Arizona’s high desert has a unique magic and mystique all its own and, when it comes to the Four Seasons Scottsdale, guests can also expect the unexpected—starting with its Sonoran Desert locale. For one, “lush” and “desert” aren’t normally two words one would associate, but in the high Sonoran Desert you’ll find iconic saguaro cacti standing tall amid bright desert marigolds, delicate summer poppies and vibrant green velvet mesquite all strewn about the rocky mountainous landscape. This gorgeous backdrop is befitting of the Four Seasons Scottsdale—an AAA five-diamond desert oasis that duly delivers on high hospitality standards expected of an award-winning luxury resort, though proffered with an unpretentious, salt-of-the-earth, rustic charm. Here the relaxed resort ambiance complemented by Southwestern-styling beckons guests to kick back, unwind, and enjoy all the property has to offer, which is quite a lot. Guests are treated to an array of amenities, including a top-rated golf course, pool, spa, fitness center, both casual and fine dining, and service that’s second to none.
During my recent visit to the property, I lunched with Kim Cole, the resort’s Director of Public Relations. Cole emphasized that, along with its unique setting and sense of place, an intuitive approach to service is what sets the resort apart. It’s this instinctive method of service that delivers yet more surprises while on-site, as I have personally witnessed staffers doing their utmost to meet a guest’s every need and whim—even before asked to do so. Cole puts this fabulous phenomenon into perspective, noting, “Our approach to service is to listen, first and foremost, to guests’ spoken and unspoken needs. Being able to anticipate needs, and hopefully meet and exceed them, is a hallmark of the Four Seasons brand.” In Scottsdale, they are certainly doing the brand proud.
Cole continued on the property’s mission-critical service standards, citing they are, “among the most comprehensive and rigorous in the industry.” As an example, she explained that housekeeping employees have a detailed list of checkpoints all throughout the guest room that must be completed and, when done, an inspector also then examines the room to ensure it is guest-ready. This “checks and balances” system serves to assure the property achieves its goal to “not only meet, but to exceed guest expectations whenever possible.”
Of course, nothing is more important to a guest experience than the room in which they stay. At the Four Seasons Scottsdale, there are 210 luxuriously appointed guestrooms, including 22 suites and 3 standard rooms located in 25 of the property’s adobe casitas that are designed to blend flawlessly with the desert surroundings. The interior decor features custom furnishings and handmade art sourced from regional craftspeople and artisans, including the Huichol Indians. Guests staying in the casitas can choose from a variety of breathtaking vistas, including the Sonoran Desert, Crescent Butte Mountain, and the Valley of the Sun. Those staying in the other suites enjoy a private plunge pool, garden shower and outdoor kiva fireplace. Other rooms provide a large balcony overlooking various aspects of the desert landscape sprinkled with indigenous flora and fauna.
However, for those desiring the most luxurious accommodations the Four Seasons Scottsdale has to offer, a stay in the three-bedroom Pinnacle suite will surely satisfy. This 3,000-square foot suite boasts two king beds and two double beds, three full bathrooms (two with garden showers) as well as a guest powder room with shower. This is all situated in a private building on high ground with a remarkable view of Crescent Butte Mountain from any of the suite’s private patios. The Pinnacle suite is perfect for entertaining as it boasts a pantry for food preparation, a dining area and ample seating in the living room, all surrounded by plank hardwood flooring below and intricate wood-beamed ceilings above. A special touch guests revel in is a telescope for viewing the spectacular night sky, complete with detailed astrological chart.
Dining at the Four Seasons Scottsdale is also unexpectedly humble and without haughty airs. The cuisine is certainly elevated but straightforward, blending the piquant flavors of the Southwest with fresh, seasonal American cuisine that’s served up in an energetic ambiance representative of its upscale casual approach to resort dining. However relaxed the atmosphere, sourcing of the victuals, themselves, is serious business and here only the best, and freshest, from local purveyors will do. Cole enthusiastically explained, “Executive Chef Mel Mecinas, who hails originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, helps guide the culinary program at the property at every level. He has helped change our approach to food and beverage, emphasizing partnerships with local growers to supply the majority of fresh foods at the property. We source olive oil exclusively from local Queen Creek Olive Mill, meats from local purveyors, tomatoes from Sunizon Farms out of Wilcox Arizona, local produce from Maya Farms, and the list goes on. Chef Mel has a passion for simple presentation of the highest quality, most locally sourced foods.”
