“They’re calling for another 8-14 inches in the mountains…”
“…what a Colorado Spring looks like…”
“Denver just noted a record low this May…”
“Aspen Skiing Company is planning to re-open Ajax Mountain for Memorial Day skiing!”
I know that, for many, Spring Skiing is the ultimate paradise found in the mountains: warmer temps, decent snow at higher elevations, fewer layers, beers on deck following hours of total pleasure. But, in order to grab some Spring Skiing, Winter has to end. Unfortunately, Winter didn’t get the note that it was time to wrap-it-up. FEET of snow has continued to fall well into May this year…creating a paradise for some and a pseudo-depressive hell for others (i.e. me).
So, to clear the mental and emotional funk, we packed up the family to find warmer temps in mid-May. In hopes that we would return to a grassy (albeit, mostly, wet and muddy) yard and a clear-of-ice deck and driveway, we booked a 3-night stay at The Phoenician in Scottsdale. Because, the desert ALWAYS has sun, groomed golf courses, at-the-ready pools and poolside cocktails, right? It was this slice of heaven that I was looking forward to, promising to grant a bit of rejuvenation and relaxation.
Phoenix/Scottsdale has to be one of the easiest oases to access from Aspen and/or Denver. By car (a mere 10 hrs) or by air (the sane choice), the desert location offers a wonderful weekend getaway for golfers, shoppers and diners (amazing selection of options!). TripAdvisor highlights the spa experience, as well: “Scottsdale has more spas per capita than any other city in the U.S.—so whether you’re looking for the latest medi-spa technology or a new-agey, bohemian vibe, there’s sure to be something for you.”
We arrived in the late morning and welcomed the dry, warm breeze. Often, by the time May approaches, temps are starting to average in the 90’s; golfers play early rounds, shoppers tend to flock to the luxury Fashion Mall with its air-conditioned halls (versus outdoor venues) and diners opt for dining outdoors only after dark. But, we were lucky this weekend! While Colorado was still calling for snow, the Phoenix area was calling for cooler days in the high 80’s. Paradise found! We got a quick Uber to The Phoenician and had our swimsuits, in hand, to hit the pools as soon as we checked in.
On October 1, 1988, The Phoenician opened its doors for the first time, inviting travelers to experience the wonders of the Sonoran Desert while enjoying a luxurious resort setting. Thirty years later, The Phoenician is an established destination for visitors worldwide, building an iconic legacy since its opening. 2017 marked the first time The Phoenician underwent extensive renovations, transforming the resort into modern elegance and introducing new concepts while maintaining the luxury experience.
The Phoenician offers three distinctive experiences: The Phoenician, The Canyon Suites and The Phoenician Residences. Nestled at the base of Camelback Mountain, the Forbes Five-Star/AAA Five Diamond Canyon Suites is an exclusive 60-room boutique hotel located at The Phoenician, providing guests with a 5-star experience from arrival to departure. Surrounded by 250 acres of lush emerald foliage and dramatic desert, Phoenician Residences is an exquisite timeshare community offering a number of exquisite floor plans, each perfectly capturing the spirit of the Sonoran desert. And, of course, The Phoenician Hotel (our choice for our miraculous weekend of warmth): from its curated, retreat-like ambiance, to its iconic hospitality, The Phoenician is dedicated to making each moment a collectible experience.
New restaurant concepts, a brand-new, three-story spa, a 4,600+ square foot state-of-the-art fitness center and a re-configured golf course (designed down from 27 holes to 18 holes) round out some of the beautiful amenities, on-site. With so many amazing and fresh options to choose from, you’d think our cold brains might have had difficulty making our first move towards fun. Untrue. The pools called and we listened. The Phoenician staff noted that the resort was sold out and that a call would be made to us – at the pool – when our rooms were ready. They stored our bags and escorted us to the changing rooms, offering also a map of the resort and a suggestion for an immediate lunch option.
We settled into the sun and the kids, literally, catapulted themselves into the expansive, blue pool that calmly lay before a civilized group of families. Fortunately, by that time (noon-ish), the cocktails were starting to be delivered, bento boxes of Mediterranean-inspired cuisine from poolside Kalio Kabobery were being ordered, modern music was playing and the warmth was starting to transform minds to a more peaceful state. The snow and cold were a thing of the past…for now.
