Taliesin West.Greater Phoenix CVBBy Josephine Matyas

Vibrant, energetic and sophisticated. Three words that perfectly describe Scottsdale – the city in the Valley of the Sun known for resorts and spas that pamper, upscale shopping in malls and boutiques, and pure bliss on a seemingly-endless supply of golf greens.

In the early days, Scottsdale was a frontier town. Cowboys, ranchers and miners were settling the west – some searching the ground for valuable metals, others making their mark on the landscape by homesteading ranches and farms. As the town grew, the clear, dry air of the high desert attracted those following a healthy lifestyle – predecessors of today’s spa-goers came to Scottsdale to treat breathing ailments.

Today, Scottsdale is one of the most popular business and vacation destinations in the US. What started as a sleepy frontier settlement has been transformed into a happening place, a retirement retreat, a golfing Mecca and cultural hot spot.

ArtWalkScottsdale CVBArts & Culture Central
Sunny Scottsdale was once the winter retreat of America’s most famous architect, the visionary Frank Lloyd Wright, who built Taliesin West, his personal winter home and studio complex at the foot of the rugged McDowell Mountains. Public tours give a glimpse into what made Wright tick – his philosophies and theories of design, as well as the history of the spectacular site.

One of the nation’s premiere arts events, the Scottsdale Arts Festival, is described as the city’s “don’t miss” cultural event. Live music, an online art auction and the chance to admire and shop the work of 200 jury-selected artists has attracted visitors to the annual event for more than 40 years.

The Quad is the brand new, park-like public gathering space in the city district known as the Scottsdale Quarter. The Quad has become an entertainment hub – the spot to catch local choirs, bands and fashion shows; it’s also home to public art sculptures as well as the region’s largest pop-jet water fountain.

In downtown Scottsdale, the Thursday night ArtWalk has always drawn culture-vultures who pass an evening visiting almost two dozen galleries showcasing art in every style and medium. Artwalk has now expanded beyond Thursdays – with an interactive map and the colourful “ArtWalk the Line” street markers painted on the sidewalks, visitors can browse anytime, following the route from one gallery to the next.

The Arizona Fine Art EXPO, hosted by the Thunderbird Artists, brings together an impressive gathering of 100 award-winning artists working in all media – pen and ink, pastels, mosaics, sculpting clay, carving wood, mixed media on canvas, welding, sculpting jewelry, as well as working with materials from glass to stone and metals. The EXPO Artists’ Marketplace is a unique shopping experience for fine arts and distinctive crafts.

An appreciation of Native American art and culture runs deep at the Heard Museum North Scottsdale location, a branch of the internationally renowned Heard Museum in Phoenix. The Scottsdale location features two exhibit galleries of American Indian artwork, a new Interpretive Garden of native plants and special events like the annual Navajo Folk Festival.

Nothing is more convenient for visitors than to find information in one place! The Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Culture Quest Scottsdale is a guide to the city’s vibrant arts community, with listings for art galleries, museum exhibitions, special events and performing arts productions. For a copy of the guide, call (480) 421-1004.

Unlimited Shopping
Savvy shoppers know that thoroughly modern Scottsdale is synonymous with pampering, luxury and one-of-a-kind selection in the shops. The city is home to 5,500 stores, boutiques and outlets in a range of settings from tony enclaves to mega-malls – a selection that makes hardcore shoppers swoon.

Those with stamina head for the Scottsdale Fashion Square, the largest retail mall in the Southwest. With more than 240 stores, even the hardiest of shopping divas can become overwhelmed. There’s help on the horizon – new this year, shoppers can simply dial directly to the mall’s roving concierge to get advice on the when, how and where of the mall’s shopping highlights.

The Kierland Commons is an eclectic mix of shopping, dining and entertainment, including 70-upscale shops like Tommy Bahama, Crate & Barrel, Sur La Table and Coach. The outdoor, Main Street concept offers concierge amenities, including personal shopping services, package carry out service and valet parking.

The cobblestone walkways of the open-air shopping centre at The Borgata of Scottsdale are a taste of Tuscany in the midst of the Sonoran Desert. Fridays at The Borgata are known for the Old World ambience of outdoors markets and live music held in the courtyard.

