Winter Escape

Arizona's properties offer luxury, spas, golf -- and sun

By: Jim Calio

Luxury resorts, spacious spas and championship golf coursesit’s winter in Arizona and winter is high season.

Phoenix and nearby Scottsdale (the area is known as the “Valley of the Sun”) are at the epicenter of central Arizona’s booming resort business.

The Phoenician in Scottsdale is the area’s signature resort, with a 22,000-square-foot spa, 27-holes of championship golf and floor-to-ceiling views of the valley and Camelback Mountain.

Nearby Camelback Inn, the grande dame of area resorts, was built in 1936 and recently underwent a $45-million renovation, although none of its bola tie southwestern charm has been lost.

The dark wood latilla beams are still there, inside and out, as is a gallery of black-and-white photos by the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz., a legend in the Grand Canyon State.

For golf, Arizona is a duffers’ delight. The Tournament Players Club in Scottsdale, next to the terracotta Fairmont Scottsdale Princess hotel, is home to the annual Phoenix Open. Most of the big resorts have golf courses; reservations are required.

Many of the best spas, usually at the luxury hotels, have expanded menus with services as Ayurvedic treatments and Watsu water movement.

For shoppers, the best place for native Hopi and Navajo works of art is the Heard Museum in Phoenix. Their sale stock of Hopi and Navajo jewelry, crafts and rugs is the best in the country.

Perhaps because it’s close to the Mexican border, Tucson, 100 miles south of Phoenix, more obviously reflects the area’s Spanish roots, especially when it comes to food.

Janos, owned by award-winning chef Janos Wilder, is located on the grounds of the Westin La Paloma and features a variety of exquisite Southwestern dishes. Try the Guava Roasted Duck with Desert Pear Essence or Chili Brown Sugar-Rubbed Pork.

The Ventana Room, at The Lodge at Ventana Canyon, takes dining to an even higher level literally. You can look back on Tucson in the distance, a sparkling bowl of lights surrounded by the Santa Catalina Mountains.

Outside of Tucson is Miraval, a resort spa devoted to attaining “life in the balance.” One example of its unusual approach to well-being is the “equine experience,” which allows guests to groom one of the many horses in the resort’s stable.

For a true New Age experience, Sedona in the northern part of the state is legendary, and not just for its crystals. Enchantment, a resort set against the red rocks of Boynton Canyon, features Mii Amo, a spacious 24,000-square-foot spa. Whatever service you choose, you can relax on one of the upper decks between treatments and watch the hawks circle lazily overhead luxe living at its best in Arizona. or 866-245-9992.