Southern Arizona is a playland of spas and resorts, a collection of "destination" properties that make it hard for you to leave (and do anything anywhere else) since you really don't have to. Where should you decamp for a little golf, tennis and spa time? The suggestions below are a hole-in-one.
Where to stay: The Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, often referred to as the "jewel of the desert," is a spaciously elegant property which speaks to architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Perhaps that's because he was involved in the construction and many of the architectural flourishes seen throughout. Once you're here, you'll find plenty of staff to pamper you and cater to your every whim -- or you can work (out) as hard as you'd like. Options include tennis, golf (two championship courses), hiking, biking, croquet (yes!), lawn chess (big pieces) and a new state-of-the-art European-style spa. A small incidentals fee added to your bill allows you use of the spa's luxe facilities. The Arizona Biltmore, 24th & Missouri, Phoenix (602) 955-6600 or (800) 950-0086. Double rooms average $200 during low (summer) season and $400 in the wintertime.
The Loews Ventana Canyon Resort is nestled in Tucson's Ventana Canyon and communes perfectly with nature. Its 93 acres close by the Catalina Mountains are a profusion of cacti and play spots, the latter the main reason you're here. That said, the resort graciously provides a flora and fauna guide for you to catch up with nature if you'd like. Back inside the resort's rugged stone walls, enjoy your well-amenitized room (the tub-for-two is grand) and the property's other perks, including two Tom Fazio-designed golf courses, an outdoor lap pool, jogging trails and a full-service spa. The Loews Ventana Canyon, 7000 North Resort Drive, Tucson (520) 299-2020 or (800) 234-5117. Double rooms average $200 in the summertime, higher during the winter months.
Where to eat: At the Biltmore, the fine dining room is Wright's, named after you-know-who. The food here is flavorful and emphasizes the bounty of the region. Order the Maryland soft shell crab and don't miss out on sommelier Jes Smith's recommendations -- he's got the Wright stuff for sure. More casual meals can be had at the Biltmore Grill while The Cafe is good for morning fruit and coffee. The Loews Ventana Canyon boasts the Ventana Room, a fine dining spot showcasing the eclectic American menu of Chef Jeff Russell. The lobster bisque is a fab starter as are the duck confit spring rolls. While the Dover sole entree is like buttah (but bettah), the game selections, including the venison and buffalo, are a real revelation. A meal at this restaurant is a must while visiting the Loews property. For a more casual bite, pop over to the Flying V Grill and have the staff prepare guacamole at your table (order the chile rellenos, too). The Cascade Lounge is perfect for afternoon cocktails.
What to do: It's spa time, folks! Prepare to play -- and relax. Both the Arizona Biltmore and the Loews Ventana Canyon offer numerous swimming, sporting and pampering options. Play tennis in the morning and golf in the afternoon and lie out by the pool in between. Sun yourself at every opportunity, but only with a heavy sun block. Get that four-layer facial (at the Loews) or a hot stone massage (at either resort). Run (if you must). Hike (if you will). Oh yeah, play croquet. Most important, however, breathe . If you don't, you'll miss the whole point.
There's a lot more going on in Phoenix and Tucson but you'll have to read the story to find out!
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