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JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa Showcases $80M Renovation

Phoenix-area Marriott reinvents itself, with revamped pool areas and a new restaurant debuting this year

By Todd R. Berger

9.1.23 Pool view from guest room at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa
View of revamped pool area and the Sonoran Desert from a guest room at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa | Courtesy of Marriott International Inc.

The JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa underwent an $80 million transformation last fall in celebration of its 20th anniversary. Showcasing a fresh, modern design inspired by the surrounding destination, the expansive property, set across 316 acres of sweeping Sonoran Desert, introduced a refreshed lobby, beautifully redesigned guest rooms, and the resort’s new signature restaurant, Tía Carmen. And, this year, the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa unveiled a reimagined and expanded pool complex and another new restaurant concept.

“We’re excited to offer our guests an elevated experience,” says General Manager Paige Lund in a prepared statement. “The transformation of our lobby and guest rooms and the addition of Tía Carmen, combined with the pool expansion and additional restaurant concept will further position our resort as the ideal destination for a variety of occasions—from family gatherings, intimate getaways, and one-of-a-kind culinary experiences to milestone celebrations and beyond.”

Designed by Looney & Associates, the resort’s 869 guest rooms and 81 suites were completely renewed and feature private patios or balconies with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that offer an abundance of natural light and spectacular views of the gardens, desert vistas, waterways, or golf courses. Additionally, a selection of first-level rooms features private fire pits to gather and enjoy fireside s’mores or just to sit back and relax. The motto “relaxation and rejuvenation of a life lived outdoors” provided the overall inspiration for the guest rooms with the goal to provide a place of reprieve, relaxation, and rejuvenation for all guests. The design palette of the room is subtle and soothing with soft neutrals complimented by bold accents, and the color hues combine rich earth tones with soft agave greens through authentic and refined materials. The use of geometric patterns can be seen throughout the spaces, which were influenced by textiles and pottery of native Hohokam culture. Additionally, the patterns reflect local agricultural elements including farmland shapes and copper metal accents in the canvas art and light fixtures. The strategically designed spaces include additional upgrades such as natural wood finishes, mural walls evoking the desert landscape, and a contemporary sofa or accent chair that was inspired by local agave plants. What’s more, JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa is now home to several signature wellness suites, which provide a tranquil space for guests to enjoy a Peloton bike, yoga, stretching, and meditation in the privacy of their guest room.

The JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa also upgraded its expansive lobby, which features modern interiors, new soft goods, and case goods, and illuminating light fixtures throughout, along with a redesign of the front desk and arrival experience. The lobby’s refreshed design palette was inspired by the desert sky, with midnight blues and soft amethyst hues accenting warm neutrals, while the overall design reflects the modern and tranquil desert lifestyle with a sophisticated refinement. JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa’s porte-cochere now features upgraded lounge seating areas with a large sofa flanked by accent lounge chairs leading into the main entry. New chandeliers composed of elegant metal rods with integrated lighting create a sculptural “grid-like” shape and are exposed so guests can see the existing pyramidal ceiling coffers. JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa’s lobby lounge features calming light fixtures and a variety of lounge seating divisions such as sectional sofas, groupings of lounge chairs, and a selection of tables that are ideal for informal meetings or work surfaces, and for guests yearning to relax and enjoy a craft cocktail or watch the Sonoran Desert sunset.

Tía Carmen opened in April 2022 as the resort’s new signature eatery led by acclaimed Executive Chef Angelo Sosa along with seasoned restaurant operator Mark Stone. The contemporary Southwestern restaurant celebrates the local landscape, farmers, and community of the Southwest while reflecting a mix of tradition and modernity with bold, elemental cooking and a diverse beverage program. Designed by Thomas Schoos and Lisa Gil of Los Angeles-based hospitality design firm Schoos Design, Tía Carmen celebrates an “Earth Meets Art” theme with sophisticated natural simplicity and plays on cues from the surrounding desert. The restaurant represents a clean, warm palette that was developed to honor the restaurant’s namesake, Executive Chef Sosa’s aunt Tía Carmen—a woman of passion, love, and humility. Her inspiration is seen with the use of soft curves and arches hugging the space and the organic natural forms of the local landscape, capturing the essence of the rolling desert rock formations and calming hues punctuated in each vignette. With an array of cozy dining nooks from which to discover the rich flavors of Executive Chef Sosa’s menu, guests have a front-and-center view of his preparations as the centerpiece wood-fire grill anchors the restaurant.

The exterior of Tía Carmen reflects a natural yet modern desert landscape and includes an open adobe-style fireplace and native Vigas & Latillas architectural details adapted from the Southwestern Pueblo design style. The restaurant features an indoor dining room and bar, a beautiful outdoor dining space, and several private dining rooms. Locally based PHX Architecture, led by Erik Peterson and Maurita Harris, served as the project architects.

This year, the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa introduced a reimagined and expanded poolside experience designed to enrich mind, body, and spirit. Guests will discover three new exhilarating five-story-tall waterslides, including the thrilling Boomerango, the only dual-person vertical wall tube slide at a resort west of the Mississippi River, an active family zone surrounding the lazy river with five cabanas, lounge seating, kids splash pad and playground, and a food truck area featuring shaded tables and lounge areas. The new Sky Island is a secluded adults-only retreat featuring an infinity pool and jacuzzi, four secluded cabanas, lounge seating, fire pits, and a VIP welcome attendant. Sedona Spa will offer a VIP family-friendly sanctuary including a large infinity edge jacuzzi, three cabanas, five shaded daybeds, lounge, and fire pit seating with a soothing waterfall feature and stargazing area.

What’s more, the resort will debut a new Pan-Asian restaurant concept, Kembara, also helmed by Executive Chef Angelo Sosa, which is set to open this fall.