By Josephine Matyas
When you think of Scottsdale, think of indulgence. Shopping, golf and spa, great meals and a sizzling nightlife enveloped by the scenic beauty of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert landscape also come to mind.
Scottsdale struts its culinary roots with more than 600 hip clubs, trendy eateries, cosy wine bars and fine dining restaurants. From Western frontier fare to international flavours to the roots of Native American cuisine – the three sacred crops of corn, squash and beans – the local, sustainable food movement is also making its mark.
At Ahnala Mesquite Room, the menu highlights desert ingredients, Mexican specialties and mesquite-grilled cooking with flavours like roasted cactus, poblano and habanero chili peppers. www.ahnala.com
The trendy gastropub at FnB – a critic’s favourite – offers an Arizona-only wine list and a menu focusing on locally-sourced cuisine. www.fnbrestaurant.com
LON’s at The Hermosa coaxes out traditional Arizona flavours using age-old cooking methods of smoking, roasting and wood grilling to create comfort food dishes like Chili Rubbed Cowboy Ribeye and Roasted Pumpkin Soup. www.hermosainn.com
At the Lariat Restaurant the wood-fired brick oven punches up the flavour on thin crust pizzas and their signature, grilled steaks. www.carefree-resort.com
The diverse street food of Mexico City (think: delicious barbecue) pops up on the menu at Distrito, the signature restaurant at the new hotel, The Saguaro. A Margarita Bar showcases more than 100 varieties of tequila. www.distritorestaurant.com
Posh Restaurant’s innovative approach to menu design has diners choosing the ingredients they like and the chef producing a custom-made dish that’s unique every time. www.poshscottsdale.com
Relish Burger Bistro in The Phoenician has breathtaking views of the golf course and an innovative menu with a fun twist on American classic casual fare. Adults will enjoy spiked shakes, one of the largest tequila collections in the state and a bar menu of more than 70 types of premium beer. www.thephoenician.com
Music and food go together at Culinary Dropout, where beer, wine and cocktails are two-thirds of the menu – a perfect sidebar to the downtown gastropub’s comfort food lineup of meatloaf, pork ribs, and fried chicken. www.foxrc.com
One of the newest cocktail havens on the downtown nightlife scene is The Casablanca Lounge, where the bar is stocked with more than 360 types of spirits and there are no-holds barred on the creativity of the mixologist. www.thecasablancalounge.com
At the Saturday night sHOdown, expert bartenders create unique drinks for tasting at Café ZuZu in the restored 1950s-era Hotel Valley Ho. www.hotelvalleyho.com
Nibble and sip through downtown Scottsdale with Arizona Food Tours’ walking culinary exploration. www.arizonafoodtours.com
Browse & Buy
If ever there was a shopper’s paradise, it’s Scottsdale. From upscale lifestyle centres to sun-splashed outdoor promenades, there’s a shopping style to indulge every desire.
Scottsdale Fashion Square is the Southwest’s largest shopping destination with more than 240 stores including Barney’s New York, Armani Exchange and Jimmy Choo.
Kierland Commons’ classic outdoor sidewalk promenade is home to 70 high-end specialty stores, including housewares at Crate & Barrel, accessories at GUESS and little luxuries at Juicy Couture.
The Borgata of Scottsdale effuses an Old World feel in exclusive shops, small-scale boutiques and charming restaurants.
Pedestrian-friendly downtown Scottsdale is renowned for hundreds of galleries and specialty shops featuring one-of-a-kind Native American jewellery and crafts.
Old Town Scottsdale oozes an authentic Western air – the historic storefronts are filled with Southwest décor, cowboy wares and extraordinary Native American finds.
More than 80 trendy, classy shops in the downtown 5th Avenue Shopping District are within a few minutes walk of each other – perfect for an afternoon’s leisurely browsing.
The new Scottsdale Quarter includes more than 50 unique shops, restaurants and cafés, including a few Arizona-firsts like Drybar (just blowouts, no haircuts) and giggle, a one-stop shop for new parents.
The SHOPS Gainey Village is one of Scottsdale’s most elegant shopping addresses and home to upscale boutiques, trendy eateries and fine dining.
Ahhh, The Spa
Think spa destination and you have to be thinking Scottsdale, an oasis for wellness, relaxation and rejuvenation. Restorative and soothing treatments combine indigenous elements of the Southwest – smooth river rocks, desert clay and mud, herbs and flowers – with modern healing techniques for the ultimate in luxurious pampering.
