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Passport Concierge: Ace Bailey, Hotel Valley Ho, Scottsdale Arizona

by Rich Rubin
Ace Bailey, Hotel Valley Ho, Scottsdale, Arizona

One thing she loves about the area, as someone who moved away for a while and then returned, is how it’s constantly evolving (any regular visitor to Scottsdale would back her up on that one).

For Ace Bailey, concierge at Scottsdale’s Hotel Valley Ho (6850 E. Main St., Scottsdale AZ. Tel: 480-376-2600. ), a concierge position is a natural. Proprietor since 2006 of her own art and cultural tour company, Ultimate Art Tours (Tel: 602-826-3155.), she has always counted the Valley Ho as one of her favored destinations. In 2012, she tells us, she was doing a tour of the Valley Ho, and they asked her if she’d be interested in being a concierge. Her response? “A steady source of income? I’m all over that!” So these days, this Arizona native juggles the concierge position, her tour company, and doing tours when time allows. One thing she loves about the area, as someone who moved away for a while and then returned, is how it’s constantly evolving (any regular visitor to Scottsdale would back her up on that one).

And the Valley Ho? “I love the authenticity of the Valley Ho, I love the attention to detail that went into this renovation. I love that they saved this place when it was about to be torn down. They’re third generation ‘`Zonies,’ so they loved the history of it.” The renovations were, in fact, completed just in time to reopen on December 20, 2005, exactly 49 years from the original opening!

By the way, in case you’re wondering, the nickname “Ace” refers not to her piloting abilities or her poker savvy, but comes from having the nearly unpronounceable first name of Arvona, and a childhood surname of Cox: AC, her longtime nickname, somehow got shortened to Ace, and the name stuck, becoming, in her words, “my survival name.” If you’re looking for a concierge that knows her stuff about the Scottsdale/Phoenix area, you can’t go wrong talking to this “Ace.”

Where are the coolest places to go for cocktails?
Toca Madera (4736 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale AZ. Tel: 480-930-4357.) is a very upscale restaurant with a DJ. They offer not only a huge selection of tequilas and mezcals but “farm- to- table” cocktails.

Dining in Scottsdale, Arizona

Alfresco Dining
Photo: Monkey Business Images

Geisha A Go Go (7150 E. 6th Ave., Scottsdale AZ. Tel: 480-699-0055.) is a karaoke and sushi bar. They also have private karaoke rooms. They have different of various capacities depending on the size of the group. There are two separate bars, one where they do karaoke and one that’s just more of a bar vibe.

AZ 88 (7353 Scottsdale Mall. Tel: 480-994-5576.) is very gay-friendly–and also blue-hair friendly! I have seen every possible demographic in there,and they make the best martinis in the world. They’re in the Civic Center Plaza, and they have a lot of outdoor seating as well. It has a modern, minimalist, open, airy look, and all those huge windows that open onto the Civic Center Plaza make it feel kind of like being in our own Central Park.

What are the best restaurants for a romantic dinner in the city?
Elements at Sanctuary (5700 E. McDonald Dr., Paradise Valley AZ. Tel: 855-245-2051.) has Beau MacMillan as the executive chef, he’s also an Iron Chef. The menu is outrageously phenomenal, and their specials are whatever’s fresh that day. The views north over Paradise Valley are fabulous, and they have a great bar (Jade Bar), with jazz on the weekends.

Virtù Honest Craft (3701 N. Marshall Way, Scottsdale AZ. Tel: 480-946-3477.) is in Bespoke Inn, a wonderful Scottsdale B&B. They have a grilled octopus appetizer that’s to die for, and they make crazy custom cocktails. It’s small, there’s a little patio with café lights, a lot of trees and greenery, it’’s just beautiful. It has a very intimate feeling, and it’s right in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale.

Café Monarch (6939 E. 1st Ave., Scottsdale AZ. Tel: 480-970-7682.) does a four-course prix fixe menu. It’s pretty high-end but it’s so worth it for that special night out. The building has a Spanish look to it, and it’s so intimate and extremely romantic.

Who serves the greatest weekend brunch in town?
Fez (105 W. Portland St., Phoenix, AZ. Tel: 602-287-8700.) is in downtown Phoenix, with a great patio. It has excellent food, and it’s also very gay-friendly. Fez has a wide variety of specialty drinks, like the Spa-tini or the Cherry Bomb. At brunch they do some pretty standard fare, but also with their own twist, like a Fez Benedict, Golden Curry Egg Scramble, or Jumbo Spiced Pear Pancake.

Encanto Park Lagoon near Phoenix, Arizona

Encanto Park Lagoon and Downtown Phoenix
Photo: Gregory E. Clifford

What museums are a must see for visitors?
Definitely the Heard Museum (2301 N. Central Ave., Phoenix AZ. 602-252-8840.), which is one of the finest Native American museums in the country, if not the world. Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, or SMoCA (7374 E. Second St., Scottsdale AZ. Tel: 480-874-4666.), the premiere contemporary art museum in Arizona, has fabulous installations. Will Bruder designed it by repurposing a five-plex movie theater. www.phxart.org (1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix AZ. Tel:602-257-1880.), also known as PAM, is wonderful. That was actually the brainchild of the artist Philip C. Curtis, and they have a gallery dedicated to him and his work. They have a real mix. I have seen ancient Aztec installations there, and they have fabulous fashion installations.

Which guided tours do you recommend most often to your guests?
Of course I recommend the Valley Ho’s Magical History Tour (6850 E. Main St., Scottsdale AZ. Tel: 480-376-2600.). A great resource is Experience Scottsdale, which has maps you can download of coffee, wine and ale trails, and walking tours of architecture, historic Scottsdale, and public art. Arizona Food Tours (Tel: 480-620-4047.) offers private walking tours of culinary Scottsdale.

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