SCOTTSDALE – From service to food to crazy beautiful pools and great golf, The Phoenician is a resort that stands the test of time.
I recently had a couple nights at the hotel, just a few minutes from downtown Scottsdale and close to the airport in Phoenix. And I loved it.
You pull into the place feeling special, cruising past one of Arizona’s most beautiful golf courses and winding your way to the foot of Camelback Mountain. The valets are quick and efficient and friendly, even if you arrive in an Uber driver’s Hyundai instead of a Porsche 911 convertible.
It’s a Luxury Collection Resort by Starwood with a five-diamond rating from the American Automobile Association and Canadian Auto Association, so it’s not surprising to see great touches such as free copies of the New York Times and other amenities. But it’s nice.
Rooms have been recently redone in an elegant style. My room was roomy enough for a small family, probably 450-500 square feet, and featured a great king-sized bed and a sofa with sort blue and white cushions and neutral, sand-coloured drapes and carpeting. The colours reflected the light of the desert in morning or at sunset, but without going overboard. And there was a large verandah with a small sofa and a table and chairs so I could look out at the hills and the swimming pool and a vast, deep green lawn.
The bathrooms are large and glamorous enough for a Hollywood starlet. Way beyond what I need but very welcome.
I was in the main building but I walked around and checked out the casitas, which feature fabulous furnishings and outdoor patios with tables and chairs and a gas fire pit that’s wonderful for cool Arizona evenings.
The Phoenician spa is one of the top-rated facilities in the state. Treatments include a warm spice rub and massage, featuring nutmeg, cardamom and mandarin orange, followed by a warm coconut oil foot rub, as well as The Phoenician’s Finest Facial. They’ll even tell your fortune with Tarot cards if you like.
The Mother of Pearl main pool is a real stunner; a broad, sweeping affair that affords great views of Camelback Mountains. You can rent a bright yellow cabana for the day if you really want to indulge. Kids and families should definitely check out the Surge Splash Pad, with water cannons, misty waterfalls and more.
I really loved my short walk around the orchid waterfall, too; an unexpected splash of colour surrounded by towering trees and local cactus, too.
I didn’t get a chance to try the main restaurant or dine out on the wonderful terrace that overlooks the grounds and the pool. But I did stop in at Relish for a locally brewed IPA and a truly fantastic burger. I had the Cowboy Burger (hey, when in Scottsdale….) with, wait for it, fried onion rings, pickled jalapenos, sharp Cheddar cheese, bacon and yummy, house-made steak sauce. A truly fantastic burger that came on a house-made brioche bun with crunchy, perfect tater tots on the side; a real throwback treat.
Other food options include J & G Steakhouse (perfect for dinner after a round of golf) and Il Terrazzo for Italian. Il Terrazzo specialties include roasted tomato and fennel bisque, veal and black garlic meatballs and even a vegan “osso buco.” They also do an Italian market brunch on Sunday that looks a huge treat, with everything from lemon ricotta waffles to artisan cheeses, hand-made sausage and pasta and a catch of the day. Sign me up for that next time, for sure.
The night after my Relish Burger dinner I had my coffee and a scone from the Phoenician coffee shop on my hotel room verandah, watching the sun set the desert sky ablaze in shades of purple, pink and blue and casting a brilliant orange light on the hills of Papago Park to the south.
The golf course at The Phoenician is actually three nine-hole courses put together, which gives golfers a great variety. The course snakes its way through the beautiful Scottsdale desert, with the lush green fairways providing a stunning contrast to the golden rocks and towering mountains. The Phoenician layout has been voted among the top 75 Golf Resorts in America by Golf Digest.
You’re very close to downtown Scottsdale, where you’ll find great shopping, galleries and a couple tasting rooms for surprisingly good Arizona wines. LDV has a great patio and lovely red wines, while Carlson Creek makes a wide variety of tasty wines.