Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort – the Gem of the Southwest

When you think of Arizona, you probably think of Senator John McCain, the University of Arizona (Go Wildcats!), and some pretty great Mexican food.

You might not think of incredible resorts, and that would be your folly.

One of the most luxurious resorts in Arizona is the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort, in the upscale Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale. When I say luxury, I mean luxury. Southwest style, which means leave your indoor hallways and stuffy attire at home.

I mean entire cities built of rosy terra cotta, with outside hallways filled with cozy love-seats and wicker tables, perfect to bask in the sun with a cocktail or a good book. It is more like owning your own summer palace than staying in a snooty hotel – feel free to take your socks off and feel the warmth of the pink stone under your sun-starved feet. The weather here is always lovely, especially when fleeing the cold and wet northeastern winter.

Even the most basic rooms here are breezy and luxurious, with decadent linens, bathrooms with spa showers and large whirlpool tubs, and often small balconies where you can sit and enjoy a cup of coffee while listening to desert birds awaken in the morning.

The feel of the rooms, casual but upscale, echos that of the resort – this is a place to bring families and relax with old friends, a place where you need not where makeup or even high heels are needed for dinner.  This air of relaxed luxury is one that is really only found in the southwest.

When you do bring your nieces and nephews here, be sure to check out some of the many pools in this fabulous resort - big ones, small ones, kiddie ones, and even a special one reserved for spa guests. Water slides, splash zones,  and cushy deck chairs surround all the pool areas. Though the vibe here is jovial and family friendly, there is always a server ready to take your order for a plate of nachos or a margarita. Word to the wise: all the margaritas at this hotel are top notch. Freshly squeezed juices, agave syrup, and top of the line alcohol properly mixed or blended to slushy-like happiness.

The Willow Stream Spa is an other worldly experience. You exit the realm of kids and swimming pools and enter total tranquility. Peace. Calming pools and aromatherapy saunas and outdoor atriums with herbal teas and freshly made muffins. There is a private pool, a reflecting garden with serene music, and…

This. A waterfall jacuzzi where the water pounds on your back and shoulders, gently beating stress out of your body. It’s literally impossible to leave this place with any stress.

As a neurotic Jew, I maintain that one cannot overestimate the joy of having even 15 minutes totally stress free.

 

The food at La Hacienda is just another magnificent aspect of this hotel. High end Mexican cuisine that is flavorful and inventive while also being seasonal and authentic to the flavor profile of Mexican food.

Richard Sandoval’s guacamole with carnitas is a buttery, porky revelation, and be sure to try the herb crusted filet mignon. Tender, meaty, lean, and full of spicy, smoky flavors.

Don’t miss the signature flaming Mexican coffee for dessert. Be warned, there is alcohol in there…and by “be warned,” I mean ask for a golf cart to take you back to your room.

The service throughout the resort is excellent – friendly and social without being in your face. You questions are answered with a smile, your needs are quickly and courteously addressed, and your surroundings could not be more beautiful. If this hotel were in NYC, it would be outrageously expensive. Though this is not a budget hotel, it is incredibly reasonable for the experience that you get. The resort is large and expertly maintained, there is a world-class golf course on site, and it is near many shopping centers and restaurants. I can’t recommend this resort enough, and hope that it is what you think of when you think of Arizona.

 It’s certainly more fun to associate Arizona with the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort than with John McCain

Disclaimer: I received a media rate for my stay at this hotel.

LV Bistro – Tasty Hotel Dining in Scottsdale

Eating at a hotel cafe is a dicey venture. Sometimes the restaurant’s food is delicious, using fresh produce, interesting cooking techniques, and accompanied by good service. Often, it is serviceable at best with standard dishes, industrial produce, and indifferent service.

So imagine my surprise when I walked into LV Bistro at the Scottsdale Princess and was greeted by not one but two servers who were genuinely happy to be of service. Not that fake corporate-plasters-this-smile-on-my-face attitude, but a genuinely kind attitude. Drinks were brought quickly, orders were taken promptly, and we could not have been treated any more like family if we were at my parents’ house.

The bistro , serving as the breakfast, lunch, and dinner cafe at the expansive resort is casual and sunny, with soaring high ceilings and a casual Southwestern flair. Overlooking the pool and the dramatic Arizona mountainside, the cafe is undeniably casual – feel free to come here in a cover up and flip flops.

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata with Foccacia Bread Stick, Tomato, and Avocado Oil

This is not my favorite iteration of the dish, mainly because it is so sweet. The balsamic is reduced to  a sticky, fruity syrup that is all too similar to the mild avocado oil and the burrata that is creamy to a fault. The cheese has no edge, no salty or firm component. It is all soft interior and no smooth exterior. The tomatoes, on the other hand, are excellent. Sweet, acidic, firm, and ripe with Arizona sunlight. I already mourn the tomatoes of the summer that I won’t see for another year on the East Coast, but here in AZ, the tomatoes are still ripe and juicy. This salad would have benefited greatly from some more salt or some bitter arugula. My sister, however loved the dish, and she is a major sweets fiend. If that is you, you might love this dish, too.

Southwest Spinach Dip with Roasted Poblano Peppers, Artichokes, and Tortilla Chips.

THIS is what I’m talking about – some honest-to-goodness Southwestern style grub. Fresh spinach and hunks of artichokes blended in a cream cheese based dip, flecked with charred bits of smoky, gently spicy peppers. The lemon served alongside is inspired – it gives the dish a bright, fresh side that isn’t normally part of it.

Served alongside freshly fired tortilla chips, this is an indulgent, creamy, smoky way to start your meal.

Margarita

If you visit Arizona, do yourself a favor and order at least one margarita at every meal. They do them right here. Get it with smooth silver tequila, fresh lime juice, and a splash of sugar syrup and you can’t go wrong. This version is tart, refreshing,a nd boozy enough to relax you but not so strong that you can’t stand up after drinking one.

 This is a really great hotel restaurant. While it isn’t worth seeking out if you aren’t at the resort, it is a reasonably priced option with well made food and a fantastic staff. Go for a light snack or a whole meal, order a margarita, and you won’t be disappointed.