Westin Kierland Resort and Spa is almost all about the golf ... but not completely. You can start your Arizona golf vacation with the 27 resort-style holes. When not on the golf course, enjoy great spas, pools and activities for the kids.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - At first blush, one might be hard-pressed to think of two places on Earth more dissimilar than the Scottish Highlands and Arizona. On second thought, though, there is one strong common link: golf. Both venues boast some of the most memorable and unique golf courses in the world.
The link is in the links, so to speak.
No place in Arizona is that link forged more strongly than at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa in Scottsdale. Here the golfing connection between soggy Scotland and the Arizona desert infuses nearly every aspect of the resort, making it a veritable golfers' paradise that, happily, is also pretty darn posh for non-golfers, as well.
It is no wonder that the Kierland Resort is ranked at or near the top of every major American golf resort list year after year.
When talking golf at the Westin Kierland Resort, naturally one must begin with the excellent 27 resort-style holes: the Ironwood, Acacia and Mesquite golf courses, each of which measures around 3,500 yards from the tips. All nines are challenging in their length and in the firmness of their greens but are also very player-friendly. The areas along the fairways that would be waste bunkers or desert scrub at other courses are carpeted with turf here.
Yet oddly enough, the actual golf courses are almost incidental to the cornucopia of golf-related amenities at the resort, beginning with the normally lowly golf cart. At Kierland, instead of non-descript buggies, the carts are air-conditioned. And if you really want to experience cart golf in a whole new way (and perhaps take your life into your hands), you can rent a Segway to ride around the course instead of a traditional cart.
If guests want to work on their games, the LaBauve Golf Academy is on-site. Mike and Sandy LaBauve, one of the very few husband-wife teaching teams in the world, are both listed in Golf Magazine's "Top 100 Instructors." Mike is also listed in the "Top 50 Instructors" by Golf Digest, while Sandy is listed in the magazine's "Top 50 Women Instructors."
Golfers who want to get fit can enroll in the Fore-Max Fitness Program, designed by the resort's fitness director, Steve Heller, in association with Mike LaBauve. The training system is geared specifically toward golfers, focusing on stamina, flexibility, and strength with golf-specific routines.
For serious golfers, or rather avid golfers who are not serious at all, kilts are available for rent so that the game can be played the way God and Old Tom intended it to be (i.e., with natural air-conditioning).
I was told of a recent group of groomsmen who celebrated an imminent wedding by renting and playing in kilts. At the end of their round, they were led up the 18th fairway at sunset by the resort's resident bagpiper. Talk about enduring memories!
The Westin Kierland Resort is not all about golf, though. There's a solid 10 percent or so that is only very marginally related to golf.
Agave, the resort's spa, comprises 21 treatment rooms, a weight and fitness studio, and a serene outdoor pool/cabana area for relaxing, meditating and receiving outdoor treatments. A separate family pool area features a lazy river where the kids (both young and old) can laze the day away floating around on an inner tube.
Also for the kiddies, there is actually a "director of fun" whose sole job it is to schedule, organize and oversee the Kierland Mining Company.
No, the young 'uns won't be put to work in a silver mine (unless you specifically request it). Instead, they can partake in literally dozens of supervised and guided activities throughout the resort every day of the week - from teddy bear stuffing to kickball to pajama parties - many of which are offered at no extra charge.
Now back to the golf-related activities ... you may have noticed the mention of the bagpiper above. That's right, every evening at sunset, a bagpiper graces the resort's courtyard, where you can also enjoy a cigar, rolled on the spot and made to order. Saturday evenings, guests can attend a Scotch tasting to accompany those fine cigars.
There are those who may think that the Westin Kierland Resort's Scottish theme seems a bit contrived, but for avid golfers, Scotch, cigars, bagpipes, golf-inspired fitness, lessons and - oh yes! - 27 holes of Troon Golf-managed golf all combine to create a little bit of heaven on Earth.
Or at least a little bit of Scotland in the desert.
June 29, 2009