Enjoy Splendor in the Sonoran Desert in Scottsdale

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The sprawling Phoenician Hotel stands against the backdrop of the Camelback Mountains. Photo courtesy of The Phoenician. 

They say it’s hot as the blazes in Scottsdale. But a little heat can save you big bucks on that luxury vacation you’ve only dreamed about. With rates an average of 60% off peak season, you can have a blast for a steal and forget about that three-digit number on the thermometer. Check out ItsThatHot.com for easy, breezy trip-planning with everything from hot resort rates to chill experiences. Come seek your serenity in Scottsdale this summer. 

The Phoenician – A Luxury Resort Collection, Scottsdale 

After undergoing a 3-year renovation of the entire property, the AAA Five Diamond  Phoenician is ready to welcome guests back to a true luxury experience. Choose from a range of accommodations…more than 600 spectacular guest rooms/suites as well as 60-Canyon Suites with exclusive services, private pools and cabanas. Guests who crave recreation can hang out at the Phoenician Athletic Club,  a new two-story facility that blends innovative, modern fitness with pure, recreational fun. Play tennis, pickleball, work out or have a blast in the game room. Like to hit the greens? Prepare for a premier golf experience at the 18-hole Phoenician Golf Club, showcasing the unique beauty of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. Got kids? Bring ’em along for a full schedule of activities like Stuff-A-Bear, crafts, donut decorating. That’s if you can get them to leave the Kids Zone pool with tree house, swaying bridge, splash pad and twisting waterslide.  

Dine Divine 

Hungry?  The Phoenician offers eight different venues that feature sumptuous steaks, bold, American cuisine and poolside options. 

Signature Buttermilk Biscuits from Chef’ Peterson’s family recipe. Photo by Mira Temkin.

At Mowry & Cotton, you’ll discover a casual, yet refined dining experience that combines bold, simple flavors of Modern American cuisine with traditional cooking under fire, coal and smoke. Chef Tandy Peterson’s approach uses the large, hearth oven that that stands as the focal point of the restaurant for breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. I tried the Charred Hanger Steak with wild mushroom, pickled blueberry and sunflower pesto which was rich and succulent.  Save room for the warm S’mores Pie. 

The Spa of Spas

This new, three-story Phoenician Spa brings a contemporary approach to relaxation, fitness and beauty. Offering a range of treatments, therapies and salon services using desert botanicals, the spa is all about feeling totally relaxed. I had a Personal Remedy facial and came away with skin that felt fresh and rejuvenated. Afterwards, I relaxed by the rooftop pool with mountain views, feeling at one with the desert. Visit the Drybar for a blowout/hair styling, nail salon; aromatherapy blending bar and the fitness center for personal training.

Sip and Savor at LDV Winery

Wine concierge Grant Gibson at the LDV Tasting Room. Photo by Mira Temkin.

Arizona is known for producing some of the country’s best wines. How about a tasting to prove it? Head to LDV Winery in downtown Scottsdale for a pairing of their finest vintages. While their vineyard is located in the Chiricahua Mountains in Southeastern, Arizona, you can enjoy their hand-crafted, estate-grown Rhone-varietal wines by the glass or bottle right there in town. Sample the charceuterie or a plate of “little bites” to munch on while you’re sipping on the patio. Grant Gibson, wine concierge, explained how the volcanic soil of the region as well as the high elevation contributes to the wine’s unique flavors. What’s more, LDV is also Arizona’s only vegan winery. 

Dining Recommendations
The Herb Box

Share the Brussel Sprouts Chips. Photo by Mira Temkin.


Chimichurri Beef Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Fries and Happy Garden Salad is plentiful and delicious. Photo by Mira Temkin.

Plan to be wowed at this farm-to-table restaurant where you can watch the food being prepared through the outside window at the Herb Box. Savory twists on tried-and-true cuisine along with fresh, seasonal ingredients combine regional flavors with uber-creativity. We started with the Crisp Brussel Sprouts Chips, served with yellow pepper aioli. Dee-lish and healthy, too. I dined on the Chimichurri Beef Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Fries and Happy Garden Salad, which was plentiful and delicious. The Herb Box is known for its shared plates, bowls and flatbreads. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Farm & Craft

Sesame Cashew Salad with Zucchini Noodles. Photo by Mira Temkin.

Think sustainable, gluten-free and organic food and you’ve got the focus of Farm & Craft community-style dining. They believe in a seasonal Wellness Menu that drives four paths to optimal health. Try the Wild Mushroom Flatbread with caramelized onions, sesame cashew salad or a roasted beets bowl for great taste and nutrients. The Kombucha Cocktails are out of this world. 

Postino’s Wine Bar, Highland

Raspberry Chicken Salad with side salad. Photo by Mira Temkin.

Continuing to expand their locations, Postino’s Highland is the newest jewel in the crown. Housed inside a restored midcentury modern bank, Postino’s Wine Bar is the perfect place to sip and savor. Famous for their luscious bruschetta, we chose the Brie, Apple and Fig Spread, Ricotta, Dates and Pistachio, Artichoke Spread and Smoked Salmon and Pesto. Everything was fresh and delicious. For my entrée, I opted for the Raspberry Chicken Salad sandwich. Pair your meal with one of Wine Merchant Brent’s picks for wine or beer and you’ve got a scrumptious meal. 

