Golf courses, new age spas, bolo ties, snow birds, cactus. These are some of the things that I expected to see when I first visited Scottsdale, Ariz., recently. I couldn’t have been further off course.
Artsy, vibrant and design-centric, this desert oasis — with a thriving nightlife and culinary scene — just begins to wake up at sunset. Think Spain — with touches of the Las Vegas strip, South Beach (Miami) and Los Angeles.
Retro-chic: Hotel Valley Ho
I stayed at the Hotel Valley Ho, a beautiful hotel situated on 14 acres of lush lawns within walking distance of downtown Scottsdale. Opened in 1956, the Valley Ho quickly established itself as the Hollywood hot spot and social hub of Scottsdale; today most of the original structures are in excellent shape and still retain significant character and style.
Boasting a bold, contemporary design, the hotel is probably one of the best-preserved examples of mid-century architecture — heavily influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright, who wintered in Scottsdale for many years.
Without doubt, the rooms at the Hotel Valley Ho are very generously sized; all rooms feature glass walls opening onto airy patios or balconies — many with views to the majestic Camelback Mountain. Popular in the 1950s amongst Hollywood — including Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart and Natalie Wood — the hotel was also popular for baseball players during spring training, including future Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Bob Feller.
Since the 194-room hotel’s renovation, guests can expect modern amenities, such as access to the VH Spa, which offers workouts overlooking the hotel’s very popular pool; dining at the excellent Cafe ZuZu; and experiencing the scene at the hotel’s OH Pool.
As for rooms:
– Studio guest rooms are larger than the traditional guest rooms; they feature an open floor plan with the bathtub behind a curtain rather than a wall — so you can watch TV from the comfort of your bubble bath in a Philippe Stark-designed tub.
– Larger cabana guest rooms feature curtained, double-size “cabana” patios that overlook the pool.
– For more space, terrace suites offer an 800-square-foot patio or balcony, which is as large as the suite itself. The patio or balcony is surrounded by a glass wall and decorated with plush lounging furniture — perfect for sunset and mountain views.
– Executive suites offer 1,035 square feet of striking modern design; perks include a space designed with a red, white and black palette; a stylish circular bathtub for two; a living room with red lounge chairs and a 42-inch flat-screen LCD high-definition TV; and a 1,200-square-foot patio.
– For an over-the-top, Rat Pack getaway, book a suite in the hotel’s Tower, the most-luxurious area of the resort. One- and two-bedroom suites — with full kitchen and living space — are among the hotel’s most stylish accommodations. A Tower two-bedroom suite features a king-size bed, eat-in kitchen, spacious living room, large shower stall, washer and dryer, and an additional bedroom with either a king or two double beds, bathroom with separate tub and shower, and a large balcony and view of the Oh Pool or Camelback Mountain.
– Common amenities among all guests include a morning bar with complimentary espresso, coffee and tea; 32-inch flat-screen LCD high-definition TV; free WiFi; and Red Flower bath amenities.
Good eats: Cafe Zuzu
Named after a mother of three boys and a grandmother of four girls, ZuZu is the nickname of a local cook who is the inspiration for the menu. With 91 seats, the cafe features indoor dining, an outdoor courtyard and a lounge — which morphs into an espresso bar, then a full-service soda fountain, then a community table during the day.
Serving breakfast — one of the best in Scottsdale — lunch and dinner, the cafe offers specialties — such as beef stroganoff, macaroni and cheese, and braised short ribs — and features organic eggs, jams and jellies come from local harvesters, and produce from the local Duncan Farms. Known for its sweets, cafe specialties include homemade pies — such as lemon meringue and deep-dish apple — as well as malts, shakes and ice cream sundaes.
Unlike the 50-plus nightclubs that make up the nightlife in Scottsdale, the Oh Pool — a large martini olive-shaped pool — at the Hotel Valley Ho offers an all-day experience. Offering a full-service pool bar, dining menu and cabanas, the Oh Pool is for lounging, enjoying handcrafted cocktails and cooling down from the Arizona heat.
IF YOU GO
Hotel Valley Ho
Address: 6850 E. Main St. Scottsdale, Ariz.
Phone: (866) 882-4484, (480) 248-2000
On the Web: www.hotelvalleyho.com
The AAA Four Diamond hotel features two restaurants (Cafe ZuZu; Trader Vic’s); three lounges; a pool; a full-service spa; two Jacuzzis; bike rental; concierge; courtesy shopping shuttle; a business center; and 24-hour room service. The hotel is within walking distance of Old Town Scottsdale.
Bargain: Hotel Valley Ho-liday Special
From Dec. 13 to 30, the Hotel Valley Ho is offering visitors a discounted holiday rate starting at $99 per night. While you’re there, take advantage of the hotel’s Cafe Zuzu happy hour (4 to 7 p.m.), which features $3 appetizers such as braised and barbecued mini-pork shanks; $3 retro cocktails, such as cherry limeade, gin fizz or bourbon smash; and $3 wine or beer by the glass. For more information, visit www.hotelvalleyho.com.
Splurge: New Year’s Eve at the Hotel Valley Ho
The Hotel Valley Ho’s most indulgent New Year’s Eve package includes luxurious accommodations in a Tower suite for three nights at $999. Other perks include a split bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne upon arrival and brunch for two on Jan. 1. For a little extra, guests can ring in the new year with a four-course dinner with drink pairings from Veuve Clicquot, Moet and Chandon, and Belvedere Vodka: seating at 6:30 p.m. is $65 per person; seating at 9:30 p.m. is $95 per person. For more information, visit hotelvalleyho.com. — Kathleen Jay
Life by numbers
50: Nightclubs in downtown Scottsdale
1956: Year the Hotel Valley Ho opened
194: Rooms at Valley Ho
Year $80 million renovation of Hotel was completed