Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Family Pools Cool Down Summer at Hot Phoenix Area Resorts

From posh to casual, Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona resorts are turning up the heat on cheap family getaways full of water fun activities. And we do mean heat – temperatures top 100F most of the time!

Top Phoenix resorts have big water play areas.

But the city of Phoenix gets it – water fun is a great antidote to heat. As part of CityScape Phoenix, downtown streets are home to Surfing on Central, a 13-week, family-friendly event offering a wave simulator, beach blanket movie nights, professional flowboarder performances, and DJs. Open daily June 1 through Labor Day, CityScape’s Patriots Square park will transform into a water fun paradise.

When the outdoor daytime heat is overwhelming, head to the cool sounds and A/C units of the extraordinary Musical Instrument Museum. Also, indoors at the Heard Museum, families can admire BUILD! Toy Brick Art, which features local American Indian, Mexican-American and non-Indian artists transforming their artworks using Legos, the versatile toy bricks. The exhibit also features two Lego brick creations by well-known brick artists Nathan Sawaya and Sean Kenney plus some interactive activities. After hours, head to the Desert Botanical Gardens for nighttime, self guided desert tours under the stars.
Late afternoon, sunset and evening are great times to visit the Desert Botanical Museum

So, with family rates ranging from just $109-$149 per night, you must consider an Arizona summer vacation despite the high heat and dry air – just drink plenty of water. (Seriously, on a recent visit, this writer passed out from dehydration, a not uncommon occurrence according to the medical team at the Phoenix Fire Department. You’ve been warned.)  Here are some of our favorite resort specials.   You’ll find more family deals at top Arizona family resorts at

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess – Adventure Center from $149/N

At the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, family programs include a daily Trailblazers kids club for ages 5-12, where half-day admission (normally $35 per) for up to 3 kids per family is included in the hotel’s resort fee. There’s a 200-foot-long waterslide at the pool and, on weekends, poolside Dive-In Movies and Saturday fireworks. Toddlers can play early or late at the zero-entry deck area by the pool, or use the shaded sandbox complete with Tonka trucks and beach toys. (Sun averse grandparents will want to book a private cabana stocked with cool beverages and recliners.) If you’re traveling with a pet, they can take advantage of the Posh Paws program ($35/N), which gets you a dog bed and bowl, pet food and treats. Together, you can dance to the DJs at their Glo-Light parties by night, race model boats, or try catch-and-release fishing by day. The Fairmont has a new wave machine that will get you all boogie boarding, inner tubing or body surfing, and a 37-foot-high zipline for your daredevils.  Proceeds from both paid activities benefit Valley schools and charities.

Scottsdale Princess is aglow at night.

Make time for a meal at Hacienda, their Mexican eatery and tequila bar designed by noted chef Richard Sandoval. After dinner, head to the Trailblazers Family Adventure Center, open nightly from 5pm-9pm year-round for resort guests to play Ping Pong, foosball, basketball, air hockey, shuffle board, videos and board games.  Families are made comfortable with bright, spacious, luxurious rooms at this AAA 5-diamond resort. New parents may request full-size cribs, high chairs, strollers, night lights, safety outlet covers, portable playpens, humidifiers, baby monitors, baby bathtubs, baby shampoo, kid’s robes and even step stools, at no charge. Book a sitter in advance with the concierge to enjoy the three-level Well & Being Spa with its rooftop pool, waterfall grotto, steam rooms, saunas, salon, boutique and cafĂ©.

The heat of summer brings deals: The Kids Resort Dining Passport ($35/D) provides a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner from the kids menu at most of the dining outlets. For room packages, try the Sip, Savor & Splash Package from $149/weeknight per room ($169/weekends plus tax and resort fees) with its $50 daily credit for dining, spa, tennis or the kids club. For the same rate, you can book the Stay, Play & Pay It Forward Package and give back 10% of your resort expenses to the school or charity of your choice from a list of participating organizations in the resort’s annual Sleepover for a Better Tomorrow program. Summer package dates are based upon availability, May 26-September 2, 2014. For reservations at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, please call 800/908-9370 or visit

The Phoenix Children's Museum has cool and air-conditioned kids fun for preschoolers 

Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort – Waterpark from $109/Night

At the more casual Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort in Phoenix, families can enjoy the "Summer Flashback" offer featuring free events that pay tribute to the music, fads, and culture of the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond. You’ll find complimentary themed poolside activities, dive-in movies and festive celebrations, many focused at the four-acre River Ranch water park complete with a lazy river, water slide, sport pool, mini golf and multiple sport courts.

Each day and night in summer at this top-value Phoenix family resort, the Coyote Kids Camp for ages 4-12 operates with supervised indoor and outdoor programming. In the cool afternoons, the resort’s on-site hiking trail is also a hit with families. Summer special rates begin at $109/ night for stays May 23-September 7, 2014 with rate code "SUNSP."

We love that this waterpark resort is also encouraging all guests to stay safe around water at any age by providing tips and information on water safety on its web site at

Pointe Hilton at Squaw Peak has water play areas for kids and adults.

The Arizona Biltmore – Cooking Classes from $129/N

We say if you’re within range of an architectural monument, you’ve got to take the kids, making the ArizonaBiltmore (opened in 1929) a must-see “Jewel of the Desert.”  The legendary resort has distinctive Frank Lloyd Wright architectural style, luxurious facilities and 740 guest rooms and casitas that families love, in addition to its storied history as a playground of the rich and famous. 

Nestled on 39 acres at the foot of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, it’s a place with its own luxe kids facilities: eight swimming pools including the spectacular Paradise Pool with a 92-foot-long water slide. Every summer Saturday, budding young chefs ages 5-14 can discover the joys of preparing delicious food at one-hour Kids Cooking Classes. Donning chef’s hats and aprons, kids learn basic cooking techniques from professional Biltmore chefs, help prepare several dishes, and then eat the food they prepared; cost is $20.<

If this is a college graduation celebration vacation with a large family group, we have the perfect activity: Paired Beer Dinners. The June 9th event features Tempe-based Four Peaks Brewery; July 14 Petaluma, California-based Lagunitas Brewery; and August 11 Vista, California-based Iron Fist Brewing Company. Held in the private Sunroom at Frank & Albert’s restaurant, the dinners start at 7pm and cost is $40 per person for a four-course dinner, plus tax and gratuity. Each Biltmore Beer Dinner will have a representative of the brewery there to discuss their beers and brewing techniques. Reservations: 602/381-7632.

The free, downtown Phoenix Artwalk is great fun with teens and students interested in contemporary art.

Additionally, there’s a beautiful spa offering an extensive menu of natural healing treatments and restorative therapies; a fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment; two 18-hole golf courses; and six restaurants and lounges as befitting this Waldorf Astoria Resort. 

Room rates for a family of four begin at $129/N and can be booked at

Check out more of the #bestsummer vacation ideas at

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