Hurricane Sandy kicked off a formidable winter that already has brought blizzards to the East Coast and flooding to the West. Meanwhile, the desert welcomes bright, beautiful, moderately sunny conditions and tens of thousands of part-time residents and vacationers, eager to escape from the extreme winter weather. A visit to the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs the weekend before Sandy proved why this is the perfect time for Phoenix to rebound from the financial slump. Everybody wanted to be there Ė poolside, healthy, without a care beyond making it to their spa appointment, rather than back home, hunkering down for the storm.
Even when winter conditions are mild in the Northeast US and Canada, the ďsnowbirdĒ phenomenon persists, with many retired or career-flexible people decamping to Arizona and spending November through January enjoying the desertís pleasant winter. Meanwhile, West Coasters with only a few days to get away are drawn to Phoenix/Scottsdale for its great golf and proliferating luxury spa scene. But during harsh winters, this cycle keeps places like the Pointe Hilton at full capacity, for so many reasons. First of all, the all-suite layout is similar to condominium livingódefinitely as spacious as a big-city apartment, but with key differences like room service and housekeeping.
Second, there are the amenities, which are undeniably so much better than any gated condominium complex could ever offer including a full-service salon, a spa, countless small pools, and a main pool that isnít just a pool but a full-on water park. Named Falls Water Village, it encompasses a 138-foot waterslide, acres of free-form swimming pools and splashing areas as well as a poolside cafť and separate sundries shop. There are two restaurants, Different Pointe of View, an elegant contemporary Mediterranean dining room with stunning views of the city and star-gazing on the terrace. Not to mention, liqueur-infused marshmallows to roast at the firepit for dessert. Itís a must-do if youíre on a date, and available almost every evening of the year.
For everyday dining, Pointe in Tyme Grille has many comparable menu items, great drinks, and an overall lower price point. A casual atmosphere thatís family friendly and casual dress is also a plus. Lookout Mountain Golf Club not only has 18 holes of industry-award-winning golf, but it has one of the longest paved tracks running along the course perimeter that you could ever find. Itís a half-day adventure to explore on a track, even if you donít play golf. Up at the highest lookout point, thereís a gorgeous viewpoint from which you can see the North Phoenix Mountain Preserves.
For people who prefer to hike to get those views, there are hiking trails with trail heads just footsteps from the main parking lot of the resort. If you explore them, youíll bump into local joggers, mountain bikers and dog owners, all of whom know these trails to be some of the best in the Phoenix area. And finally, the feature that help distinguish Tapatio Cliffs from all the other luxury resort in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area? The rates. While we expected this property to be on par with classic, if slightly mustier, marquee-name resorts, itís actually about half the cost. In an era when most people have come to appreciate affordable luxury, this property doesnít just make us feel good. It didnít make us feel like weíve escaped reality (even though we have) either. It makes us feel smart. And those are all feelings we could get used to, permanently.