By: Trend reporter Amy Tara Koch writes about everything from mascara to Miami. Her first book BUMP IT UP: TRANFORMING YOUR PREGNANCY INTO THE ULTIMATE STYLE STATEMENT(Ballantine) hits shelves March 23

Parenthood enforces a lifestyle change, it’s true. But, that change does not mean that you must sacrifice your well honed sense of style for your children. Let’s take the family vacation scenario. If the thought of travelling to Disney World, Lego Land or any of the cheesy brand name corporate countries, causes your breakfast to rise in your throat, retch not. There are superb (and reasonably priced) holiday spots that offer both style and substance for the whole family.

I just returned from one such property, the INTERCONTINENTAL’s MONTELUCIA RESORT & SPA in Paradise Valley, AZ. Nestled in the Sonoran Desert at the base of Camelback Mountain, this palm tree studded property is nothing short of an oasis for families. Decorative details- -antique wooden doors, brass lanterns, wrought iron chandeliers, colorful tiles and ceramics- lend the property a distinct Moorish vibe. There are five pools for sunning and swimming. Rooms are spacious with terraces and breezy bathrooms complete with oversized soaking tub. Beds, a destination dealmaker for me, are firm and swathed in luxe linens topped with comfy down comforters. Housekeeping service is prompt and thorough.

But the level of customer service and kid -centric amenities is what makes this spot a mecca for family vacations. When I booked the trip, a can-do concierge generated a personal agenda for my family. There were hiking spots outlined, cooking classes organized and spa treatments recommended. A detailed schedule for our rock and mineral obsessed daughters was crafted featuring visits to the local mining museum and a jaunt to a dusty ghost town to pan for gold. But, the real genius of Montelucia is PLANET TREKKERS, the interactive day camp (three hours complimentary service!) for children ages 5-12. Many hotels offer a “kids club” which is, more often than not a Disney themed dungeon with tattered books and Ice Age videos on continuous loop. The drop off at such a “club” is a double edged sword. Oh, you will get your free time. But, the kids will kick and scream tainting your freedom with parental guilt. PLANET TREKKERS takes the concept of day care from dungeon to divine.With programs and activities like treasure hunts, gelato tastings, air hockey competitions, scooter board hockey, a bouncy house and evening stargazing, kids actually want to stay. In fact, the moment Rice Krispie treat making commenced, my kids waved me away to avoid scrutiny of their sugar intake.  Translation? Parents can slink off to the spa. Guilt free.

Did I mention that there are three hours of free club time for kids? With the option to pay for extra time? Speaking of decompression, JOYA SPA takes renewal seriously. The Hammam ritual heats and cools the body with a mélange of steam, sauna and cold deluge techniques. Massage and wrap treatments like Berber Cereal Peeling and Tu Na Chi acupressure and cupping massage are modern takes on old world cures designed to promote internal and external balance.

Food is another big deal to me when I am on vacation. I want to eat well and enjoy an excellent glass of pinot noir. Happily, Prado, the Spanish style restaurant helmed by chef Claudio Urciuli, is happy to oblige cravings from paella to a simple pizza or pasta for the kids. When our kids asked to return to the clubhouse after dinner for stargazing and a movie, we knew that we would be returning to Paradise Valley next year.

If this sounds like THE RITZ meets the MANDARIN ORIENTAL in the desert, you are correct in your assumption. PSST!  Here’s a little secret: Arizona has been hit by the country’s economic woes in a big way. So, the property has a special flexible rate program with rooms for $275 throughout the winter.  And, when you stay three or more nights, you earn credit towards the spa and restaurant. A 3 night stay yields a $300 resort credit. 4 nights yields a $400 resort credit, etc.



4949 N. Lincoln Drive

Scottsdale, AZ 85253


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