Pointe Hilton Resorts
…amenities for all ages & tastes

Story & Photos by: Ed Stone

Phoenix, Arizona is one of America’s popular vacation destinations.  Whether you are going for a long weekend or weeklong vacation, this area offers some of the best golfing, outdoor adventures, museums, entertainment, shopping and dining, Yes, it gets a bit warm in the summer, but haven’t you heard,  “it is a dry heat.”

Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort

Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit two of the Valley of the Sun’s finest resorts: the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort and the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort.  Both properties are located in Phoenix Mountain Preserves, showcasing some of the most breath-taking vistas in this part of the world. Both offer state-of-the-art waterparks, cuisine to satisfy every appetite, supervised recreational programs for children, spas catered to families, fitness centers, accommodations suited for both the commercial and family traveler.  Golfing is offered on the challenging Lookout Mountain Course next to the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort. Combined, the two resorts offer a total of 1,148 suites, eight restaurants and over 113,000 square feet of meeting space.

Golfing on the Lookout Mountain Course – Gratifying!

Looking from the first tee towards the 18th green of Lookout Mountain Course

“Tricky,” was the description Bill, the headwaiter at the Different Pointe of View restaurant, had for the Lookout Mountain Golf Course.  “Always remember the greens will favor toward the direction of the towers you see over your right shoulder from the first tee,” he said.  Bill was right.

To seasoned golfers, knowing the slope of a green and the way the ball will roll is just as important as a 250-yard drive. Missing a putt by ½ inch counts the same as pounding a long tee shot.

My first round was played in perfect conditions, 68 degrees, no humidity, no threat of rain and a beautiful sunrise had just transpired.  I was paired in the second foursome of the day at 7 a.m.  The ideal conditions to enjoy a round of golf in one of my favorite vacation spots.

No. 7 changes the complexity of this course

The first hole, dubbed “Roadrunner,” is a straightaway par 4 with a bunker guarding the green.  The best approach is from the left side, since the green slopes to the front left…a bit “tricky” as this is toward the towers.  For holes two through six, you think this is nothing like “desert golf.”  The fairways are traditional with the roughs being quite challenging.  Then suddenly your cart takes you up a slight incline to the seventh tee box and “holy cow!”  This is where the course separates the sheep from the goats.  You are now facing 12 of this area’s toughest holes.  Even the par three’s require some of the most exacting shots in your bag.

The #9, par-3...very tricky green

One par three deserves mentioning.  Number nine plays 125 yards from the blue tees.  Desert terrain and a waste bunker stretches from tee to green, so there is no room for being short.  If you are long, there is a grass bunker in the back, but it does not cause much of a problem.  As a matter of fact, you want to land on the back of the green because the slope is toward the front.  Hitting the ball anywhere from center to front of the green will put you off the front anywhere from 5 to 10 yards.  Did we say this was a “tricky” course?  And by the way, the towers are out of sight by this time, but they are in the direction of the front of this green.

The front nine does not end at the clubhouse, but rather “out on the course.”  Number 10 is appropriately named “Point of No Return” and the tee shot offers a spectacular backdrop of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve range.  The Farthest Pointe or blue tee box is 175 feet above the valley floor.  Someone commented in my foursome that they wanted to play the back tees just to enjoy the exceptional scenery.  Wherever you play, be sure to keep the ball to the far left side of the fairway, as the ball will roll to the center where your second shot is uphill to an elevated green.  This may be the number four handicap hole on the course, but could easily challenge number two or twelve for their first and second respective places as the toughest.

No. 18 green of Lookout Mountain Golf Course

Number 18 is both a “desert” and a “park-like” hole.  The tee shot is a blind one with some rough terrain.  If you can drive a 200 yarder, will will end up in the traditional-style of course as numbers one through six.   This finishing par 5 is 512 yards from the blues and the green is guarded on the right side by a lake.  One of the few holes I can brag about…I birdied this one!  It was just enough to bring me back the next day.

Lookout Mountain Golf Course is both a beauty and a challenge.

