by Candyce H. Stapen
The Phoenician is an expansive resort situated on 250 acres at the base of Camelback Mountain and featuring nine pools, 27 holes of golf, 653 rooms, many fountains, much marble and a great tennis program. Although the hotel’s ambiance is more Italian formal than laid-back southwest, the property is a great choice for families. Along with a year-round activities program for kids, the resort offers much for families to do.
The Phoenician, actually two resorts in one, consists of a 583-room main property plus a 60-unit boutique hotel, the Canyon suites. Both rate AAA Five Diamonds. After a $70 million, two-year renovation completed in fall 2010, the property looking even more superb and offers several restaurants, including the not-to-be-missed, adult and kid-friendly Relish Burger Bistro.
Our Editor Loves
- Free movies and games
- Family golf
- Year-round kids' programs
- Horse Back Riding
- Children Programs
- Family Room 5+
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The main hotel offers 645 guestrooms of which 450 are located in the main building and the remainder is in nearby casitas or, clusters of rooms, surrounding outdoor courtyards. At 600 square feet, the typical hotel room has plenty of space to accommodate a family and to fit a crib if needed. Tastefully decorated with soft beiges accented with cactus green lamps or a green upholstered chair, the rooms soothingly reflect the desert.
The Canyon Suites, located across the road and a short walk away from the main building, is the Phoenician's hotel within a hotel. The 60 one-, two- and three-bedroom units each come with an expansive living area. One-bedroom units average 1,200 square feet. The property has its own pool, cabanas and concierge, plus a wine tasting is offered every afternoon.
Rooms feature what you expect at an AAA Five Diamond property: robes, marble bathrooms, balconies or patios, mini-bars, flat-screen televisions and more. Wi-Fi, included in the resort fee, is available in the rooms as well.
You can't go wrong at The Phoenician. It is wonderful. The pools are great, if possible during peak times, try to get a suite near the private pools. Either way, luxury is the name of the game. The Phoenician will always be my favorite resort out of all the resorts in the area.
The staff at The Phoenician consistently goes above and beyond for their guests. I’ve stayed there over a dozen times and am never disappointed. Breakfast begins the day at Mowry & Cotton with Christine who always starts my day off right with smiles, laughs and great food. Not only that, she remembers my favorite dishes and is never too busy to make sure I’m taken care of. At the bar at Mowry & Cotton, Myron makes the best old fashioned’s and keeps the bar lively. In addition, Paige at the concierge desk always greets me by name and is genuinely interested in making sure my stay never disappoints. Wayne and Ana at the spa’s front desk similarly go above and beyond with service requests and treating guests like they’re one of a kind. Finally, Daniel manages reception and room requests with efficiency and courtesy always striving to accommodate guest requests. The bottom line is I wouldn’t want to stay anywhere else in Phoenix but The Phoenician.
The Phoenician sets a family-friendly tone at check-in by giving each child a welcome gift of a stuffed coyote or other desert cuddly. While this large resort with a $25-million art collection can feel a bit formal, the Phoenician is a great place for families. Families staying at the Phoenician can easily mix active vacations -- hike Camelback Mountain, play tennis and golf -- with time to sit by the pool.
Family Activities Center
At the Phoenician's complimentary Family Activities Center, located near the tennis facility, families can challenge each other at Foosball, air hockey, Nintendo Wii or play board games. On selected evenings, the center hosts movies. Nearby, there's a children's playground with a sandy area. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the center hosts Saturday night family activities such as S'mores roasting, Native American flute music or movies.
Funician Kids Club
The Family Activities Center is also home base to the Funician Kids Club, a year-round, daily, supervised program for ages 5 to 12. Kids create pottery, feed the fish at the pond, paint, tour the cactus garden and play soccer. The older children can zip down the twisting waterslide. The Funician Kids Club offers full and half-day sessions along with dinner and movie sessions on Friday and Saturday nights.
Racquets & Rounds
The Phoenician offers family golf, a nice way to keep the sport within budget. After 2 p.m., two parents and two children age 15 and younger can play for less than $100. Junior tees, closer to the hole than adult tees, encourage young players. The resort also has an impressive tennis facility and good instruction. Families with kids who want to learn or to improve in golf and tennis should sign up for the resort's Racquets and Rounds program for ages 6 to 12. Instruction in golf and tennis is combined with balance beam training and games to make the lessons fun. Kids new to tennis use oversized racquets to whack large sponge balls, making success virtually guaranteed.
