Desert Dreams

Scottsdale delivers plenty of great getaways

Posted on Jan. 11, 2017

Desert Dreams

Saguaro cactus blankets the Sonoran Desert

It’s Friday night in Cave Creek, just outside of Scottsdale, Arizona, where it feels like the whole town has turned out to watch bull riding and mutton busting at the Buffalo Chip Saloon. The crowd hoots and hollers as each pint-sized rider in protective gear tries to hang on to a wild and woolly sheep, only to tumble to the arena’s dirt floor in a few seconds. The mini-rodeo is just part of the entertainment at the family-friendly roadhouse, where a band plays twangy country music and patriotic songs as ranchers, cowboys, and even grandmothers in rhinestone-studded heels gather for barbecue and beer.

Just an hour’s flight from San Diego, Scottsdale, in the Sonoran Desert, is a modern mecca of luxury retreats, world-class golf, top restaurants, art galleries, shopping, and spas. New luxury resorts include the recently opened Hyatt Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa and the soon-to-come Mountain Shadows Resort in Paradise Valley. The Canyon Suites at the Phoenician, a boutique hotel within a resort, has received rave reviews for luxury and personal service since its redesign debuted in August. The AAA Five Diamond, Forbes Five-Star hotel has spacious suites with large balconies overlooking the pool, a golf course, and nearby mountains. Take a relaxed guided golf cart tour of the two-acre Phoenician Cactus Garden, or challenge yourself on the trails that wind up Camelback Mountain, with its dramatic desert views. Afterward, sit by the resort’s pools or book a “Desert Serenity Scrub, Wrap and Massage” at The Phoenician’s Centre for Well Being.

Desert Dreams

A room with a view at The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician

Also top-rated is the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, where the 150-acre Pinnacle Peak offers a stunning backdrop for golfing, horseback riding, rock climbing, and hiking. The trail’s high point is 2,570 feet, with eagle’s-eye views of the valley below. The resort also offers relaxing pursuits. Practice sunrise salutations on the Troon lawn, lounge in a poolside cabana, or sample local spa treatments like the “Jojoba and Prickly Pear Body Polish.” Sip a Mezcal cocktail on the patio as you savor the brilliant Sonoran sunset. Dine later at Talavera, known for fresh produce and Arizona ranch-raised meats such as buffalo tenderloin with mole Oaxaqueno.

If you can bear to leave your resort, the Scottsdale area offers plenty. Tour Taliesin West, once the winter home of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, now a museum, architecture school, and National Historic Landmark. Scottsdale’s 30,000-acre McDowell Sonoran Preserve is filled with mountains, mesas, and the mighty saguaro cactus so synonymous with the Sonoran. The preserve has 180 miles of trails to explore by foot, Segway, Jeep, or high aloft in a hot air balloon.

Visit Old Town Scottsdale for a taste of the Old West. It’s the place to buy authentic cowboy boots from the 85-year-old Saba’s, or some Native American jewelry and western-style souvenirs. Take a walking tour that includes a 1920 adobe blacksmith shop, or hop on a JoyRidesAZ golf cart for a guided trip through time.

Desert Dreams

Hiking in the Sonoran Desert at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North

Downtown’s historic Art District has dozens of galleries and a popular ArtWalk on Thursday nights. Explore local history and culture at Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. Sip Arizona wines at Carlson Creek, located in a former art gallery, in a tree-shaded outdoor patio at LDV Wine Gallery, or sample dozens of Arizona craft beers on tap at Craft 64 along with artisanal wood-fired pizzas.

Arizona Food Tours gives tasting tours of Scottsdale’s culinary scene. Book a table at such well-regarded local spots like Virtu Honest Craft, FnB, Bryan’s Black Mountain Barbecue, The Mission, and the just-opened Fat Ox Modern, for contemporary riffs on regional Italian cuisine. For late night cocktails, hit Counter Intuitive, with its ever-changing décor, menus, and themes.

Don’t miss the Scottsdale Old Town Farmer’s Market, on Saturday mornings in season, where you can sample raw honey from a local monastery, crisp Crimson Gold apples, and crusty Nobel country bread, and where the Phoenician’s Executive Chef Rick Boyer recently hosted a market tour. “As a chef, there is nothing more sacred than the product that comes through the back door,” says Boyer. “You have to handle the product right and treat it with respect.”

Cap off your culinary tour at Super Chunk Sweets & Treats, where “Mom and Pop” Sergio and Country Velador offer handcrafted confections like mesquite chocolate chip cookies — voted best in Arizona and worth every calorie. experiencescottsdale.com   Andrea Naversen

Desert Dreams

The Sonoran Desert surrounds the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North

 

Photography Courtesy Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau

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