Carefree Resort & Conference Center Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Carefree, Arizona, United States

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Free self-parking
  • Located amid nature and wildlife
  • Heated pool in a well-groomed Sonoran Desert setting
  • 60,000 square feet of meeting space
  • Campfire area with storytelling and s'mores

Cons

  • Daily resort fee
  • Some guest rooms in need of updating (but renovation is underway)

Bottom Line

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.

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 Scene

1960s-era design and beautiful desert surroundings

Carefree Resort and Conference Center
Carefree Resort and Conference Center

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.

The grounds and pool at the Carefree Resort are attractive and well-groomed, and include a man-made brook running through a cacti garden.

 Location

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.

  • 5-minute drive to downtown Carefree
  • 20-minute drive to Spur Cross Ranch, a popular hiking area and nature preserve
  • 30-minute drive to Fashion Square shopping mall in Scottsdale
  • 30-minute drive to Bartlett Lake, a nearby reservoir with fishing and boating
  • 30-minute drive to Scottsdale Airport
  • 1-hour drive to Sky Harbor International Airport

 Rooms

Spacious and clean, with desert-inspired decor

Resort Room
Resort Room

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:

Room types:

  • Resort Room: 550 square feet; king or two queen beds; most have tube TVs; wheelchair accessible unit available
  • Premier Resort Room: 550 square feet; king or two queen beds; flat-screen TV; pool or mountain view
  • Junior Suite: 800 square feet; king bed
  • Sonoran Suite: 1,110 square feet; king bed in master bedroom and two queens beds in second bedroom; two bathrooms; separate living room; wet bar; dining room and kitchenette

 Features

A heated pool, cacti garden, and spa

Glasshopper Glass Art Studio
Glasshopper Glass Art Studio
  • Heated pool and Jacuzzi with cabanas and lounge chairs
  • The Spa at Carefree
  • Room service is available
  • 24-hour fitness center
  • 24-hour business center
  • 24-hour front desk staff
  • Five tennis courts
  • Campfire area with storytelling and s’mores
  • Free self-parking
  • Laundry facilities
  • Safety deposit box (not big enough for a laptop)
  • 60,000 square feet of combined indoor/outdoor meeting space
  • Desert Glasshopper Studio: Interactive glass-making workshop with artist in residence available to conduct classes.
  • Shuttle service to local shops and restaurants of Carefree and Cave Creek
  • Daily resort fee (covers in-room Wi-Fi, shuttle service within a 5-mile radius, weekday paper, and access to tennis courts and fitness center)

 Food

A restaurant serving American dishes with southwestern flair

  • The Lariat Grill serves American food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • Room service available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Additional dining options available nearby in Carefree and Cave Creek

 Bottom Line

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.

Things You Should Know About Carefree Resort & Conference Center

Address

  • 37220 Mule Train Road, Carefree, AZ, 85377, US

Room Types

  • Junior Villa Suite
  • One Bedroom Master Villa
  • Premier Resort Room
  • Sonoran 2 Doubles Room
  • Sonoran King Room
  • Sonoran Parlor Studio
  • Standard Room
  • Two Bedroom Master Villa

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Nearby Hotels to Consider

The Boulders, a Waldorf Astoria Resort
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North
JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa
The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa

Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 222
Pool: N/A
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Jacuzzi (in room): N/A
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Hotel Information

Location: Carefree, Arizona
Address: 37220 Mule Train Road, Carefree, AZ, 85377, US
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