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the best of scottsdale, day one: the phoenician

Phoenician Oasis

No wonder I feel so at home at the Phoenician!

I’ve had a love affair with Scottsdale for years. Michael played in the Pro-Am there when it was called the FBR Invitational, and my mom, sister and I have celebrated six annual birthday weekends basking at Scottsdale spas.

So this year, when I was trying to figure out what to do for Michael’s 57th birthday – which is today! Happy birthday, honey! – I thought, “Scottsdale!” It’s less than an hour and half flight on Southwest, there’s so much to do there and it’s one of the few places in the country that isn’t snowed in right now.

We arrived in Scottsdale yesterday morning, picked up our rental car (which is easier at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport than almost any place we’ve traveled) and headed over to the Phoenician, a AAA Five Diamond luxury resort whose stunning backdrop is the impressive Camelback Mountain.

Phoenician mountain

Because, even as a writer, I do believe a picture is worth a thousands words, here’s a look at the Phoenician through some of the photos we took today.

The property is huge — 250 beautiful acres that show off the best of the southwest, including a two-acre cactus garden featuring 250 varieties of cacti. Who knew there were so many different kinds?


We could easily see some of the pieces from the Phoenician’s $25 million art collection in our own house. Aren’t these amazing?

Southwest art

Phoenician art








One of the Phoenician’s signature experiences is feeding the koi fish and ducks. We’re looking forward to doing this tomorrow because these fish definitely look ready to eat.


We’re always ready to eat, too, and these macarons were so beautifully displayed, we tried to figure out how we could fit in high tea. Our schedule made it impossible so we had lunch at the Ice Cream Parlor. The quiche was delicious but we had our eye on the 19-scoop sundae that earns you a t-shirt and a refund if you actually finish it. Oh, we were tempted …

ice cream parlor


I believe these have my name on them, and will be mine at some point. How can we stay here and not indulge in these?!





After lunch, we explored the grounds to walk off some of the calories from lunch and from imagining eating the macarons and ice cream.

Phoenician fountain

It was then time for spa treatments at The Centre for Well-Being. I had an 80-minute warm spice scrub and Michael had an 80-minute holistic massage. This is how we felt afterwards.


Because we were so relaxed and mushy, we spent an hour in the Meditation Atrium, napping in the comfy anti-gravity chairs. I was so blissed out, I almost ended up upside down in my chair. We did not take any photos of that little mishap.

meditation atrium

The only reason we finally left the Meditation Atrium was because it was dinner time! We started with roasted squash soup, which was rich and smooth and a meal in itself. I totally forgot to take a picture of my veal ravioli with fried brussel sprout leaves (yum!) because it looked so good, I just dug right in. Somehow, we managed to leave room for the budino, chocolate pudding with a salted caramel topping that was the perfect ending to a perfect day.


squash soup





Now, we’re off to start Michael’s birthday with a hot air balloon ride.

But, first, let me leave you with this video of my attempt to play croquet. It will show you why I’m usually a spectator when it comes to sports.



  1. Happy 57 Mr. Mark:)))) Hot air balloon now that is a photo I want to see. ENJOY!!

    Seriously this looks awesome…..thank you for blogging about it. LOVE the blissed out photos and man I could use a scrub down and totally dig that. I should tell you about my massage in India one day maybe I will write about it as it was a really beautiful experience where they even bathed me at the end I felt so tended to I cried.

    Also, love the video of you playing croquet and btw those rectangular white squares are normally a heck of a lot wider!! My word no wonder you were having trouble. xo

  2. Waking up to read your post brought a bit of sunshine into this dreary world. All I can say is wow!!

    I’ve been to The Phoenician many times, but after the winter we’re having it looks even more beautiful.

    I would have liked to see the mishap, though. Ha!!

    P.S. Jenny misses you. (I couldn’t resist)


  3. We’ve been thinking about the Phoenician. We decided to go to Sedona, instead, but the Phoenician is on our list for next year. Thanks for this peek!

  4. Happy, happy birthday Michael! It looks like you are having a wonderful trip!

  5. Magical Mystical Mimi says:

    Omg.. As I sit here anticipating over a foot of snow on the mountain top I call home your photos are heavenly.. I love my snow, I really, really do but it’s been sooo cold her lately that beautiful sunshine just looks so inviting..
    Happy Birthday to the hubs. 🙂
    Stopping by from Bloppy Bloggers, FB.

  6. Boy you guys, studying for our benefit for which I praise you. Let me know the next one, and perhaps we can have a few calm spa days. Give Michael,a big hug and a kiss for his birthday.

  7. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    Heavenly … I love Scottsdale and would be happy to celebrate my birthday there, too. I may have to plant the bug in Pete’s ear.

  8. Looks like a wonderful place to celebrate… and now I have another place to put on my bucket list – for inspiration for my koi paintings, (!) and I love macaroons. were any dipped in dark chocolate? Thank you Lois…and of course, Happy Birthday Michael.

  9. I went to Scottsdale a couple of years ago when my school, Auburn University, played in the BCS national championship game. It was absolutely beautiful! Happy birthday to Michael, and it looks like you had a great trip.

  10. Wow! Sounds like a wonderful place to visit. what a nice way to spend a birthday!

  11. Looks like SO much fun! That tower of macarons is impressive. Hope the balloon ride was just as wonderful as the rest of your trip so far. Enjoy!

  12. Wow! Sounds like an amazing trip and a great way to spend a birthday!! You’ve hit several of my bucket list items in just one trip.

  13. How fun! I never thought of getting away somewhere that was close to home.

  14. What a wonderful birthday present! I’d love to get away from work and be somewhere else too. I better plan something for this year! 🙂

  15. It looks so relaxing inside and outside the spa! Enjoy!

  16. I have always wanted to head out that way and visit Scottsdale, seems like the perfect birthday retreat!

  17. I enjoyed reading your post and felt like I was there. As the mom of 4 little ones your spa time left me jealous! And happy birthday to your hubby 🙂 (I found you here through #SITSBlogging)

  18. There’s not a single second to that day that doesn’t sound like heaven! Wow, that’s a heck of a place! Seriously, WOW!

  19. Mandy@ TheHouseholdHero.com says:

    That place looks amazing. I’m jealous of your spa time; I am lucky to get a shower so I would love an 80 minute massage!

  20. I just moved to Phoenix a few months ago, so really happy I stumbled across your blog and this review. My mom will be coming to visit for the first time probably next month, so I’ll add this to my list of prospective hotels (she LOVES a good spa experience-I’m from Vegas, so we have our pick of luxury hotels/spas there too).

    Also totally appreciate #8 in your about me section-I guess if I was feeling sassy enough I’d smack someone over a cab too hah!

    Great post-happy blogging!

  21. Lois,
    I have heard about the Phoenician for years–so glad you got a chance to go to celebrate your hubby’s bday. Sounds like you are having a typically Lois-like blast!

  22. Melissa @ The Coupon Chronicles says:

    Looks and sounds like a fantastic place to visit for some serious R&R! Have a fantastic time! Thanks for sharing!

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