Be exclusive at the JW Griffin Club at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge in Arizona. This adults only lounge at a large luxury resort offers an array of amenities at an extra cost: full breakfast and lunch, evening appetizers and cocktails, and dessert, plus access to the spa, all for one fee.
The sprawling JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge, in Phoenix, has over 800 rooms, 316 acres, several pools, tennis, and two 18-hole championship golf courses.
For families, there is a lazy river, water slide, kids’ pool and Family Escape, with supervised morning sessions, nighttime parties and family activities.
Exclusive retreat: JW Griffin Club
But within this large luxury resort, you can have a more personal experience as part of the JW Griffin Club. This is unlike any executive lounge I’ve seen, with a continental breakfast and maybe a glass of cheap wine and a carrot stick later in the day.
This is a place where you can get an omelet made to order (with goat cheese, mushrooms and spinach) along with fresh strawberry juice and bowls of fresh berries and other cut fruit.
But that is just breakfast.
There’s a full lunch offered; one day, there was a vegan butternut squash soup, with pistachio garnish, shrimp wraps and cold cuts. The next day’s lunch didn’t have as extensive a vegetarian offering, but there were still plenty of grilled vegetables, cheese, and a kale salad with edamame.
There was also fruit, cookies and serve yourself snacks like malted milk balls and trail mix available throughout the day.
The lounge is staffed with cheerful servers who introduced themselves when we entered and remembered our names next time. They brought us drinks (a fantastic non-alcoholic ginger beer, made to order espressos and coffee are always on offer, along with tea, soda and juice) and made us feel quite welcome.
There seemed to always be at least three people working in the lounge, offering drinks, chatting about local activities. When I asked about where to get bubble wrap, someone actually got it for me.
Some executive lounges have an honor bar, some offer a limited elections of bottom shelf spirits or jug wine. Not the Griffin Club. This place is stocked with top shelf alcohol, all included, from 4-11pm daily There is excellent local craft beer, including the Twenty6 beer made just for the resort (which is the 26th JW Marriott), using honey grown on site. How’s that for local?
Did I mention the food later on? There are hors d’oeuvres from 5-7pm, with a couple of special dishes cooked in full view by the chef (set up at the omelet station) from 5:30-6:30, and desserts from 8-10pm. We tried a delicious vegetarian quinoa risotto with artichoke hearts one night; there was also a steak dish. We were going out to
dinner, so we tasted just for journalistic purposes, but you can actually just eat here if you are so inclined.
We were in Phoenix for three World Series games, and we went to bars for the first two. But watching with a mixed crowd – New York fans, Kansas City fans, and causal baseball fans with no skin in the game, can be disappointing – plus you can’t hear anything. We asked in the lounge if we could switch the giant flat screen TV to the game one night and soon three couples joined us on couches and easy chairs watch the Mets. What a nice way to watch the game, particularly with the excellent Kilt Lifter IPA from Four Peaks.
With your $65 per person daily fee, you also get access to the Revive Spa. This usually costs $35 and includes indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis (sadly,the outdoor one was closed when I was there), a private quiet pool and steam rooms and saunas (you do also get all this if you book a spa appointment). The lounge chairs and towels at the spa pool are much nicer than the ones at the ‘regular’ pools.
The spa also has its own, much nicer fitness center and a few classes that cost extra, but are included with a JW Griffin Club membership. I took an aqua fitness class which was not very challenging, but it was fun and much more invigorating than just lounging by the pool. (Full disclosure: I also lounged).
The Griffin Club also has newspapers and magazines (alas, no New York Times), computers and printers.
Note: no one under 21 is allowed, and you have to be dressed in business/smart casual.
I was given access to the JW Griffin Club for the purpose of this review, and I paid for my room. Opinions expressed are my own.