With summer here, now is a good time to begin planning winter trips. While many people travel to Arizona during the holidays to escape the cold weather, it’s still possible to experience the magic of the holidays in the desert. A resort that families should experience at least once is the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess located in Scottsdale, Arizona. It stands out with all that it has to offer, especially for families traveling with young children.
The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess has been listed on international websites like CNN as one of the top hotels in the world to visit during the winter holidays. After staying there overnight with my family, including my 3-year-old son, I can see why its reputation is well deserved.
While the events are open to the public, I highly recommend staying as a guest of the hotel. I purchased a night’s stay at the Fairmont with a Groupon and the package not only included hotel accommodations, but it also included wristbands, a picture with Santa, and two tickets for ice skating. The wristbands were especially useful –while the general lines for some of the attractions can get long, the wristband enables you and your family to wait in a special line, thereby reducing the wait time–and ensuring fewer opportunities for meltdowns.
If you do not want to experience cold weather, but still want to experience the magic of the holiday season, then the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is a great choice, for the reasons listed below.
There are several decorations throughout the property, many of which appeal to children. For example, the lobby itself is very inviting. When we checked into the hotel, a Labrador was peacefully sleeping near the Christmas tree. The main square outside also has beautifully decorated trees with lights of all colors. And they are synced to holiday music, like Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.”
If your children love trains like my son does, then this will be a huge hit with your family. A lagoon is located on property and the Fairmont decorates the lagoon with different arrangements of lights, like a rocking horse and a pirate ship. You can see the lights two different ways– either by walking the path, or riding a train. If you do not want to wait in line for the train or you have a stroller and prefer to keep your stroller with you, then you can follow a path and walk to see the lights. But there is something magical about the train and in my opinion, the best way to see the lights.
There was a separate area for children to ride a carousel and experience a petting zoo. The carousel did not seem crowded when we were there early in the evening. The younger children, including my son, were especially drawn to the petting zoo. It was a nice addition for the younger crowd since it did not seem overwhelming.
There is also a separate area where your child can meet Santa, as well as get a picture with him. I liked that it was included in our particular package– not only that, but the Santa seemed very personable and not in a hurry. The fact that we had a wristband made our experience more enjoyable since we did not have to wait in a long line.
Yes, there is an ice skating rink, too! I wasn’t sure how my son would do his first time ice skating but our package also came with two admissions for ice skating so I thought this would be a good opportunity for him to try it out. The rink itself is a good size for children, especially since there was plenty of space for my son to hold on to the handrails just in case. And there were also bleachers nearby for the family members who preferred to observe. There was also at least one employee who kept things moving along and made sure no one was blocking the entrance/exit.
There are some areas that could be improved, however. Self-parking can be confusing and while the employees were very friendly, some of them were not able to answer my questions. For example, when we checked into the hotel, we were handed a newsletter listing all the events as well as the times of the events. The newsletter advertised a photo station but when I asked where the photo station was located and what exactly it entailed, no one could give me a definitive answer.
We also ate at a restaurant on the property and even though there were plenty of empty tables, the service was very slow. Our server also forgot to bring out the appetizer we ordered. The slow service especially could be a disaster for families traveling with children.
Last but not least, we attended Breakfast with Santa for an additional cost. This was the first year the Fairmont hosted a Breakfast with Santa and while the food was delicious, it was overall very disorganized and not what I would expect with the amount of money we paid for the breakfast. The charge for the breakfast was $95 per adult, and $40 per child. We did not have to pay for our son since the breakfast was free for children 5 years old and younger.
With that being said, the positives far outweigh the negatives. There is so much to see and do at the Fairmont, especially for families with younger children.