Reader Success Story: Winter Escape to Arizona


Laura shares her reader success story with us today – a winter escape to Arizona. I was raised in Arizona, and there is no better place to go to in winter! Here are all the details of her escape:

Recently, my family just returned from a great winter escape to the Phoenix/Scottsdale area.  We flew directly from Kansas City to Phoenix, using American Airlines miles at 7K points each way.


Hotel Stays in Arizona with Points

On the first night, we used Chase Ultimate Rewards points to stay one night at the Hyatt Place Phoenix / Chandler – Fashion Center for 9,500 points. After the free breakfast, we visited nearby Tumbleweed Park.

The second night was our highlight, staying at the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale. My husband received 5 Free Night Certificates through the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless SUB he signed up for in August 2023. We planned to use 4 of those certificates for a family trip to Boston next summer and had 1 more left. I found some availability for around 55-60K points/night so we could apply the certificate, top it off with points, and book a one-night stay.

I called ahead on the day of check-in, and they told us we could enjoy the amenities earlier in the day before check-in; we just needed to visit the check-in desk for cards to access the pool area, and we were able to enjoy it all afternoon before our room was ready at 4 PM. The pool is heated with a waterslide, a lazy river with tubes, and a large resort pool with zero entry. There is another separate adults-only pool. There is poolside dining available, and complimentary water service and towels are nearby.


Hotel pool area

We loved the pool


Our Traditional Casita guest room had 2 queens and a pool view. This actually was a view of the lazy river for us. We were on the first floor, and there was a nice sitting area with some landscaping that mostly blocked our view of the pool and gave us some nice privacy. Noise might have been an issue sitting there during peak pool time, but we were in the pool then! It was a bit of a walk from there to the main building, but we didn’t mind because we took in the beautiful landscaping.

There are many places to sit and relax around the property. There is a scavenger hunt available for kids at the check-in desk that encourages you to explore the property for the answers. Once you are finished, kids can return the completed scavenger hunt to the front desk for a prize. During our stay, my kids each received a fun pin collection with little pictures representing the resort. I think it was their favorite souvenir of the trip.

There were also many family-oriented activities planned each day. Some were paid, and some were included with the stay. We participated in a jewelry-making activity in the afternoon, and both my kids really enjoyed it. It again became a cherished souvenir.

The Westin location is very close to an upscale shopping and dining complex. We had a rental car, so we drove, but walking would also be possible. Instead of paying for breakfast on the property, we went to a nearby restaurant called Snooze. The night before, we grabbed dinner at Some Burros, a local inexpensive Mexican food chain. My kids loved the kid’s meal that came with a mini churro.


Family Activities in the Scottsdale/Phoenix Area

We visited McCormick Stillman Railroad Park, a popular spot for families. For $3/ticket kids can ride a carousel or ride with an adult on a small train around the park. There is a shaded playground area and a free train museum we walked through.



The McCormick Stillman Railroad Park was a hit with Laura’s children!


There is also a lot to see at the Desert Botanical Garden, and you could make more than one trip.  One of the great values we have experienced traveling is joining our local Botanical Garden, a member of the American Horticultural Society Reciprocal Garden Membership. Sometimes, there are 90-mile exclusions, so check the website. We live near a garden that is very reasonable for a family membership. With this, we could visit Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden and Japanese Friendship Garden for free with our membership card. Similar reciprocal programs for zoos and science museums are worth checking out, too.

We also visited The Pioneer Living History Museum alongside other local field trip groups, learning about cowboy life and the Wild West. We spent time in the Cave Creek area and loved Jewel of the Creek/Dragonfly Trail.  A short hike at Hole in the Rock at Papago Park provided a great viewpoint that is easy for kids (you just have to stay close to small kids because there are some steep dropoff points).


Rock with hole in it

Hole in the Rock was a fun climb in Papagayo Park.


We spent the morning of our afternoon flight home at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, where our kids could release energy before going to the airport. It was a great trip, and we’re already talking about when we can return for our next winter escape.

Thanks for sharing your winter escape with us, Laura!

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  1. Brooke says:

    We went to San Antonio for the eclipse too, traveling from California! Used our points and companion passes to fly (nearly free) to SAT (and the kids and I got to experience the C1 lounge in Denver for the first time) and we stayed at the the Hyatt Vacation Club at Wild Oak for free on points! It was our first stay at a hotel with so many activities and the kids had a blast in the pool and lazy river.
    We visited the Natural Bridge Caverns with dinner after at La Fonda (both bookmarked after Alex’s trip with her son and Pam) on our single free day, then drove a few hours to Fredricksburg and had a a great view (through some clouds, but still full visibility) of the eclipse for 4 1/2 minutes.

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