The Phoenician is part of The Luxury Collection group of hotels and we were fortunate enough to visit after their extensive renovations. Located in Phoenix in the locally known, Valley of the Sun, we drove in from Los Angeles and were greeted by rugged mountain backdrops and dry desert heat. With the mercury just shy of 100 degrees in October it was certainly living up to its nickname but this was perfect for us having only been in the cold and rain of London a few days prior. Nobody likes the damp drizzly chill of London, except for perhaps Phoenix residents who would most likely welcome it with open arms after having just spent a summer in the desert. This place gets seriously hot! So October was a good time to visit. You can lounge by the pool, wear shorts, t-shirts and strappy dresses all day and indulge in a few cocktails in the evening.
After many months of renovations, the hotel has almost finished the main programme of works. Pulling up to the valet in our SUV and being greeted by the front desk staff makes you certainly feel special and from that point on the experience factor doesn’t really stop. The hotel is a 5* 5 diamond resort so you know that the staff are at the top of their game when it comes to service and it’s the only hotel of such high standing in the greater Phoenix area. It’s the sort of place you could play a game with your partner to see how amazing the concierge’s knowledge and willingness really goes.
It’d been a long drive and by the time we had arrived we were glad to see the inside of the hotel room and the bed. The bed! It was massive. Come to mention it, the whole room was massive. You funnel through the entrance hall that then opens up to a huge open space complete with everything you would expect from a top class hotel room and this is all before you even get to the balcony. So sliding open the glass doors, that span the entire width of the room and true to form – there’s a balcony. A lounger is located at one side so you can soak up all the Arizona rays of sunshine. But although the balcony is not particularly grand in itself, the views most certainly are. Your eyes can sweep across the Phoenix skyline set against a beautiful mountainous backdrop in the distance. As I mentioned, it was late in the day when we arrived, so we were treated to a Phoenician sunset over those distant hills. This was quite a welcoming party. The room was full of the finer details that you’d expect in such an establishment. A small media player by the bed, large wide screen TV and a mini bar that actually had a decent choice of drinks in. Then there’s the bathroom, which is big enough to fit a small family. His and hers sinks flank the back wall whilst a huge bath big enough for two, tucks into the corner. Getting out the door in the morning certainly won’t be a quick affair.
There’s 643 rooms in total at The Phoenician, split between three main areas, the primary hotel building, the Canyon Suites and Casitas. The latter being house style accommodations that feature varying sizes of properties in which to stay, catering well for families and larger groups. The architecture of the hotel is true to typical Phoenix architecture and desert vernacular. Dusty tones work well to settle the building into the landscape and nestle it into Camelback Mountain that sits immediately behind the resort. The mountain is so close, it’s essentially part of the resort and you can arrange guided hikes up to its summit for both a morning workout and a stunning view – perfect for catching the famous Scottsdale sunrise. Throughout the resort you’ll also spot the magnificent saguaro cacti that are native to this area of the world and so characteristic of the American West. Up close, they’re incredible and tower above even some of the resorts trees. Legally protected in Arizona, the humble cacti is more than a status symbol, it is the symbol of a state. The resort takes its landscaping seriously and the driveway to the main reception has saguaro dotted around, as if to great visitors and say, ‘Welcome to the desert’. Green grassy verges with bright red and pink flowers line the driveway which I can imagine is no mean feat for the gardeners considering the sweltering heat.
On our first evening at The Phoenician we decided to have dinner at Relish Burger Bistro. The resort is huge, 250 acres to be precise, so rather than walk we were driven on a golf buggy to our dinner spot. The restaurant itself feels a little cosier and removed from the bustling resort and we had a beautiful open terrace spot which made the perfect romantic evening. The bistro is the hotels more relaxed dining spot and a perfect place to start off our stay after the long journey here. The burgers all sound amazing and we have difficulty choosing, eventually settling on The Cowboy Burger and the Black Bean Veggie Burger. Both were incredible. Laden with toppings, but not so much that the buns collapse on you. A perfect patty to enjoy the view and the peace of the desert. Oh and a cheeky cocktail of course! When our dessert arrived we were really glad we left space for it. The dessert menu was so tantalisingly tasty but we settled on sharing the s’mores kit, complete with small fire pit to finish off the toasty goodness. It was amazing! Like any great s’mores ensemble we had a platter of mallows, skewers, chocolate dips and Graham crackers. It’s fair to say we hadn’t had a dessert this fun for a long time, maybe ever! I could come to this bistro for this only. It’s one to write home about. Note: bring wet wipes- it gets messy!
The next day we awoke early and headed down for breakfast at Mowry and Cotton, the newest of The Phoenician restaurants that replaced Il Terrazo in the renovation works. It’s on the lower level under the main resort and opens out onto the pool area. We sat outside, because of course being Phoenix in October, the weather was glorious, even at 9am. Breakfast was just what the doctor ordered. A delightful and invigorating Acai ice bowl. A breakfast of stunning colours and flavours, the frozen dish had to be eaten reasonably quickly lest it turn into a purple bowl of liquid berries. That wasn’t too difficult though considering it was so tasty and I was feeling very hungry. Emily started her day with some avocado toast served with sunny side eggs, cheese, radish and watercress. Writing all of this is making me want to go back and eat right now. When we left we decided it best that we make a reservation for dinner the following evening too judging on how scrumptious breakfast was. Well, you’ve got to try these things don’t you?
Throughout the day we visited the newly renovated pool area. Invited to the VIP cabana’s we spent the day eating and swimming, drinking and relaxing. Isn’t it great when you can simply lie there, do nothing except read a book and listen to some music, then have a dip when it gets too hot. The pool is split into three areas all on different levels. It was relatively quiet when we were there, but sometimes this place is packed. So make sure you get there early and secure your beds if it’s a busy day.
