By Anita Draycott
Imagine is the name of the sculpture rising from the pond at the ninth green on the Acacia Course at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa. This artwork, dedicated to Katherine Herberger whose family built the resort, captures the innovative spirit here in Scottsdale.
Never have I been to a resort with so many innovative and imaginative activities geared to pleasing and surprising guests. What other property has a full-time staffer with the title of Chief FUN Officer (CFO)? Meet Joshua Riffe. The former cruise director spends his time organizing fun and games for kids of all ages. There’s the adult Margarita Putting Challenge whereby the person who sinks the most limes wins the Mexican cocktail. Kids love roasting s’mores around the Kierland’s “Kampfire” or slicing and dicing in junior cooking classes. Everyone enjoys the Pajama Party. While mom and day share a romantic dinner the FUN team entertains the offspring with crafts, dinner and a movie.
Air Conditioned Carts, Segways and Golf Bikes
If Kierland’s 27 fairways aren’t challenging enough, try tackling them on a Segway. It’s the only resort in Scottsdale where golfers can opt to ride the three desert nines (Acacia, Ironwood and Mesquite) on Segways (scooters) customized to hold your bag. It’s also the only place where the cart gal will sell you a wee nip of premium Johnnie Walker Gold, Green and Blue label whisky.
New golf bikes allow swingers to enjoy the game while getting a workout. Designed to create minimal impact on the course and maximum fun and fitness for the golfer, the bicycles feature small-diameter wheels and wide rubber tires and have two custom-designed golf bags mounted to the rear of the bike to carry a full set of clubs. Can’t take the heat? Kierland was the first to outfit golf carts with air conditioners that blow cool air around your neck. In keeping with the Scottish theme, a piper clad in full Highland regalia squeezes the bagpipe every evening at sunset.
Tee Master and Boot Camp
When I last visited Kierland, I played a round with Dave Fisher who holds the new title of Tee Master.
“I’m here to be of service from the time you enter the pro shop until you step up to the first tee,” he explained to me. “Whatever you need—dancing girls, Blood Mary, spa reservations—I’ll make it happen.” Mainly what guests request are swing tips from Fisher, who is also a teaching professional.
If you’re really serious about improving your game, Fitness Director Steve Heller has developed the FORE-MAX Golf Training System (I call it boot camp), a customized program of strengthening, stretching and cardio conditioning. Heller has also worked with the Agave Spa’s therapists to formulate a FORE-MAX Golf Massage to get the kinks out.
Ready for a dip or a flip? In addition to the Lazy River Ride and Waterslide, Kierland’s newest water attraction is the Flowrider. And yes it’s run by the resort’s very own Wave Master, Steve Richardson, who won a surf competition to get the job. What is it? Imagine a sloped trampoline upon which water flows to simulate the perfect wave. Flowboarding is like skateboarding without the wheels (and the road rash), surfing without a fin, snowboarding without the mountain, wakeboarding without the boat and skimboarding without the sand. At Kierland the surf’s always up.
All this fun and games works up quite a thirst and appetite. You probably won’t be surprised to discover that Kierland’s innovative philosophy extends to the kitchen and bar. At the Latin-inspired deseo restaurant chef Douglas Rodriguez creates dazzling ceviches. My favourite combines shrimp, crab, radish, jicama, green apple and a plantain chip fused together with lemon and lime juices. Wash it down with your own customized mojito at the Muddle Bar and raise a toast to all that’s fun under the Kierland sun.