Presents to wrap up to your ears? School concerts and holiday parties sneaking in at every turn? Or, perhaps you’re already looking ahead to the mounds of discarded decorative paper for which you so arduously labored. Whether you’re seeking a remedy for the stress that can often manifest before or right after the winter holidays, pack your bag(s) and head to the J.W. Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort and Spa.  

Right now is the perfect time to take advantage of holiday rates and specials in both accommodations and spa treatments. The Desert Ridge Hotel and Spa is the perfect place for a one-or-two night reprieve from holiday madness — either before or after Christmas. And, if you weren’t in the winter spirit prior to going to this mammoth of a property, you will be when you leave. 

The magic of Pastry Chef Chris Cwierz is the first thing your eyes will land upon when entering the lobby. Instead of visions of sugar plums, Cwierz brought his vision of a 400-square-foot “North Pole” and similarly-sized “Penguin Playground” display to life. 

With a staggering 200 pounds sugar, 1,500 pounds frosting/icing, 800 pounds of candy, 2,500 pounds of chocolate, 1,000 pounds of butter, 800 pounds of flour, 1,800 pounds of powdered sugar, 1,000 pounds of spices, and more, Cwierz’s penguins, a seal, walrus and other winter wonderland creatures are a marvel to behold. And, fair warning — the winter wonderland will make you crave a gingerbread and a sugar cookie like no body’s business. 

And, speaking of cookies, if you decide to bring the family for a winter getaway, Cwierz shared that every Sunday, the Desert Ridge Resort and Spa hosts a pastry-oriented activity for kids. 

There are a host of other activities for kids to share as well, including a resident Elf on the Shelf who appears (and disappears) throughout the property. 

Now, for those of you, like me — who want to escape for a hot minute (kid-free) — take a girlfriend, boyfriend or simply yourself … and enjoy the beautifully lit trees, decorations and peace the property offers.

Use the adult time to indulge in one of the spa’s winter-themed specials. For example, you can ditch dry winter skin, for soft, luxuriousness with the current Vanilla-Chai Body Treatment. Tell “Pam” that Erin sent you. Revitalize in the eucalyptus steam room and sip a hot tea in one of the spa’s many serenity spots. After 50 minutes of the most tantalizing aromas and much-needed relaxation, head over to the Stonegrill for a bite. 

The Stonegrill is one of several restaurants on property, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You must get the calamari and shrimp appetizer for dinner and be sure to ask about seasonal signature offerings. Treat your tastebuds to the cinnamon and sugar buñuelos for breakfast after a restful evening. 

Although you may be perfectly content simply snuggling in your king-size comfy bed after a day of pre or post-holiday shopping at nearby Desert Ridge hot spots or a luxury spa experience, there are plenty of activities to take advantage of. From the Palmer Signature Course at the Wildfire Golf Club or one of the 12 property pickleball courts to restorative yoga and TRX suspension fitness classes, there is no shortage of ways to fill your time and diffuse stress.