Micro-vacations, those long weekend getaways, can strike just the right balance of relaxation, adventure and indulgence.

Join travel writer Merilee Kern on a recent micro-jaunt to Phoenix, Arizona—America’s sixth-largest city where cowboys continue to roam and the red rock-laden topography is peppered with the kind of cactus some only see in cartoons.

At the center of Merilee’s Arizona-based, micro-vacation is the Boulders Resort & Spa, located just north of Phoenix. The property just completed a multi-million dollar renovation to its Casita accommodations as well as multiple common areas.

The city’s enduring Southwestern backdrop is not only an indelible draw for me, but also 16 million other leisure visitors who trek to Greater Phoenix each year for some fun in the Sonoran Desert sun.

Here’s a turnkey itinerary—just print and go!

The Boulders Resort & Spa (c) The Boulders Resort & Spa. FWT Magazine.

Photo: The Boulders Resort & Spa (c) The Boulders Resort & Spa. FWT Magazine.

Lunch at Gertrude’s Restaurant

Gertrude’s is known for its seasonally inspired cooking that combines American favorites with classic cooking techniques and flavors from around the globe. Under the direction of Executive Chef Matthew Taylor, Gertrude’s seasonal menus celebrate Arizona’s growers and producers while offering a sophisticated culinary experience in a reserved oasis setting.

Boulders Resort & Spa

One of the world’s most celebrated hideaways, Boulders Resort & Spa is named for the 12-million-year-old granite boulders that dot the landscape. The newly renovated private Casita accommodations, with their expansive stone-laden bathrooms and a host of creature comforts, also boast dedicated patios and wood-burning fireplaces. It’s the only resort in Scottsdale where guests can burn wood in their rooms.

Courtesy The Boulders Resort & Spa

Photo: Interior of The Boulders Resort & Spa (c) The Boulders Resort & Spa. FWT Magazine.

Dinner at Palo Verde Restaurant

Great pleasure awaits at the newly renovated Palo Verde, the resort’s signature restaurant. Chef Brian Archibald offers a new Contemporary Southwestern Cuisine that respects the integrity of the region and incorporates local Arizona ingredients and freshly foraged products from the resort’s organic garden. Relax and enjoy a sublime dining experience on the outdoor patio with glorious views of the scenic duck pond and grassy knolls where Gambel’s quail and newborn rabbits scamper.

Local cuisine (c) The Luxe List. FWT Magazine.

Photo: Local cuisine (c) The Luxe List. FWT Magazine.

Breakfast at Spa Cafe

There is a special energy and spirit here, a peaceful environment where people interact in easy harmony with nature. Early mornings are magical when the spectacular desert sunrise casts a warm golden glow on the 12-million-year-old boulder formations. The Spa Café menu takes advantage of the ripe bounty from the organic garden, offering healthful yet delectable dishes that can be enjoyed indoors or the outdoor patio.

The Spa at the Boulders

This 33,000 sq. foot facility is a full service spa where guests find restoration, pampering and renewed energy.  The facility incorporates the elements of feng shui and a Zen-like ambiance while staying true to the natural environs and Native American influences of the region. Its 24 treatment spaces are complemented by such signature elements as a labyrinth (path to tranquility), an authentic tipi for guided meditation, a private Watsu pool, Vichy treatments, couples spa suites and a 5,600 sq. ft. organic garden. The spa offers a 2,000 square-foot fitness center, yoga studio, a spa café and sweeping views.

Dinner at the Spotted Donkey Cantina 

Fresh, lively and energetic, the resort’s Spotted Donkey Cantina embraces Arizona’s southwestern influences with cantina-style dishes and western flavors in a relaxing atmosphere. Great pleasure awaits patrons where Modern Mexican creative cuisine is a mix of regional flavors, top-notch artisanal ingredients and locally sourced foods.

Sadly all good things must come to an end. But, given that Phoenix boasts more than 450 hotels with more than 62,000 guest rooms—including over 40 luxury resorts—your next marvelous micro-vacation awaits. For its part, given how much there is to do and see at The Boulders Resort & Spa and the caliber of its hospitality, repeat visits to this relaxing nature-laden retreat are certainly warranted. With this city’s dependably warm temperatures that make outdoor activities a way of life year-round, any time is a great time to visit The Valley of the Sun.