were regulars. Jimmy Durante would often show up in the lobby at night when he could not sleep and start playing the piano. With an $80 million renovation in 2005, the hotel’s former glory has been updated to include a martini olive-shaped pool, frosted glass walls, plush lounging furniture, and swivel chairs that play homage to modern populuxe architecture. Squint and you can just imagine Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack breezing through the lobby, frolicking and sipping martini’s poolside — and all of it in ring-a-ding style.

6850 E. Main St.
480-248-2000
www.hotelvalleyho.com

The Wright Stuff

Even though Frank Lloyd Wright isn’t the architect of record for Phoenix’s most famous resort, it’s easy to jump to that conclusion upon seeing his signature imprints throughout the Arizona Biltmore. Wright consulted with credited architect Albert Chase McArthur before the 1929 grand opening, and the lobby is still chockablock with Wright’s special brand of masonry work, called textile block construction. A stained glass window designed by Wright as a Liberty magazine cover was crafted by Taliesin students, then installed during 1973 renovations. Also on the premises are geometric sprite statues by sculptor Alfonso Ianelli, who created the famous works for Wright’s 1915 Chicago Midway Gardens. A member of the prestigious Waldorf=Astoria collection, the resort is still the place to see and be seen in Phoenix. Daily tours include thorough information about nearly every luminary to pass through its fabled doors, from Marilyn Monroe and Muhammad Ali, to Irving Berlin and Steven Spielberg. Be sure to sign up even if you don’t book into this inimitable landmark.

2400 E. Missouri Ave.
602-955-6600
www.arizonabiltmore.com

A Big High

Cool, hip, and contemporary describes The Clarendon, quite possibly Phoenix’s best boutique hotel – with a rooftop hangout touted by locals as well as such upscale publications as Travel & Leisure. Red upholstered seating areas are so comfy, you find yourself perched in place to catch the legendary Arizona sunset. Feeling dry? Indulge in the Oasis pool area, which features a giant swimming hole with underwater speakers and 1,000 illuminated stars at the bottom. Also on tap: scalp and shoulder massage jets in the oversized Jacuzzi (with a capacity for 50), a magnificent Italian mural with tiles made of 24-karat gold, and an in-your-face water wall more than two stories tall. No wonder The Clarendon is a favorite haunt for those who want to sleep in luxury and in the midst of Phoenix’s midtown museum district.

401 W. Clarendon Ave.
602-252-7363
www.theclarendon.net

Luxurious to a Tea

An elaborate English tea, nestled among the thick, plush sofas and winged back chairs adorning the lobby of Scottsdale’s longtime five-star The Phoenician, establishes the elegant tone at this comfortable resort at the foot of Camelback Mountain. Patrons dip Reed and Barton spoons in clotted cream and lemon curd, as the expanding, loyal clientele checks in for an extended stay in this family-oriented property. While the lobby is the natural starting point, the luxury perks don’t end there – take the hotel’s walking art tour, for instance, and receive two free tickets to the Phoenix Art Museum. No wonder the Phoenician is considered a castle in the desert.

6000 E. Camelback Rd.
480-423-2530
www.thephoenician.com

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