You won’t be disappointed, with waiter service providing you a constant supply of ice cold refreshments and snacks it leaves you to chill out under the blue skies and palm trees. There’s wifi throughout the resort too so we were able to catch up on some emails and plan out our next few days.
In the evening we headed to the top level of the hotel, to the Thirsty Camel, a bar with panoramic views across the valley for another Arizona sunset – you never get bored of them. The bar is plush and oozing with city-esque luxury decor with a Sonoran inspired menu. We only stayed for drinks though as next door to the Thirsty Camel is J&G Steakhouse where we were booked in for dinner. It was time to sample the hotel’s top restaurant, an establishment inspired by world renowned chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten. He selected Jacques Qualin as the restaurant’s Chef de Cuisine who has created a menu that capitalises on the regions excellent produce. As a keen outdoorsman, Jacques has an interest in the very best cuts of meat and seafood that are complemented with American and Asian flavours. Although we dined inside, you can sit outside under the stars overlooking the resort on their patio. We saved this for the end of dinner with a final drink before bed. J&G Steakhouse serves a good selection of steaks from lamb t-bones, prime porterhouse and bone-in rib eye, there’s a cut for everyone. Or if you’re looking for a seafood delight then how about a Maine grilled lobster or striped bass. There’s also a raw bar where you can dine on a seafood platter. I opted for the filet mignon and Emily the crusted chicken. The steak, was of course cooked excellently and was beautifully succulent, with the meat juices spilling out onto the plate, with mashed potatoes lying in wait to soak everything up. Whilst eating dinner we were treated to live music, a regular fixture on Friday and Saturday nights. Whilst the restaurant came alive with music and the hum of people talking and laughing we savoured the last few morsels on our plates, ensuring that we left space for pudding. Of course, expecting nothing less there was an excellent selection of dishes to enjoy from Chocolate Baked Alaska’s to Green Apple Cobblers and Pavlova. So make sure you finish off your evening with a tasty bang!
Truth be told about the Phoenician, there’s probably far more facilities here than you’ll ever use in one trip. But that’s a really good thing. It has almost everything that you’d expect and want. An athletics club, shops, many dining options, a spa, golf courses, tennis courts, activity centre with gaming, even an art gallery and this is only scraping the surface. If you’re a traveller that likes a choice in things to do when you’re away, then the Phoenician will most certainly be for you. The renovation works have created a resort that feels complete, right down to minute details. The main lobby is now a welcoming, grand space that impresses you from the start, with glimpses of what the hotel offers. Immediately in front of you when you enter is the main bar with a glass wall so you can see out to the pool beyond. To the right is the afternoon tea court where you can while the afternoon away with tasty treats. Then of course, there’s the excellent staff that greet you and check you in without effort.
On our final evening, we were treated to dinner in Mowry & Cotton where we’d had breakfast previously. Shown to our candlelit table on the hotel’s terrace complete with nearby fire pits, we took in the wonderful warm Phoenix evening air. The restaurant was reasonably quiet which was a welcome sight as we’d had a busy day. Mowry & Cotton turns the page in a Western folklore tale. Legend has it that two bar dogs (Old – West slang for bartenders) with rebel spirits roped up with kind hearts and quick humour opened one of Pheonix’s first fine liquor establishments – and the rest is history. So whilst we sat here, we decided to make our own tale and of course it circled around incredible food. Chef Tandy Peterson has created a menu of mostly American dishes and there’s a whole lot to choose from. The concept is all about sharing and eating together which is ideal for couples. So we were encouraged to choose dishes that we’d both eat. First eye catching dish, the roasted pheasant for two. It’s served with cipollini onion, almonds, citrus and cherry flavours make it disappear very quickly indeed! All the dishes are good hearty, moreish foods that definitely didn’t leave us disappointed. In fact we kept wanting to order more and more or these sharing delights such as apple camembert flatbread, charred hanger steak, and crispy potatoes with chorizo. The vibe is distinctly relaxed and you pick up on this with little details throughout the experience, such as the Tall Tale written on our menu. ‘Mowry was famous for his social gatherings and community feasts. He would’ve hugged a cactus if it came to dinner’.
Chef Peterson had this to say about Mowry and Cotton; “Precise, yet relaxed. It’s straightforward cooking that’s easy to love and matches the laid-back vibes of the space. You know that you’re in Arizona”. We were lucky enough the sample a lot of food at The Phoenician but for us, the newly opened Mowry & Cotton (having only opened the day before we arrived!) was our favourite meal of the entire trip, hands down.
The hotel is located within Scottsdale that is widely regarded as the place to be. For couples looking for something special it has a range of luxury and tourist focused shops – particularly Old Town Scottsdale that plays on the Western America heritage that is so prevalent in this part of the world. If you’re looking for a pair of Cowboy boots then you’ll be sure to find them here. Then there’s the Rusty Spur Saloon if you want some authentic live music and a good ole’ beer. Be sure to pin a dollar with your names to the wall here. It’s an old tradition and the walls are literally covered in them- and best of all, they donate all the money the charity. If you want to explore the wider area then excursions to the nearby Saguaro national park are available and both Tucson and the stunning town of Sedona are within three hour drives of Phoenix. We’ve long been massive fans of the state of Arizona and a trip to The Phoenician is a perfect base from which to explore.
So what are you waiting for? If it’s sun and relaxation that you’re looking for The Phoenician has curated the exceptional in luxury travel and you’d be foolish to not sample what it has to offer.
To book or for more information please visit www.thephoenician.com/
To read about USA Road-trips please click HERE