There are a variety of dining options that Chef Mel oversees at the Four Seasons Scottsdale. For one, Proof restaurant is a great option no matter the time of day or night. The restaurant features homestyle comfort food that’s served up in an American Canteen-styled setting reminiscent of old Americana courtesy of thoughtful design elements like a nostalgic soda fountain, games and country pantry styling. Televisions and a bustling bar foster a lively and communal vibe. I personally didn’t expect a Four Seasons to feature a restaurant quite this laid-back and approachable, but it was certainly a pleasant and welcome revelation.
During the daylight hours, guests can also enjoy light, poolside fare at Saguaro Blossom—an all outdoor seating eatery and bar. The restaurant services the cabanas and lounge chairs, also extending complimentary amenities of chilled water, fruit kebabs, chilled towels, and tasters of fruit smoothies and other beverages. Saguaro Blossom specializes in light poolside fare, much with an elevated Tex-Mex twist.
Drinks and small bites at the Onyx Bar & Lounge are also a must—especially as the sun sets behind the Sonoran Desert. This daily show-stopper is in view from the lounge’s outdoor common patio area replete with plush couches and other seating. Onyx features a menu of small plates, and fresh sweet and savory cocktail combinations among fine wine and bubbly options.
But, it’s Talavera where Chef Mel’s culinary prowess is most apparent. Talavera is a steakhouse specializing in prime cuts of meat, poultry and game from boutique purveyors, as well as a wide variety of seafood. Chef Mel combines a cornucopia of über-fresh ingredients into exquisitely delectable dishes such as Seared Rougié Foie Gras with rhubarb chutney, bacon and a slice of peach pound cake; Buffalo Tenderloin with bacon, roasted carrots and ancho-tomatillo sauce; and Venison Loin with baby squash, mole, foie gras and cotija cheese.
In all, the Four Seasons Scottsdale is doing its rich history proud. The property was held by cereal heiress, Lois Kellogg Maury, and was home to a finishing school for wealthy Eastern debutantes. Known as the Crescent Moon Ranch, the school also rented out guest cottages to seasonal visitors who undoubtedly took advantage of what this unique region has to offer. Today’s guests can still experience adventures in and around the property. Cole commented on one of her favorites noting, “I personally love the proximity to Pinnacle Peak Park. I love that our guests can walk directly from the property to this picturesque hike, where they have panoramic views of the beautiful desert and city beyond.” Other nearby activity options include playing golf in the renowned Weiskopf-designed courses at Troon North; the resort’s Cowboy for a Day experience in which guests learn how to rope, groom, and saddle horses before going on a trail ride; hot air ballooning; bike tours and rentals; Hummer tours; rock climbing and canyoneering, just to name a few. Guests can also get their blood pumping on-site at the fully stocked fitness center that has plenty of free weights, Nautilus machines and cardio equipment to ensure an effective workout session.
If relaxation is the order of the day, guests can simply hang out at the free-form, bi-level pool (one of which is adult-only) in or out of a luxury poolside cabana. During some seasons pool guests are even treated an evening “dive-in” movie, which is great fun. Understanding many resort-goers are ready to be pampered, the on-site 14-room spa offers a full range of head-to-toe services in addition to five signature treatments.
Also family-friendly, the property has numerous options to accommodate the younger guests. There are complimentary offerings for families year-round, like items to childproof guest rooms; the use of high chairs, bottle warmers and playpens; and child-size bathrobes, as well as baby and children’s toiletries. The resort’s Kids For All Seasons (KFAS) space is a children’s camp that hosts activities for children all year long. KFAS offers complimentary access to a pool table, ping pong table and Lego table, as well as board games, movies, daily crafts, and rooms dedicated to playing Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii. Parents also love that, with 24 hours’ notice, the resort can arrange reliable babysitting services for an hourly fee.
Whether you’re a family looking for a fun vacation, a couple seeking quality alone time in a peaceful desert paradise, a gaggle of gal pals looking to unwind and catch up, or if you simply want to get away from the daily grind, the Four Seasons Scottsdale is a picture-perfect hideaway that has it all—including a charisma and charm uniquely its own.
Merilee Kern is the executive editor and producer of “The Luxe List.”