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“Recommended -- but with a few comments” 4 of 5 stars
Review of The Boulders, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

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The Boulders, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
5.0 of 5 Resort   |   34631 North Tom Darlington Drive, Carefree, AZ 85377   |  
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Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Carefree
Texas
Top Contributor
75 reviews 75 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
95 helpful votes 95 helpful votes
“Recommended -- but with a few comments”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 3, 2013

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.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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1,262 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (259)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Fort Worth, Texas
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 2, 2013

Anniversary trip couldn't have been better. The resort is outstanding. The people were incredibly attentive, accomodating.and responsive. The food was excellent. Our casita was great with a wonderful view of the mountains and the beautiful grounds/golf course. We're not spa people, but this spa is amazing. Couldn't have scripted a better place. We're looking for excuses to go back to the Boulders.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Houston, Texas
Top Contributor
51 reviews 51 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
40 helpful votes 40 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 1, 2013

This is not our first time to visit this resort. It is our first time for the Christmas holiday. We had such a wonderful time we are already planning our next Christmas. The resort was completely staffed and open for the holiday. The golf course was amazing. The spa was incredible. The food was outstanding. The staff were all wonderful. I can't say enough great things about our experience. This is a beautiful property.
This is more of an adult resort. I woulde not recommend it for young children.

Room Tip: Ask for one of the casitas on the golf course.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 23, 2012 via mobile

Amazing resort! Stayed here for five days over Thanksgiving week this year, and was extremely impressed with every aspect of The Boulders resort. Will definitely stay here again next time I'm in the Scottsdale, area!

Pros: The staff was overwhelmingly accommodating and helpful (they use golf carts/shuttles to transport you to different areas of the resort by request, which was very much appreciated, thanks Bill from Wisconsn!).

The location was absolutely gorgeous and unlike anywhere I've ever been before (beautiful, enormous boulders surrounding the resort grounds, Saguaro cacti all around, golf areas were beautiful, and the various ponds and wildlife).

The casita was pristine, had a wood-burning fireplace (which we used a LOT), bed was super comfortable (I hadn't slept that well in months), and the bathroom was also amazing (double sinks, bath tub, glass shower, walk-in closet, etc).

The Golden Door spa was very luxurious, and the staff were very nicd and professional. The massage was amazing, as were the various saunas. The pool at the spa (which is open to all resort guests), was very relaxing.

My boyfriend and his parents went golfing at The Boulders and they said that it was exceptional. More specifically: the practice area (driving range, short game area, and putting green) was worth visiting on its own; the course itself was extremely well run; and the fairways and greens were in impeccable shape. Overall, an extremely fun place to golf!

Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Midwesterner
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 22, 2012

When we determined that we'd be in AZ for Thanksgiving, we knew we wanted to include a couple of days for ourselves at The Boulders. We have stayed there before & LOVED it. The grounds are beautiful and peaceful. We most recently stayed at a casita which backed up to the 6th hole on the golf course. Gorgeous.

The Casitas are wonderfully appointed, including wood-burning fireplaces with fresh firewood every evening; large bathrooms which include generously sized shampoos, etc.; the robes & bedding are luxuriously comfortable; and a KEURIG machine! A lovely treat each morning to have a good-tasting, fresh-brewed coffee in our room. While we knew we had neighbors at our casita, we never heard anyone. It seems that everyone respects & appreciates the beauty & serenity of the resort & grounds.

The private patio provided a little private outdoor relaxation with lovely views of the property, the golf course, and the adorable little quail & rabbits. We kept our patio door closed at night but were still able to hear (but were never bothered by) the coyote nearby. While the property is expansive, it is easy to get around & there always seems to be a staff member in a nearby golf cart offering a ride.There are also nicely paved trails & signs to guide you along the way.

The resort staff is extremely attentive and accommodating. The Golden Door Spa is serene, meticulously maintained, well staffed, and offers a variety of services which may be included in your resort fees. I was able to enjoy Pilates in the Movement Studio at no extra cost. While we have eaten at the resort restaurant in the past, we enjoyed breakfast on the patio at the Golden Door. Light, fresh fare served by friendly staff. It is a smaller, quieter option for breakfast & lunch.

While my spouse golfed, I lounged & enjoyed lunch by the pool. It was quiet &relaxingwith a server who was attentive & friendly. I was even able to enjoy a nap. No noise, no distractions.

I would definitely return and highly recommend The Boulders for any time of year, for any number of people. Golf, spa, relax, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
potomac maryland
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 21, 2012

First timer to Boulders and a truly unique property in terms of ambience/ service / vistas . Combined w spacious serene lodgings termed casitas along with incredible golfing and a world class spa make this an unforgettable oasis in this hectic world

Did not know what to expect but they had our name at the entrance and greeted us graciously and expectantly at the reception area with a lovely hostess Carolyn whom we saw several times during our 3 day visit. Gracious service oriented people combined with a unique hedonistic surreal restrained and beautiful second story casita with a boulder and golf course view made this an exceptional experience.


Top notch service from beginning to end without being too intrusive. Excellent golf course and staff with an impressive practice facility combined with a spa experience and facility that are surely hard to rival on a domestic stage.

Great place for couples and young adults . IN my opinion not designed for young children although perhaps off site activities ( too numerous to count) may be the alternative

Enjoy this place the ambience and amenities. You will not be disappointed.

One of the few resorts that still delivers the NY times to your " casita" in the AM

Room Tip: Consider second floor in general and choose between golf course view ( rare) or boulder view and sm...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 10, 2012

4 years ago my wife and I went to The Boulders for the first anniversary. From the point of check in to when we left it was special. I felt like royalty.

Last week we were there again, this time for my birthday. Before booking, I researched every other 5 star property in the Scottsdale area and nearly tried another one. But then after speaking to a friend who had been to the Phoenician and The Boulders, he said he liked The Boulders better for its location, I agree.

The frist time we had a golf course view on the ground floor. This time we had a desert view on the second floor which you had to get to by a cart or take a long walk. The room was the same layout though and quite nice.

Another reason for staying here again was for the golf and spa. I played and my wife went to the spa which she said was amazing. In a few words I will say that this is one of the best courses I have ever played in this format (desert). If you remotely care about golf, then you must play the South Course.

A few things I will mention that I didn't entirely like though. After breakfast, which ended up being $80 for two, I thought the tip was added, since it is everywhere else, I left that spot blank and just signed. When I checked out I saw it on the bill and then called for the receipt. I noticed that are waiter had filled in his tip which I think it totally wrong to do. I'm a very good tipper and happen to miss this one but for anyone to take the liberty to do so was not ok with me. I wish he had asked me. Anyway, I also noticed that the breakfast credit was not adjusted in the final bill. I have yet to see that be resolved.

So in comparison I will say that this time, for my birthday, I felt that there wasn't as much of an effort put in on some of the service side. However, this ONLY is in regard to the front desk. I just remembered that I left 2 messages for the front desk the day before I checked in but didn't get a call back. But they did accommodate an early check in which I liked.

All in all, I highly recommend The Boulders and I'm pretty sure I will return. I'm just hoping that I can experience my first stay all over again since it was one of the best hotel stays I have experienced, ever!

Room Tip: Ask to look at the hotel map. Chose a golf course view or a desert view away from the main entrance...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Boulders, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

Address: 34631 North Tom Darlington Drive, Carefree, AZ 85377
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Arizona > Central Arizona > Carefree
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Carefree
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:5 star — The Boulders, A Waldorf Astoria Resort 5*
Number of rooms: 223
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

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