As multigenerational vacations become increasingly popular in the United States and kids outgrow the confines of the designated “kids’ club” area, finding a genuinely interesting and uncontrived one-size-fits-all solution for different travelers can pose a challenge. Furthermore, there’s the reality some family members have been into outdoor sports before they could walk, while others are more drawn to vacations built around history and culture.
The Boulders Villas and Haciendas (part of Hilton’s Curio Collection), a 1,300-acre resort located about 40 minutes from downtown Phoenix and 30 from central Scottsdale, is a rarity in that it can keep everybody from 10 to 85 entertained with activities for people at varying athletic levels that can be done in pairs, small groups or the entire family.
The property is refreshingly non-kitschy, integrating just the right amount of Old West flair into its modern ambiance in both the public and private spaces. Suites, haciendas and villas are downright cozy, and appointed with fireplaces, flat-screen televisions and roomy bathroom areas. One- to five-bedroom residences are suited for those planning a longer stay or traveling with a multigenerational group. Comforts in the larger dwellings include fully equipped kitchens, high speed internet, a full laundry room, doorstep parking, private entrances and even a swimming pool reserved exclusively for villa guests.
At the villas and some haciendas, private patios are outfitted with barbeque grills perfect for private outdoor gatherings. However, on-site restaurants from the Spa Café and Grill Kitchen & Bar to the Spotted Donkey and Palo Verde manage to have teen-friendly offerings without sacrificing creativity or sophistication. Off the “ranch,” there are numerous come-as-you-are restaurants in nearby Cave Creek and Carefree that have a definite all-ages appeal. Of course, to fully appreciate the food, one has to work up an appetite. Golf and tennis (as one may expect in Arizona) are two of the resort’s biggest draws, and there is staff on hand to get the entire family into the game with seasonal classes and private lessons.
Pickleball, the Boulder’s newest activity addition, is staged at the Boulders Tennis Gardens. Described as a hybrid of badminton and table tennis, players use wood paddles to volley a perforated ball. A morning Walk the Rock Hike with guide Rico Riley is another ideal “first day” activity. The lively storyteller injects many interesting historical and scientific facts about the area’s topography, ecosystem, Hohokam Indian culture, and 12-million-year-old boulders that inspired the resort’s name.
Riley and other guides also lead more extensive hiking and rock climbing excursions that go deeper into the gravity-defying rock formations of high Sonoran Desert, as well as a new waterfall rappelling component that takes place on the resort’s picturesque grounds beginning at the base of a waterfall that cascades over the ancient rock formations near the Main Lodge.
Other guided outdoor activities blending adrenaline and knowledge that can be arranged by the concierge desk include fly fishing lessons led by Orvis-endorsed fishing guides and certified instructors, “Windwalker Horseback” rides through the desert, bicycle tours and mountain biking and hot-air ballooning (weather permitting). On the non-athletic end of things, two-hour guided photography tours led by professional nature photographer Linda Covey and stargazing sessions viewing the non-polluted sky are also available.
The spa inside the wellness center offers delicious desert-inspired massages and treatments primarily for the grown-ups. However, teens can also partake in the many complimentary fitness classes offered at the adjoining fitness areas, including bar fitness, yoga, pilates, Zumba, spin, and water fitness. Delicious real-fruit smoothies from the Spa Café and dips into its quiet pool area add an extra level of chill to quiet time.