Among the resort's nine pools are two kiddie pools, each about 1.5-feet deep. Older kids like twisting down the165-foot waterslide and swimming in the main pool. Water is a key element at the Phoenician. Fountains placed at the entrance and in the lobby along with lagoons and the koi pond near the outdoor pools add to the resort's sense of serving as an oasis in the desert.
Since Camelback Mountain looms almost next door, try a hike with older children. It's relatively easy to go to the first level by yourself, but if you want to climb to the top and back down, go with a guide. We found the one-foot-wide ledges formidable and appreciated our guide's encouragement and watchfulness. Also note, helicopters looking for lost hikers are not uncommon. If you're not a seasoned hiker, it's another reason to take a guide to the top.
Relish Burger Bistro
This bistro delivers good-tasting, kid-pleasing fare even though the eatery, located in the golf clubhouse, primarily aims at golfers. Never mind: You don't need a club to eat here. While you can hop a resort shuttle to the Bistro, you can also walk to it from the hotel's main pool, making it easily accessible for families.
This isn't just any burger joint. You bite into half-pound of Kobe beef. Children's burgers, weighing in at one-quarter pound, will gets kids accustomed to munching McDonald's an opportunity to appreciate the difference. The build-your-own menu features American cheese for purists, but also designer toppings such as Brie, Maytag bleu cheese or chili. For those who don't like beef, the Bistro serves chicken, salmon, turkey and black bean burgers as well as salads plus crab cake sliders and BBQ chicken nachos. Don't forget to order the sweet potato fries. The diner-like menu also features milkshakes and home-brewed root beer. Leave room for dessert so you can make your own S'mores tableside.
Cafe and Ice Cream Parlor
Eat in or grab cereal, pastries, sandwiches, soup and salads as well as coffee, gelato, sorbet and ice cream to go. For us, the cafe proves convenient for early breakfasts, quick lunches to go and afternoon snacks.
The resort's AAA Four Diamond Italian restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and a children's menu. For lunch and dinner, kids can opt for cheeseburgers and fries, chicken tenders or spaghetti and meatballs, as well as mac 'n cheese or pizza. Il Terrazzo's chocolate cherry sourdough bread, baked daily, can be purchased at the Cafe
J & G Steakhouse
Your teens will appreciate the trendy Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant. Along with fine cuts of steak, the menu offers fish, lamb chops, veal and a long list of sides. Entrees range from short ribs or salmon to filet mignon or 24-ounce porterhouse. Those with medium-sized appetites might like the cheeseburgers and fries.
Serving a traditional English tea, the Lobby Court afternoon tea comes complete with an elegantly served procession of asparagus sandwiches, cranberry scones and platters of fruit tarts and chocolate-covered strawberries.
In-room dining is also available and the room service menu features homemade baby food on its selections.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
In addition to the complimentary Family Activities Center, the resort also offers several other free things to do. Play bocce and croquet on the lawn between the main pool area and the hotel. Also, go to the koi pond at feeding time when the critters gather in swarms. Under the guidance of the assistant, throw them some approved food and watch the "feeding frenzy" as the koi, some as big as fat house cats, climb over each other to grab their food.
Another simple but fun freebie is to walk through the two-acre cactus garden that showcases 250 varieties of cactus and succulents. With most items labeled, it's easy to show your kids the difference between barrel, prickly pear, organ pipe and other cacti. The walk is especially pleasant in the early morning or evening when the weather's cool.
Wi-Fi within the guestrooms is available and included in the resort fee. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available to hotel member guests.
The Art of Smart Timing
Late December through April constitute high season, when the southwest's temperatures are warm but not as hot as in the summer. Shoulder season runs through May plus September up to late December. Off-season is June through August, when desert temperatures soar.
Many airlines service the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Scottsdale Airport services private and corporate jets, too.
The resort is walkable.
For Mom and Dad
Get massaged, wrapped, polished and soothed at the resort's spa, the 22,000-square-foot Centre for Well-being. Unusual offerings (try the acupuncture!) that may appeal to older teens are the astrology and Tarot readings.