Five minutes through Passport Control, bags waiting, and a super fast rental pickup? Arriving at Phoenix airport after phase one of its $600m improvement is a welcome change from the shoddy LAX and a great start to our south-western adventures.
We make the most of this by spending a few days chilling out at the desert oasis that is Phoenix. It is a great city with a relaxed vibe but where to stay? The best part of Phoenix is Scottsdale and the best part of Scottsdale is Paradise Valley. And as many locals know the very heart and soul of Paradise Valley is Mountain Shadows Resort.
This is one of the regions iconic hotels, first opening back in 1959. Nestled in the iconic shadows of Camelback and Mummy Mountains, the upscale resort was an instant success, one of only a handful of in the U.S. to earn a 5-star rating. But despite its guestbook featuring high-wattage names such as Bob Hope, John Wayne and Sammy Davis, Jr its star waned and, after changing hands a few times, it finally closed in 2004.
Fortunately the property was taken over, with a $100m redevelopment, inspired by the older property, only recently completed. On arrival the modernist influence is clear to see – low level buildings are arranged in white geometric cubes and upon entering there are plenty of straight lines, functional open spaces and floor to ceiling windows.
The check in was briskly efficient from a young and fashionable clerk and the walk to our room via the art clad hallways of the reception area refreshingly short. All rooms enjoy floor to (high) ceiling sliding windows and a terrace or deck with stylish furniture from which to enjoy the desert air. Our Garden King enjoyed a spectacular view of both the gardens and mountains whilst other rooms face the ‘Citizens Club’ pool area – an equally cool spot to relax or socialise.
There is lots of on-trend bare concrete and the polished concrete floors are both cool to the touch and in appearance. Greys, taupe, bronze and brown compliment the look with touches of colour from kilim rugs and some neat art (Phoenix is a very arty town) that is balanced and hung around the room.
The bed is wonderfully comfortable and our bathroom features a glass shower cube that faces the bedroom (with privacy curtain) – some rooms feature a bath with mountain views that are well worth the upgrade. There are Red Mountain toiletries, free Nespresso, tea and water and a well stocked (but rather expensive) mini-bar.
In modernist style all the public areas flow in to one another. A sunken lounge off the lobby with a circular log fire backs on to the bar, which frequently hops with some good quality live music. Just around the corner is the restaurant Hearth ’61.
Hearth ’61 serves impressive American cuisine from an open plan exhibition kitchen. The adventurous menu is full of inventive combinations and varied flavours with starters like Ahi Tartare with shishito peppers, scallops with romesco sauce and organic chicken with meyer lemon chimichurri. Sides might be finer carrots with tahini yoghourt or cauliflower with raisin & caper gremolata.
You can dine inside or on the patio with its mountain views where there is also plenty of comfy seating to sprawl out on afterwards in the warm air. Breakfast is also taken here and refreshingly is table-served rather than the usual tired buffet. Alongside the usual egg plates you can go wild with french toast & fruit, banana ricotta pancakes or even green chilli pork. We particularly enjoyed their breakfast protein smoothie with banana, honey and yoghourt.
Last but not least Mountain Shadows Resort is famed for its golf. Nowadays it is just a par three course – but it is mightily impressive. Set up and maintained as well as a full length championship course the holes may not be long but are challenging enough for any level of player. Under the watchful eye of Camelback Mountain it carves its scenic way through manicured flower beds, desert scrub and over artificial lakes.
The rolling greens are tough to hit and tricky to par. A drink at Rusty’s terrace bar at the 18th will be well deserved. Want a longer course? The hotel Tesla offers complimentary transport to Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort or Camelback Golf Club.
For more information visit Mountain Shadows Resort
CELLOPHANELAND* were guests of Mountain Shadows Resort