Got sticker shock from high gas prices? Don't want to spend two days in an airport? We found eight vacation spots right here in the Valley where you don't necessarily need to spend a lot of time or money.
Ak-Chin Casino and Hotel
Where: 15406 Maricopa Road
Atmosphere: Located a short distance from the Pinal County border, this desert hideaway has all the luxury of a resort with all the gaming of a busy Las Vegas casino.
Food and drink: From The Range, a sit-down restaurant specializing in steak, to The Harvest buffet that caters to an indecisive palate, Ak-Chin has four casual restaurants to choose from. While you are gambling, friendly waiters and waitresses are always close to serve refreshing drinks and bar food.
Amenities: Swim up to Corkscrews, the bar conveniently attached to the pool (pictured), or relax in the outdoor Jacuzzi while taking a break from playing poker in the renovated poker room.
Accommodations: 148 standard rooms and four luxury suites offer all the normal amenities plus a private balcony and an adjacent sitting area.
Rates: Start at $125 on weekdays, $165 on weekends.
Info: (480) 802-5000 or www.harrahs.com.
The Buttes, A Marriott Resort
Where: 2000 W. Westcourt Way, Tempe
Atmosphere: One doesn’t usually associate laid-back Tempe with “swanky” — but this hotel, nestled snugly in the city’s twin buttes — offers a different notion, with its distinct architecture and ritzy digs.
Food and drink: There are several spots for a high-class chow-down, including the Market Cafe (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner), Tequila on the Rocks and — fanciest of all — perennial prom hot spot Top of the Rock.
Amenities: The on-site Narande Spa offers the usual lineup of traditional spa services; the athletically inclined can use the tennis and volleyball courts or hit one of the heated pools.
Accommodations: Three hundred fifty-four rooms (spread across four floors) spacious enough to keep you occupied between pampering sessions or exploring the geography.
Rates: Range from $150 to $362 per night
Info: (602) 225-9000 or www.marriott.com/phxtm
The Boulders Resort
Where: 34631 N. Tom Darlington Drive, Carefree
Atmosphere: This Carefree spot offers beautiful desert vistas, visually alluring rock formations and slightly lower nighttime temperatures than the Valley.
Food and drink: Two restaurants. Latilla is open for dinner only and features duck, chicken and fresh seafood. Palo Verde is open for breakfast and lunch and features American and Southwestern cuisine.
Amenities: The Golden Door Spa, two championship golf courses, eight tennis courts, rock climbing, moonlit bicycle tours and guided desert tours.
Accommodations: 160 guest adobe casitas (pictured) that a offer private patio, a wood-burning fireplace, a wet bar, Southwestern artwork, wood-beamed ceilings and an oversized bathtub.
Rates: Summer rates start at $119 per night.
Info: (866) 397-6520 or www.theboulders.com.
Clarendon Hotel + Suites
Where: 401 W. Clarendon Ave., Phoenix
Atmosphere: Downtown’s original boutique hotel treated itself to an extensive face lift in 2005; mod decor and breezy layout suggest a Bugsy Siegel-era desert hot spot.
Food and drink: Executive chef Cullen Campbell, formerly of Atlas Bistro and House of Tricks, conjures “slow” cuisine magic at Camus, the hotel’s Franco-American-inspired eatery (pictured). Enjoy a martini nightcap at the dazzling Red Bar next door.
Amenities: Perspire to your heart’s content at a round-the-clock fitness center and park for free in a covered lot. Stylish pool area features Tucci umbrellas and Smeca chaise lounges.
Accommodations: Spacious rooms appointed with Aveda bath products and custom window fixtures by Valley artist Doug Oland.
Rates: Start at $109 on weekdays, $129 on weekends.
Info: (602) 252-7363 or www.theclarendon.net.
Fort McDowell Casino
Where: 10424 N. Fort McDowell Road
Atmosphere: Nestled amongst the dramatic desert hills within the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, this oasis of a casino has a laid-back spirit, making it perfect for the Vegas-wary gambler.
Food and drink: Grab a ’50s-style burger and shake from the Silver Platter cafe, steaks and seafood at The Peaks or a quick nosh at the Beeline Deli.
