Vacay.ca occasionally publishes articles on destinations outside of Canada. Vacay.ca Writer Tara Henley uncovers a few luxurious – and tasty – gems in Arizona.
Story by Tara Henley
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA — An old haunt of the Hollywood elite, Scottsdale is experiencing a renaissance. With its luxury resorts and thriving outdoor adventure and culinary scenes – not to mention 330 days of sunshine a year – Scottsdale is a major draw for Canadians heading south.
Stars began flocking to this stunning Southwest outpost back in 1956 when Hotel Valley Ho opened. The iconic, mid-century modern gem was designed by Edward L. Varney, a Frank Lloyd Wright protégé, and was considered the height of chic. Owners Robert and Evelyn Froehl were fixtures in Old Hollywood high society and when they made the move to Arizona their famous friends followed, eager to wine, dine and soak up the sunshine. Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner loved this desert oasis so much that they overstayed their 1957 wedding reception in the hotel’s ballroom and had to chase down the train taking them on their honeymoon.
Sixty years later, this storied property celebrated its anniversary with a $4 million-dollar renovation and is now playing host to the next generation of La La Land boldfaced names, from Katy Perry to Hugh Jackman. You’ll feel like a celebrity too in your Tower Suite, where you can entertain guests in your hip living room lounge, sunbathe on your private terrace or fix a smoothie in your fully-equipped kitchen.
Another great option for those looking for a little pampering? The tony Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North. This magnificent AAA Five Diamond property offers an ideal home base for vacationers interested in outdoor activities. Guests can walk straight from their rooms onto trails to the 150-acre Pinnacle Peak Park, a satisfying trek offering sweeping views of the desert. When you return, hit the spa for a Healing Hiker’s massage, or head out for an exquisite meal at dusk on the patio of upscale steakhouse Talavera. We can’t recommend their warm bread knots enough.
For those looking to get out into nature, Scottsdale offers plentiful opportunities. You simply can’t beat a vigorous sunrise hike on Camelback Mountain (be sure to bring lots of water!). Better yet, hook up with the awesome tour company Arizona Outback Adventures – which has a partnership with the Four Seasons – and kayak the Lower Salt River, where you might be lucky enough to spot wild horses.
AOA also offers guided mountain bikes and hikes, exploring the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, a 30,000-acre protected, sustainable desert habitat, and one of the largest urban preserves in America. The preserve is supported by a non-profit, the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, which draws on more than 600 volunteers as stewards for the 180 miles of trails. McDowell is home to more than 730 different native plants and animals. One might spot exotic wildlife like chuckwalla lizards, big-eared bats, sharp-shinned hawks, desert cottontail rabbits, collared coyotes, tortoises and northern black-tailed rattlesnakes. It’s also home to a diverse array of plant life (think: gorgeous blooming cactuses and the most fragrant brush imaginable).
Scottsdale boasts an impressive foodie scene. At the Old Town Farmer’s Market, one can find an array of delights, including homemade pomegranate jelly, luscious heirloom tomatoes, fresh-baked artisan bread and goat milk body butter. After touring local purveyors, stroll to Cartel Coffee Lab for an out-of-this-world Americano and Cowboy Cookie.
For lunch, you’ll definitely want to try Elements at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, a glamorous resort famous for hosting Jay-Z and Beyoncé on their honeymoon. The Asian-infused cuisine at Elements is superb; the Miso Salmon Spa Bento Box proves a perfect light lunch. Add to that: the staff are all friendly epicures who love nothing more than a good chat about food. Enjoy a leisurely meal, gazing out at the swank pool and imagining yourself swimming next to Bey-Z, and then head indoors for a massage in Sanctuary’s world-class spa.
For dinner, you’re also not going to want to miss paying a visit to Hearth ’61 in the newly-opened Mountain Shadows resort. The heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad at this local, seasonal outfit is nothing short of transcendent. Fans of Latin flavour will also want to fit in The Mission in Old Town; their Crispy Pork with Cola Lime Glaze is legendary. And your must-visit list could never be complete without the cozy gastropub FnB, a farm-to-table eatery serving fresh, creative menus sourced from local ingredients, paired with an extensive collection of Arizona wines. A leisurely three-hour dinner at FnB – including mind-blowing soft scrambled duck eggs with hedgehog mushrooms and buttered toast – is an ideal way to wind up your spectacular Southwest getaway.
MORE ABOUT SCOTTSDALE
Experience Scottsdale Website: https://www.experiencescottsdale.com
Visit Arizona Website: www.visitarizona.com
Visit Arizona Scottsdale Site: https://www.visitarizona.com/cities/phoenix-and-central/scottsdale