My wife and I were at the Boulders in late December for four nights. Overall it was a good trip and we enjoyed it. The Boulders is a beautiful, scenic property with spectacular views of the huge rock formations that are in several places on the property.
Pros - The casitas are very nice. They aren't what I would call luxurious, but they are tastefully done. Wood burning fireplace in each one, flat screen tv (approx. 42") and nice bathrooms and closets. The separate shower is a little small for most guys. There is a great variety of views among the different casitas. Sometimes requests are honored; sometimes they are not.
My wife loved the spot and had some sort of treatment every day. Great massages and a very nice place. She said it took quite awhile a couple of times for the golf cart shuttle to come and pick her up to get her back to the room.
The golf is generally quite good. Jay Moorish designed both courses. North course is more traditional and not target golf. Range and putting green and excellent and well kept. The south course is the more difficult of the two, at least for me. It is not hard core "target golf" but it comes close at times. Lots of waste areas and some forced carries on tee shots and approaches. There is a lot of local knowledge around the greens. You will see all sorts of wildlife, mostly on the south course for some reason. Coyotes, bobcats, rabbits and doves. We even saw a large group of Havalina pigs one day roaming the fairways. They are all used to people and will get fairly close to you. Take your camera. You will need to ride in a cart to play golf here. The distances from the green to the next tee can be a long way. To me, the courses just are not walkable.
The Boulders is a pretty remote location. That is good for the most part, but not entirely so, as I will now get to.
Cons - these are mostly comments; none are overwhelming negatives. While the Boulders is only about thirty miles from the Phoenix airport, it can easily take over an hour to get there. That is because of Scottsdale Road, which is the best route to take. Scottsdale Road is now full of stop lights, many of which are ill - timed. And they are long lights, not just fifteeen or twenty second lights. We drove into old town Scottsdale for dinner one night, where there are any number of really good restaurants. It is easily 40 to 45 minutes each way. When you look at a map you don't think it is all that far, but time wise it really is. It's a haul and really not worth the one and a half hour drive round trip for dinner. The food at the Boulders is good, but I would not say that it is exceptional and I am one of those pepple who doesn't want to eat every meal at a resort. There are some places in nearby Carefree and Cave Creek which are pretty good, but you're not going to find any sort of great meal. Also, there are some good restaurants about ten minutes away down by Troon North. Hopefully you get my drift -- the Boulders is an isolated place. That is a good thing unless you are out foraging for food.
The weather. Sigh. What can I say? The dead of winter is just not the best time to travel to Carefree, Arizona. The Phoenix Chamber of Commerce would lead you to believe that it is 75 degrees and sunny in the Valley every day in the winter. Not so. It can be cloudy and the days can be in the low 50's. Not great golf weather, believe me. Carefree is about 2500 - 2600 feet above sea level so it is going to be eight to ten degrees cooler than Phoenix. That can make a difference. You could catch great weather in the winter but it can be really cold, too. I'm not willing to chance it again. I will not go the Boulders in the winter again until late February or early March to make sure that it warms up.
As has been mentioned, you can do a lot of walking if you want to. The place is really spread out. The very friendly staff will take you around in golf carts, but sometimes you need to wait a few minutes for one to show up. If your casita is far away from the main lodge, you have little choice but to take the golf carts. I would also echo the earlier comments that the Boulders is not a great place for young kids. This is mostly an adults only type of resort.
Like most people, I hate paying a "resort fee." But I didn't mind it at the Boulders. If you had to tip a guy every time you took a ride in a golf cart, had your cart taken out from valet parking, etc., it would drive you nuts.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Escape to a secluded haven amid the natural splendor of painted desert sand, towering cacti, and clear, blue sky - The Boulders. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Boulders, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel Carefree
- The Waldorf Astoria Collection Carefree
- The Boulders Resort And Golden Door Spa
- Boulders Resort
- The Boulders Resort Luxury
- Boulder Arizona