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.

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.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.