To celebrate my daughter’s college graduation in May, I wanted to treat her to a luxurious getaway with my sister. We initially eyed a spa weekend in Massachusetts or Pennsylvania, but got sticker shock from the prices, which averaged $2,000 per person for the weekend. My sister, a seasoned traveler, got an idea. If it was luxury we craved, why not stay at an upscale resort in a place that’s eager to attract tourists in the summer?
We decided on a long weekend in July at Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows in Scottsdale, Arizona, where the temperatures ranged from 90 to 110 degrees. The resort’s “Heat It Up in Scottsdale” summer package starts at $189 a night and includes two cocktails per person per day, a waived resort fee (usually a $39-a-day charge), a full breakfast for each person, served until 3 p.m., and 25% off spa services. Compare that to peak season rates, which start at $349 a night, without any of the inclusions.
The 185-room resort, redeveloped in 2016, consists of exquisite, midcentury-modern, single-story bungalows with their own entrances and patios. We upgraded to a 750-square-foot suite for $344 a night, which, in our case, included two roomy bathrooms with 40-square-foot showers. The upgrade came with a private, poolside cabana with a plush couch, table and chairs, a ceiling fan and a flat-screen television.
Other perks and amenities were a “libation exploration” class, where visitors are instructed on how to make their favorite cocktails; a free early morning yoga class by the pool with Camelback Mountain as the backdrop, and complimentary homemade potato chips, chocolates and salt water taffy in the room.
Vacationing in this type of heat takes strategic planning. We typically rose by 6 a.m. or so to hike in the nearby mountains or sit poolside with our coffee. Afternoons were spent in the pool, sipping cocktails while perched in comfy floats. We found containers of ice water, along with sunscreen and aloe pump bottles, strategically placed throughout the resort. Besides cheaper rates, sweltering temperatures kept the crowds down; on a weekday, we had the giant pool nearly to ourselves.
The Andaz is one of several desert destinations offering a taste of luxury at bargain rates in the summer. Here’s a glimpse at a few others.
Scottsdale, Arizona Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch
The amenities: Stellar views of the McDowell Mountains and an amazing water scene, which by itself is dazzling, provide ample opportunities to stay cool. There are 10 swimming pools — including one for adults — 20 fountains, 45 waterfalls and a 30-foot, three-story, high-speed waterslide, as well as a man-made beach with a 5,000-square-foot sandy beach area. For $15 an hour per child, children ages 3 to 12 can attend the resort’s activity-filled Camp Hyatt. There’s also a spa, a golf course and eight restaurants.
The deal: With “Summer Made Simple,” children 12 and under get a free dinner each day from the children’s menu in two of the restaurants, as long as at least one adult is paying for a full-price meal. Children 18 and under play one round of golf free per day with a paying adult. Rates start at $139 per night, not including the $40-plus tax resort fee, which covers self-parking and bicycle rentals. Peak season rates start at $450 a night.
Beating the heat: The resort offers several poolside activities, including watermelon-eating contests, inner tube races and water balloon tosses. There’s also nightly live entertainment when the sun goes down.
Tucson, Arizona Miraval Arizona
The amenities: Situated in the Santa Catalina Mountains, Miraval Arizona is a premiere wellness spa. The all-inclusive resort, where no tipping is allowed, features casita-style accommodations. There are more than 120 complimentary wellness activities, lectures and fitness classes weekly, along with three pools and 24-hour access to a newly renovated Body Mindfulness Fitness Center.
The deal: Summer rates start at $399 per person per night, compared to $699 in the winter. Rates include: a $175 nightly resort credit per person that can be used toward spa services; classes like beekeeping and cooking or private sessions for services like personalized nutrition counseling; fitness classes; all meals, as well as snacks, smoothies and nonalcoholic beverages; and shared shuttle transfers from Tucson International Airport.
Beating the heat: Most of the outdoor programs take place early in the morning. Miraval hosts a series of full moon programs each summer, including Celestial Yoga and Twilight Zipline.
Palm Springs, California The Rowan
The amenities: Opened in November 2017, The Rowan is the first new hotel built in downtown Palm Springs in decades and, at seven stories, the tallest. Each of the 153 rooms has either views of the nearby San Jacinto Mountains or private outdoor terraces. There’s a rooftop pool with a bar, and custom-designed bikes available for guests to borrow. An evening social hour offers free beer and wine. Access to hiking trails are right in the hotel’s backyard.
The deal: The Rowan offers a global summer sale: Rates start at $147 a night for midweek stays (compared to $289 during high season), and at $225 for weekends (compared to $289 during high season). Its “100 days of Rosé” package, offered for stays through Sept. 20 to those 21 and over, includes two cans of rosé a day and a 2 p.m. late checkout. Rates start at $200 a night, compared to $289 for the high season rate.
Beating the heat: Guests can watch the summer’s meteor showers from the hotel rooftop.
Las Vegas Four Seasons Hotel
The amenities: Though it’s on the famed Las Vegas Strip, the Four Seasons has a nonsmoking, nongaming atmosphere in a resort setting. In addition to the resort’s private pool, guests can use the pool complex at the adjacent Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. Guests also have access via a “secret” door to the casino-level entrance at Mandalay Bay.
The deal: Summer rates start at $220 per night versus $300 during peak season. Guests can also book the “Experience More” package, with rates starting at $280 per night, based on a two-night stay. This includes a $100 hotel credit that can be used for the spa or to book a private poolside cabana. Deals can be found here.
Beating the heat: The resort offers complimentary amenities poolside, including Evian spritzes, chilled fruit and oshibori towels.
Los Cabos, Mexico Las Ventanas al Paraíso, A Rosewood Resort
The amenities: Situated on Cabo’s coastline, this resort aims to provide the quintessential luxury experience. There are 84 accommodations, including 12 beach villas. Five dining venues specialize in different types of dining experiences, including a teppanyaki ice-cream bar and a tequila-and-ceviche bar. A new 5,000-square-foot pool with a view of the sea has a swim-up bar.
The deals: Guests who stay three nights can receive the fourth night free. An ocean-view junior suite is $674 a night, compared to $1,125 in the winter. The “More Rosewood” offer includes breakfast for two daily and an in-room tequila welcome.
Beating the heat: A team of pool butlers are available to massage your feet, clean your sunglasses, mist you with cold Evian spray to keep you cool and bring you complimentary seasonal Popsicles, sorbets and lemonade. A floating breakfast tray allows you to eat breakfast in the pool.
Indian Wells, California Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa
Amenities: Nestled against the Santa Rosa Mountains in the greater Palm Springs area, this is an 11-acre resort with its own citrus and herb garden that the chef uses to prepare food. There are three pools. Complimentary yoga sessions are held every Saturday morning.
The deal: The resort has a variety of vacation specials, including “Summer Chill” where you stay two nights and get the third night free. Summer rates start at $109 a night, plus a $35 resort fee; the starting rate at peak season is $211. Children eat free all summer. For “Kick Off Summer,” you can stay three nights and get a $100 resort credit for use in the Citrus & Palm restaurant, Tavern or Well Spa. Offers can be found here.
Beating the heat: The Starlight Sip & Swim is a cabana rental program from 7-11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights through the end of summer. It includes a pitcher of sangria or margaritas. Cost is $100. Guests can also watch complimentary movies on Friday and Saturday at dusk.