Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
1960s-era design and beautiful desert surroundings
The family-friendly Carefree Resort and Conference Center offers 222 rooms amid the quiet beauty of the high Sonoran Desert, about 30 miles north of Phoenix. Don't be surprised to see a family of javelina (wild peccaries) or other wildlife on the cacti-covered grounds.
Room quality ranges from mid-range (in the guest rooms) to luxurious (in the suites). All rooms come with a balcony or patio. The resort is past its heyday -- it's no longer the desert retreat that lured the likes of Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, and Dick Van Dyke.
In a quiet residential area 30 miles north of Phoenix
The hotel is 30 miles north of Phoenix, off the Carefree Highway in a quiet residential area. The Continental Mountains rise a couple miles to the north and form a handsome backdrop to the resort. Shuttle service is available for destinations within a five-mile radius.
Carefree itself is a sleepy, charming town with many art galleries, restaurants and shopping, although you shouldn’t expect to see chains like Macy’s or Bebe -- those are found in the glitzier areas of Scottsdale. Likewise, the nightclubs and bar scene of Scottsdale will feel a million miles away. With desert all around, Carefree offers many hiking trails and activities such as horseback rides.
The town of Carefree has some interesting laws: No traffic lights or streetlights allowed, in order to keep the skies darker for seeing the stars. It’s nearly 1,000 feet higher in elevation compared to Phoenix and Scottsdale, so temperatures will be a few degrees cooler here than in the city.
Spacious and clean, with desert-inspired decor
Rooms are large -- starting at 550 square feet -- and comfortable enough, although the Resort Rooms are a bit outdated (currently under renovation). Premier Resort Rooms already completed renovations, and have desert-inspired decor. The overall feel is still mid-range, but sturdy wood desks, old-fashioned metal handles on the dresser and nightstand drawers, leather armchairs, padded leather headboards and black-and-white photos of cowboys add rustic western flair.
All rooms include:
A restaurant serving American dishes with southwestern flair
The Carefree Resort and Conference Center is a landmark in the beautiful Sonoran Desert foothills, with mid-century design, attractive cacti-covered grounds and mountain views. Its mid-range rooms are extremely spacious, but some are starting to show their age (a multi-million dollar renovation of the entire property is currently underway). Still, it's less expensive than other resorts in the area, like Boulders.