We still have a couple of months of spotty winter weather along the Central Coast, making this a good time for a desert excursion. If you want to see mountains and be assured of no rain, Scottsdale, Arizona, is the place for a February vacation. World-class golf, hiking, shopping, and restaurants can all be enjoyed without a drop of water coming from above.
When you say Scottsdale, you are referring to a very large area running some 30 miles north and south starting just east of Phoenix. Old Scottsdale is closest in, and this is where you will find most of the restaurants and shopping. The hub of activity is the Scottsdale Fashion Square, one of the country’s largest and most elegant shopping complexes, located at the corner of Scottsdale and Camelback roads. Glitzy high-rise condos and office buildings are starting to give the area a more urban look, but the majesty of nearby Camelback Mountain retains the western feel.
Paradise Valley has long been the most upscale address in Phoenix, and it is just a couple of miles from downtown Scottsdale. Set in the hills just above Camelback Mountain, its proximity to everything makes it ideal for a visit. With the opening of the Omni Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Montelucia, guests can now enjoy this setting as well as one of this desert’s best hotel properties.
The Montelucia blends in perfectly to the area with its Moroccan architecture and spacious grounds covering over 35 acres. Many of the rooms look out to the backside of Camelback Mountain, creating peaceful vistas. The property is similar to the white-washed villages of Spain’s Andalusia region and has numerous pools and fountains to enjoy during the 80-degree days. The rooms feature the finest in electronics and bedding as well as oversized bathrooms fitted with Spanish tile.
A restful day at the Montelucia might start with breakfast in the room and then deciding which pool to relax at. Further pampering can be accommodated at the Joya Spa, which is one of the most beautifully decorated venues I have ever visited. A visit here will make you feel like Moroccan royalty as you choose from their menu of services. My Joyambrosia massage lasted a full 80 minutes and included applications of Spanish citrus and Moroccan mint. The Montelucia also has an excellent fitness center for your daily workout. Further details can be found at Montelucia.com.
If you are looking for more activity you do not have to go far as hikers can make a workout as hard as they want out of nearby Camelback Mountain. The trail can be picked up about a half mile from the Montelucia and offers spectacular views of the entire Phoenix/Scottsdale area. Most will want to go about one-third of the way up, which can be done in regular sneakers. While arduous, it will not present any real dangers. Making it farther or all the way to the top is only for experienced hikers outfitted with proper shoes for some rock climbing along the way.
The Valley of the Sun, as this area is known, is a hotbed for golf. There are so many options it may be hard to choose. The Montelucia has a special relationship with Grayhawk Golf Club, home to both the Talon and Raptor 18-hole courses. If the name is familiar, it is because Grayhawk was home to the Frys.com PGA Tour event a couple of years ago. The Raptor Course was designed by Tom Fazio and the Talon Course by former PGA Tour star David Graham. Grayhawk has a wonderful indoor/ outdoor restaurant overlooking the 18th hole of the Raptor Course for post-round contemplations.
U.S. Airways offers five daily flights to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. If you are going for a short stay, I would strongly consider using the services of ExecuCar, the premier luxury airport sedan service. Its trained professionals will meet you as you enter the baggage-claim area and handle all of your needs. Within minutes of your arrival, you will be on your way to the hotel in either a Lincoln Town Car or a Cadillac SUV. Once you’re at the Montelucia, the company has cars on property to take you anywhere you desire. For more information, visit ExecuCar.com.