Scottsdale, AZ

Posh retreats mixed in with a little partying add up to a perfect present for Mom.
By Judy Sutton Taylor |

Mom doesn’t need another ho-hum bouquet or trinket for Mother’s Day. Our suggestion: Splurge (or chip in with Dad and the sibs) and treat her to a landscape of cactus flowers and lapis blue skies this year with a getaway to Scottsdale, Arizona. Thanks to its swanky spas and retreats, gorgeous mountain views and awesome weather (known as the “Valley of the Sun,” the area gets 325 days of it a year), it’s the kind of gift that weary moms will appreciate.

Book soon—temperatures in May generally range from the 60s at night to the low 90s at midday, a perfect respite from Chicago’s always-unpredictable spring. Scottsdale is just 18 miles east of Phoenix, so it’s a short cab ride to the lush landscapes and upscale pampering and partying that define Scottsdale. There are plenty of pricey resorts to choose from, but if you really want to treat Mom right, book a stay at the superluxe, boutique-y Sanctuary Camelback Mountain (pictured; 5700 E McDonald Dr, Paradise Valley, 800-245-2051), set on 53 secluded acres. The contemporary rooms (rates start at $235 during off-season; rooms with spa packages are $1,421–$2,422 for two) all have views that overlook the soaring red rocks, plus a variety of fab features like private outdoor soaking tubs and wood-burning fireplaces. Chaise lounges surround a heated infinity pool where a doting staff regularly refills cups of ice water spritzed with lemon and serves light fare like smoothies and bento boxes.

The on-site spa includes everything from traditional facials and massages to acupuncture and in-room herbal baths. Outdoorsy types can book a guided bike-and-hike to Camelback Mountain—shaped like its double-humped namesake. On the trail, visitors are apt to spot hawks, beehives and plenty of other hikers who can’t get enough of the moderately tough terrain and its breathtaking views. Early-morning tours start before the heat gets too bad, so more experienced hikers have a good chance of making it to the top with Sanctuary guides who know a few short cuts.

The perfect way to end the day is with dinner at Sanctuary’s in-house restaurant, elements, where seasonal, contemporary American offerings are peppered with Asian accents. Dishes might include edamame wontons with Parmesan cream and pickled white beech mushrooms or seared bluenose sea bass with pineapple coconut rice and kiffer-lime curry broth. The resort’s Jade Bar is happening at night, and if Mom’s feeling a little frisky she can puff on a stogie from its extensive cigar offerings.

As hard as it may be to leave Sanctuary, there’s lots to explore outside the resort. Chicago architecture buffs who have visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s summer home Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin, might enjoy checking out Taliesin West (pictured; 12621 Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd, 480-860-2700,, the architect’s Scottsdale winter residence and school from 1937 until 1959. Daily tours are offered for $27–$33, but you can stroll the gorgeous grounds on your own for no charge.

No one can leave without visiting downtown Scottsdale, the heart of all the local action (there’s free trolley service from Sanctuary and at points along the way). Depending on her mood, Mom can visit the galleries in the art district and then opt for cheap, classic Mexican fare (including potent margaritas) at Frank & Lupe’s Old Mexico Restaurant (4121 N Marshall Way, 480-990-9844). Be sure to sit on the colorful backyard patio, nice and close to the bar. Or party it up in fun-and-funky Old Town, where the Old West is a theme at shops, restaurants and bars like the Rusty Spur Saloon (7245 E Main St, 480-425-7787). She might opt to indulge in a sweeter way, with a sundae at Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Parlor & Restaurant (4005 N Scottsdale Rd, 480-946-0051), a candy-colored throwback to 1950s ice-cream shops. For shopping, stroll along the Riverfront where a collection of indie boutiques and restaurants known as The Mix (7154 E Stetson Dr, takes up 30,000 square feet of retail space, giving Mom a chance to shop for everyone from Fido to her poor friends who got stuck with flowers back home.


Two nights, one person
Airfare $278*
+ Hotel $470
+ Meals $200
TOTAL $948

*American, Southwest, United and US Airways offer direct flights from Chicago to Phoenix, about 18 miles from Scottsdale.

Travel time: 3hrs 45mins

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