It wasn’t long ago guests at The Wigwam Resort in Phoenix received a horse and iron room key upon check-in. The key to access their casita; the horse to get them there and then navigate their way around the 440 acre property during their stay. Today it’s golf carts, not horses and plastic key cards instead of iron keys, but the traditional and authentic Arizona experience The Wigwam Resort has provided for the last 85 years hasn’t changed…much.
Named one of America’s Historic Hotels, The Wigwam Resort is a blast from the past. With single story, adobe and timber casitas (hotel rooms) surrounded by a mix of cacti and lush landscaping filled with 800 rose bushes, you feel like you’ve truly stepped back in time, yet you still have Wifi access – everywhere. I’ve stayed at several resorts in Phoenix over the last few years and The Wigwam Resort is one of the more unique and authentic resort experiences I’ve had. (Make sure to check out the Princesses Point of View on The Wigwam Resort and The Husbands Point of View at the end of this post.)
With a recent $16 million renovation, The Wigam incorporated historic resort photos, Arizona artifacts and Native American art throughout the 331 casitas, onsite restaurants and the lobby to showcase its 85-year history. Walking through the lobby you’ll see old, black and white pictures of people playing bocce ball, bean bag tosses, ping-pong, gathering for movies in the yard and playing golf, then when you look outside you’ll see the same activities happening right before your eyes. The Wigwam has held onto the community feel it was built upon along with the activities that originally brought families and guests together.
Every guest has their own Adobe-style casita with a large private patio complete with a table, chairs and at least one lounge chair. I loved the patio! It was excellent to have traveling with the kids since we could sit back while they ran around the patio and open space behind our casita.
The rooms themselves were large – around 500 square feet. Our casita had a separate bedroom and living space, both filled with modern furniture – a desk, flat screen tv, cozy chair and a fold out couch. There wasn’t a door that separated the two rooms, however there was a long hallway so it did offer a sense of privacy. (Tip: If you’re traveling with kids and will be having them sleep on the fold out couch, which is what we did, you may want to bring a nightlight for the hallway so they can find their way to the bathroom.)
Both my kids found the fold out couch to be very comfortable. Princess One also enjoyed sleeping on the cushions from the couch as we made a makeshift bed for her to sleep on in the tee-pee the girls received from The Wigwam during our stay. (Guests can have their own tee-pee set up in their rooms for a $25 fee.) It was her first overnight “camping” experience and I’m happy to say she made it through the entire night – in the tee-pee.
The bathrooms offered double sinks and a large shower. My favorite part of the bathroom was the walk-in-closet. I know it’s silly, but having a large space to put your luggage and kids stuff helped me feel like the room was clean and organized, so much so that I took advantage of the $5 resort fee credit for turning down the daily cleaning service. (If you notify the front desk that you don’t want your room cleaned, you will receive a $5 resort credit.)
Additional Room Features: Wifi; large private patios; refrigerator; in-room coffee service; telephone; cable TV; in-room movies and wireless high-speed Internet.
Things to Do at the Wigwam Resort
There isn’t much need to leave The Wigwam Resort during your visit given the variety of activities. With three golf courses, four pools, a spa, fitness center, tennis, three restaurants, nature walks, cooking classes, wine tasting events, zip-lining and scheduled kids programs there is something for everyone. (Zip-lining through The Wigwam will begin being offered in the summer of 2015 on the weekends.)
Golf: The Wigwam Golf Club has THREE golf courses on property. It’s the only golf club in Arizona to offer 54 holes of championship golf including two courses designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones, Sr. Set your tee time for early in the day, preferably the morning as the weather warms up after about 10am – especially from April – Sept.
Pools: The Wigwam offers four pools, each is heated and provides a different type of experience. The Lodge Pool has two separate pools connected via a swim canal with an overhead bridge. There are also dual 25-foot waterslides and a splash area for children. The best part – the pool is shallow enough for kids to swim and play in just about every area. The maximum depth is only four feet but it’s mainly 2-3 feet deep. The Lodge Pool also offers poolside cabanas, a Jacuzzi, and the poolside Tower Bar & Grill, an outdoor grill and dining area.
The Oasis Pool is secluded and offers a quiet area for swimming and soaking in the hot tub. This is not an adult only pool, although it does feel that way given the quiet and stillness of the area. There is no bar and grill service at the Oasis Pool. The Spa Pool is tucked away behind the Red Door Spa and offers a private experience for adult guests.
Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa: The Red Door Spa at The Wigwam offers a variety of spa services – facials, wraps, massages, manicures and pedicures, etc. The Southwestern-style spa has 15 treatment rooms, three couples suites with private outdoor balconies and showers. I have to say, the couples rooms were amazing. I could spend a few hours in there but alas, you can only rent them for an hour.
If you’re looking to book services during your stay, I was advised to try and do so in advance. The weekends tend to be busier than earlier in the week.
Dining at The Wigwam Resort
We ate our way through all four restaurants and weren’t ever disappointed. The Tower Bar & Grill is the poolside restaurant within the Lodge Pool. You can order food from your lounge chair or grab a table near the grill. Think salads, wraps, burgers and quesadillas. I highly recommend the latter – delish! The grill does close at 5pm. The Wigwam Bar, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner is located directly behind the Lodge Pool so you always order something there.
Most seating at The Wigwam Bar is outdoors in the patio and lawn area. In the evenings there are gas fires setup to add to the cozy atmosphere and to provide a level of warmth to the desert evening. I have to say, I loved The Wigwam Bar. Sipping my latte in the morning while the kids played with the beanbag toss set up in the lawn was my favorite way to start the day. The service was excellent and the food was even better. In the evenings The Wigwam Bar is where all the action is too. From an old Charlie Chaplin movie playing in the lawn, roasting smores at the fire, playing a game a ping pong or just watching it all happen around you over a glass of wine.
Litchfield’s is The Wigwams signature restaurant and was honored with the 2014 Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine, for good reason. The food and wine list are amazing. You can order 45 types of wine by the glass and even more by the bottle. If you’re planning to go during the weekend or peak season (the winter months) you should plan to make a reservation. Ask to sit outside, the patio is lovely and overlooks the chef’s herb garden.
And then there’s Red’s Bar and Grill. I like to save the best for last… As part of The Wigwams renovations, Red’s got a big facelift – and updated menu – earlier this year. The large patio dining area overlooks the golf courses making for an excellent, relaxing environment to enjoy a drink or meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner). The bar area is inside but with floor to ceiling doors that open onto the patio, you get an indoor/outdoor feel when you’re watching a game. We were visiting during March Madness and there were a lot of games to see! I want to point out that Red’s isn’t just an “after golf” bar and grill at least it doesn’t feel that way. The menu for one isn’t just burgers and wings, although I do suggest you try the Jesse Burger, named after a Wigwam employee who has been there for 44 years. The menu ranges from the most amazing (and light) enchiladas, steak frites, seared ahi tuna to bacon IPA cheese dip with pretzel bites.
The Wigwam Resort is located 25 minutes west of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport within the Litchfield Park community. It’s out there. If you’re planning to head into downtown Phoenix or Scottsdale, expect at least a 45-minute drive. However, you really don’t need to leave the resort given the activities and onsite dining. There are also two restaurants and a brewery across the street from The Wigwam Resort if you want to get offsite. (The Wigwam is near the University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals and the Jobing.com Arena, home of the Arizona Coyotes.)
THE VERDICT IS…
From The Princesses Point of View: The girls gave the pool TWO thumbs up. The reason – water slides, splash area, ice cream and they could pretty much touch the bottom throughout the pool given that the deepest part was four feet. Oh, and you can’t forget getting to do a beanbag toss while they waited for breakfast each morning and playing/sleeping in the tee-pee.
The Husbands Point of View: The Wigwam Resort is a great resort with activities for everyone. It’s a different type of resort experience though. While it has a very casual and laid-back atmosphere it also boasts the quality service and amenities high-end resorts should have yet without the price tag and pretentiousness some high-end resort come with.
The Wigwam Resort is one of the more fun resorts we’ve stayed at with the kids. There really is something for everyone. All in a casual, non-pretentious, fun and laid back environment but with the luxuries you want and look for in a high-end resort.
Disclaimer: The Wigwam Resort provided complimentary lodging for myself and family. As always, all views are my own.
Elaine N. Schoch
Elaine Schoch (pronounced the German way – Shock) is the editor and founder of Carpe Travel as well as an award-winning travel writer, wine judge, certified by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 2 and certified American Wine Expert. She is married to The Husband and has two kids, Princess One and Two – who’s interest and knowledge in wine is quite extensive. Not to mention the stamps in their passports.