The Presidential Suite at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess has a large parlor with top views.
While winter is peak season for Arizona’s resorts, we say Scottsdale has plenty to offer even in summer. Here’s what to expect at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in winter or summer:
Winter in Scottsdale means a wide range of temperatures, from the high 30s at night to the 60s. Fortunately, the outdoor bars all have large space heaters, and the tables can become firepits instantly.
The resort offers some fun seasonal activities in December: A huge Christmas tree is set up in the main courtyard, and holiday images are projected onto the surrounding walls. In the evenings, the lights on the walls and the tree become part of a show set to Christmas carols.
Indoors, fireplaces are lit for a comfortable vibe, and carolers wander the public halls to sing their songs.
Perhaps coolest of all is the huge outdoor skating rink, where families can rent skates and take to the ice. Bonus: A special package is available that includes rink-side seating, fur-lined throws to keep warm and hot chocolate.
Scottsdale is a great deal in the summer months, as many people stay away to avoid the (sometimes) extreme heat. But those willing to brave the warm temperatures will find great value for money and a lot of activities that will help everyone stay cool.
The resort has several pools, and cabanas can be booked for those who want to dedicate plenty of time to relaxing poolside. Most of these pools are family-friendly, and drinks and snacks, of course, are available poolside.
Good to know: The pools are open 24/7, so no worries about getting there before nightfall. During summer weekends, family-friendly movies are screened at the South Pool, and the pools have slides and activities. By the lagoon (where families can try their hand at fishing), a zipline is set up that is ideal for children: At only 37 feet up and 240 feet long, it is not too intimidating for beginners or smaller adventurers. (Individual or unlimited passes are available.)
Families have a good range of options at the resort—they can opt for private Casitas, Center Masters or Presidential Suites, or connecting rooms on regular Fairmont rooms. On the third and fourth floors of the resort’s main building, the Center Master Suites have a main parlor room that has a conference or dining area with a table for six, a sofa and two chairs, and a wet bar. These suites can have one or two adjoining bedrooms off the main parlor room. The very top pick, though, is the Presidential Suite, with a four-poster bed, a separate parlor (good for receiving guests), a wet bar (with a refrigerator and microwave) and a dining room for six.
Top Tip: In winter, families may want to specifically request rooms that are accessed by an interior hallway rather than an exterior walkway, just to keep cool air from getting in whenever the door opens.
The Fairmont is also a good pick for fine dining, and locals go out of their way to visit the restaurants. Bourbon Steak is a classic steakhouse with some great cuts of beef and an excellent wine selection. The steaks here are terrific (the sirloin is very tender), and the “bar bites” menu offers great value for money: Guests can sit on the restaurant’s patio at any time and order from the happy-hour snack selections, which includes steak frites.
La Hacienda, meanwhile, is the resort’s high-end Mexican restaurant under the guidance of Chef Richard Sandoval, reportedly known as the “father of modern Mexican cuisine.” Nice Touch: The restaurant also has a fire pit on the patio for warm seating in the winter. And best of all for fans of margaritas, it has more than 240 artisan tequila selections.
Speaking of tequila, the restaurant also has a dedicated Tequila Goddess who can recommend the right libation for any meal. Dedicated fans should ask for the “Snake Bite Flight”—a flight of three different agave-based liquors, including tequila, mezcal and sotol, all framed by a real rattlesnake’s head and tail. (Ask for the Herradura Tequila, the Monte Alban Mezcal and the Hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol—they are all very good.)
Couples and groups should make a point of trying the “trios” on the menu, like the guacamole trio or the tacos trio for an appetizer.
Also, be sure to try the flaming coffee—a piece of culinary performance art that is exactly what it sounds like: As the coffee is prepared, cinnamon and alcohol are lit on fire for a great spectacle.
The Willow Stream Spa is massive, with 27 treatment rooms. It is easy (and, it would seem popular) to book a full three-day escape and spend all three days at the spa trying a range of therapies, which cover everything from facials to mani/pedis to massages to holistic treatments.
During Christmas, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is decorated for the season with heated tables for al fresco dining.
A notable option is the hour-long Craniosacral Therapy, which uses light touch to “shift and correct the rhythms of the craniosacral system, located around the head, neck and spine,” and replenish “internal resources.” Request Tandy as a therapist for this treatment, which is reportedly helpful for headaches, minor neck and back pain, and relieving stress and tension.
There’s also the hour-long Hacienda Retreat, which uses local food items to improve the skin. The treatment begins with a yellow corn and lime body polish for exfoliation, followed by a hydrating mask of shea butter scented with lime zest, spearmint and lemon that penetrates the skin while the therapist massages the face with desert rose moisturizer. Good to know: The 90-minute version of the treatment includes a 30-minute massage with the spa’s signature Mojito body butter. Request Sonya for this treatment—we hear she’s “fantastic.”
It’s worthwhile to allow plenty of time to explore the spa both before and after a treatment as it has some nice perks that can help guests get energized or relaxed, as needed. The single-sex lounges all have hot and cold pools adjacent to one another (good for the pores and muscles) as well as steam rooms, saunas and cool eucalyptus inhalation rooms. Outside, in a co-ed area, a heated waterfall pool lets guests stand under running water (different streams have different pressure) and work out the knots in their backs with wet heat. Up a spiral stairway, built into the walls, is a rooftop pool just for adults, with bean-bag floating loungers that guests can use to soak in the sun.
The Willow Stream Spa Pool is a quiet respite at the top of the resort.
Tip: Be sure to book a Fairmont Gold room. This brings a range of perks, including free self-parking, free in-room Wi-Fi, access to the tennis courts and (perhaps best of all) free access to the Fairmont Gold Lounge. This lounge offers free sodas, free appetizers every afternoon, as well as a free honor bar and free breakfast in the morning. Breakfast includes fresh egg dishes, bacon and sausages, creme brulee oatmeal and traditional bagels and lox. The coffee station has flavored syrups, so amaretto coffee is no problem, and a dedicated concierge can help arrange any activity or reservations for spa treatments...or golf...or tennis...or anything else. The free breakfasts and in-room Wi-Fi immediately make the upgrade pay for itself, and the perks really add the ideal touches on the vacation.
Good to know: Private helicopters can land at the hotel, and private planes can land at Scottsdale Airpark, two blocks (and three minutes) from the resort.
Luxury travel advisors should contact the resort’s Director of Travel Industry Sales David Scholefield ([email protected]; 480-585-4848) with any questions or requests.