The Desert Beckons This Winter
By Chris Duthie
Labor Day is behind us, signaling the waning weeks of summer and the ensuing start of another blissfully chilly autumn and winter. Which is great stuff if, like me, you’re a fan of Arizona’s magical Sonoran Desert and the always-resplendent surrounds of Scottsdale.
Indeed, now is the time to start planning a golf vacation to the West’s Most Western Town. To start, Scottsdale boasts 51 singular golf courses and easy access to about 150 more in the greater Phoenix area. Plus, the destination’s resorts are sumptuous and astonishing, underscored by five-star golf properties like The Boulders Resort & Spa, Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North, The Phoenician, Talking Stick Resort and The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa.
Looking for more reasons why Scottsdale should be tops on your cool weather vacation list? Here are five:
1) A lavish, 183-room boutique resort opened earlier this year following a complete scrape-and-rebuild of the 1959-circa Marriott Mountain Shadows Resort. The entirely new Mountain Shadows engages with fine dining, two sparkling outdoor pools with private cabanas, a 5,000-square-foot fitness center, and 12,500 square feet of indoor meeting space. Golfers further enjoy the 18-hole Short Course at Mountain Shadows, a new Forrest Richardson-designed par-3 challenge.
2) Speaking of golf, there are three new critically acclaimed courses that promise to punctuate your Scottsdale-area must-play list, including the Tom Lehman-orchestrated Verde River Golf & Social Club in Rio Verde; the 9-hole Li’l Wick short course at Wickenburg Ranch; and the Lehman-designed Victory Course at Verrado Golf Club.
3) Also adding to the city’s collection of world-class accommodations is the just-opened Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa. The 22-acre gem offers fastidious 1950s-era sophistication and is detailed with 201 bungalow-style guestrooms, casual dining, spa, three outdoor pools, fitness center and 46,000 square feet of meeting space. Next on tap: In late 2018 watch for the debut of the new 200-room Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley.
4) Spanning 200,000 square feet on two levels, Scottsdale’s new OdySea Aquarium explores the mysterious aquatic life of bayous, rivers, coral reefs and abysses with more than 30,000 marine animals. It’s all part of a $200 million family styled playground that includes a Butterfly Wonderland, an OdySea Mirror Maze, and a just-opened Polar Play area where interior temperatures are set at a nippy 23 degrees. Also on site (and just minutes from TopGolf Scottsdale) is a new, three-story iFly sky diving simulator.
5) In recent months the Scottsdale Ale Trail has taken on a heady reputation, but now make way for four wine tasting rooms that have recently opened downtown. In fact, Arizona boasts nearly 100 wineries, narrated in complex and head-swirling detail at the LDV Wine Gallery, Aridus Wine Company, Salvatore Vineyards and Carlson Creek Vineyard.
For more about Scottsdale, go online to ExperienceScottsdale.com. What are your favorite memories of Scottsdale? Share your comments below.
Chris Duthie is a Durango-based contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer. Colorado AvidGolfer is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via coloradoavidgolfer.com.