Where to Stay: Greater Scottsdale

My stay at each of these properties was complimentary and my entire visit was part of an experience provided by the Scottsdale Visitor’s Bureau — but as always, full editorial control is mine, as are all enthusiastic opinions in this post. 
I just read in the NYtimes that NYC is experiencing its coldest winter since 1934. So continuing on the theme of my recent post about Jamaica, I’m blogging again about somewhere that is nice and warm …… I really loved my first, very brief, visit to Scottsdale, Arizona with Spencer Spellman back when I road tripped across the USA at the start of my travel blogging career. But my appetite was not sated, I wanted to return for more. Thankfully, I finally got to go back in 2014 and this time I was really able to fully fall in love with the city and surrounding area. Though it was the height of summer, it was a perfect temperature for me since their heat is dry, not humid.  These are the places I stayed and each one is so special to my heart for various reasons… IMG_4945

I began my stay in Arizona at the Sanctuary at Camelback Mountain. There Chef Beau MacMillan tempted my foodie side and rocked my socks off to the point that I DIDN’T EVEN GET PHOTOS OF THE FOOD!!!! I was so busy enjoying eating, I forgot to do my job. Blogger fail. Also, their Jade Bar more than fulfilled my cocktail-craving. Every sip was so refreshing and so original. The pools were so tempting I wanted to spend all day every day at the one by my room and the one by the restaurant, the spa was so good I included it in my Top 5 list for Scottsdale and the thing that surprised me most was how lush the landscape of the hotel was. I figured since it was in the dessert, there would be a lot of cacti and not much else. But the trees and flowering bushes everywhere made it seem more like an oasis in the dessert. I also really loved the bathroom in my suite, plus the view from my room over the surrounding valley. Oh, AND the amazing cheese plate that was delivered to my room when I first checked in. I still think about that whenever I go to order a cheese plate at a restaurant. Few others ever compare to that. It looks deceptively simple but the flavors were incredible and perfect complimented the sparkling wine. After a long journey it was one of the best hotel welcomes I have ever had. In short: loved my stay. IMG_4872IMG_4918IMG_4873SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESchefbeaucollageSAM_0792
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Next I was a guest at the Hotel Valley Ho where I met Ace Bailey and marveled over how fun it was to be in a place that really seemed pulled straight from another time, without any modern amenities lacking. I kept thinking I’d see a member of the Rat Pack around a corner, or some famous actress from the fifties in a wide brimmed hat and vintage high-waisted bikini by the pool. It made me want to raid a vintage clothing store and I really really loved that HVH has a theme, yet doesn’t feel “themey.” Very tough line to walk for a hotel and they do it so so well. PLUS, my suite was more like an apartment and I felt so instantly at home that I didn’t actually want to leave. I just wanted to move right in. It had more storage space than my apartment in NYC, a far better view and a WAY better bathroom.IMG_5231hotelvalleyhocollageIMG_5232IMG_5258IMG_5260IMG_5519IMG_5263IMG_5267IMG_5298IMG_5307

And, again the food at the hotel was superb. It was part of a theme I ended up noticing in Scottsdale, Scottsdale has AMAZING food. Most notable: the toffee pancakes that I ordered from room service one day. Honestly, just writing about them now has all my senses salivating to taste them once again. They were more dessert than breakfast and still I crave them like crazy. Again, in short: I loved it. Loved the Hotel Valley Ho. So different than Sanctuary, but both were so wonderful in different ways.IMG_5318SAMSUNG CSC

I also visited the Four Seasons at Troon North with my fellow blogger Matt Stabile of The Expeditioner. We visited towards the end of the day when golden hour was drenching the slopes surrounding the valley with such gorgeous light it seemed to make everything glow from the inside out. I’m already a huge fan of the Four Seasons but this just confirmed the love already blooming in my heart because of the hotel’s incredible facilities, exceptional service which was no different than all my other experiences and superb food & drink. Again, not unlike the Hotel Valley Ho, there’s a theme to the hotel — in this case, Southwestern — yet it’s nowhere near the realm of cheese like you find with so many theme hotels in places like Disney or Las Vegas.IMG_5472IMG_5535IMG_5537

I fall in love easily with some aspect of most places I go. So there’s always a lot of flowery language on my blog. That’s just how I am! Yet Scottsdale has stood the test of time for me. As I’ve traveled to and around other destinations since then, these hotels and this trip in particular still stands out as one of the best travel experiences I have ever had anywhere in the world. I still need to publish a few more posts and I hope you will come back to read them so you too can be convinced to travel to this special part of Arizona. It’s exceptional in a way that can hardly be put into words. Now, at least you know where to stay when you go!

You can read more about my trip to Scottsdale with these posts already published on Aviators and a Camera:

Surprising Scottsdale – I talk about the things that surprised me most during my trip.

My Top 5 Scottsdale Recommendations – This is where I list my Top 5 Recommendations for your first visit.

Touring Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West – I’m a huge fan of Frank Lloyd Wright and have blogged about his work before here. Visiting Taliesin was just something I had to do while in Arizona and it didn’t disappoint!

And you can read about the other blogger’s experiences with our lodging here:

Julie of A Table for Two blog tells you Where to Stay in Scottsdale

Kat of Style Jaunt reviews The Hotel Valley Ho



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  • February 25, 2015

    That dreamy pool scene is everything I want right now. Nope, that’s a lie: I want that sun, those cocktails and those colors in my life. Way to make me want to escape this dreary, grey hellscape that is NYC!

  • February 25, 2015

    Gorgeous photos, as usual. I’ve never thought of visiting Scottsdale, but that desert mountain sunset is everything. I’d say it’s worth the trip for that and the pancakes alone.

  • February 26, 2015

    Love this, for many reasons. Thanks for the shout out my friend!

  • March 09, 2015

    Your photos are always so great! And you’ve got good taste in hotels, that’s for sure. 😉 Thanks for sharing this, my friend. Hope we’ll get the chance to visit Scottsdale again in the future!

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