And, for the next three days, we maintained our sacred spot at the pools, moving locations only to experience a new pool (2 family inclusive and 1 adult-only) or kid-friendly escape (including, but not limited to, a 197 ft. twisting water slide, a suspension bridge and tree house complete with swaying bridge, a splash pad with spray-guns, falling buckets of water and shooting water spouts).
In between our cool dips, we were able to enjoy a few other Phoenician hot spots. My husband played a round of golf on the redesigned course (falling out of bed at 5:30 am for a 6:30 am tee time – and so happy to do so!), I attacked the gym for one, quiet workout (rare these days) and the kids attacked the game room which is a bonus space in the extreme heat, I would assume. The spa was completely sold out; I would recommend booking ANY treatment in this place of requiescence. I was able to, quitely, tour the facility; I needed to prepare for my return and have now planned to come back for a girls trip!! This spa is one where you spend at least 2 days getting pampered and drunk on Rosé (did I say that out loud?) in the desert heat. Perfection.
The kids, easily, knocked out for naps in the afternoon, allowing us to plan evenings out. Scottsdale has an outstanding menu of restaurants and entertainment venues. And, if you have a week to spend in the desert, I suggest you get out and experience as many different flavors as possible! But, with kids in tow – and 3 days to soak-up as much sun and relaxation as possible – we decided to stay on-resort for the entirety of our mini-vacay.
The Phoenician has three wonderful restaurants:
Located adjacent to the golf course, polished pub grub and craft beers are popular among resort guests and locals, alike. It’s a lively atmosphere for lunch, dinner and happy hour on the indoor-outdoor bar patio.
Note: New Dueling Pianos performances take place every Saturday complete with chart-topping hits and talented performers! Each performance blends live music entertainment with interactive commentary and comedy for a well-rounded night of fun. We got to enjoy a tribute to Elton John!
Mowry & Coton
It’s the HOT, hipster-themed, regionally inspired American fare, community-driven “third place” that fuels conversation and delivers comfort in food and ambiance. Fire-roasted flatbreads or house-crafted buttermilk buns and savory french fries (we ate our fill!) are all unique and instagram-worthy; specially chosen red and white wines complement a variety of menu choices and robust flavors.
VIEWS, VIEWS, VIEWS. Come for the view, stay for the food. New menu items such as the Wagyu Tomahawk Ribeye, Rack of Lamb and Alaskan King Crab Legs are matched by innovative twists on a variety of cocktail classics, such as the Fiery Mandarin, a spicy take on the traditional Cosmo. With refinished fire pits, expanded seating on modern “string” chairs and the addition of ceiling fans, the scenic outdoor patio has also been transformed, serving as a year-round alfresco dining destination.
We spent our days noshing on kabobs by the pool and nights delighting in fabulous dishes from the varied dining spots. By using a local nanny service (A Caring Nanny LLC), my husband and I were also able to enjoy a special Campagne Saturday in the tea room, lobby level. Many locals have started to attend this special event to celebrate birthdays/anniversaries and discuss their completed “read” with their book clubs. It’s fun to be part of a local scene and enjoy a menu of small bites (coconut breaded lobster tail, cheese board, beef wellington, dark chocolate truffles) and bubbly. There were three choices in champagne; we went with the Ruinart, Blanc de Blanc, and left earlier than we should have. Our server, generously, kept our glasses full. Maybe, we left just in time! We had kids in the room to get back to.
There was no reason to leave the resort; we were able to “dress” for dinner and receive memorable service with our incredible meals! The refreshed grounds allowed for ample discovery and simple fun. The resort stays true to its desert environment and highlights the natural landscape, beautifully. Families are truly welcomed and cared for, in every area of well-being. Virginia Woolf has said, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Boy, did we get some vacation therapy at The Phoenician. All areas of need were covered…and, covered well.
Hospitality by The Phoenician
Clothing by Ujala Design
“Ujala” translates as “To Illuminate”. Timeless and effective, every individual piece is crafted with an eye for detail and a love of vibrant colors and fine fabrics. Looking east for inspiration, Ujala settled on the undeniably fabulous craftsmanship India has to offer and its long history of being a dominant leader in the industry, to bring forth something distinctively unique and charming.