Summer Guide: Stay at one of the Valley’s luxest resorts for a fraction of the scratch

As unconscionably evil as the summertime sun gets in our desert domain — reigning over our asses from May to September like a Third World despot — there are plenty of positives to enduring five torturous months of brain-melting heat.

Besides increasing our excuses for noshing on gelato, and expelling snowbirds en masse back to the Midwest, the annual onslaught of 100-degree-plus temps slashes rates at the Valley's resorts and hotels.


Summer Guide

Read the rest of Summer Guide 2008.

The practical upshot: a super-sweet summer vacay is salvageable even in the face of the current economic quagmire and sky-high gas prices. Your daydreams of soaking up the rays in Hawaii or an equally tropical destination may be derailed, but you can still enjoy a Dirty Sexy Money-like resort romp at cut-rate prices. (Note: Eligibility dates, resort fees, taxes, and other requirements vary, so contact each location for more information).

Case in point: A stay at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa (2400 East Missouri Avenue, 602-955-6600) during the spring or fall would normally run around $400 per night, but from now until September 13, you can experience the stylish and sophisticated ambiance of the PHX's premier getaway destination for only $169 per night (which includes a $50 daily food and beverage credit) for "classic" accommodations.

Dubbed the "jewel of the desert," the Biltmore is steeped in the bygone grandeur of Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired architecture, and will surely spoil the crap out of you as it did the Hollywood stars of yesteryear who lodged here — such as Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra. It's got an elegant ambiance and vibe, with such amenities as eight swimming pools (boasting swim-up bars, as well as dive-in movies on weekend nights), Mission-style furnishings, lavishly lush gardens, and two adjacent championship golf courses.

If you're feeling the need to be pampered and indulged, the resort's full-service European spa offers various massages, therapies, and body treatments to refresh and recharge. A basic spa package is available during the summer for $320 per guest and includes one night's accommodations, breakfast, and a 50-minute treatment, with other pricing deals and options available.

Another plush palace of pampering is The Phoenician (6000 East Camelback Road, Scottsdale, 800-888-8234), with 250 acres of opulence catering to those of affluence and noble birth (okay, we're kidding about the last part, but the place is swanky with a capital "S"). The rich and powerful have laid their heads here, and so can you, soaking up the ritzy majesty and luxurious golden-tinged décor of this five-diamond resort with summer getaway packages starting at $199 to $229 per night (depending on what day of the week you arrive).

The posh premises also features amenities designed to delight the senses, from a $25 million art collection featuring sculptures, paintings, tapestries, and other works to sumptuous dining from award-winning chefs at four different gourmet restaurants (including the newest eatery, Il  Terrazzo). For those with children, the Phoenician has a "Love Your Family" package starting, with rates ranging from $259 to $539 per night and such perks as a $100 daily resort credit, in-room gifts for the kids, and plasma TVs with Wii games. Longing for more grown-up activities? There's the 22,000-square-foot Centre for Well-Being offering relaxation and rejuvenation, a 12-court Tennis Garden, and live entertainment nightly in the Thirsty Camel Lounge.

Those seeking a more intimate and secluded sojourn should escape to the Royal Palms Resort and Spa (5200 East Camelback Road, 602-840-3610), a smaller and cozier destination than its more ostentatious neighbors. Relaxing amongst its charming villas and buildings built in regal Spanish Colonial fashion, you'll feel like you're cloistered on vacaciones at some romantic hideaway in old Mexico, swathed in exotic stylishness. Sculpted garden and walkways, baroque architectural touches, and handcrafted artwork adorning the property help add to its allure, and summer rates of $169 per night on up make it plenty attractive, too.

Couples looking for an amorous getaway can enjoy the "Summer Lovin'" package, with a romantic dinner for two at Mediterranean-style eatery T. Cook's, rose-petal turndown service, chocolate-covered strawberries, and champagne. Prices start at $319 per couple, with the option of having a "royal serenade" from a Spanish guitarist for an additional $75. Other bargain packages available at this former mansion, built in the 1920s by Gothamite and financier Delos Cooke, include "The Heat Is On," with a one-night stay and a $100 credit good for the restaurant or Alvadora spa.

Speaking of historic locations, the Hotel Valley Ho (6850 East Main Street, Scottsdale, 480-248-2000) dates back to the 1950s, and the swinging hipster inn embraces its retro roots with gusto, daddy-o. Every room in this marvelous boutique hotel — from the lobby to its exclusive tower suite — is decked out with mid­century modern furnishings and décor, like some space-age bachelor pad designed using a Shag painting as a blueprint.

