By Regina Lynch-Hudson
Blissful destination: The Phoenix/Scottsdale metropolitan area is a place for soaking up sun and languishing in outdoor activities that are almost always followed by a dip in the pool. The area flaunts beaming weather (dry heat), more than 300 miles of trails for trekking and biking, over 150 golf courses, and some of the nation’s highest rated resorts and spas. Greeted by summer temperatures soaring in the triple digits, I came prepared for adventure, wearing Coolibar sun protection wear (www.coolibar.com), goo-gobs of sunscreen and comfy mountaineering boots.
A litany of leisure-exploits prevailed at our retreat, the world-famous five-diamond Phoenician Resort (www.thephoenician.com), located a mere 12 miles from Phoenix, in Scottsdale. Cradled into the famed Camelback Mountain, the 250-acre luxury resort became a virtual playground for pricking my green thumb — with its two-acre Cactus Garden of desert flora. Guided hikes up Camelback Mountain, cycling on the lush grounds, and an endless roster of on-property activities left little time to rest our weary bones in a sprawling 600-square-foot Grand Deluxe Suite.
Every imaginable relief for a gal’s cactus-scratched, sun-singed limbs was available in the Phoenician’s 22,000-square-foot Centre for Well Being Spa. For roughly two hours, I surrendered to the therapist’s adept hands as she administered a Desert Serenity Scrub Wrap. My aches and pains dwindled away, after application of cooling mineral-rich clay and soothing Aloe-Vera, followed by exfoliation, and a much-needed full-body Swedish massage.
Some like it hot: So, we’re cruising along in the Sonoran Desert, escorted by Walker Remington, our tour guide from Arizona Territorial Adventures (www.arizonaterritorialadventures.com), with the jeep’s air conditioning soaring. I sleepily half-glance at the dash board from the back seat, and say to my husband, “Baby, according to the dash it’s only 89.5 out there.” Hubby pauses, and then replies, “Ummm dear, that’s the channel for the FM station. The tachometer reading states that it’s 107 degrees.”
After the first laugh of many for the day, our guide explained that early morning tours are advised during summer months. Boy, was he right! Temperatures elevated by the millisecond, as the hilarious Walker Remington entertained us with intriguing tales of life in the desert.
Culinary Jewels of Phoenix/Scottsdale: Our tummies and eyes never tire of Phoenix’s highly acclaimed Different Pointe of View (www.tapatiocliffshilton.com/different-pointe-of-view-restaurant), thanks to spectacular food and stunning 360-degree vistas of the valley. The 31-year old establishment rolled out a “red carpet” menu. A shared appetizer, Lemon Scented Artichoke & Fresh Mozzarella Raviolis, led way for our individual starters, my Arugula Peach & Pistachio Salad and an exquisitely prepared Lobster Bisque that we unhurriedly devoured. Pan Seared Diver Scallops distinctly called out our names and didn’t disappoint, as a mutual choice of entree. Delectable accompaniments of Charred Organic Rainbow Cauliflower, Japanese Eggplant, and Black Fermented Garlic, Raspberry Yuzu Emulsion melded flavors that tantalized our senses.
Il Terrazzo at The Phoenician Resort (www.thephoenician.com/il-terrazzo) won us over at first bite. Known for its nouveau Italian dishes — from mouthwatering appetizers such as Fried Clam Strips in a Vodka Cocktail Sauce to a scrumptious Skuna Bay Salmon embellished with fava beans, olives and artichokes — Il Terrazzo infuses a contemporary zest into Italian cuisine.
Arizona’s only master sommelier, Greg Tresner, guided hubby through Il Terrazzo’s wine selection, followed by a tour of Phoenician Resort’s private dining room, The Praying Monk, and its adjoining wine cellar.
Dinner at Phoenix’s pioneering new kid on the block, The Gladly (www.thegladly.com), was an introduction to well-heeled comfort food that takes giant-steps beyond the conventional. A bold menu boasted some dishes that were admittedly too daring for my palate, like Pickled Pork Temple, paired with sage mustard, and Smoked Pork Belly grazed in rosemary-apricot shrub. Then there were taste-bud awakening medleys that appeal to more conservative palate — such as Duck Meatloaf and grilled asparagus. Audacious fare is typically accompanied by selections from an ample bar that’s become a popular watering hole for locals. Oozing an edgy-modern vibe, in an uber-minimalist setting, The Gladly unfolds an eclectic dining experience.
Desert Discovery: When traipsing the Sonoran Desert, a roll of duct tape is a must for easy removal of cactus thorns/spines!