In the heart of downtown, where Scottsdale was founded more than 150 years ago, the 150 shops and restaurants of western-themed Old Town Scottsdale, offer a wide variety of traditional, Southwest and trendy shopping finds.

The brand new Scottsdale Quarter provides a distinctly different shopping experience, with a neighbourhood feel inspired by streetscapes lined by unique shops, cafés and restaurants (many of which are opening in Arizona for the first time). Retailers like Apple, Williams-Sonoma and Armani Exchange have already opened their doors; others like Lululemon, Republic of Couture and Beach Bunny Swimwear will be arriving soon. The Scottsdale Quarter is also home to the new public gathering space known as The Quad.

SpaScottsdale CVBGet Thee To A Spa
Scottsdale’s creative spirit spreads beyond the galleries and beyond the spectacular outdoors setting…and into the legendary spas and resorts known for soothing mind, spirit and body.

Named “one of the most romantic hotels in the country,” indulgence at The Boulders Resort stretches past its Golden Door Spa, with select spa services in private casitas overlooking the Sonoran Desert. Indulging in a couples massage in the Couples Sun Suite is the height of luxury: in-room steam shower, private patio, outdoor shower, Jacuzzi, and indoor and outdoor massage tables.

Agave, the Arizona Spa at the five-star The Westin Kierland Resort and Spa just minutes from downtown Scottsdale, incorporates traditional native ingredients and techniques in many of its treatments – like the Agave Enchantment body mask or the Blue Agave Mud Wrap. Guests can learn pointers on following a healthy lifestyle at the free monthly wellness clinics.

Scottsdale’s famous spas draw their inspiration from all corners of the globe. The tranquil Asian-inspired treatments at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa include acupuncture, shiatsu and luk pra kope, a massage with medicinal herbs. The Willow Stream Spa at The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess offers The Total Adjustment body experience, combining six of the spa’s most popular treatments while incorporating traditional Indian Ayurvedic health wisdom. Organic Moor mud from Hungary is the key ingredient in the Thermal Moor Mud Wrap at The Centre for Well-Being in The Phoenician, an award-winning, five-diamond resort at the base of Camelback Mountain. The Centre’s extensive spa menu also includes personal consultations (Pilates, yoga, fitness) as well as guided hikes up Camelback Mountain.

The Sonoran DesertScottsdale CVB

The Great Outdoors

You cannot help but be inspired by the city’s tranquil desert setting. The surrounding Sonoran Desert redefines the way you think of dry spaces – it’s a landscape of lush, blooming vegetation, including the Sonoran trademark, the giant Saguaro cacti. People like to get out and explore the outdoors here; there is a network of trails that criss-cross natural spaces like the city’s 5,656-hectare McDowell Sonoran Preserve, a protected wilderness area along the eastern border of the city, and a very popular hiking spot.

Just a few miles from the heart of downtown Scottsdale, the much tamer Desert Botanical Garden displays over 50,000 desert plants in natural, outdoor settings. Docent-led tours cover all aspects of the arid environment, from the extreme daylight conditions to the magical cool of the nighttime, when the snakes, insects and wildlife are most active.

Of course, who doesn’t think of golf when they think of Scottsdale? The city in the heart of the Sonoran Desert is also home to more than 200 area courses, in a setting with abundant sunshine, cobalt-blue skies and a temperate winter climate. Course layouts cover the gamut from traditional greens to rugged play. The Scottsdale courses – many nationally ranked – host a variety of tournaments, golf schools and clinics. The über-popular PGA Tour’s Waste Management Phoenix Open (formerly the FBR Open) is the world’s best-attended golf event, known for the large and enthusiastic galleries who come to watch the nation’s best golfers. The jaw-dropping scenery is the perfect background at area clubs like Troon North Golf Club, Talking Stick Golf Club, McCormick Ranch Golf Club and Desert Canyon Golf Club. With so much selection, it’s best to do a little homework using the downloadable Scottsdale Golf Guide (scottsdalecvb.com/golf/).

For more information, visit www.experiencescottsdale.com or www.arizonaguide.com