Its Web site declares the Valley Ho to be "the hub of hip," and it's hard to argue that declaration with room bargains ($129 on weekdays, $149 on weekends) and a slew of groovy goings-on planned for the summer that will surely draw in the top-shelf types. Fridays feature dive-in movies at the pool with cool retro flicks like Breakfast at Tiffany's and Ocean's Eleven being screened, Saturday is the "Fun in the Sun" day with DJ P-Body spinning poolside, and Sunday promises island music and cabana spa specials. On Mondays, patrons partaking in the bi-weekly ZuZu Night and Chef's Table culinary event (at a cost of $48 per person) can sleep overnight for only $99. Ditto for Tuesday's "Industry Night," with members of the hotel or hospitality industry staying for just a c-note. Wednesdays have $75 to $99 specials at the joint's VH Spa.

Just up the road, the Mondrian Scottsdale (7353 East Indian School Road, Scottsdale, 480-308-1100) rocks a similarly tony boutique-hotel vibe with its beyond-chic and eye-catching lobby saturated in white and packed with funky furniture galore. It's undoubtedly a great place to people-watch, as beautiful types who seemingly just stepped out of a Dolce & Gabbana advertisement hang about the premises or sip cocktails in the crimson-drenched Red Bar.

And even though the Type A's may have jetted in from the O.C. or even NYC to visit the Mondrian, they won't be able score the primo deals available only to Arizonans, such as rooms starting at $95 per night. In-state residents are also eligible for 20 percent off any "à la carte" services in the Agua Spa (Monday through Thursday), as well as a "Local Pass" for additional discounted treatments and services (present ID at check-in). A "Relax" package is also available starting at $145 per person, per night, with a pool amenity at check-in, $25 food and beverage credit, and discounts and freebies in the spa. If you're lucky, you might see such glitterati as Matt Leinart or Eva Mendes partying at the pool. Just don't let them bogart your "Local Pass."

Primo star watching is also a possibility at The Clarendon (401 West Clarendon Avenue, 602-252-7363), as its staff openly bragged to us about how members of Aerosmith and the Black Eyed Peas have been guests at the swanked-out boutique hotel. Whether or not this tattling is true, the joint's rooftop pool is still an awesome place to chillax. It's open to the public free of charge daily, with complimentary towels and sunscreen, and both DJs and live music on weekends. If freeloading isn't your bag, baby, New Times readers are eligible for a special $99 rate for any room from Friday until Sunday (including one bedroom full-size suites). Check out the enormously gorgeous glass water wall and nosh at eatery C4 while you're there. And if perchance you see Steven Tyler, tell him we think he rocks. Hard.


FireSky Resort and Spa

4925 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale


The kid-friendly "Married with Children" package, starting at $155 per night (double occupancy), offers a welcome amenity of Corona, chips and salsa for the parents, and milk and cookies. Fireside s'mores, board games, and children's activities are also promised. Available until September 28. Other packages and discounts are available. Visit Web site for more.

Hotel San Carlos

202 N. Central Ave.


Rooms and suites start at $69.95 and $99.95, respectively, for Arizona residents. DJs William Fucking Reed and Jared Alan are also presenting their "Adult Swim" pool party every Sunday until Labor Day for the 18-and-over hipster crowd.

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch

7500 E. Doubletree Ranch Rd. Scottsdale


Summer value packages start at $199 per room, per night, and include a $50 daily resort credit for food, beverage, spa treatments, or Camp Hyatt. Kids can also revel in the 21/2-acre water park with three-story waterside, water volleyball pool, sandy beaches, and dive-in movies. Available until September 7.

Renaissance Scottsdale Resort

6160 N. Scottsdale Rd. Scottsdale


A "Shopping Escape" package is available for $214 per night per room and features lodging in the Tucson suite, a tote bag amenity with lotions, foot massagers, water, snacks, as well as breakfast for two, and coupon book with $500 in discounts to the adjacent Borgata. A "Spa Escape" package is available for $399 per night, per room and includes lodging in the Tucson suite (featuring an in-room Jacuzzi), lunch for two at the spa, welcome gifts, and a one-hour massage for two. Available from June 11 until September 5.

The Wigwam Golf Resort & Spa

300 Wigwam Blvd. Litchfield Park


Packages start at $149 per room, per night and include resort credits of $50 (two-night stay required; mention rate "SUMCRED" at time of booking) or $100 (three-night stay required; mention rate "SUM100C" at time of booking). Available through September 5.

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