Make the most of a romantic getaway in the West’s Most Western Town.
The desert is a stunning setting for stirring the passions. Take in dreamy views from a hot air balloon ride or bliss out side-by-side with a couple’s massage. Here are five romantic things to do together.
Hike Pinnacle Peak
Work up a small sweat together hiking the Pinnacle Peak Trail. It’s less than four miles and an easy climb: The trade-off is an overlook of nearly the entire Scottsdale valley. Along the way, you may encounter Gambel’s quail, horned lizards and — nesting among saguaros — cactus wren. Dawn and dusk are not only the most comfortable times of day to avoid the heat, they’re also when animals such as coyotes and mule deer are most active and likely to be seen.
Soar in a hot air balloon
“It’s so peaceful it overcomes you,” says Clinton Russell, Marketing Manager of The Westin Kierland Villas in Scottsdale, Arizona. He’s talking about the early morning hot air balloon rides arranged by Hot Air Expeditions. The basket carries groups of eight to 10 guests to altitudes of 3,000 feet and higher. Adds Russell, “A mile up in the sky, it’s so quiet.” After approximately 90 minutes above the Sonoran Desert, land to a white-tablecloth picnic catered by Vincent on Camelback, a local restaurant specializing in southwestern cuisine with international flair. And yes, a champagne toast is included.
Stroll the Desert Botanical Garden
It’s the chance to connect with nature and each other. The Desert Botanical Garden’s five trails are short — the Desert Discovery loop stretches less than a third of a mile — but the impact is great. Fifty-two rare southwestern species are looked after here, including the needle-spined pineapple cactus, desert sunflower and the tall Indian paintbrush plant with bright red blooms. Two acres of wildflowers color the landscape year-round, with a peak in early spring. Between the quiet setting punctuated by birdcalls and the delicate smells of sagebrush, it’s a great way to reset the senses. In spring, don’t miss the weekly Music in the Garden Concert Series, with live music ranging from jazz to blues to Latin.
Photo courtesy of Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau
Indulge in a Couple’s Massage
The Agave Spa at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa offers Swedish, deep-tissue and in-room massage — but perhaps the most unique offering is the Rain Massage. Available for couples, the therapy involves the use of heated rain sticks. They’re filled with seeds to create the patter of falling water when rolled across the body. This treatment is also somewhat spiritual; taking inspiration from Native American beliefs, the massage therapist shares how the process helps connect us with the earth, rain and other elements.
Cozy up for happy hour
You’ll want to snag seats outside at the Dreamweaver’s Canyon patio come happy hour — or rather, unwind hour — especially in winter months when fire pits are lit to stave off the night chill. You’ve got views of the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa’s lake and the McDowell Mountains, which appear purple come dusk. As the sky flushes pink, The Muddle Bar offers specials on cocktails, from margajitos to what’s called vaina — South American eggnog. The bar menu includes ceviches from deseo restaurant; try the lobster escabeche loaded with avocado, chives and sweet aji peppers.