Amenities: The Fort’s outdoor venue offers concerts by popular entertainers (“American Idol’s” Bo Bice, Aug. 26; REO Speedwagon, Oct. 7), while tribute acts play the Lucky 7 Saloon.
Accommodations: The Radisson Hotel next door offers no-frills comfort. For a more upscale experience, try the 40-room Copperwynd Resort and Club, which offers spa and dinner packages.
Rates: $99 to $259 at the Radisson; $177 to $267 at Copperwynd.
Info: (800) (843-3678) or www.fortmcdowellcasino.com.
Hotel Valley Ho
Where: 6850 E. Main St., Scottsdale
Atmosphere: Hotel Valley Ho ups Old Town Scottsdale's historic factor. The recently renovated 1950s hotel offers retro kitsch in its rooms and sense of flirtation at its pool and lounge.
Food and drink: Cafe ZuZu (pictured) serves comfort food, but for something a bit more exotic, Ho has Trader Vic’s serving Polynesian delights. For cocktails, opt for ZuZu Lounge.
Amenities: VH Spa features treatments like the Turkish “Red Flower Hammam Full-Body Treatment” and Shiatsu. Aside from massage, VH Spa offers Quantum Biofeedback, facials and acupuncture.
Accommodations: Each one of Valley Ho's 194 rooms has glass walls opening to a patio or balcony, feather-top bed, oversized tub and separate shower — all with midcentury style blended with modern chic.
Rates: $139 to $549
Info: (480) 248-2000 or www.hotelvalleyho.com
JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa
Where: 5350 E. Marriott Drive, Phoenix
Atmosphere: Covering 316 acres, this sprawling resort offers desert views.
Food and drink: With seven restaurants and a Starbucks coffee bar, guests can choose from a variety of cuisines (Hawaiian fusion, perhaps?) and dining atmospheres.
Amenities: Two on-site golf courses; an impressive spa with a bright bistro and pool area for spa patrons (adults only); an lengthy, heated lazy river (pictured), pool and hot tub.
Accommodations: Golden hues and dark, rich furniture adorn each room. Rooms include a balcony or patio with garden, waterway, golf course or mountain views.
Rates: Start at $179 for weekdays, $199 for weekends. The resort also offers packages for families, golf lovers, spagoers, couples and "girls' getaways," among others.
Info: 480-293-5000 or www.desertridgeresort.com.
Where: 7353 E. Indian School Road, Scottsdale
Atmosphere: Like its West Hollywood sister location, the colorful, trendy hotel screams hip and has a celebrity following, including Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart, Nick Lachey, Paris Hilton and Elijah Wood. The hotel, formerly known as the James Hotel, was bought and renamed in May.
Food and drink: The newly designed hotel will relaunch later this year, opening the legendary Skybar and Asia de Cuba. In the meantime it features an Italian restaurant and see-and-be-seen lounge.
Amenities: Day spa and pool, which is a hot spot on weekends.
Accommodations: 200 rooms, which range from 300 to 900 square feet. Rooms include wireless Internet, 42-inch plasma TVs, 300-thread count luxury bedding and a CD sound system with iPod connection.
Rates: Start at $125. The hotel is offering a ‘‘Rates for Locals’’ special with $25 off the best available room rate until October.
Info: (480) 308-1100 and www.mondrianscottsdale.com.
Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain
Where: 5700 E. McDonald Drive, Paradise Valley
Atmosphere: Tucked into the rocks halfway up the Valley’s most photographed mountain, this tranquil hideaway offers stunning views of the tree- and cactus-dotted desert hundreds of feet below.
Food and drink: Grab a meal at Elements (pictured), its award-winning restaurant run by “Iron Chef America” winner Beau MacMillan, then relax with drinks at the restaurant’s cozy, stylish Jade bar.
Amenities: An Asian-inspired spa has a meditation garden, reflecting pond and Watsu pool. The latter is used during a weightless massage; other treatments include acupuncture, facials and seaweed body wraps.
Accommodations: The whitewashed adobe casitas range in size from 500 square feet to 1,500 square feet. The Mountain Vista Casitas were recently renovated.
Rates: Start at $195 on weekdays, $235 on weekends
Info: (480) 948-2100 or www.sanctuaryoncamelback.com.