The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa Rating: 4.0 Pearls
While not quite a romantic escape in the same way as The Boulders or The Sanctuary, the Westin Kierland is, all-around, a great resort with a convenient Scottsdale location. For kids: excellent pool complex; supervised educational activities; special events for teens; weekend bonfires. For adults: fine dining; great golf; quality spa; adults-only pool; across from a shopping mall.
FireSky Resort And Spa Rating: 4.0 Pearls
A middling motel in downtown Scottsdale turned boutique-style standout by the Kimpton Group, the FireSky "resort" offers something for everyone -- a sandy play space by the pool; free wine during happy hour; a cozy cocktail lounge; a small but sufficient spa; kid-friendly marshmallow roasts; the list goes on. It's crowded for a reason: value.
Arizona Grand Resort Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The four-pearl Arizona Grand in South Phoenix is a family haven. It has one of the biggest water parks in the country, complete with slides and lazy river tubing, and the comfortable (if slightly dated) rooms all have separate living areas with sofa beds. But the $30 daily resort fee and $15 Wi-Fi fee can add up.
Carefree Resort & Conference Center Rating: 3.5 Pearls
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, and kids will like the campfire area with storytelling and s'mores.
3 Palms Rating: 3.5 Pearls
The 3 Palms may look like a motel on the outside, but this affordable Scottsdale boutique has tasteful, contemporary rooms, solid freebies (including self-parking and Wi-Fi), and friendly service. The big, heated pool is impressive, and downtown Scottsdale is only a five-minute drive away. The bathrooms are a bit small, though.