Hilton Golf Academies – Improving the game!
At the age of 8, Jerramy Hainline began playing golf with a plaid bag and one club in Fairbanks, Alaska.  By the time he reached high school, he was an All-American golfer, turning professional when he moved to San Diego to attend college.  Today, Jerramy is the Director of Instruction at the Hilton Golf Academy based in Phoenix.  He oversees three Academies: Tucson (AZ) at the Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort, Hilton Myrtle Beach (SC) and the one at Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort in Phoenix (AZ).

Jerramy Hainline gives lessons to both individuals and groups

Watching Jerramy give instructions to a group of journalists was not only amusing, but also educational.  He is one of the best golf instructors I have encountered.  Using funny stories, innuendoes and hands-on instructions, he makes sure the information is retained.  For me, he corrected a life-long slice.  There was one individual in our group that had never picked up a club.  Within two hours, he had her hitting the ball consistently off the tee.  (Click here to view comments by each member of our group on how Jerramy corrected or improved their game.)

Waterparks – Making these resorts unique!

The Falls Water Village at Tapatio Cliffs Resort

The Hole-in-the-Wall River Ranch at Squaw Peak Resort

Both the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs and Squaw Peak Resorts offer two of the finest year-round waterparks in the country with all the accoutrements of wet play areas. The Falls Water Village, built in 1996, is at the Tapatio Cliffs.  The Hole-in-the-Wall River Ranch, built in 1994, is at Squaw Peak.  Each waterpark is approximately three and one-half to four acres in size providing you plenty of room to enjoy the “sun and fun.”  They are very family-oriented with enough variation in activities for young and young at heart to be entertained.  The table below gives you an idea of their offerings:

Falls Water Village
Tapatio Cliffs

Hole-in-the-Wall River Ranch
Squaw Peak

3.5 acres

4 acres

Five sun decks

Three swimming pools – Super, Sports & Tad pools

12 travertine pool features (no swimming in these pools – decorative only)

18-hole putting course

Two swimming pools – Grotto Pool &
Geyser Pool

3,000 square foot retail store, Rodeo Drive

15 separate waterfalls

Lazy river for tubing

500 lounge chairs

130-foot waterslide

Two large hot plunge spas

One large hot plunge spas

Two lighted tennis courts

Four lighted tennis courts

23 poolside cabanas (17 at Grotto and 6 at Geyser)

Tombstone  - Old West town for outdoor functions and occasional Western shows

Outdoor children’s activities’ centre for Kid’s Korral (seasonal program)

Indoor children’s activities’ centre - Coyote Camp™

80-foot elevation difference from the top of The Falls to the Grotto Pool sun-deck terrace



Havasupai Falls fashioned from the one in Grand Canyon

Upon entering The Falls Water Village, to your right, you will immediately recognize the inspiration for the theming of this waterpark…Havasupai Falls in the Grand Canyon.  The falls are awesome and most inspiring!  The Native Americans of the area were brought in as consultants to make sure the pools, falls and settings were geographically and environmentally characteristic of the famous turquoise pools and waterfalls of the Canyon’s landmark.  Bob Gladwin, a noted Phoenix architect, had hiked the 11 miles into the Grand Canyon to see these falls and hoped someday he would be able to incorporate this natural wonder into one of his projects.  In 1996, his entire team did an awesome job!  To round out the landscaping, they brought in 120-plus mature trees (30 different varieties), 1,440 shrubs and native accent plants (24 different varieties) and 8,500 flowers/ground-covering plants.

Ecological design elements such as The Falls with its 40-foot, two-tier cascading waterfall with four smaller falls and tributary streams are added features.  All rockwork is natural, hand-carved or artistically fabricated.

Private cabanas offer extra aminities at the waterpark

During the summer, these waterparks are more than popular…they are essential and quite  refreshing. Guests have the option of using the waterpark with such upscale features as private cabanas.  These 10-foot by 10-foot structures offer four lounge chairs, television, refrigerator, data port, phone, table and ceiling fan.

Aside from the pools, the most popular feature at both parks is the 130 to 138 -foot long waterslides (one slide at each resort). At The Falls, The Flume has guests departing from a dark tunnel, which adds anticipation and excitement that all ages love. The “Slide Rock” waterslide at the River Ranch has winding curves that are sure to thrill and please everyone, no matter how old you are. Other favorites at the Ranch are tubing down the Lazy River and the 18-hole putting course. 

