If you have been following the TLFL team tier point run from Bucharest to Phoenix you may have been tempted by the cheap business class fare which is still around. Planned correctly, if you do a hardcore run like Paul, you could get 1040 tier points not including any positioning flights. However, this does mean routeing a rather ambitious London-Bucharest-London-Helsinki-London-New York- Los Angeles- Phoenix and then back, so it’s not for the faint-hearted.
Even if you are not into tier point runs, Scottsdale is one of my favourite winter sun destinations. It’s a sophisticated desert resort with upmarket shops, restaurants and art galleries with a scenic red mountain and cacti backdrop. You can read my Scottsdale and Phoenix tier point break guide here.
The Phoenician has been undergoing a very significant renovation of not only the rooms, but also the whole hotel including a new spa and athletic club. At the time I visited two of the restaurants were still being renovated but due to open in the autumn.
The best time to visit is generally late October to February and then April. March is best avoided due to the very high hotel prices as many American come here to watch the baseball Spring training games. If you can stand the heat, the summer offers some incredible bargains but it will be at least 36°c over the summer months and even at night it often doesn’t dip below 26°c.
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The Phoenician is a 15-20 minute drive from the airport in an Uber which costs around £20 for Uber X or £26 for Uber select. They are easy to get from the airport. It has a handy location only about 5 minutes drive from the centre of Scottsdale where there is a large upscale mall, Old Town and plenty of restaurants with outdoor dining.
The check-in area felt modern but luxurious as you enter facing the bar and terrace with its panoramic views of the mountains and landscape. The check-in desks were individual stand-alone ones rather than one long desk which was an unusual touch. The person checking me in was very professional and friendly and I was immediately offered a bottle of water. I had already pre-arranged a specific room with the hotel as I was keen to stay in a quiet location. As I knew it was in a separate building I got the porter to bring my luggage. I asked for them to be as quick as possible as I was meeting TLFL’s Claudio for some drinks and dinner and sure enough, the bags arrived only a few moments after I did in the room.
I had a grand deluxe room which I knew was quite a walk from reception. The hotel is set out in 2 main parts – the main building overlooking the pools and golf course and then a second wing which overlooks the cactus garden.
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My first impression of it was that it was one of the largest hotel rooms I had stayed in which wasn’t classed as a suite and in fact, in most places, this would be a junior suite. As you walked there were 2 wardrobes, a vanity desk with stool and magnifying mirror and then the bathroom. Next came the bed with a huge flatscreen TV on a large bank of cupboards and drawers then finally a living area with both seats and a decent size table. Outside was an enormous terrace with sofa, chairs and a table and chairs. The terrace had good views of part of the golf course with the mountains and palm trees in the distance.
Bottled water was supplied on a twice-daily basis with 4 bottles a day. This was very welcome in the heat! The bed was large and very comfortable with lovely fluffy pillows and soft, high-quality linens. The air conditioning did not seem as if it had been upgraded as it was one of the loud old-fashioned types that was very noisy, although it was effective despite the extreme heat. Initially, it was making a loud clunking noise every time it switched off but, after a chat with reception, by the time I returned to the room later, it had been fixed.
The position of the TV was irritating as it appeared to be fixed to the wall meaning you couldn’t really see it from the living area which I thought was a bit of an oversight. Turn down service was done on 3 out of 4 nights with more water and chocolates too. I found housekeeping good when they came but the first day the room was not done until after 5pm which I thought was poor.
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The bath was large but it was extremely shallow so not the most comfortable bath I have been in.
There is also a small cafe that does a few bits of food such as sandwiches and cakes to eat in or take away as well as a bottle of wine if you didn’t want to pay the room service prices.
The Phoenician has several pools to choose from including the adults-only pool and a large jacuzzi. For the kids, there is even a water slide. There is also a rooftop pool at the spa if you have an appointment there. Pool service is generally pretty attentive with chairs set up for you and jugs of iced water to keep you cool brought round regularly.
I enjoyed a cocktail or two from the menu by the pool as well as lunch. There was a good choice of bespoke cocktails and healthy or naughty lunches.
The spa has been completely renovated so I headed there a few times in the name of research to have some treatments (and hangover recovery after the Flyertalk do, though I am not sure my snoring in the treatment was a welcome addition for the therapist!). The spa has a big range of facilities and treatments with a Nail Lounge, Drybar and luxurious treatments rooms. I tried Drybar for the first time and enjoyed the experience even if I did end up looking like an American prom queen! (fortunately, I managed to rescue it before I appeared in public).
The spa felt very luxurious and in the ladies area it had a vitality pool, steam and sauna along with the usual changing room facilities. There are also two relaxation areas – a quiet one with beds and the main lounge which has snacks, tea and water whilst you wait for your therapist. Spa facilities are available when you book a 50-minute treatment or more or you can pay to use them.
The treatments I had were pretty pricey as they usually are in the US at 5* hotels but they were extremely good. The treatment tables were amazingly comfortable, they almost felt like memory foam as you almost sank slightly into them and they were fully adjustable to maximum comfort. There was also a menu of add-on 25-minute treatments which I like rather than just having a longer massage as it gives some variety. I tried the salt stone massage, an Artisan massage with add-ons of a scalp massage and reflexology.
The Funicians Club is a daily, supervised program designed for children between the ages of 5 and 12. Each day features numerous
outdoor activities and indigenous arts and crafts. The Night Owls program also offered daily, allows parents to enjoy an evening
out while the kids have their own special time.
You can have a short stroll around the hotel’s cactus gardens with numerous species and some interesting sculptures too.