Growing up in the Midwest, ice skating was a part of my childhood winter fun. Since fleeing Wisconsin for sunnier spots, I haven’t had the chance to strap on the skates until this year when ice skating blew into the desert like Jack Frost with bad GPS.
Yes, you read that right, ice skating outside in the desert. It may be 60 degrees during the day, but thanks to technology, winter fun has come to Scottsdale at several resorts around town.
The W Scottsdale is always on the cutting edge, so if they’re offering skating as the centerpiece to their winter offerings, you know it’s cool. Until Jan. 6, the WET pool is transformed into Chill,a 2,100 sq. ft. eco-friendly skating rink. Chill is a unique hybrid surface made of a recyclable polymer compound creating a synthetic ice that doesn’t require electricity to keep it frozen.
Skating on the surface is different than skating on real ice. Gliding is less fluid and you simply can’t skate as fast. On the night I was there, a local skating duo with Olympic aspirations performed for the crowd. Talking to them afterwards they confirmed that the surface takes some getting used to. That’s true for pro and amateur alike. Nearly everyone on the ice flustered before getting the rhythm of the new surface. While there wasn’t a lot of athletic prowess on display, the laughter would have scored a 10 from even the hard-nosed Russian judge!
Skating is available to guests and the general public from 4 pm to 10 pm Monday-Thursday, 4 pm to Midnight on Thursday and Friday, and from Noon to Midnight Saturday and Noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday. An hour of skating and skate rental is $10 or book the Stay, Play and Skate package with rates from $229/night including two ice skating sessions and two cool cocktails.
For skating purists, and more of a family-friendly vibe, check out the Desert Ice Skating Rink at the Fairmont Scottsdale. Here skaters have 5,400 sq. ft. of real ice to play on. Ironically the rink is constructed within the resorts cactus garden! Surrounding the rink are large light displays (over 500,000 lights adorn the resort) of a skating snowman and a menorah and dreidels.
On the real ice, skating felt like riding a bike. In just a few minutes I could move pretty quickly around the rink, even skating backwards. It was fun watching little kids, likely raised in Scottsdale, try and get their “ice” legs. Around the rink are seating areas, with blissfully warm fire pits and heat lamps (it’s surprisingly cold in the desert at night).
The rink is open until Jan. 6. Sunday-Thursday from 2-5 pm and from 6-9 pm and on Friday and Saturday from 2-5 pm and 7-10 pm. Adults $15, Children 12 and under $10. Skate rental is $5. A portion of all skating proceeds benefits the Phoenix Children’s Hospital.