I Drove an Escalade on an Adventure Through the Arizona Desert and I’ll Never Be the Same

·6 min read
Photo credit: Matt Risdon
Photo credit: Matt Risdon


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My boyfriend and I have been to Arizona exactly two times. Our first foray into the state took place last March, when our flight from Palm Springs to Phoenix was delayed. We missed our connecting flight to JFK, so we had the privilege of staying at a questionable hotel in Tempe for less than 12 hours. The airline left our baggage (and pajamas) back in Palm Springs, so we tucked ourselves into sheets that seemed to be made of printing paper and called it a night.

Four months later, when Cadillac invited us to join them in Phoenix for a weekend at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa and an adventure in the Escalade V-Series, we decided that this would be an opportunity to redeem Arizona’s reputation once and for all. The Arizona redemption tour began with a tequila tasting, so it was already off to a good start, and continued with exploring the most amazing architecture in the middle of the desert and then decompressing with some more cocktails by the hotel pool. Sounds blissful, right?

If you wanna copy our itinerary, here’s what to do in Phoenix in order to really lean into those desert vibes.

Heads-up: The editor received a comped stay, meals, flights, and activities for ~researching~ this trip.

What You’re Bringing

We arrived to temperatures in the low 100s (yes, you read that correctly) and immediately stripped off as many layers of clothing as possible. Here’s what you might wanna bring with you if you decide to follow in our footsteps:

What You’re Sipping

After we unpacked and opened a generous gift box from Cadillac packed with Ray-Ban sunglasses and La Mer sunscreen and lip balm, we joined the other guests and Cadillac reps in the lobby for a tequila tasting that I’m still thinking about, tbh. In addition to sampling some Casamigos, we drank Clase Azul Reposado (so! smooth!) and Clase Azul Guerrero Mezcal. Depending on where you buy that mezcal, a bottle can cost you between $600 and $700. If you’re not sold on mezcal as a spirit, a sip of this will absolutely convert you. Um, quick PSA to also hydrate out there, bc it’s usually at least 100 degrees with almost a zero percent chance of rain in Phoenix.

But back to the cocktails for one moment—you can’t leave the Royal Palms without taking a dip in the pool and lounging near the poolside bar. The staff hooks guests up with custom cocktails that go well beyond your regular poolside piña or ice-cold marg (the vodka limoncello mule is a must-try). You’re welcome for that tip.

How You’re Relaxing

Cadillac set us up with spa treatments of our choice the following morning. I picked a massage because I often sit like a shrimp at my desk and can use a little help detangling my spine. The Alvadora Spa at the Royal Palms was such a delight too. While you’re waiting for your treatment, you can traipse in your comfy robe between the steam room, the indoor lounge, and the outdoor lounge where you can bask in the sun like a cat. My massage therapist detoxed me of all most of my demons and I left feeling refreshed enough to do some driving.

How You’re Getting Around

For the first half of the day, we each got our own Cadillac CT4-V to drive from our spa treatments out to Arcosanti (more on that later) in the middle of the desert. The CT4-V is compact and plush with a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound system. It infuses Cadillac’s racing DNA for a super-fun sedan experience. Also, the grills on it are dope. On the way back, we were in for a big treat. At the end of our tour at Arcosanti (I swear I’ll get to that part in a second), we walked out to a fleet of Escalade V-Series that legitimately looked like something out of a music video.

Photo credit: Matt Risdon
Photo credit: Matt Risdon

I mean, holy moly! Look at those things! I am a little afraid of driving big cars, as I established on my Stowe, Vermont ski trip, so I had to put on my big-girl pants and focus on how cool I looked to everyone on the highway beside me. The 2023 Escalade V-Series delivers 682 horsepower, a fancy way of saying that it can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. It’s also equipped with one of the best sound systems in the game. The coolest feature was Super Cruise, the first true hands-free driving-assistance technology for compatible roads. Yup, it’s like cruise control on steroids. It can even tell you when it’s a good time to change lanes and initiate the move while following signaling protocols. While you can take your hands off the wheel while using Super Cruise, you’ve gotta keep your eye on the road at all times, obv.

Where You’re Exploring

Our big destination of the day was Arcosanti, an ~experimental~ town in the heart of the desert started by the Cosanti Foundation in 1970. According to the town’s website, “Arcosanti is an attempt at a prototype arcology, integrating the design of architecture with respect to ecology.” Aka all the structures work with the natural elements of the earth below them and around them to regulate light, wind flow, and temperature. Now, Arcosanti has a small community of adults and children who live there year-round. Its residents are employed by the Cosanti Foundation to help maintain and expand Arcosanti, and they each have their own roles in the community. Art students also come for residencies throughout the year because it’s just that eye-catching.

Photo credit: Matt Risdon
Photo credit: Matt Risdon

The architecture is pretty incredible. If you have any interest in staying there, you can book the Sky Suite for $172 per night (highly recommend!).

Photo credit: Matt Risdon
Photo credit: Matt Risdon

Another bucket-list item: Check out Taliesin West while you’re in the area. It was architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and studio from 1937 until 1959. He designed the home with a connection to the desert in mind, as it’s located in Scottsdale, Arizona overlooking the suburb of Paradise Valley. The walls were made of desert rocks and the rooms were tailored to natural light. We were able to tour his drafting room, the cabaret theater, and the music pavilion. Outside the house itself, the Chihuly desert botanical garden exhibit sparkled in the last light before sundown, setting the perfect scene for our last night in AZ.

The Final Verdict

Okay, so we have officially converted to being Arizona stans. Although the weather was hot (if you want a reprieve from the insane heat, the time to go to Phoenix would probably be November, December, or January), the drinks at the pool were capital-C cool. One thing that’s guaranteed to wash all your cares away is a piña colada with a rum floater—and also a deep tissue massage after trekking around in the hot sun all day. But the highlight we’ll never forget is dramatically kicking up sand as we skrrt skrrted away into the desert in the V-Series. We get it now, Phoenix. We get it.

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