The Spa at Camelback Inn is a quiet haven of relaxation. Spa treatments incorporate the ancient healing rituals of Arizona’s first inhabitants using ingredients found locally like red adobe clay, agave, prickly pear cactus, sage and juniper. www.camelbackinn.com
Asian-inspired treatments are on the menu at The Sanctuary Spa at the stylish Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort. The two-hour Luk Pra Kope treatment uses white Thai clay, fresh lime and essential oils to sooth muscles and refresh the skin. www.sanctuaryaz.com
The Phoenician’s Centre for Well-Being is a peaceful retreat for body and soul with signature treatments like the de-aging Papaya Quench Wrap and the Well-Being Stone Ritual that harnesses the energy of warm river basalt stones in a healing massage. www.thephoenician.com
The Spa at Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North’s desert-inspired Jojoba and Prickly Pear Body Polish uses prickly pear from the surrounding desert in a scrub, body wash and soothing body butter. www.fourseasons.com/Scottsdale
Agave provides inspiration throughout Agave, The Arizona Spa (part of The Westin Kierland Resort) The signature plant is used in treatments to restore balance and bring a sense of well being to the spirit. www.kierlandresort.com
Native Americans believe that turquoise is a protective colour and infuses a sense of positive energy. This is the basis of the signature Turquoise Wrap treatment at the Golden Door Spa at The Boulders. www.theboulders.com
Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess draws inspiration from the Native American community, incorporating traditional elements such as smudging (burning of a purifying sage stick) and body massage with warmed riverbed stones. www.fairmont.com/scottsdale
Time is of the essence at Spa Avania in the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch. It isn’t that treatments are rushed; it’s that the science of time and body rhythms are brought together in a holistic approach based on the cyclical needs of the body at key periods of the day. www.scottsdale.hyatt.com
Romance rules supreme at the Joya Spa in the Montelucia Resort & Spa with five Mediterranean-style spa suites, a relaxation area dedicated to couples and stunning views of Camelback Mountain. www.montelucia.com
The romance of the Mediterranean touches the treatments at Alvadora Spa using ingredients like citrus, orange blossoms, eucalyptus and lavender. www.royalpalmshotel.com
Hit The Links
Take more than 330 days of sunshine a year, add in 200 area golf courses and you’ve got an estimated 12 million rounds of golf a year in the Scottsdale area. www.golfinscottsdale.com
Golfers all know the Waste Management Phoenix Open – aka “The Greatest Show on Grass” – where 500,000 spectators descend on TPC Scottsdale to make the largest crowds on the PGA TOUR. www.phoenixopen.com
Famed Troon Golf is at the wheel of the two championship courses and a variety of the club’s clinics and golf programs at the Talking Stick Golf Club. www.talkingstickgolfclub.com
Golfers with limited time to spare can play nine holes at the new Monument Express at Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North. Resort guests can tee off at both Pinnacle and Monument championship golf courses at Troon North Golf Club. www.troonnorthgolf.com
The new Golf Academy at The Boulders offers clinics and multi-day programs taught by PGA and LPGA professionals on the resort’s award-winning courses. www.theboulders.com
Kierland Golf Club at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa offers an innovative golfing experience with Segway transportation, climate-controlled golfing and Scottish-themed golf. www.kierlandresort.com
The stylish Grayhawk Golf Club is home to two exceptional daily-fee 18-hole courses –Talon and Raptor – winding through the stunning landscape of the Sonoran Desert. www.grayhawkgolf.com
The award-winning, 18-hole Saguaro course at the We-Ko-Pa Golf Club is ranked the number one public access course in Arizona by Golfweek. www.wekopa.com
To get there? Air Canada, WestJet and US Airways serve Phoenix with daily non-stop flights from Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver, and seasonal non-stop flights from additional Canadian cities.
To indulge the taste buds? Every April, the country’s longest running food festival – the Scottsdale Culinary Festival – draws over 40,000 visitors to events like the Great Arizona Picnic. www.scottsdaleculinaryfestival.org
To shop like a pro? The specialists at Spree! The Art of Shopping lead luxury tours blending professional shopping know-how with red carpet treatment.
To meet the artists? Thursday nights are hopping downtown for the popular Scottsdale ArtWalk where you can meander from gallery to gallery and meet the artists themselves.
To rest your weary feet? Hop on the free trolley that runs through downtown Scottsdale.
To combine dining and the magical desert sky? Resorts like The Boulders, Fairmont Scottsdale Princess and Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale can arrange gourmet dining under the stars with constellation charts, telescopes, picnic baskets and even a personal butler service.