As a Marriott Vacation Club Owner, I recently visited Marriott’s Canyon Villas at Desert Ridge® for the first time. From our 1-bedroom villa, my wife and I discovered abundant resort activities and amenities — and a great home base for exploration in Phoenix and beyond.
For guests at Marriott’s Canyon Villas in Phoenix, vacation bliss can be found exploring a Camelback Mountain trail, searching for turquoise jewelry in Old Town Scottsdale, and snapping fingers to the jazz trumpet of Arturo Sandovar at the Musical Instrument Museum.
But during our stay, my wife, Christine, and I enjoyed the ultimate vacation zen in an unlikely form: a glass of wine and a coloring book. The ideal mix of adult indulgence and childlike wonder, it was one of the many activities facilitated by the awesome program staff at Marriott’s Canyon Villas.
Marriott’s Canyon Villas has a full daily schedule of activities, many aimed at immersing Owners and guests in local culture. You can learn how to make your own Southwestern spice rub and salsa, for example, or attend food events featuring local craft beers, margaritas, and a cowboy sing-a-long followed by a poolside barbecue dinner.
While we were visiting, a rare rainy afternoon in the desert was fortuitously followed by the resort’s Wine Down Wednesday. We joined a few dozen other like-minded adults by the patio fire pit and rediscovered the joy of coloring inside and outside the lines. At the complimentary tequila tasting that followed, we toasted to our artistic talents and swapped vacation tips with other Owners. Our newfound friends gave us inspiration for our stay and made the resort feel more like home than a hotel.
In addition to yoga, cardio, and Pilates classes, the resort’s clubTHRIVE® by Marriott Vacation Club® program offers guided morning hikes to two of Phoenix’s most scenic spots — Pinnacle Peak and Tom’s Thumb.
The sunniest day of our stay at Marriott’s Canyon Villas found us poolside, splashing under the waterfall and easing our tired hiking muscles with a dip in the spa. Food service from the Canyon Springs Bar and Grill means never having to leave the lounge chair (if that’s your preference), and the separate Lizard Lagoon kids pool helped maintain a sense of serenity at the main pool. With the patio door of our ground-level, one-bedroom villa less than a dozen steps away, it was easy for us to go back and forth to our room when we needed a snack, a nap, or just an air-conditioned refuge from the desert heat.
Adjacent to the resort, golfers can test their handicap against the Wildfire Golf Course at the JW Marriott®. As a guest at Marriott’s Canyon Villas, you can use your key to access the adjacent hotel’s pool and fitness center. Owners also get discounts for dining at the hotel’s restaurants, including the upscale tavern Meritage Steakhouse at Wildfire Golf Club and an outpost of Roy’s Pacific Rim, which features Hawaiian- and Asian-inspired dining. Don’t miss Roy’s Aloha Hour for discounts on tropical drinks, saki, wine, bar appetizers, and sushi.
If you’re cooking your own dinner in your villa’s kitchen or on an outdoor grill, don’t forget to pick some fresh herbs, fruit or vegetables from the resort’s herb garden. It’s a great opportunity to practice your newfound Southwestern cooking skills while basking in the burnt umber glow of another perfect Sonoran sunset.
Food and Fun Nearby
With more than 100 stores and restaurants, the Desert Ridge Marketplace is the resort’s nearest neighbor. When we arrived in Phoenix, our first stop en route to the resort was the Albertson’s supermarket to stock up on groceries for the week; our second was the legendary In and Out Burger for a “4×4” and “Animal Style” fries. On another night, we popped over for a royal feast of Mexican food and margaritas at Barrio Queen, the January night air still warm enough for dinner on the outdoor patio. Desert Ridge Marketplace also has a movie theater, free live outdoor concerts on weekends, and a kid-friendly Dave & Buster’s arcade.
Early in our trip we discovered our favorite rainy-day destination, the Musical Instrument Museum, less than 10 minutes from the resort. People have been making music since the caveman days, and this unique museum celebrates all of the ways we’ve learned to translate our dreams and desires into song. Exhibits include everything from 9,000-year-old Chinese flutes to the world’s largest sousaphone. Special displays focus on musical icons like Johnny Cash, Pablo Casals, and John Lennon — even Taylor Swift’s guitar is there. Frequent live music performances and concerts bring the instruments to life.
And that’s just the beginning: With its north Phoenix location close to the intersections of the 101 and 51 freeways, Marriott’s Canyon Villas has easy access to downtown, Glendale, Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, and the country charms of Cave Creek and Carefree. The beauty of the desert unfolds at nearby parks like the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, Cave Buttes, McDowell Mountain Regional Park, and the vast wilderness of the Tonto National Forest to the east.
Old Town Scottsdale is another convenient option for shopping. Several blocks of stores sell Western clothing and jewelry and are fringed by art galleries, bars, and restaurants, including an outpost of New York’s famous Grimaldi’s Pizzeria.
Scottsdale’s one-of-a-kind McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is a public park with an operational narrow-gauge railroad, a vintage steam engine and rail cars, a museum, carousel, and a 10,000-square-foot model railroad building with sprawling HO, O, and N gauge layouts. The railroad-themed playground is free, and for $2 you can ride the narrow-gauge train and feel like you’re a kid again.
Scottsdale has a wild side, too: you can navigate the Salt River by kayak or stand-up paddle board. For some extreme whitewater fun in the desert, embark on a half- or full-day rafting adventure pitting you against Class III and IV rapids.
Day Trip Options
During our stay at Marriott’s Canyon Villas, we took a day trip to nearby Cave Creek and the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area. We hiked for several hours among the saguaros and ruins of a former mining operation before heading into town for shopping and food.
Cave Creek is a rivulet of the Old West running through the metro Phoenix area. You can find cowboy boots and ranch wear at Harold’s Corral, locally made crafts and jewelry at the Indian Market, and statuary and museum-quality natural art on display at the Rare Earth Gallery, including massive pieces created from amethyst, quartz, and ammonite and orthoceras fossils. After shopping, stop by Cave Creek’s Buffalo Chip Saloon, which is much more than a bar. The indoor/outdoor restaurant is great for a burger and a beer during the day and hosts live music and an authentic rodeo at night.
Other great Phoenix day trip options include the Desert Botanical Gardens, which has five educational trails through the Sonoran Desert, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural masterpiece, Talesian West. Beautiful red rock formations and some of the finest Southwestern art galleries in the country make Sedona another popular destination — it’s less than a two-hour drive north from the resort.
However, you may decide you’d just like to stay put at Marriott’s Canyon Villas, which surrounds you with more than enough comfort, amenities, and simple pleasures to fill your week under the Phoenix sun.
Where to Stay:
Marriott’s Canyon Villas at Desert Ridge
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This review of a Marriott Vacation Club resort was submitted by a Marriott Vacation Club Owner. The views and opinions expressed in this review are those of the writer.