The Sonoran Desert has a beauty all its own and, with the McDowell Mountains as a stunning backdrop, the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch is a great place for multi-generational family vacationers to experience much of what the American Southwest has to offer. In addition to Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired architecture and award-winning service, the following is a rundown of 10 particularly notable family-oriented aspects of the property that make it perfectly suited for guests of all ages.
- The 30-foot, three-story, high-speed waterslide. Kids would unanimously agree this is the coolest feature at the resort. It’s certainly the crowning glory of the Hyatt Regency’s newly renovated Water Playground. This tubular slide zooms swimmers through triple turns at speeds up to 25 miles per hour! Overall, the $4 million, 2.5 acre Water Playground complex includes 10 swimming pools (one of which features a real sand beach), 20 fountains and a whopping 45 waterfalls—not to mention private cabanas and alfresco dining at the poolside H2Oasis restaurant.
- Camp Hyatt Kachina and the Lost Dutchman’s Playground. Here, kids ages three to twelve can enjoy crafts and activities that immerse them in the Southwestern experience, such as making Indian headbands and pinch pots; hearing tales told by cowboy storytellers; learning about local culture, geography and indigenous plants and animals; or splashing around in the Water Playground.
- Gondola Boat Rides. An authentically handcrafted Italian Gondola in the middle of the desert? You bet! Enjoy a classical Italian serenade performed by professional Gondoliers as your family cruises the waters of the resort’s seven-acre lake. It’s a wonderful way to wind down amid the glow of a Sonoran desert sunset. Kids aged three and under cruise free while kids ages four through twelve cost just $5.
- Gratis golf! It’s never too early to get the kids out on the green to cultivate golf skills—or just have a giggle or three. At the award-winning Gainey Ranch Golf Club, children fifteen and under staying at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa play free with a paying adult. This is a can’t-miss opportunity for golf lovers as this 27-hole championship golf course is among the top rated in the country, and is only accessible to private club members and resort guests.
- Activities aplenty. Here families can have some unplugged fun together in a variety of ways, day or night. There are four lighted tennis courts to enjoy (with available professional instruction if needed), and leisure bicycles are also available. For the fitness-minded family, there are miles of jogging trails as well as a fully equipped StayFit gym. The Spa Avania beckons those ages sixteen and above to come in and get pampered with a full spectrum of treatments to choose from.
- Cultural immersion. A very cool aspect of this property is its Native American Learning Center, which provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn about the history and culture of Southwestern Native Americans. Guests are given unique access to masterworks of native artists in both traditional and experimental media, exhibits and a reference library. Through foods, entertainment, art, landscaping and personal interactions with Hyatt staff, guests gain a better understanding of the history of the destination. What’s more, every Friday at 5pm guests can attend a performance of traditional Native American hoop dancing known as, “the dance of life,” an interpretation of many plants and animals meaningful to Native American culture.
- Sweet suites. While the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa offers a wide variety of rooms for any size family and budget among the nearly 500 available in total, the Casita Suites are one especially ideal option for families. Located along the resort’s waterways, the casitas are available with up to four bedroom configurations and feature separate sitting and dining areas, a wood-burning fireplace and a rooftop deck. Also incredible for families are the Paolo Soleri and Karl May Signature Suites, each available as one or two bedroom options, that are designed to look and feel like a private residence. A large living and dining area, wet bar and dining table with six armchairs help foster this effect. Family creature comforts abound, and include Hyatt Grand Beds, Wi-Fi Internet access, refrigerator, 37” flat screen TV and an iHome stereo with iPod docking station.
- Hypoallergenic room options. Created with allergy sufferers in mind, the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa offers PURE hypoallergenic rooms that are installed and maintained by PURE Solutions NA. These specialty rooms adhere to strict cleanliness protocols that reduce potential irritants and airborne particles.
- A baby bounty lightens the load. Available to guests with small children is the Hyatt’s Babies Travel Lite program through which diapers, formula, food and other infant provisions are delivered directly to your Hyatt Hotel room so you can skip the bulky baggage! Instead, order from over 1,500 name brand baby products, including a large selection of organics, that’ll be in your room awaiting your arrival.
- Regency Club Lounge. Guests staying in Regency Club-level rooms enjoy exclusive access to the Regency Club Lounge—a great place to mix and mingle with other guests, or just enjoy an air conditioned respite from the desert heat. The club has its own personal concierge who’s there to ensure your needs and wants are attended to. Each day the Club Lounge serves a European-style breakfast, a variety of snacks and evening hors d’oeuvres. Cocktail service is also available at reduced pricing. The Regency Club is well appointed and overlooks a pretty lagoon. The space has a private indoor-outdoor terrace, gazebo and lush gardens, and is a great location to take a load off.
- Dining to-die-for. While there are no less than eight places to eat and imbibe at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa, serving everything from Starbucks to sushi, my personal favorite place to eat on-site is SWB, a modern Southwestern bistro that offers creative regional “food with flare”—some of which is cooked in wood-fired ovens. While there is no kids’ menu, SWB does offer smaller portions of select à la carte items at half price for kids twelve and under. Whatever you do, don’t miss the eatery’s signature lime and cilantro-infused guacamole that’s prepared table-side. My entrée pick? The Grilled Pork Chop accompanied by a bacon jalapeño jam and buttered hominy grits with a side order of Green Chili and Oaxaca Cheese Cornbread. You’re welcome.
- Pet privileges. With the Hyatt Regency’s 4Paws pet program, even four-legged family members are welcome. Doggie amenities such as beds, toys, food and water dishes (with a floor mat) are included to help make your pet’s stay an enjoyable one.
Believe it or not, these are just some of the many things that make the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch a great option for family travel. Here you’ll experience authentic hospitality and rampant recreation that’ll make those smiles stick. What more can you ask for?
“The Luxe List” Executive Editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury marketplace for exemplary travel experiences, extraordinary events, and notable products and services. Submissions are accepted at www.TheLuxeList.com. Follow her on Twitter here: www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor and Facebook here: www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList.
***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided and/or sponsored to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.****