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Resort Spotlight: Camelback Inn, A JW Marriott Resort & Spa
By Erica Lamberg

Scottsdale is a superior place for family travel, and one of the family travel gems is the Camelback Inn, a JW Marriott Resort & Spa. The resort, set on 125 acres of lush desert landscape, gives families an authentic Southwestern experience. Nestled at the base of Mummy Mountain, and overlooking the famous Camelback Mountain, this is the place where luxury, relaxation and fun come naturally.

A Southwestern haven of hospitality and charm, the resort offers gorgeous grounds that boast flowers at turn and captivating mountain views from every vantage point. Your day can start with a guided group walk around the property, then relax in the afternoon by the pool, and wind down your day with your family listening to live music and eating outdoors. The family vacation is yours to discover at Camelback Inn with amenities including six tennis courts, three outdoor heated pools and whirlpools, nine-hole pitch ‘n putt course, basketball, shuffleboard, ping pong, sand volleyball, a playground, exquisite Spa, and the Camelback Golf Club – featuring 36 holes of championship golf.

“We are told by many of our repeat leisure guests that Camelback Inn is their home away from home,” said Clark Albright, director of sales and Marketing at Camelback Inn. “Though we have many of the activities and amenities that other family friendly resorts do, we think that what sets us apart is the setting and service that folks experience during their time with us.  Our goal is to make every guest feel as if we are welcoming them into our own homes.”

The new redesigned hacienda-style entry includes a spectacular lobby with leather seating, a cozy fireplace, and other seating areas that beckon relaxation. The grand courtyard, outside the main entry, is a wonderful place to eat outside, socialize or enjoy star-gazing after the sun sets.

Home away from home

Accommodations here are everything you'd expect and more. There are 453 spacious, Pueblo-style casitas with thoughtful touches everywhere. Included are 18 suites that range from grand to grandiose, some with private swimming pools. But no matter where guests retire for the evening, they enter an amenity-rich guestroom with French doors leading to a private patio or balcony.

In the mood for home-style cooking? Rita’s Kitchen serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers fresh, regional recipes. The adjacent R Bar’s festive environment is the perfect place to socialize with friends and family while enjoying specialty margaritas and hand-crafted cocktails. For fun in the sun the whole family will enjoy, stop by Hoppin’ Jack’s for patio and poolside dining.

For lighter fare, delicious and healthy cuisine can be found at Sprouts, located in the resort’s beautiful Spa. There is even an on-site Starbucks.

A new and impressive addition has joined Camelback Inn’s dining line-up. For a special evening out, try BLT Steak, Chef Laurent Tourondel's adaptation of the modern American steakhouse. BLT Steak offers Certified Black Angus and prime steaks, American and Japanese Kobe beef, lamb, chicken, fresh seafood and raw bar selections. Generous side dishes and mouthwatering desserts round out the menu and are complimented by sunset views of Camelback Mountain. There is also a children’s menu available.

Activities for kids

Hopalong College, the hotel's seasonal program for children ages 4-12, offers a great assortment of fun and educational activities designed to make youngsters feel at home. Kids can enjoy arts and crafts, water fun, tennis instruction, nature walks, ice cream socials, "camelhunts," Bingo, storytelling and more. Parents can rest easy knowing they'll be well looked after while Mom and Dad are out on the golf course, visiting the Spa or playing tennis. The cost is $45 per child, inclusive of their lunch. Hours are from 9 am to 2 pm.

For together time, walk around the expansive resort to take in captivating views of gorgeous mountains. The resort’s desert landscape is the ideal backdrop for swimming fun. The main pool area, Jack Rabbit pool, offers a lap area and lots of room for parents and children to splash or swim. Guests can lounge on comfortable chairs, find some shade, and cool off with a cocktail, beer, soda or guests can enjoy poolside eats including sandwiches, pizza and hearty salads. A children’s pool area, perfect for entertaining little ones, offers additional seating for Mom and Dad.

Golf

While the kids are having their own fun at Hopalong College- the supervised and action-packed children’s program -parents can take in a spectacular experience at the Camelback Golf Club, a 36-hole championship course. Beginners can hone golf skills from the on-site golf school while experienced golfers will appreciate the two 18-hole courses with exciting layouts, challenges and vista views. The 7,014-yard, par 72 Indian Bend Course, laid out in links-style in a verdant natural wash will intrigue the most discriminating player. Also, the 6,903-yard, par 72 Padre Course with its towering trees and impressive bunkering will keep the pace going.

Spa

Relax knowing your kids are having their own fun with a visit to The Spa at Camelback Inn – the resort’s wonderful retreat and world-famous Spa. Signature facials, Swedish massages, and body and beauty treatments are just some of the pampering found here. The Spa has over 32,000 of indoor space with a heated outdoor lap pool, Jacuzzi, separate locker rooms, separate Turkish steam rooms and more. Guests are able to enjoy breakfast, lunch, or snack at The Spa’s own restaurant Sprouts, which features sophisticated and healthful fare.

Tennis

There are six tennis courts, five lit for night play and one screened for privacy. There are children and adult clinics, and private tennis lessons for an additional cost.

Beyond the Resort

Phoenix is just a 10 minute drive and there are malls to wonder, museums to explore, as well as the Phoenix Zoo and Desert Botanical Garden - a unique attraction in Phoenix, showcasing rare desert plants, endangered desert plants, and more. The Scottsdale region can also be an explored on horseback, by jeep, white-water raft, or even via hot air balloon.

If You Go:

* For more information about Camelback Inn, A JW Marriott Resort & Spa, visit the resort’s Web site at www.camelbackinn.com or call (480) 948-1700 or 800-242- 2635. You may also obtain information from your preferred travel agent.

* This resort offers a “best price guarantee” on room rates and often offers family packages and other promotions throughout the year. Check the resort’s website for current deals.

* The concierge can arrange babysitting services at least 24 hours in advance.

* During major holiday weeks/weekends, Camelback Inn offers children 4 through 12 the opportunity to join Hopalong College, organized and fun activities that include arts and crafts, tennis, playground and live performances. The concierge will have a complete overview about programming.

* A two-hour day trip to Sedona truly complements the Southwestern experience. One tour operator, Pink Jeep Tours, offers yearly, guided jeep excursions through Sedona’s Red Rocks. The Broken Arrow two-hour tour is the company’s most popular tour. Visit www.pinkjeep.com to learn more.

* The Scottsdale region is stocked with fun for the family. Some highlights include The Phoenix Zoo and Desert Botanical Garden – which are located next to one another. Another idea that is good for youngsters: a 15 minute drive to the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch where there is a Native American learning center. The resort’s family-friendly restaurant, Alto, offers free passes to dinner guest for the Hyatt’s gondola attraction – a nightly boat ride around a lake with a singing tour guide. Tickets are also available for purchase separately.

* Scottsdale’s weather is generally mild and warm throughout the year. Afternoons in the summer months can reach over 100 degrees, while the nights in the winter months can reach as low as 30 degrees. The resort’s pools and fire pits make for year-round enjoyment, regardless of the temperature.

Erica Lamberg, a freelance writer, resides in suburban Philadelphia with her husband and two children. She writes a weekly travel column in the Philadelphia Inquirer, focusing on New England and Mid-Atlantic travel. She also has contributed to Gannett New Jersey, New Jersey Monthly, NJ Savvy Living, Montgomery County House & Home, Mainline Magazine and is currently the Philadelphia Family Travel Expert for Examiner.com.

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