Splashy 'Staycations': Pool-side Fun at Arizona's Resorts

By: Bryn Bailer

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Desert dwellers seeking family fun in the surf and sun can find bliss via a splashy resort “staycation.” Arizona’s resorts feature ever-more-elaborate water features and engaging activities that make stay-at-home vacations fun and affordable for the whole family.

About the author

Bryn Bailer

Bryn Bailer

Native Tucsonan Bryn Bailer is an award-winning journalist, former newspaper reporter, current-affairs junkie, and a firm believer in indecision. (At least she thinks so.) Her work has appeared in various publications, including The Dallas Morning News, Arizona Highways, Arizona Daily Star, international news service Agence France-Presse, scads of lifestyle magazines, and curiously, the English-language financial magazine Czech Business Weekly.

Whether you’re seeking boisterous sports pools for splashy fun and games, man-made rivers for inner tubing with your friends, or even relaxation on your own private island, you can probably find it at an Arizona resort. Activities range from casual poolside games to physically challenging wave-pool surfing.

Phoenix

Arizona Grand Resort & Spa

Aside from being located next to America's largest urban park and wilderness preserve, Arizona Grand Resort & Spa's central feature is its seven-acre Oasis Water Park, which offers everything from a tyke-friendly spray deck to an eight-story tower with three waterslides for teens and adults. Rounding out the water features is a zero-entry wave pool for splashing about, a tubing river with rolling rapids, and a 25-person hot tub.

Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort

A popular spot for families, Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort’s four-acre River Ranch Water Park attracts guests with a variety of "splashy" activities. In addition to swimming pools, the park includes a 130-foot waterslide, and a slow-moving lazy river, and beautifully lighted waterfalls. And if you want some dry-land fun, the resort’s tennis courts, basketball court and miniature golf putting course are just steps away.

Squaw Peak Resort's sister property, the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort, also features multiple pools, as well as a 138-foot enclosed waterslide and 23 fully stocked private cabanas.

JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa

Four acres of elaborately landscaped waterways at this north Phoenix getaway contain three pools, a 1,600-foot lazy river, an 89-foot serpentine waterslide, and Griffin Bay, an "exclusive pool experience." Recently introduced Griffin Bay includes upgraded food and drink options, VIP seating and service, and a selection of luxury lounging options including plush chaise lounges and Cabana Cottages.

The list of family activities can change by season but have included weekend dive-in movies, rubber duck races on the lazy river, and water balloon wars.

Scottsdale

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

The Princess welcomes families for fun yet elegant staycations. There are twisty waterslides and family-friendly pools, such as Sunset Beach—surrounded by white sand—as well as adults-only spots like the tranquil Well & Being Rooftop Pool for spa guests. Past summer activities have included weekend fireworks, strobe-light techno pool parties, and live music. Smaller children will enjoy the Sonoran Splash Pool, which has a zero-entry pool deck and a sandbox play area with beach toys.

The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa

Have fun in public, or with more privacy, at this Scottsdale resort. Zip along the 110-foot-long water slide or float the lazy river at the resort’s Adventure Water Park. Learn to surf or body board at the Kierland FlowRider wave simulator. Or rent your own private "island"—dubbed the Tommy Bahama Relaxation Reef—on a quiet cove along the lazy river, where you and your party can nosh, soak and sunbathe.

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch

Set against the McDowell Mountains, the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale has earned rave reviews from guests for its spacious rooms, chic contemporary decor, and its expansive water playground. There are a whopping 10 pools, 20 fountains, 45 waterfalls, and a 30-foot, three-story high-speed waterslide to entertain guests of all ages. For those who prefer to stay dry, four handcrafted Italian Gondola boats await to transport them along the lovely waterways—complete with serenading Gondoliers.

Tucson

Loews Ventana Canyon Resort

Tucked into the lush desert foothills north of Tucson, Loews Ventana Canyon features great hiking and cycling opportunities, as well as warm-weather water fun. The property features two signature pools and heated spas, as well as live music, pool games like table tennis, and complimentary frozen treats by the pool. The resort prides itself on its poolside concierge service—chilled towels and sunscreen, anyone?—and weekend family summer events like live music and water games like Raft Relays for the kids. For a quieter, relaxing activity, guests can feed the fish at their soothing Koi Pond tucked among the resort's beautifully landscaped grounds.

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