Did you know that Phoenix is one of the top five Spring Break destinations in the United States? It really shouldn’t be a surprise – think guaranteed warm, summer-like weather perfect for being poolside. For the last few years now we’ve followed suite and hit the Sonoran Desert for Spring Break. It has yet to disappoint. This year we opted to change things up and stay at a new resort. I’ve been on a quest to find the best water parks in Phoenix so the Point Hilton Squaw Peak Resort was a must to try. While the water park lived up to its rankings as one of the top in the state, the resort itself is another story.
Check-in: Review of the Point Hilton Squaw Peak Resort
Location: The Point Hilton Squaw Peak Resort is an all-suite resort located just a short drive from Sky Harbor International Airport and minutes from Scottsdale and downtown Phoenix. Its location is perfect for exploring Phoenix while also enjoying the colorful Sonoran Desert landscape. It’s located at the base of the Phoenix Mountain Reserve – a 300-acre desert mountain preserve filled with miles of hiking and biking trails.
The Rooms at the Point Hilton Squaw Peak Resort:
There are a variety of suites at the Point Hilton Squaw Peak Resort, as well as one or two bedroom casitas. We chose to stay in the Standard Suite, which is the smaller of the suites. Since we planned to spend most of our time at the pool having a larger room wasn’t necessary. We were traveling with some friends who opted for the larger, Ambassador Suite. It features a full living area with a board room table that seats 10, as well as a separate bedroom with a king bed and 1.5 bathrooms. It’s a great space, and if you’re traveling with young children who nap or if you have more than four people in your room, I would highly suggest this option (or a casita). It’s also a great room for a pizza night with two families who were tired of taking kids to restaurants…
As for the Standard Suite, I was expecting more. Don’t get me wrong, the room was clean, the bed was comfortable with nice linens, towels, toiletries and flat panel TVs in both the bedroom and living area. There was a small refrigerator, coffee maker and digital safe, but no microwave. Something I tend to think is key for family friendly hotels. (Think bottles, left over food for kids, popcorn for movies after the pool, etc.) When I think of a Hilton “RESORT” I tend to expect nice, updated classy but comfy furniture. The suite we were in housed a worn down couch, chair and carpeting. It worked just fine but being one of the higher rated family friendly hotels in Phoenix, I simply expected well, more.
Something to note, every suite has a patio. This is a huge bonus for us when we travel with kids. It allows us to put the kids to bed and then sit outside and enjoy a glass (or two) of wine before we call it a day. And, most rooms have a view of either a beautifully landscaped courtyard or the nearby Phoenix Mountain Reserve.
The Amenities at the Point Hilton Squaw Peak Resort:
When we were selecting where to stay for our annual Spring Break trip to Phoenix the amenities at the Point Hilton Squaw Peak Resort sold us. There’s the four-acre River Ranch water park with a half-mile lazy river perfect for tubing, a water slide, a sport pool, and a kids pool, all surrounded by 18 holes of mini-golf. There are four additional pools at the resort outside of the water park as well.
The Point Hilton Squaw Peak Resort also boasts a full-service spa and gym. If you want to get outside for a workout or to enjoy the Sonoran Desert, just walk outside the resort. The Point Hilton Squaw Peak Resort is located at the base of the Phoenix Mountain Reserve – a 300-acre desert mountain preserve filled with miles of hiking and biking trails. Depending on where your room is located it may take a short walk to reach the entrance of the reserve. For us, it was about a 15 minute walk from the main lobby.
To top it off, kids can break up the day by spending some time in the Coyote Kids Camp. There are activities for kids ages 4-12 with full-day, half-day and evening camp programs available starting from $35. (Evening programs are not every night so you will need to call ahead to confirm and make reservations.) My kids aren’t typically into kids camps at resorts but they really enjoyed spending a half-day at the Coyote Kids Camp. I also enjoyed the uninterrupted and guilt-free time at the fitness center and very so quite adult-only pool.
The Easter holiday fell during our stay and we loved that the resort had arranged for a special someone to visit guests. We were woken up early Easter morning by a knock on the door from the Easter Bunny himself. The kids were beyond thrilled to have their baskets hand-delivered. I have to say, this was a great service that created a lasting memory for my kids. (The resort provided the option for guests to preorder baskets and arrange the delivery. You can select two different sized baskets, if you don’t want a lot of candy you need to specify this. We have a peanut allergy so we opted for little toys.) There were also three egg hunts the morning of Easter (based on age range).
One BIG amenity the Point Hilton Squaw Peak Resort is lacking is easy accessibility to things within the resort itself. The resort covers 27 beautifully landscaped acres, which means it’s big. Really big. Getting to and from your room to the water park, spa and restaurants requires that you walk or call for a golf cart to drive you. We prefer to walk…most of the time. However, walking through the resort doesn’t allow you to appreciate the 27 beautifully landscaped acres since you’re forced to travel through parking lots. Seriously, you have to walk through parking lots to get to the water park, spa and everything else. There were not any clearly defined walking paths or signs pointing you to main attractions within the resort. I can’t tell you how many times I ran into someone on my way to the fitness center asking me where the fitness center was…
Dining at the Point Hilton Squaw Peak Resort:
There are three dining options at the Point Hilton Squaw Peak Resort, not including the coffee shop within the hotel lobby. Technically the coffee shop is more of a gift shop that serves Starbucks coffees. However, you can also pick up yogurts, prepackaged sandwiches, salads, juices and snacks for a picnic or quick meal.
