Oases in the Desert – Arizona’s Fairways

Golfing in the desert? In this Southwest state the scenery is popping with green greenery with some of the country’s best golf courses.

scottsdale The property: Nestled at the base of Mummy Mountain and overlooking Camelback Mountain, the Camelback Inn, A JW Marriott Resort & Spa is set on 125 acres of desert landscape and is truly a stunner. The hacienda-style entry and lobby usher guests into a world where Southwestern charm and AAA five-diamond hospitality are the norm, not the exception, and where the 453 Pueblo-style Casitas each have French doors that lead to a private patio or balcony with glorious views. The Casitas, whose Native American decor pays homage to the Sonoran Desert surroundings, come with standard amenities, including fridge and mini-bar, as well as kitchenettes. There are also an array of suites in different categories—some with their own private pool. History plays an integral role in the resort’s ambiance—it opened in 1936 and has welcomed the likes of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Clark Gable, and Bette Davis. But having undergone a $50 million renovation recently, you can rest assured your clients will have all of the modern world’s amenities at their fingertips.

The greens: The Camelback Golf Club offers 36 championship holes on artfully designed grounds and meticulous landscaping. The 7,014-yard, par 72 Indian Bend Course, laid out links-style, features secluded sand traps, gently rolling terrain, and an abundance of water holes, while the newly designed 6,903-yard, par 72 Padre Course comes with towering trees, subtle landforms and impressive bunkering, and is known for its strategic layout and challenging water holes. There’s also the John Jacobs Practical Golf School, as well as a demo program that allows guests to borrow golf equipment so they can find the most fitting equipment to match their needs.

The amenities: Let’s start with the most indulgent of pursuits—the award-winning, 32,000-sq.-ft. Spa at Camelback Inn, with 32 treatment rooms, a spa pool, a full-service salon, fitness center and the spa restaurant, Sprouts. Speaking of dining, there are seven venues serving everything from steak, seafood and Mexican cuisine, to poolside burgers and American-Western cuisine. Additionally, there are six all-weather tennis courts lit for night play, and one screened for private play; two heated pools; the 1-acre Pitch N’ Putt with a putting lawn and several pitching zones, and the Hopalong College, the hotel’s seasonal program for children ages 5-12.

The scene: With Scottsdale being in the heart of the lush Sonoran Desert, this is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream locale, with opportunities to pursue hiking, biking, horseback riding and white-water rafting. Architectural buffs won’t want to miss Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, while those who want a bird’s-eye view of this majestic desertscape will want to hop on a hot air balloon.

The rates: The Unlimited Golf package starts at $229 pp for the summer and includes accommodations in a Casita, unlimited golf pp, and breakfast for two daily in Rita’s Kitchen.

phoenix The property: The 740-suite, AAA four-diamond Arizona Grand Resort will have guests swooning in no time. This Preferred Hotels & Resorts property spans across 164 acres under the watchful eye of the South Mountain Preserve and the attention to detail that was obviously executed during the recent renovations, is apparent around every corner. The $52 million renovation project has given the family vacation resort a casual ambiance where the outdoors are swept in, including at the new 25,000-sq.-ft. lobby, which the hotel says is “the heartbeat of the resort.” Each of the suites features the hues of the warm Arizona desert, with bamboo and rattan furnishings and soft-white bedding, and run the gamut from Resort Suites—with either king- or queen-size beds, private balcony or patio, separate living rooms, oversized work area with high-speed Internet access and in-suite movies—to the Arizona Grand Suite. Overlooking the Oasis Water Park, this granddaddy of suites, which features three bedrooms, wet bar with marble countertop, high-speed wireless Internet, private patio or balcony, and in-suite movies among other goodies, is a perfect fit for a family reunion. In all, there are 10 accommodation categories, including the new 100 luxury Villa accommodations.

The greens: The 18-hole, 6,336-yard Arizona Grand Golf Course offers a unique blend of traditional links and desert influences. Here, golfers meander through the South Mountain Park—a protected natural desert preserve—and encounter dramatic elevation changes and mountain vistas, all highlighted by the course’s diverse and challenging par 71 layout, which can be seen from The Lobby Grill overlooking the first tee box area. The property emphasizes the course offers experiences for players of all ability levels, and has garnered accolades from Golf Digest magazine. There’s also a 7,000-sq.-ft. practice green.