A long weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona is the perfect amount of time to get your feet wet for how awesome it is. A lot of people overlook Scottsdale and the Phoenix area in general for other destinations in the Southwest like Las Vegas, Southern California or even Santa Fe. That’s fine with me, as it keeps Scottsdale from getting too crowded. A long weekend in Scottsdale is perfect.
I have been coming to the Valley (what locals refer to the Phoenix area as) for more than 14 years. My first trip was back in 2003 for the Miami vs. Ohio State National Championship game. The Fiesta Bowl and National Championship games used to be played in Tempe at Sun Devil Stadium. Nowadays they are played in Glendale at University of Phoenix Stadium where the Arizona Cardinals also play. I even went to the Super Bowl there 2 years ago.
Since 2003, I attended Business School at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale. That time really got me acclimated to Scottsdale and got me thinking it was a great place to visit and to potentially live. I just did a long weekend in Scottsdale and even looked at homes to buy. Here’s the rest of what I did.
I arrived early and checked into the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. This gorgeous resort is up in North Scottsdale not far from the 101; which loops around the Valley. It is a massive resort, definitely one of the top resorts in Scottsdale. This was my first time staying there.
On arrival, after the long flight from New York, it was time to chill at the pool, relax and have a few drinks before a spa treatment. The spa at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is awesome. It really is. I’ve been to many and this is right up there with the top ones I’ve experienced.
The locker rooms feature impeccable steam, sauna and whirlpool. The common co-ed area features a fantastic waterfall hot tub and a rooftop private pool only for use of spa clients. Treatments aren’t cheap but they’re not unreasonable either and after a 90-minute deep tissue massage, you’re happy you did it. I always suggest opting for 90-minutes because 60 is too short and 120 is too long!
After a long travel day it was time to grab dinner. I was feeling Italian and Phoenix generally has excellent Italian food I’ve found. We headed up to Spiga in North Scottsdale. It was recommended by the hotel and absolutely packed. It was pretty good with a good atmosphere and friendly service. It wasn’t the best Italian place I’ve ever eaten at but it wasn’t bad and very affordable. Make sure to make a reservation on weekends.
After passing out by 8pm, I was up bright and early to hit the Starbucks at the hotel and get some sweet sunrise photos at the main pool. There are several pools at the resort. My room overlooked the pool with the beach and was a bit of a walk to the main lobby area.
Breakfast was included in the Fairmont Gold Lounge. As many of you know I have done a lot of work with Fairmont over the past few years (this was a pleasure trip) and love their properties and amenities. This Gold Lounge was as awesome as you’d expect. Fresh fruit, homemade food and a bevy of drink selections made for good eating and the ambience and furniture made for a good place to relax.
After breakfast I set out to check out some real estate in North Scottsdale. I have been toying with the idea of buying a place in Scottsdale for years and I think I’m finally ready to do it. I am not sure if I would actually live there or not but the value is there for a great house at a fair price. It’s a good investment either way I think and the type of place I may one day retire to.
Afterwards, it was time for In-N-Out Burger for lunch before heading to a Spring Training game. March in Arizona is the best time of year without a doubt. Even if you don’t like baseball, the weather is perfect and there’s a lot of energy in town.
I went to the new Sloan Park in Mesa kind of at a junction with Scottsdale and Tempe just off the 101. It was the only Spring Training Stadium in the Valley I hadn’t been to so obviously I had to remedy that. The World Champion Cubs hosted the Dodgers and a great time was had by all.
After the game I headed back to the spa at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess to relax after a rough day of eating, watching baseball and looking at fancy homes. Then it was time for dinner. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is home to several notable restaurants but we chose La Hacienda because when in Arizona, one must eat Mexican food. It did not disappoint.
La Hacienda was honestly one of the best Mexican restaurants I’ve ever eaten at and I’ve been to some top spots. The service was fantastic, the award winning tequila based cocktails were excellent and I literally needed to be carried out I ate so much!
The bacon guacamole was to die for and I really mean that. Such a simple yet brilliant idea. The empanadas were also excellent. For the mains, with whatever room I could salvage, I pushed down a delicious steak and then I asked for mercy. I was so full I couldn’t partake in their famous flaming coffee but I saw it performed at other tables and it looked amazing! I was asleep less than 20 minutes after walking out of the restaurant!
On day three we opted against eating at the hotel to try a local North Scottsdale breakfast hotspot called Snooze. It was fantastic and worth the wait in line. I suggest getting there early (7-8am) and I loved the huevos rancheros with sides of bacon and hash browns. It’s a 3-minute drive from the Fairmont.
I had developed a pretty bad cold at this point so I wasn’t feeling too hot. I tried to play golf at McCormick Ranch with my buddy but actually had to walk off the course to rest after the 12th hole. If you know me, I never leave golf early so I must’ve been sick-I actually had a fever of 101. I actually changed hotels to the W Scottsdale in Old Town to get a different vibe.
I literally crashed from about 6pm until 6am the next day after getting medicine and loading up on fluids. I have to say the staff at the W Scottsdale was excellent and got me medicine and fluids. I really appreciated that-they didn’t have to do that nor did I ask them to. Even before this, I had actually stayed there some 20 times and I named it one of the 30 best hotels in the world. Now I think so even more!
When I woke up I wasn’t feeling too great but I had gotten some solid sleep and my fever had gone away. I had a tee time at TPC Scottsdale, one of the most famous courses in the country and home of the Phoenix Open each year. I always attend that tournament but have never actually played it myself. So I manned up and played.
TPC Scottsdale is gorgeous, it really is. The greens are impeccably kept; the fairways perfect and the bunkers would make white sand beaches in the Caribbean jealous. I played OK considering how crappy I felt and got to play with my buddy and we had a blast.
It should be noted that the 16th Hole, aka the craziest hole in golf or the stadium hole, was having the stadium deconstructed. They take it down each year after the Phoenix Open and put it back up again each October for the tournament a few months later. Apparently some flood law in Scottsdale makes them to do that. It must cost a few million to put it up and down. I’d love to have that contract! That said, I parred the hole-and the crowd went wild!
I was actually supposed to play 36 holes and play the Champions Course at TPC Scottsdale but I didn’t want to push my luck and opted to cancel my second round of the day. I will surely play it next time I’m in town.
After chilling out for a bit I headed to dinner at Sushi Roku in the W Scottsdale Hotel. I have eaten Sushi Roku in Scottsdale a dozen times at both in Los Angeles and the one in Las Vegas numerous times. Needless to say I like it a lot.
I suggest ordering a variety of appetizers especially the albacore, rock shrimp, baked miso cod and crispy rice with spicy tuna. Then get some rolls or mains as you like. Since I was feeling well, I didn’t drink but they have great sakes and Japanese beers to choose from as well. I’m a huge fan of Sushi Roku and as a benefit of staying at W Scottsdale, you can get it as room service if you like!
So that was my most recent long weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona. It’s such a great to relax, get away, play golf, eat at top restaurants, sightsee and just enjoy the best sunsets in America. I’ll be back soon and the next time will likely be to buy a house!