TIP: If you’re open to walking a bit, head over to the nearby Walgreens or Sprouts for your snacks or picnic items. You’ll save a lot of cash, two yogurts, a latte and tea can run you $20+ at the coffee shop in the lobby.
Rico’s American Grill: The on-site restaurant, Rico’s, offers a casual dining experience for breakfast lunch or dinner. The restaurant has several beautiful patios for outdoor seating, however if you want to sit on the patio you will need to make a reservation and specify this.
You can grab a golf cart to drive you over to Rico’s or it’s an easy walk from the main building. We dined at Rico’s on Easter for brunch as well as one evening for dinner. The service is outstanding and the menus offers a variety of seafood, steak, salads, pizza and flatbread options. I highly suggest checking out the Grilled Pacific Corvina with roasted jalapeño polenta and a piquillo-lime butter. Delish!
The Hole-in-the-Wall: The Hole-in-the-Wall dishes up a variety of southwestern staples for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in an Old-Western ambiance. We had resisted eating here after friends of ours described their two-hour, not-so great lunch the first day of their stay. We gave in a few days into the trip and I’m happy to say our experience was the opposite. While the service was a bit slow (there was one waitress for more than eight tables on the patio) everything was served hot, with a smile and within an acceptable timeframe (aka before kids melted down). The food was delicious! Shredded pork tacos, pulled pork sandwich, BBQ ribs, mac and cheese – nothing will disappoint.
The Hole-in-the-Wall is located right next to the waterpark, allowing you to grab a patio table with a nice view of the park and the Phoenix Mountain Reserve.
Slim Picken’s: The poolside bar and grill within the waterpark area has a few tables next to the bar, as well as chair service. The menu has a variety of options from burgers, salads, wraps, and quesadillas. Ordering cocktails and snacks for the kids at our lounge chair was lovely, but it may have been faster to walk to the bar, order, wait and bring things back to our chair. The service is V.E.R.Y. slow.
You can also order food poolside at the pool located outside of the lobby. However, the food comes from Slim Picken’s so a “hot meal” may not be too warm. For instance, we had ordered a hamburger and chicken sandwich, both were brought out cold. The server did replace them with warmer versions (and didn’t charge us for the items). All you burger lovers need to know that the hamburgers at the resort will always be cooked well-done. It’s simply the chef’s rule, or at least that’s what we were told.
DINING TIP: There is a delicious Mexican food restaurant a few blocks from the Point Hilton Squaw Peak Resort called Aunt Chilada’s. The hotel’s golf cart can drop you off across the street from the restaurant or you can easily walk there. It’s definitely a good, family-friendly spot to visit if you’re staying at the Point Hilton Squaw Peak Resort. The food is outstanding and it’s a fun, casual atmosphere. I highly suggest you make reservations if you’re planning to visit in the evening.
Rates at the Point Hilton Squaw Peak Resort:
Rates will vary depending on the room you select and time of year. Expect rates to range from $200 to $500 a night.
The Bottom Line:
The Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort is a nice, mid-range, family-friendly hotel – it won’t bust your budget. The water park is fabulous and my kids gave it two-thumbs up! As a parent though, you need to know the water park does fill up so a relaxing day at the pool can be more chaotic than you may want. (And, finding a chair can be more painful than it should be!) However, with eight pools at the resort, you can easily escape to a quite, more secluded pool hidden in the casitas.
Overall, I was disappointed in the service at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort. Not just because of the cold food and slow poolside service but in the bigger things. The ones that caused inconveniences and pain for my kids. For instance, one evening Princess Two ate something that didn’t agree with her tummy. We called down for another set of sheets (at 8pm) so we could make a bed on the floor using the sofa mattress, sheets and a blanket. (Cleaning vomit off a towel on the floor or a trashcan seemed much easier than a mattress…) It took nearly an hour and a half – and three phone calls – to have someone bring sheets from the housekeeping closet at the end of our hall. In the meantime, the poor baby laid on the bare cushions with a thin sheet wrapped around her while her sister slept coverless on the pull-out couch. Another evening we called down for an extra blanket since we never had one in the room. Actually, we called before leaving for dinner knowing it may take awhile. The blanket still wasn’t there when we came back three hours later. (And no, we did not have a “do not disturb” sign on the door.)
Now, to add some grace to the poor service, the folks working the front desk and the bellman were beyond helpful. Any time we had a question, they knew the answer. They’re probably the most helpful front desk and bellman service I’ve encountered in some time. To be honest, they were a saving grace for the one concierge working, who each day had a line wrapped around the desk with people seeking information.
The Real Bottom Line:
The service isn’t was I expect from a Hilton resort, but I would stay at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort again just not for five days. Maybe two because my kids really liked the water park, I truly enjoyed hiking the Phoenix Mountain Reserve and its location in Phoenix and price point are affordable.
Have you stayed at the Point Hilton Squaw Peak in Phoenix? Share your experiences in the comments!
Looking for more family friendly hotels in Phoenix – here’s five to check out.