Swimming and water sports can create a powerful appetite. Fear not for there are large food and beverage operations right in the middle of these activities. The Cascades Café (Falls Water Village) features nearly 3,000 square feet of outdoor   
decking with a bar seating 42 and the Cascades Terrace seats 60.  Most of these areas are either covered or misted.  At the River Ranch, you have a choice of the Hole-in-the-Wall restaurant and poolside fare at Slim Picken’s…and, for ice cream lovers, there’s the old-fashion ice cream parlor and candy story at the Cactus Rock Creamery…some of the best!!

Sarah Colegrove
Director of Fun

Sarah Colegrove, aka, “Miss Fun” is the Director of Fun at these two outstanding resorts.  She is perfect for the job and has the background to back it up.  This vivacious lady has eight years of experience in recreation, six in management, four in pool management and four years in marketing & public relations.  All of this with the Pointe Hilton Resorts in Phoenix.  Prior to joining the Pointe Hilton team, she spent two years at a local park called Coasters & Castles.

Sarah plans a wide range of activities for ages 4 to 12.  At both operations, she serves up daily activities with some element of water included.  During Friday and Saturday evenings, there are themed poolside parties and Dive-in Movies.  These events are well received and entertaining to the guests.

Rodeo Drive retail shop at River Ranch

Entrance to River Ranch waterpark

Only hotel guests may use the waterpark facilities.  The highest usage is during spring break in March and April, as well as weekends during the summer (Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend).  The months of December and January are the slowest months.

What does Sarah enjoy about being “Miss Fun?”  “I love making memories for our junior guests and their families. It is truly satisfying to see the smiles and know you were a part of making that happen. But most of all, I receive a great deal of joy working with my fellow Pointe People. We’re a family and it comes across in the ownership spirit and the unanimous message that we are all masters in the art of hospitality.”

Cuisine – Satisfying the appetites!

The Different Pointe of View dining experience

The Different Pointe of View dining experience begs for a better description than unique and spectacular.  First the setting is 1,800 feet above the Valley of the Sun…yes; the view is spectacular…especially at sunset.   This is the highest point in the Phoenix area for this type of dining.  Executive Chef Ivan Flowers has created an offering of Italian-Mediterranean cuisine reflecting both classical and modern dishes using fresh ingredients from around the world.  Different Pointe of View is one of your “not to be missed” culinary spots in Phoenix.

Pointe In Tyme…nice play on words…is a multi-tasking restaurant.  This bistro-type facility serves as an upscale dining area in the evening and covers as a well-suited place for breakfast and lunch before and after a round of golf. The pro shop is located next to the Pointe In Tyme. Also at the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort is the La Cantina serving up some authentic Mexican fare and The Works with pizza and ice cream.

Hole-in-the-Wall restaurant

Lantana Grille with its Southwestern flare is at the Squaw Peak along with the Hole-in-the-Wall, which serves up “western grub.”  Both are exceptional places to take the family or a business group.

Spas – Special services for all guests!
Spas have almost become commonplace in most upscale resorts, such as these two.  However, there is nothing common about these spas.  At the  Tapatio Cliffs, the Tocaloma Spa & Salon offers all types of treatments and spa services.  The Tocasierra Spa & Salon, located at the Squaw Peak Resort offer complete services, plus adjacent fitness and workout center.  Both are very convenient for guests to walk to and from.  I was most impressed with the staff and professional approach to these facilities.  They encourage spa treatment for the youth audience visiting during Spring break and the summer.

The combination of these two resorts makes for a perfect weekend get away or weeklong vacation package.  I must commend the management on keeping the family elements focused as a priority.  Yet, the business traveler or convention attendee feels very much at ease without the fun loving children.  Yep, there is nothing “tricky” about selecting either the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs or the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resorts…where there is something special for everyone in the family.

For more information:
Pointe Hilton Resorts
Website: www.pointehilton.com

Tapatio Cliffs                                
11111 North 7th Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85020
Reservations: 1-800-947-9784
Resort: 602-866-7500
Resort Fax: 602-993-0276
Sales: 1-800-685-0550

Squaw Peak                               
7677 North 16th Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85020
Reservations: 1-800-947-9784
Resort: 602-997-2626
Resort Fax: 602-997-2391
Sales: 1-800-685-0550