Bowled over at The Boulders

At The Boulders, Carefree AZ
The stacked billion year old boulders

It would never have occurred to me that golf and romance could be happily wedded. But at the foothills of the Continental mountain range, a desert property filled with an enormous variety of towering cacti and profusion of desert wild life, I found these two diverse activities are most compatible.

Sports come in a variety of bliss-filled outlets at exclusives 33 acre, gated community, The Boulders Resort, in the most suitably named city, Carefree, Arizona, located in the Sonoran Desert foothills.

Certainly, the two championship eighteen hole course golf courses are a major reason to visit and stay at these exquisite areas. And whatever goes on behind the neutral earth tone round edged cassitas’ doors can certainly make the list as one of the most romantic spaces. Both activities should include watching the sun rise and set on the billion year old stacked boulders overlooking the 1,300 acres (this includes 600 private residential homes) the balconies of the oversized room. Identical, each has comfort galore starting with leather armchairs facing round edged fireplace, shelves and a very large bathroom with all the necessary amenities

The architecture is very true to the southwest. The contours of the sun bleached surrealistic, 1.4 billion year old boulders which surround the resort are the inspiration for the design of the casitas and villas. Known as The Lodge, it is where the lobby, bar, library, reception area and two of the five restaurants are located. Paying homage to these incredibly wondrous formations is seen in the lobby’s stain glass skylight and has also been echoed on the huge double entrance doors made from four types of wood. Circular, rounded and definitely noticeable, the signature of the 210 casitas and villas are designed with the soft sensuous curves.

Not straying too far from the integral part of the ancient pre existing continent, even the interior flagstone comes from the Grand Canyon. And one of the three pools sits at the base of the massive boulder rock pile. The waterfalls from these boulders are man- made and the water is recycled from the pond on the other side. But the important draw are the two 18 hole championship golf courses.

Being “Green” in a desert is not usually an easy accomplishment but here it’s taken very seriously. The Boulders has incorporated green issues throughout. A note beside the bedside table suggests that you may not want to have your sheets changed daily so leave the printed note on top of the linens, and This eco friendly hotel has its own recycling program for paper, glass and aluminum, also an on- property water treatment system. Rain water is reclaimed then treated and used to water the golf courses where there is low- water needed grasses, natural insecticides and organic cleaning products are part of the green factor. Linens in the rooms and restaurants are organic, and you can eat like a locavore with locally grown produce from their on-property garden. Sightseeing tours are often with non motorized vehicles. Their desire to be one of the first all organic resorts even features organic spa lotions; eco friendly clothing is for sale in their boutique.

At open kitchen concept of Palo Verde restaurant, the Normandy born Chef Michele Pieton will personalize your meals often created with organic naturally gown ingredients, free range meats and poultry and seafood responsibly fished from clean waters. It’s seen as “honest” food. Even most of the wine is organic.

Although in the US for over 30 years, 3 at the resort, Pieton still possesses that beguiling French accent as he tells me how delighted he is with the opportunity to use local produce, spices and herbs for his creative meals. The nip of southern sauces certainly perks up any bland taste buds. And breakfast at Palo Verde’s terrace facing the 6th fairway and the duck pond is the perfect day starter.

The wonderful story abounds about a European traveller when phoning for her reservations, asked for a room facing the ocean. Not wanting to embarrass the geographically handicapped woman by mentioning the obvious fact this is a desert, hence too far from any waves or tides. They gave her one of the villas as close to this small stream as possible. Apparently she was pleased that she had a waterfront view.

The variety of cacti at The Boulders
Colorful decor at the shopping mall El Pedregal mall

Early risers are usually golf jocks waiting to get to their tee off time and like the snow birds, they come in flocks. The Jills who don’t join the ‘swinging ‘crowd head to the fashionably designed 33,000 square foot Golden Door Spa. One of the awesome treatments, and this from a scribe who isn’t mad about body massages, is the Spirit of Life treatment with a head to toe experience of the not often heard of “Bindi Balancing coupled with the grounding Shirodhara which recreates the ultimate Ayuvedic ritual” . After exfoliating the entire body, then being covered with specially blended oils which have been decided upon before by a ‘constitutional analysis’, Eva encased my body in a blanket then with a well placed kettle above my head, she let warm oil trickle onto my “third eye”, (the middle of the forehead). After massaging the oil into my scalp and various pressure points of the face

Every hotel depends on their staff to keep up the reputation and at The Boulders, they have outdone themselves. If you’re not a great walker or don’t have the time, there’s always a waiting golf cart cum ‘driver’ to take you anywhere on the property. Going to the colourfully painted and decorated hotel owned El Pedregal, an open mall with independently owned shops, there are a variety of boutiques, art galleries, and fossil shops. It’s a healthy 15 minute walk or a small hotel shuttle, again within minutes of the request. Biking, horseback rides, geology walks, star gazing, tennis, hot air ballooning are other options and all expedited by one of the four female Clefs d’Or concierges. The international Association of Concierge invites members, a tremendous accolade. There are only 18 Clefs d’Or in Arizona and a quartet sits right up front at this resort.


Another activity that can be booked is a shopping expedition with a personal shopper, Nancy Shina of Spree! The Art of Shopping. The Sex in the City type stylist seem to know every one of a-kind boutique and designer showrooms in Scottsdale with items from baby to home accessories and of course apparel for men and women. She also has great personality which make being with her, a pleasant time out. And her best kept secret is, hidden behind the large Nordstrom department store is Nordstrom’s Rack, where this season’s designer labels are often 80% discounted.

Another Scottsdale experience is The Estate House, ( about 20 minutes drive from Carefree), and the dinner- only s menu is where French Mediterranean meets California Wine Country with fish flown in daily and the frosty rose petal mojitos are so good that they could make the designated driver cry from abstinence.

So if variety is the spice of life, than Carefree, Scottsdale and The Boulders Resort is the trio for a successful taste of southwest desert lifestyle. As I was told by Joanne, one of The Boulders’ Cle d’Or concierges, “we seek opportunities to create memories.” Mission accomplished.