Starry Arizona

In Arizona, it’s hard to keep your eyes off the copper-colored desert landscapes that fly off eternally into the horizon or the stars that light up the night sky like a shimmering shower of diamonds, but beyond those heavenly panoramas, there are a few man-made gems luring travel connoisseurs to this Southwest state.

something newLocated 10 minutes from downtown Scottsdale, Talking Stick Resort has created quite a buzz in recent months since its opening in mid-2010. Its design is sleek and it has 497 deluxe rooms, with 15 luxury suites and 30 executive kings—offering you more than plenty of booking options for your more discerning clients. Add to that a 13,000-sq.-ft. spa with floor-to-ceiling windows that offer views of the Sonoran Desert, more than a handful of dining options, not to mention gaming, and two golf courses—in other words, as Talking Stick Resort’s hotel director, Robb McCreary says, “a one-stop destination for entertainment. The amenities we offer are truly matchless. In addition to our luxurious rooms, we have five restaurants, six lounges, a casino with more than 700 slots—no other resort or hotel in Scottsdale boasts a gaming floor—two pools…. Once you’re there, there is no need to leave.”

The resort is owned and managed by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and as such is steeped in area culture. Its design and ambiance, in fact, does a phenomenal job of honoring Native American culture and reflecting its natural surroundings with the use of native stones, plants and earth-tone color schemes.

Indeed, this is a veritable showplace for the community’s rich Native American heritage. History buffs and art aficionados will appreciate the collection of Native American art displayed throughout the resort. For example, the cultural center, located in the lobby, features native pottery and a talking stick, as well as historic photographs, textiles, paintings, baskets, and jewelry. And that’s just the art collection.

“Talking Stick Resort offers much of the fun of Las Vegas in a relaxing Scottsdale and Southwestern setting,” McCreary explains. Adding that, “Talking Stick Resort has something for everyone. The dining atmosphere will satisfy any mood from casual to chic or quick to leisurely. Our lounges also cover the gamut, whether you want artfully paired flights of wine and cheese or a martini and cigar. And should you just want to relax, nothing tops the Spa at Talking Stick.”

And that spa, according to McCreary is definitely unique. “It’s very different from the others in town,” he says. “It’s located on the 14th floor with floor-to-ceiling windows in many of the rooms, including the showers,” though he’s quick to point out that it’s also very private, so no need to fret over “peeping toms.” “Rooms like the manicure and pedicure room have huge windows that open for fresh air and I’ve been told in many cases guests refuse magazines as they just want to look out onto the desert.”

The facility features 11 treatment rooms, some with in-room showers and tubs, a steam room and sauna, as well as a 24-hour fitness room. McCreary’s favorite spot, though, is the North balcony. “It’s one of the most peaceful areas of the entire property.” What to recommend spa-goers? McCreary points to the Desert Lavender Massage. “It’s one of our signatures.”

Accommodations, too, were thoughtfully designed. “Every detail in the rooms was considered for the delivery of optimal relaxation. From the plantation shutters on the windows to the location of each outlet, every room is outfitted for comfort,” describes McCreary. Accommodation choices run the gamut from Deluxe and Signature, to the Executive King—with two walls almost entirely composed of glass. There are also suites, which, says McCreary, are “ideal for weekend getaways”; two exclusive 1-bedroom suites; and the presidential suite, with unmatched views of Mummy and Camelback mountains.

“There really is no other property here like Talking Stick,” McCreary stresses. Emphasizing that it, “sets a new standard for Arizona destination resorts.” Room rates start from $159 now through April.

something old(er) Over in Phoenix, there’s the darling, AAA four-diamond Royal Palms Resort and Spa, which is certainly not new—it was originally built in 1929 as a summer retreat for Cunard Steamship executive and financier Delos Cooke and then re-opened after extensive restoration in 1997—but it’s that very Old World ambiance that caught our eye and we’ve been doing you a disservice by not featuring it more often in the pages of Recommend.