The Boulders Resort in Carefree gets national notice from hotel raters as among the most elegant of the Valley’s inns, a place where the world’s wealthy can play golf, luxuriate in a worldclass spa, gobble gourmet meals and be pampered.
But increasingly, guests of the resort want to rattle their teeth by mountain biking through the desert or rappelling down a 10-story pile of boulders, said Ted Davis, sales and marketing director for Wyndham Luxury Resorts which owns Boulders.
To accommodate the well-heeled wild ones, the Boulders has established an adventure concierge, a staff of six to plan all guest activities that require any real activity — that is, everything except for tee times — Boulders duffers travel by cart — and spa sessions.
The staff even will plan activities for Valley-based adventurers as well as resort guests.
The Boulders created the Tennis Garden & Activity Center to house the adventure booking desk and ordered specialized software that can create an action-packed guest itinerary and e-mail it to the adventure seeker even before he or she arrives.
"Today’s customer is more athletic and asking for different things," Davis said. "One of our goals in luxury travel today is to create a higher level of personalized service. The baby boomers are coming into retirement now, and they are younger and more adventurous (than re tirees of previous generations)."
Davis said seven out of 10 Boulders guests want to participate in activities other than golf, spa and tennis. They want to try everything from rock climbing to hot-air ballooning, he said. The Boulders will schedule any activity, but the main focus is to keep the guests from leaving the resort’s 1,300 acres. It’s a lucrative proposition.
"We’ve found a typical guest spends twice as much on activities than on guest rooms," Davis said. "If a guest spends $500 to $600 for a room at the Boulders, that’s another $1,000 on activities. It creates a tremendous amount of revenue."
So the resort has a cache of mountain bikes, helmets, and even special night-vision goggles for those who want to negotiate the desert after dark, plus gear for rock climbing, said head concierge Paula Edgin.
For the active but fearful, Edgin and her staff can schedule guided hikes and geology walks. There are paved trails for those who want to bike on a solid surface. And smaller boulders to scale for novice climbers.
Six-time Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong used the Boulders as home base for a few weeks of training in February, lending a powerful boost of credibility to the inn’s action-packed capabilities, said Rico Riley, activity guide.
While Armstrong usually biked from the Boulders to Bartlett Lake, Riley tailors less physically demanding outings to individual guests’ desires and abilities.
"In the high season we get people from the north who don’t work out a lot," Riley said.
"Sometimes we get an extreme New Yorker. In summer, we get people from California, and mostly everybody from California is extreme."
Riley said the Wall Street crowd and CEO contingents, even if out-of-shape are, "extremely competitive and used to being in control."
They typically opt for the biggest challenge. It’s Riley’s job to make sure they stay safe while climbing a boulder or tearing through the desert on a bike.
"Our worst accident has been a broken fingernail," he said.