Private jets, personal chefs, hot-air balloon rides for two—they're the stuff of pop songs and Hollywood living; and, in Arizona, a perfect VIP getaway. Here's how to craft an exclusive luxury vacation.
At Your Service: do-it-all concierge agencies
One of the best ways to access Arizona's bespoke experiences is with the help of an expert. Enter Arizona-based Concierge Extraordinaire, launched in 2018 with co-owner Kathryn Raimer.
"I realized that the travel agencies were focused on sending people away from Arizona," Raimer explains. "And I thought, 'Why aren't they focused on inbound travel with all of these desirable features here?'"
Whether you want to explore the Grand Canyon by private helicopter or simply relax at a luxury vacation home with resort-style amenities, Concierge Extraordinaire handles every detail from arrival to departure. In addition to booking jet service from your destination to Scottsdale Airport or Phoenix Sky Harbor, Concierge Extraordinaire sets up tee times, snags hard-to-get reservations and arranges private chef visits, poolside yoga, in-home massages, live entertainment and restaurant buy-outs. Your imagination is (seemingly) their only limit.
Resort Life: luxury stays and elevated experiences
When it comes to where to stay, several Arizona resorts go beyond the norm.
At Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, visitors can reserve a one-, two- or three-bedroom suite with a private plunge pool and outdoor garden shower—an ideal way to unwind after embarking on one of the resort's adventure offerings such as a Cessna aerial tour, Jeep tour or guided canyoneering trip.
The Phoenician, meanwhile, offers Phoenix's only AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star hotel experience within its Canyon Suites. A veritable resort-within-a-resort, The Canyon Suites consist of 60 accommodations nestled at the base of Camelback Mountain, plus a private pool and dedicated concierge service.
North of Phoenix, L'Auberge de Sedona answers its stunning red-rock scenery with an array of activities (including forest bathing and sound healing) and the showstopping Creekhouse, a five-bedroom, five-bathroom retreat with panoramic views and a location on the banks of Sedona's famed Oak Creek.
Other destinations, like Tucson's Canyon Ranch and Miraval Arizona, recognize wellness as the ultimate luxury. Located amid the Santa Catalina Mountains, both resorts promise personal transformation and a curated experience.
At Canyon Ranch, spend your day soaking up guided activities tailored to your wellness needs—from personal fitness training to spiritual healing—while nights are enjoyed in the Casa Grande, a freestanding, 2,700-square-foot home.
Miraval boasts The Retreat, a collection of four private residences designed for intimate groups. The retreats include a studio and one-, two- or three-bedroom suites—each suite with a reflection pool and a full gourmet kitchen. In the retreat, guests can enjoy chef-led dinners, as well as certain spa treatments and one-on-one sessions with specialists.
Experiences to savor
One of life's greatest pleasures is also one of life's greatest opportunities for indulgence. That, anyway, is the thinking behind TERRA Farm + Manor, an all-inclusive, gastronomic getaway 45 minutes north of Prescott. TERRA sits on a 100,000+ acre historic ranch where off-the-grid living translates to orchards, vineyards and partnerships with local ranchers, winemakers and chefs.
TERRA is the kind of place that attracts people who appreciate quality, privacy and the sort of one-on-one attention that leads to experiences not on the proverbial menu.
"We don’t use the word, 'no,'" says chef-owner James Porter.
Guests arrive at TERRA to indulge in what Porter calls, "uber food quality." That might be a weekend spent poring over truffles in culinary classes, or it might just be kicking back over delicious meals and pairings.
TERRA offers eight spacious guest rooms with a library and game room in the main house. There's also a three-room guest house. Weekend escapes are offered in spring and fall with private buyouts available in the winter.
If an entire weekend devoted to food isn't feasible, an evening at Reserve in Scottsdale might be. Developed by the same team behind the acclaimed Café Monarch, Reserve celebrates the art of good food with a 12-course chef's tasting menu and sommelier-selected wine pairings. Seating is extremely limited, so reservations are an absolute must. (Jacket preferred, of course.)
Cloud surfing: soar Arizona's sunny skies
From the fruits of the earth to loftier pursuits, Arizona offers it all.
"You can't put a price on the serenity and peacefulness of time spent among the clouds in a hot-air balloon," says Amanda Long, co-president of the family-owned Hot Air Expeditions.
You can, however, transform the already memorable experience with the Phoenix-based company's Soar & Savor Package. It includes a private ride that concludes with a chef-prepared meal and full bar in an open-air teepee in the Sonoran Desert.
Rainbow Ryders also offers several ways to customize a balloon ride. Guests can reserve a private flight with upgraded cuisine and champagne, or celebrate something bigger (including weddings) with custom menus, flowers and launch points.
If flying appeals more than floating, Phoenix’s Westwind Air Service offers a selection of aerial tours and private charters. Westwind can fly anywhere in the United States and Mexico, and with timing and amenities up to you during a chartered flight, the sky is literally the limit to what's possible.
See Arizona's Western landscape as it was meant to be seen—from atop a horse. Leave your plugged-in life behind for the quiet of Arizona's...
About the Author
Elizabeth Exline is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in local and national publications. She believes frequent stops for food is the best way to survive a road trip. Find more of her work at elizabethexline.com.