BEST SPA FOR MEN 2005 | Willow Stream at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess | Arts & Entertainment | Phoenix
The male staffers -- excuse us, "experience coordinators" -- at the five-diamond Fairmont's elegant Willow Stream spa are pleased as prickly pear punch when another guy shows up to check out the 44,000-square-foot multilevel pampering place. Willow Stream was recently essayed in the New York Times as one of the West's foremost examples of the new male-friendly resort spa, and the proof is in the upscale handyman details: cool, polished stone borders running through the hallways; trendy Venetian finish on one wall; and dry-stacked Sedona sandstone bricks lining most of the others. Heck, there's even a small TV screen on each of the Lifecycles. Willow Stream is paradise for women, too, but it's the men who love touches like the waterfall-lined stairwell leading down from the negative-edge rooftop pool to the centerpiece hot tub that's warmed by triple cascades of falling water, each set at its own distinct water pressure. More spa power!
The best resort pools are the wet dreams you can still sneak into without springing for a room card key; where a casual flip of a wrought-iron fence latch and a confident "been here since Thursday" attitude is enough to keep security from tapping you on the shoulder, even if you have just wandered in from your sun-baked Honda. In that regard, the rambling, two-and-a-half-acre water playground at the Scottsdale Hyatt Regency is just old enough to allow access without passing through a Homeland Security-like system, dabbled with a dizzying array of pools, puddles, Jacuzzis and waterfall springs to keep you hopping without arousing attention. For 10 bucks apiece, a couple can even cap off the day with a romantic sunset gondola ride around the lagoon circling the pools, serenaded by a friendly guide versed in Italian opera who won't bother to ask you what room you're staying in.
Sipping chilled martinis poolside, draped across a whitewashed deck chair, the breezy air whispering over you as beads of sweat gather beneath the rim of a shady sun hat, you stir. Squint a little and, because you're at the San Carlos Hotel, you can almost imagine Mae West basking beside you. Given a time machine and a little luck, this scene might be possible, because this historic downtown landmark once attracted poolside visits from famous folks like West and Cary Grant. The pool, three stories in the air, is as past-era perfect as the hotel itself, which features celebrity suites named for the legends who once slept in them. A night's snooze starts at $115 and, while prices vary with the season, a dip in this historically glamorous swimming hole is always gratis.
If knocking down 3,000 meters an hour sounds like fun, then this is the pool where you'll want to do your flip turns. The outdoor facility features a very fast eight-lane, 50-meter Olympic pool that is 25 yards wide, allowing for both short-course and long-course training. The six-foot-deep pool is equipped with wave-absorbing gutters that keep the water smooth as glass. And did we mention that that water is always crystal clear?

Named after the late Mona Plummer, who coached the ASU women's swim team to greatness in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, the facility also features a world-class diving pool with one-meter and three-meter springboards and five-meter, seven-and-a-half-meter and 10-meter diving platforms.

Mona Plummer is home to Sun Devil Aquatics, an age-group swimming team. It also hosts an age-group water polo club, a competitive diving program, and Sun Devil Masters, a competitive swimming program for adults. Swimmers, take your mark . . .

Here in the Best of Phoenix, we won't tell you where to get a boob job or a nose job; we don't even want to recommend our favorite tattoo artist. And we certainly won't tell you where to board your best friend, man. But we do feel comfortable saying that Applewood Pet Resort has the coolest pool around -- 30 feet long and shaped like a giant dog biscuit. The très chic swimming hole features a water fountain, aerating sprays, and even a doggy deep end for larger (or more daring) breeds.

We just have one more thing to say: Hot dog!

A dog's version of the Holy Grail, or should we say Growl, this greenbelt oasis provides canines of all shapes and sizes a sweet outdoor locale to sniff and be sniffed. At sunrise and sunset, the pups (and, alas, their owners) convene on what sometimes serves as a soccer field for the daily meet and greet. Miss Jack Russell terrier, I'd like to introduce you to Mr. Great Dane. And you over there, Ms. Boxer. This is your distant cousin, Mrs. Pug. Sniff, sniff. The City of Phoenix keeps a box filled with plastic garbage bags and a little scooper to keep things civilized. For dogs, this space is the cat's meow.
Located next to the Foothills Library parking lot, this gated, "leash-optional" dog park draws people and pups of every persuasion, and it's not unusual to see Great Danes and dachshunds romping together. The park includes ramps, a watering area, and random toys scattered throughout the grass, so the dogs can let loose while their owners socialize (you didn't think that huge guy with the adorable little pug was there just to scoop up poop, did you?). Of course, there are some rules: no more than three dogs per owner each visit, no children under age 13 without an adult, and the park closes at 10 p.m.
We're fashionable folk, but even we need to dress up to visit Tempe's favorite dog park. The leash-free zone is a hipster haven. These scenesters may look pissed off when you see them at a coffee shop or an art gallery, but they are still good mommies and daddies to their cute wittle puppies. Make no mistake: Taking the pup out to socialize and play doesn't mean compromising these twentysomethings' style. Frisbee attire includes heels, hats and asymmetrical skirts. Makeup is a must. A few chic dog lovers can handle the early morning, despite a late night at Hot Pink!, but even at 6 a.m., eyeliner is a must.

The dogs don't seem to care either way. If you're looking for some hot bitches, check this park.

Horizon Park is small -- just two-thirds of an acre -- compared to other Valley dog parks, but what it lacks in space, it makes up in amenities (this is north Scottsdale, after all). You and Bowser will find a large, shaded area, as well as a special dust-control feature that allows you -- with the push of a button -- to minimize the inevitable dog park haze with a squirt of water. Bowser will never have to worry about an asthma attack at the park again!
We should really give this puppy hangout "Best Name for a Dog Park" because we bet if there are any quail in the vicinity, they certainly do run fast, to escape Rover. The off-leash doggy portion of this Mesa park is more than three acres, completely fenced and featuring benches, water fountains for both dogs and humans, and poop bags (sorry, those are just intended for the dogs). Check the city's Web site for hours, as they may have changed, vis-à-vis maintenance. Quail, we suggest you stay home.

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