As winter approaches, a traveler’s mind naturally turns to Scottsdale Arizona, one of the premier destinations in the country for “snowbirds.” Always a great choice to escape the winter cold (well, really a great choice any time of year), Scottsdale’s appeal is enhanced even further by a series of new openings, bringing the already enviable hotel and dining scene to new heights, as well as activities from upscale shopping to interesting exploration. Here, where tried-and-true meets new-and-innovative, there’s a wealth of choices from your first breakfast of the day to your last drinks at night. If you haven’t been to Scottsdale in a while (or, God forbid, have never been there), it’s time for a visit.
First, let’s check in, and there are marvelous new offerings here. Heading northeast from downtown Scottsdale, we arrive at the new Adero Scottsdale (13225 N. Eagle Ridge Dr., Scottsdale AZ. Tel: 480-333-1900 or 888-236- 2427. www.aderoscottsdale.com), which opened in October 2020. The first thing you notice as you approach is the amazing mountain panorama. Sitting on seventeen acres in the middle of the McDowell Mountains, the hotel wisely keeps the colors muted to take advantage of the spectacular vistas through the many walls of windows. Every room has a mountain view, too, as well as a balcony or patio to admire it from, and a spacious, lowkey comfort that might encourage you never to leave! With a great restaurant, Cielo, onsite, fitness classes, a nice spa, two swimming pools, and a variety of outdoor spaces, Adero is its own self-contained world of desert beauty. There’s even a walking trail to take advantage of its desert scenery and mountainous setting. It’s the Marriott Autograph Collection’s only resort set in an official “dark sky” community, so nighttime star-gazing is prime. They even have local astronomers (whom they dub “the star dudes”) come in for celestial events. Built with an appreciation of the awesome nature that surrounds the resort, it’s a perfect choice for those who want to immerse themselves in the Southwest.
If you’d rather be right at the heart of town, the winning Canopy Scottsdale Old Town (7142 East 1st St., Scottsdale AZ. Tel: 480- 590-3864 or 844-692-2667. www.scottsdaleoldtown.canopybyhilton.com), also opened in October, is the first new hotel build in downtown Scottsdale in ten years. A member of Hilton’s boutique Canopy brand, it’s right across the street from the Museum of the American West, and a two-minute walk from the heart of Scottsdale’s Marshall Way Arts District and Main Street shopping. There’s lots of lounge space, free bicycles for guests, a rooftop bar with bird’s-eye vistas of downtown Scottsdale, Camelback Mountain, and the McDowell Mountains, and a lovely restaurant just off the lobby. Comfy rooms have a muted color palette and canopy-style headboards of carved wood inset with copper, which does a great job of bringing a Southwestern feel right into your room. Best of all is that between your own two feet and the Scottsdale trolley that stops nearby, you can explore the town without even having to get back in your car. Now that’s convenience!
Looming on the horizon: the upcoming Caesar’s Republic Scottsdale (4747 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottdsale AZ. Tel: 888- 293-2398. www.caesarsrepublicscottsdale.com), the first non-gaming hotel by this company that’s famous in Las Vegas and elsewhere, is planned for a prime spot adjacent to Scottsdale Fashion Square. The eleven-story glass structure will feature a restaurant by Giada de Laurentiis and a seventh-floor pool/lounge. Meanwhile, both Adero Scottsdale and Canopy Scottsdale Old Town, offer very different atmospheres (one grand and isolated, one boutique-y and right at the heart of things), but whichever one you choose, I promise you’ll be happy with your stay.
Speaking of Scottsdale Fashion Square, the new Luxury Wing, which was unveiled in December 2018, offers a series of high-end retailers. There’s even a “concierge” to guide you through the dizzying array of stores. There’s also a series of wonderful restaurants grouped together to make a true “restaurant row” in the middle of this shopping area. Zinqué (4712 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale AZ. Tel: 623-745-9616. www.lezinque.com), the new Scottsdale location of this restaurant with branches throughout California, reopened in May 2020 with a wide-ranging, French-inspired menu. Right across the courtyard is Nobu (7014 E. Camelback Rd., Scottsdale AZ. Tel: 480-581-0055. www.noburestaurants.com/scottsdale/home/), which in early 2020 became the first Arizona outpost of this renowned Japanese restaurant. You might also want to try Toca Madera (4736 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale AZ. Tel: 480-930-4357. www.tocamadera.com/location/scottsdale), the Scottsdale branch of this upscale Mexican restaurant based in West Hollywood. Whichever of these places you choose, you’re bound to have a great meal.
My preferred spot in the Luxury Wing, though, is Francine Restaurant (4710 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale AZ. Tel: 480- 690-6180. www.francinerestaurant.com), with cuisine based in the Provençal region of France and offering a variety of both familiar and new dishes by celebrity chef Laurent Halasz, who hails from the South of France. I start with an Endive Tatin, figuring if these people can make endive taste good, they’ve won my vote. Sure enough, it’s a beautiful little pastry with caramelized walnuts and onions countering the bitterness of the endive. For a main, choose the best Salade Niçoise in history, fascinating crab ravioli, or (my choice) a perfectly cooked Mediterranean branzino with a sauce vierge that is somehow light and filling all at once, and bursting with flavor. Dessert? Lovely Francine apple tart (so classic), or perhaps a flourless chocolate cake. The high-ceilinged spot has a kind of rustic chic, with a nice patio outside and the most accommodating service you can imagine. Definitely top off your afternoon of shopping with a meal at this winning spot that debuted in August 2020 and somehow manages to be both upscale and down-home at the same time.