Wonderspaces – It’s Virtual Art and More 

A really cool place to hang out is Wonderspaces, a year-round, evolving art show featuring extraordinary artwork from around the world and it’s all inside Scottsdale Fashion Square. This interactive, Instagram-friendly series of installations is the first permanent location of the popular art pop-up. My favorite was the Virtual Reality movie where a dog jumped into my boat as I drifted along. Really? 

Photo courtesy of Wonderspaces.

Shoot for the Moon at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Located on 65 acres in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, you’ll find the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, a AAA Five Diamond luxury resort blended with a super, family-friendly environment. Known for its uncompromising standards of excellence, the luxury resort features five distinctive restaurants and lounges, two Tournament Players Club golf courses, Well & Being Spa, five heated outdoor swimming pools, including Sonoran Splash with two waterslides, and five tennis courts. Kids will also dig the Trailblazers Kids Club with an array of activities, where they can play in the high-tech hangout as well as family-friendly evening “dive-in” movies. 

Check out the Ironwood American Kitchen which serves all-day fare in a warm and inviting atmosphere overlooking the resort’s South Pool. The menu features a variety of hearty, wood-fired specialties such as flatbread pizzas, sandwiches and oven roasted nachos, as well as mixing bowl salads and chef Sean Mayhew’s famous Bechamel-drizzled potato chips. Take time to watch the exhibition kitchen and interact with Mayhew and his team. 

View of the Iron Kitchen overlooking the pool

Shoot for the Moon at the #Fairmont Princess. Photo by Mira Temkin.

Through Labor Day, the Fairmont Princess blasts families around the galaxy during Outta This World Summer #AtThePrincess. Go to the moon and back through astronomical adventures. Reach for the stars with action-packed space-themed activities and nights brimming with alien encounters and rocket-fueled fun! With rates starting at $199, the newly renovated Princess packs in fun for the whole crew.

Dine at Scottsdale’s best Mexican restaurant

Under the direction of Chef Richard Sandoval, La Hacienda at the Princess serves the best Mexican cuisine in Scottsdale. Look for innovative flavors featuring seasonal, indigenous ingredients. Sandoval’s philosophy embraces the concept of “Old Ways, New Hands”, sharing old classics in exciting new ways. Emphasis is on tableside preparation to delight your senses, starting with guacamole. Local favorites include grilled skirt steak served with cactus pico, fajitas and barbecued seabass or short ribs. End with their iconic flaming coffee, served tableside, with tequila, coffee, cream, cinnamon in an unforgettable presentation.

Hit the water!

Photo courtesy of REI

Think you can’t kayak or raft in Scottsdale? Head out to Salt River just 20 minutes outside the city and you’ll find there’s no shortage of outdoor adventure in the Arizona desert. Check out REI-Co-op for a full itinerary of challenging and educational adventure trips, including guided tours, mountain biking, curated experiences and more, on the water and off. Let their nature experts show you their knowledge of the Sonoran Desert as you bike, raft and kayak the great outdoors. We kayaked down the Lower Salt River and basked in the serenity of the clear waters. Blue herons and bald eagles flew overhead with exquisite views of four different mountain ranges. We hit the jackpot when we spotted a group of wild horses grazing in the shallow waters. 

Go True North at Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West

Photo by Mira Temkin

The spirit of the American West is alive and well at the nation’s best Western museum and Smithsonian affiliate. Explore the outstanding art exhibits, rare Old West artifacts and movie posters that bring Western heritage to life. My fave was the collection of saddles, which made me wonder about the adventures the riders had seen. You’ll get a feel for the culture of cowboys and Native Americans who settled this country. Walking distance of numerous art galleries and restaurants.

Scottsdale’s Newest Dining, Shopping, Entertainment Scene — Arizona Boardwalk

This is the place to play! Arizona Boardwalk features eight different attractions with more than 10 shops and restaurants. 

Go Deep at OdySea Aquarium 

Photo courtesy of Experience Scottsdale

The 16-acre complex is the largest aquarium in the Southwest and the fourth largest in America, all developed by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Featuring high-tech, high-entertainment, oceanic adventure with floor-to-ceiling windows, you can view aquatic life many fun ways. SeaTREK was way cool, where you descend deep into the water and meet marine life face to face, if you dare! The OdySea Voyager takes you on a rotating aquarium experience with sea turtles, sea lions and sharks. You can even watch the actual feeding. Check out the award-winning bathrooms for more surprises.

Butterfly Wonderland – A Rainforest Experience

Photo courtesy of Experience Scottsdale

What a feeling to walk into Butterfly Wonderland, the largest indoor butterfly conservatory in America and see thousands of butterflies flying freely. Get up close and personal with reptiles and amphibians, all in the magic of the rainforest. Be sure to catch the “Flight of the Butterflies” movie in their immersive 3D theater.

Plan your trip to Scottsdale soon. For more information, go to ExperienceScottsdale.com. 

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