The sun lives in Arizona and vacations in Phoenix.
Temperatures reach a hundred and the mid-teens
there in summer. They rarely fall much below 70,
even in winter.
Phoenix is generally a flat place connected by
freeways and malls. There are the mundane malls,
anchored to fast food drive-throughs. And there
are power shopping meccas, anchored by elite European
name brands. Only Bank One Ballpark gives the
place a little special pizzazz. That and perhaps
half a dozen five-star luxury resorts in the Phoenix
area, most in or near Scottsdale, northeast of
downtown Phoenix, where it's an average of 10
degrees cooler most of the year. For sun worshipers,
I imagine these places are heaven.
I've stayed at several of Phoenix's desert oases.
(You may have read my column about the Phoenician
and Royal Palms). Almost all are set against awe-inspiring
mountain backdrops. Their décor is lavish, pools
inviting, restaurants award winning, spas invigorating,
and golf courses scenic and challenging. There
is one resort, however, that has all that and
a name - the Four Seasons - a name that has become
synonymous with luxury and superlative service.
In my recent stay at the Four Seasons Resort,
Scottsdale at Troon North (480-515-5599), I was
The Four Seasons Scottdale is a smaller, more
intimate, and cozier resort than the larger luxury
resorts like the 600-room Phoenician, 700-room
Biltmore, and 900-room Marriot. Newly built in
late 2000, it has 210 spacious rooms arranged
in one and two-story southwestern style casitas.
All have gas burning fireplaces and private balconies
or terraces with views of the High Sonoran desert
and mountain peaks that overlook the resort. The
grounds are a virtual specimen garden of desert
cacti, predominately grand Saguaros. And the hotel
is saddled between Pinnacle Peak and Crested Butte,
tan and green rugged hillsides with spectacular
boulder outcroppings precariously balanced atop
Rates are seasonal, peaking January through April
at $395-650 with summer bargain rates, June through
August, as low as $145. And there are several
packages that include multi-night stays, dining,
golf, or spa treatments that in combination make
a holiday or a business junket more attractive.
There's even an affiliation with the nearby Arizona
Cowboy College. You can attend "college"
there during the day and learn to be a "real"
cowboy - roping, shoeing, branding, and finally
setting off on a cattle drive - and yet return
each evening for pampering at a Four Seasons.
You can be a John Wayne during the day; a Sinatra
The main building, with its lobby, restaurants,
and convention rooms, is a territorial design
with large telephone pole roof beams interspersed
with small latia poles. Walls are decorated with
wonderful desert photography, native art, and
indiginous indian handicrafts.
The resort is set in Troon North, an area of Scottsdale
with multi-million dollar homes and the Troon
North golf courses, two award winning 18-hole
courses designed by champion golfer Tom Weiskopf.
Although they are public courses, guests at the
resort get preferred tee-times.
There are four hard surfaced tennis courts, two
lit for evening play. Nature lovers can hike up
Pinnacle Peak. The resort has built a trail directly
from the hotel to the city's Pinnacle Peak trail.
Chilled towels and bottled water will await you
at your return.
Their full service spa, adjacent to their fitness
center, has 14 treatment rooms and spa suites
for couples. And, of course, they have a "signature"
treatment - the Four Seasons massage. Winter is
a prelude cooling scrub. Spring a warm floral
wrap. Summer a medley of massage techniques. And
Fall a herbal scalp treatment. In late evening,
after spa hours, and perhaps after a vigorous
day of golf or branding, you can enjoy a massage
on your private casita terrace under a star-filled
There are three restaurants - the Acacia, a fine
dining steak house with a southwestern touch serving
dinner only; the Crescent Moon with more of an
Italian flare, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner
inside, or on an outside terrace; and the Saguaro
Blossom serving snacks at poolside.
There are three pools - a children's pool with
miniature lounge chairs, an upper pool for family
activity with private cabanas, and below that,
a strictly adult pool in a quieter area with more
There are a lot of resorts in Scottsdale, a lot
of wonderful choices, but service is what sells
a Four Seasons. From the moment the valet opens
your car door when you drive up, to the twice
daily maid service and a star constellation chart
laid atop your pillow at nightly turndown, service
is extraordinary. But it is the complimentary
services that I think make the world of difference.
There's a "Kids for All Seasons" program
at the Four Seasons. There's no charge and you
can leave your child for 4 hours or 8 hours to
be entertained and educated in a structured program
designed for 5-12 year olds. For the very, very
young, there's no charge for cribs, diapers, high
chairs, strollers, playpens, even baby wipes.
There's even a kid's concierge to provide further
advice for anything child related.
Poolside, attendants walk around and deliver a
free food amenity every ˝ hour - from fruit cabobs,
to frozen candy bars, to frozen yogurt. And ever
cognizant that this is a desert, they'll be by
with ice water, chilled towels, and an Evian spritz.
While other first class resorts charge for their
poolside cabanas and canopies, there's no charge
Use of the fitness center is free. Use of the
spa is free. Use of tennis racquets and balls,
free. And there are free daily fitness classes
including yoga, spinning, pilates, Tai Chi, and
Leave your shoes out to be shined at night. They'll
be on your door with your newspaper in the morning.
While the resort is just 35 minutes from Phoenix
International Airport and 20 minutes from downtown
Scottsdale's most opulent shopping areas, it is
certainly more off the beaten track than most
of Scottsdale's other luxury resorts. But the
resort also sits nearly 1200 feet higher than
Phoenix and Scottsdale and so it is definitely
cooler and has grand panoramic views of the desert
and city below. Away from city lights, its night
sky is awash with stars. A telescope in the lobby
is available to look down at the lights of the
city below or at a myriad of stars above. Being
a little bit "out of the way" is perhaps
what makes the Four Seasons more conducive to
a restful or romantic interlude or a business
group's harmony. The perfect place to worship
the sun and get a little closer to heaven.