Review- Hilton Squaw Peak Phoenix

IMG_20171022_124105.jpg

After spending the day in Sedona we arrived to the Resort at about 5pm. We have been here several times and already had our eyes on a Diamond upgrade to a Casita that we have received 5x before. I do like how Hilton often texts you the day of arrival to see if there is anything they can do. They informed me there were no Casitas available but they upgraded me to an Ambassador Agave Suite in the North Point building. I double checked online, and they did not have any Casitas available for booking. (so many times i ask for an upgrade and get turned down but there are some available online. a least this case I didn’t feel lied to.) Later we realized they were doing some construction to remodel the Casitas so many of them were closes. Online it says that there is a separate checkin for the Agave suites, but I don’t know where that is. We checked in the normal Hilton Lobby, and it was quick and easy. They gave us some bottled water, maps of the Resort, and $20 food credit per day. I don’t usually like vouchers like this but these were good any restaurant and could be used at anytime during the 4 day stay.  We then drove over to our room and went up to the 4th and top floor of the North Point Building. Our room was immediately outside the elevator, which I typically will try to avoid at all costs. I then realized that our wing only had 3 total rooms, so that wasn’t too bad for just one elevator.  I actually never saw another person get off the elevator on the 4th floor during our stay.

 

We walked into our room and were very delighted at the upgrade. The main room consisted of 2 large couches (one was a sofa bed), a large TV, and desk in the corner, and a very large 8 person dining room table. There was also a wet bar area with a microwave and a fridge that was way too small. There was also a small half bathroom off of the main room. Then there were French doors leading to the bedroom. The bedroom was quite spacious as well. Bed was comfortable. There was also a large walk-in closet. The master bathroom was relatively small, and the tub had seen better days. The sink area was just outside the bathroom. The balcony off of the bedroom was nice, but very small. A table and 2 chairs were just fine though to enjoy some evening drinks.

IMG_20171022_124105.jpg

 

IMG_20171022_181321.jpg
View off of Balcony at sunset

They have several restaurants onsite. Ricos is where breakfast is at and we ate 2 mornings. A better than most Hilton full breakfast buffet. They also have a menu. It is  a separate building from the hotel and its kind of nice because it almost feels like you are going out for breakfast instead of eating a hotel breakfast once again. They also serve lunch and dinner here.

The resort consists of numerous pools. In October, none of them were very crowded. At our building there was a very nice pool for North Pointe guests only, and had nice comfortable lounge chairs. There was almost an identical pool at the main building. There is a lap pool at the health club and several pools throughout the Casitas. We didn’t use the health club this trip, but it’s a open membership style club so its much nicer than normal hotel gyms.

Then of course the highlight of the pools is the River Ranch.

To get into the River Ranch, you give them your room number and they give your wristbands for that day. There is several areas of seating and we always found chairs open at the main pool. There is also seating around the sports pool, as well as several other areas. There is a large waterslide, a small kids pool, waterfalls, hot tubs, and the longest lazy river I have ever seen at a hotel. There is also a bar and restaurant. We never had any problems getting chairs in October either.

There is also a basketball court, several tennis courts, as well as a miniature golf course here.

Parts of the resort can feel like a hotel, but there are plenty of little nooks and crannies that offer peace and quit as well.

Overall this is our favorite spot to travel to in October. its relaxing and there are plenty of activities to keep you busy but relaxed for a few days. We also setup a Razr tour through concierge which was very cool. We were able to negotiate a free child since 4 people fit into the Razr and we are a family of 4.  We had a rate of about $140 a night, plus we were able to get the resort fee waived for being a Diamond member and them being short on Casitas. We got aboutj 15,000 hilton points. PLUS we received an additional 10,000 Hilton points for completing a 2 night stay though a AMEX offer. PLUS we received a $50 AMEX offer credit as we registered and paid with my wife’s AMEX Plat Card.

Review- Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock

IMG_20171019_111445.jpg

After about a 2 hour easy drive from Phoenix, we arrive at the Hilton Sedona Resort around 11 am. Parking lot was pretty empty at this time and we were the only people in the lobby. We already had a suite booked, but at the counter I told the front desk person we are hoping for an early check in and also if there are any Diamond upgrades. He looked and said they were sold out for the evening of red rock views, but he had two rooms available now that were both “larger” suites. We picked one on the ground floor hoping it had a nice walkout balcony. He gave us our water and informed us we would get a $28 credit for breakfast only which would cover 2 continental breakfasts.  I wish he would have gone over some of the resort offerings in more detail. Since they charge a resort fee, what am I getting for it?

Walked down the aisle to our room. We walked in and it was a very nicely appointed room. It was standard size so I am not sure what was “larger” about it. (I went online to check what other rooms may be available and they only had standard rooms left for booking) The family room had a nice pull out couch with a chaise on the side, a nice automatic fireplace, outlets in the lamps, large TV, 4 person table, Fridge, and microwave. It reminded me of most Embassy Suite rooms. The pull out couch was one of the nicest beds we have seen. It was not your standard spring mattress but was foam and adults would sleep OK on it. The patio off of the room just had a view of a berm, and the walkout didn’t really go anywhere. It was also off of the family room and I prefer them to be off of the master room so you can sneak out at night and have a glass of wine while the kids are sleeping.

The master bedroom was fairly basic with a king bed and TV, There was an entrance to the bathroom from both the bedroom and the family room which is a nice benefit with kids.

We noticed it was fairly hot in the room so we set it down to 64 to cool it off. I don’t think the room probably ever got below 72-74 degrees though.

