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Michele Sponagle

Managing editor

Smitten by hotels ever since she was a kid, hoarding toiletries started early and picked up steam as Michele Sponagle began a career as a freelance journalist. Her globetrotting has taken her to properties in more than 50 countries, from rustic B&Bs to sprawling resorts.

When you’re running on empty physically and spiritually, a wellness vacation is just the thing you need to get you gassed up and firing on all cylinders again. The perfect place for such a getaway is Scottsdale, Arizona, and a got-it-all-property, like the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa. Spend your time on its gorgeous golf course, splashing in the pool, sampling tequila at a bar on-site or finding bliss at the lovely spa. Pick your passion. It’s here at this sprawling resort spread over 250 acres – a luxurious oasis in the heart of the desert.

Street cred: It’s all about location

Its location in North Scottsdale is ideal. You’re a quick 20-minute drive from Old Town Scottsdale and its wealth of art galleries, restaurants and funky wine bars (like Merkin Vineyards, which highlights local wines). If you’re not keen to wander too far off the resort, you’ve still got plenty of great dining options on-site and nearby in Kierland Commons, which also has oodles of shopping. The hotel will even transport you there in one of its zippy golf carts and pick you up – very handy when you’re imbibing.

Who hangs here: Is this the hotel for you?

It’s an extensive property with more than 730 rooms. That means it’s popular among the meetings and conventions crowd. It’s a busy place, but there are always spots where you can find peace. Families also like the Westin Kierland because of its Adventure Water Park, so expect to see toddlers and baby buggies passing through the large lobby. The resort is also pet friendly. In short, it’s pretty much for everyone.

The straight goods: What’s in the room?

The rooms tap into that wellness vibe with soothing hues of cream and earthy brown tones. My room had a view of the golf course – attractive even to non-golfers like myself – and a walk-out balcony where I could sip my morning cup of tea and enjoy the peace. It had a desk and chair, mini-fridge, separate bath and shower, plus essentials like a coffee/tea maker.

The Westin Heavenly Bed lived up to its name and reputation with crisp white linens, perfectly plump pillows and a comfy mattress.

Good eats: Cocktails & cuisine

Boredom is not an option on the food and drink front. Grab snacks or a coffee at Coffee Flats before exploring Scottsdale. Got time to linger? Enjoy a leisurely brunch at Faro & Brag, or book a dinner reservation and try one of its seasonal specialties. Fine whiskies and tequilas are the stars at Waltz & Weiser Whiskey Bar and Cantina, while scotch lovers will find their happy place at The Scotch Library, which has more than 300 whiskies. Plus, there are casual bites around the pool and room service.

Bragging rights: What else has it got?

If you’re trying to escape noise and keep your bliss going, head to the adults-only pool (reserve a private cabana for maximum enjoyment) or book a pampering spa service at Agave. Golfers can tee up on the award-winning golf course and gym enthusiasts can hit the treadmills or cardio equipment at the WestinWORKOUT Fitness Studio. On Fridays and Saturdays, gather around one the resort’s fire pits to make s’mores.

A few of our favorite things: What stood out?

I love a good spa. It’s one of the things I look forward to most when I’m on vacay. This one was outstanding and spacious with 15,000 square feet. The lovely floor-to-ceiling mosaic tiles, dome-shaped skylight and cozy lounging nooks help transport you to a magical place. My massage was excellent. The masseuse paid special attention to problem areas I had mentioned and ensured I was comfortable throughout the experience. I felt I was in good hands. Literally.

Parting shot: If we could change one thing

I don’t like paying resort fees but it’s not unusual for large, amenity-packed properties in many destinations to charge them. In Scottsdale, expect to pay around $45 a night, so budget for that. Big resorts also offer timeshare opportunities. You may be invited to the guest desk to claim a “gift,” which, at the Westin Kierland, was a tote bag and some flyers about part-time ownership, coupled with a short sales pitch. I would have preferred to spend that time at the pool.

Prices in July start at USD$189.

Photos courtesy of Westin Kierland Hotel & Spa.

Michele was a guest of the hotel during her stay. The hotel had no editorial input for this review.

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