If you’re looking for destination wedding ideas, one of Arizona’s most iconic resorts has just emerged from a major renovation with some excellent options. The Boulders, less than an hour’s drive from SkyHarbor Airport, in the town of Carefree, has long been recognized for the brilliant way it blends into the surrounding Sonoran Desert, and has 30 years of happy nuptials under its belt. It is now poised to lure a new generation of couples looking for superb food, innovative gathering spots, and nowhere-else-in-the-world backdrops, courtesy of boulder formations over 12 million years old. A few locations to consider:
The 160 guest casitas have received thorough remodels and newly luxe baths; grandest of the lot is the Presidential Casita, for cocktails on the patio and to use as wedding-day headquarters. There are fireplaces outside and in; a large dining area and wet bar, a pair of bathrooms, and ample Instagram possibilities as you prep for the main event.
In addition to grassy lawns and ample patios, the organic gardens at the spa feel fresh and modern and the water features add a cool side note. There’s a spiral labyrinth to traverse before your vows; the resort calls it a path to tranquility, which isn’t a bad way to start a marriage. Want something a little more dramatic? Check out Rosie’s Rock, on the 7th tee of the South golf course.
While the weather’s almost always good, some couples hedge their bets and book an indoor party; the resort recently added a second ballrooms in the main lodge; its floor-to-ceiling windows offer up to 250 guests front-and-center views of the namesake boulder pile. But most of the year you’d be safe to take it outside, maybe to Cocopelli, a circular gathering spot where you can organize tables around a fire pit, or the courtyard at El Pedregal, a freestanding complex next to the resort that looks like a piece of Morocco airlifted to Arizona.
There’s a glam new look and lots of socializing space in the main lodge’s Discover Lounge, which opens to an outdoor patio and beehive fireplace for crisp nights. (Note: The Chipotle Pineapple Margarita deserves special attention.) Or if you crave more privacy, take that party of yours to the 5-bedroom Villa Retreat, where you can stay up late and howl at the moon.