IMG_20171020_065148.jpg

While we didn’t have a room with a view, just walking around the resort and parking lots had great views to be seen.

IMG_20171019_170716.jpg

Our kids had already seen the pool so that’s where the wanted to go. At around noon, there was only about 2 other older people there so it was nice to pretty much have the whole pool to ourselves. It was setup pretty nice with a fairly shallow easy entry pool on the bottom, and a little deeper pull up top. As well as a hot tub off to the side. While the kids were swimming, I drove down to an IGA that was a 1/2 mile away to get some lunch for us and a few snacks for the next day. While there are signs at the pool that say no outside food or beverage, there was some nice common areas outside the pool that we at our quick lunch at before going back to the pool.  They had music playing, but it was hard to hear by the pool. They also had ping pong which our kids played for like an hour. They had a bar and restaurant there, and we had a few drinks in the afternoon. They had large mixed drinks in a “pitcher” for $25, and refills were $19. This was about the size of 3 regular sized drinks, so not a horrible deal as regular drinks were about $11.

After several hours of swimming, and only a handful of other families coming to the pool, we went offsite to explore and eat dinner. We noted at the bar pool they had fire pits setup and a s’mores kit available to purchase. We came back at about 6 to eat s’mores and while the pool was open, the fire pits were off and bar area closed. We went to the restaurant and had a s’mores cookie n I cream, but it wasn’t the same.

We ate breakfast at their restaurant the next morning and it is brand new and working out a few kinks. Nobody really knew what our $28 would cover. There is a lot of bar seating, but not a lot of just table seating as their outdoor terrace isn’t complete yet. Our kids ate the full buffet, and I had some delicious western style eggs benedict off the menu. I didnt get the continental breakfast as nobody at the restaurant could tell me what was included in that, and I love eggs benedict anyways. Overall we only ended up paying $4 for 2 kids full buffets and my eggs. We just took an apple back to the room for my wife was she was getting ready in the morning. The full buffet looked good, but a lil small compared to other Hiltons.

We asked for a late checkout, but was only give until noon due to them being sold out. That wasn’t a problem though as we went for a hike, came back around 11 to clean up, packup, and eat some leftovers for lunch and then packed up and went back into Sedona for a few hours before going back to Phoenix.

The resort isn’t in “downtown” Sedona and it can take 10-20 minutes to get there. There is however several shops and restaurants within walking distance.

For being a resort and having to pay $20 resort fee, I was a little disappointed in the amenities. They had a pool (so does every other Hilton), and a ping pong table. I asked their concierge for some Sedona tips and all they wanted to do was sell me an expensive tour when all I wanted were some maps. They did have a nice hiking store and they were helpful with some maps though.

The base room rate for the suite was $290, plus the $20 resort fee. I also used a AMEX deal and received a $50 credit for spending over $300 at a Hilton. I received about 12,500 points through Hilton Honors. The price wasn’t great but we wanted a suite and it was just for one night.

 

Review- Embassy Suites Scottsdale

IMG_20171018_194341

We checked in at about 8pm on a Wednesday night. Hotel is easy to find and in a good area. At checkin we were given 4 bottles of water and briefly told about the amenities on the property. I asked if there were any diamond upgrades available and she responded we were already give one. I figured this was just a better view room, but I was wrong….

It’s a large property, so we got back in our car and followed the map to our room. We were on the first floor which I typically don’t like. We opened up the door, and were pleasantly surprised by an executive style suite. The living room had a chase sofa as well as a large TV screen, and a dining room table for 6. There was also a small desk that faced the wall.  It also had a mini kitchen area with a fridge and microwave. Then a small half bathroom off of that. All of this area was very large and had lots of room to move without bumping into furniture. One of our kids slept on the pull out mattress, while the other one just slept on the chase portion of the couch.

IMG_20171018_194331.jpg

IMG_20171018_194352.jpg

 

The bedroom was the next room and was pretty standard for an Embassy Suites. The bed was average in terms of comfortableness but was pretty noisy when getting in and out of it. What I did like is all the lamps had normal and USB plus in them so it was easy to charge up. The bedroom also had a small table with lights on it for putting on makeup. There was a 2nd TV in here as well. The master bathroom was very large. It had nice tile and a nice walk in shower with good water pressure. What I never understand though is why there are only 3 towels in the bathroom, when our reservation is for 4 people…. Then there was a large private walkout patio off the bedroom. This would be a great place to have a glass of while at night, or a cup of coffee in the morning. There was some loud music coming from a neighboring bar, but once we close the door, you couldn’t really hear it.

IMG_20171018_194411.jpgIMG_20171018_194420.jpgIMG_20171018_194432.jpgIMG_20171018_194440.jpgIMG_20171018_194519.jpgIMG_20171019_070831.jpg

While there are no resort fees here, there are several amenities that we didn’t have to chance use though. Pools, checkers, tennis courts and other items we didn’t walk by like the fitness center.

 

Our kids love the Embassy Suites breakfast as there are some many options to choose from. Made to order eggs are always our favorite. The breakfast is in a small building in the middle of the complex and has seating inside or outside by the pool.

IMG_20171019_071940.jpg

Overall it was a solid stay and I wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again while passing through. We had a paid rate of about $124 a night, or could have used 40k Hilton points. We did monitor the prices in the phoenix area for several weeks and made several changes to get a good deal. While there are quite a few nice hotels in Phoenix you could find for $100, the suite and great breakfast are always a huge help when traveling with our family.