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JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa Lazy River
JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa

SmarterTravel Spotlight: JW Marriott Desert Ridge Review

With 950 rooms spread over more than 300 acres in the Sonoran Desert, the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa feels more like a small city than a resort—that is, a five-star city that’s purpose-built for relaxation.

Guests don’t have to venture off-resort for anything. There are two 18-hole golf courses designed by Arnold Palmer and Nick Faldo, a stunning spa, 17 pickleball courts, and six restaurants that cater to every whim and desire. The true star of the resort, and the reason that I chose the JW Desert Ridge, is the property’s new 140,000-square-foot AquaRidge Waterpark. 

If your dream vacation involves floating around a heated lazy river while sipping a frozen drink, this is the place to do it. 

The Location

The JW Desert Ridge is a destination in its own right—just head to Marriott Drive and you’ll see the complex arise like an oasis in the distance. If you choose to venture off-property, the hotel is right down the street from Desert Ridge Marketplace, a massive outdoor mall with plenty of restaurants and shops. 

The resort is also less than 30 minutes from both Phoenix and Scottsdale. It took me around 25 minutes to drive from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport to the JW Desert Ridge. 



With six restaurants on-site, deciding where to dine at the JW Desert Ridge can be difficult. My favorite eatery was Tia Carmen, a stylish Southwestern restaurant by renowned chef Angelo Sosa. I recommend grabbing a table at the beautiful outdoor patio for both breakfast and dinner. 

Tia Carmen puts a unique local twist on classic dishes. My surprise favorites were the romaine salad with fried egg dressing, fennel, radish, and manchego cheese, and the avocado aguachile topped with a date sesame crumble, Persian cucumber, and serrano chile. Tia Carmen lays out a massive buffet spread at breakfast, but you’ll want to save room for the made-to-order omelet station. 

Beyond Tia Carmen, the resort offers several other enticing dining experiences. Kembara serves dishes inspired by Asian street food culture, and also has a lovely outdoor patio. For a post-golf beer or casual meal, head to Meritage, located next to the Wildfire Golf Club, which features over 50 Arizona craft beers on tap.

For a casual poolside dining option, the Just a Splash Bar & Kitchen offers everything from french fries to refreshing fruit smoothies. Those seeking a lighter, health-conscious meal can head to the airy Revive Spa Bistro, which features a menu of fresh, flavorful fare.

The Rooms


The JW Desert Ridge Resort recently underwent an extensive $80 million renovation, and the results are evident in the resort’s modern new accommodations. The refreshed guest rooms draw inspiration from the surrounding Sonoran Desert, embracing a soothing earth-toned color palette that seamlessly blends with the natural landscape. All rooms feature private outdoor sitting areas, allowing guests to relax and soak in the picturesque views. They also feature JW Marriott’s signature luxury bedding, Aromatherapy Associates bath amenities, plush robes, and convenient minifridges.

During my stay, I had the pleasure of occupying a Pool View King Guest Room, which was situated on a high floor, offering panoramic vistas of the pool area and the majestic mountains in the distance. Spanning an impressive 448 square feet, the room provided ample space to stretch out, including a comfortable sitting area with an L-shaped couch and an oversized balcony perfect for catching some sun. For those who prefer a more private soaking experience, the bathroom features a large, indulgent bathtub, providing a serene alternative to the resort’s many inviting hot tubs.



With its desert location, the AquaRidge WaterPark is a welcome oasis. My favorite feature was definitely the lazy river. Take one of the inflatable tubes and gently float with the current underneath the hot Arizona sun. For more of a thrill, three waterslides are guaranteed to get your heart-rate pumping. The Gullywasher is a fun two-person ride that sends you through twists and turns before launching you up a vertical wall to finish. 

The JW Desert Ridge attracts many kids who love the waterslides and splash pad, so it’s nice that the resort has a dedicated adults-only area, Sky Island, offering a more serene experience with whirlpools, bungalows, and daybeds. 


The Revive Spa at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort is a true haven of wellness and relaxation, spanning an impressive 28,000 square feet and boasting 41 elegantly appointed treatment rooms. I enjoyed indulging in a therapeutic 50-minute massage during which the resort’s experienced masseuse expertly unknotted every tight muscle in my back. Afterward, I unwound further in the dedicated relaxation area with a heated lavender neck pillow to help my muscles relax even more. 

At the heart of the Revive Spa experience is the Sanctuary lap pool, which is lined with towering palm trees and private cabanas. It offers the perfect setting to recline poolside and take in the resort’s dramatic natural surroundings. 

Beyond the indulgent spa treatments, the Revive Spa also features a full-service salon, providing haircuts, coloring, manicures, and pedicures. 

Price and How to Book

Rates for the JW Marriott Desert Ridge start at around $280 and can be booked on Expedia

Editor’s Note: The JW Marriott hosted the author of this story.

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