When I arrived in Phoenix, I expected the heat. I was told, nay warned, it would be hot. Stepping off the plane and shuffling through the corridor out into the airport, I had a slight chill. I was also told to bring a sweater. I packed one but it was in my bag and I wasn’t going to fish it out. Even when I walked outside into the tunnel, waiting for my friend to pick me up, the air was thick with car exhaust and I could feel the heat, slowly thawing me but not the 108°F that my phone app was registering.
However, once I hit the sunlight, the story was entirely different. I see why I was told to bring sunscreen. I felt like I was a slab of bacon, frying up on the hot Phoenix ground. After running around town with my friend, I arrived at my hotel. I was eager to check in and jump in a pool, which incidentally would be the first time I’d meet my fellow Foodies in Phoenix members. First meetings in bathing suits, poolside, with cocktails, is how one should meet every new co-worker.
Pulling up to the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess was very much the cliché an oasis in the desert. The lushness of the property is not truly seen from the entrance and wouldn’t be fully discovered for a few hours. I was warmly (pun fully intended) greeted by the staff upon checking and was pleasantly overwhelmed with the cool slightly florally fragrant air. I was immediately offered a bottle of water when given my room keys. I’m not sure if this is the standard summer check-in accommodation or if I was just seriously flush-faced. But I was grateful.
The porter showed me to my room pointing out various shops and restaurants between the lobby and my room. I did take note of the Starbucks as this girl needs her java. Turns out Jennifer from Peanut Butter and Peppers had the same exact need each morning. When I arrived at my room, I literally had a breath-taking moment. I walked down the hallway that separated my sitting and sleeping areas from the bathroom and closet. Classical music was playing as I peered out my balcony to see a massive pool and vibrant greenery behind it. There couldn’t be better view for me.
The resort is currently undergoing expansion. The summer of 2016 the resort will boast an additional 102 rooms for a total of 750. While this is exciting, I am truly excited to see the new Sunset Beach, a 6,900 sq. ft. zero-edge entry with white sand beaches, this alone will bring me back.
The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is everything you’d expect from this line of properties, opulent elegance without pretension. The staff is extremely courteous and very helpful, particularly that first early morning when I couldn’t remember where the Starbucks was.
I had the opportunity to dine at La Hacienda, a modern Mexican restaurant by Richard Sandoval. The porter suggested we take the resort golf cart service to the restaurant, but we decided to walk and explore more of the property along the way. I was rather disappointed that the residential desert tortoise was in his underground cave when we tried to view him. I guess even heat-loving desert animals seek relief from the heat.
Resort walkway to La Hacienda
Upon arriving at La Hacienda, we were greeted in a way I now expect to be greeted at every Mexican restaurant, with a margarita by an extremely attractive woman known to us as “The Tequila Goddess.” She is to tequila what a sommelier is to wine. We all chatted briefly in the restaurant foyer and then were shown our table. Our table was rather frightening. At each seat, three shots of tequila rested upon a plate. Now this alone is not scary but actually very tasty.
I love tequila. Rephrase. I love Good tequila. Top shelf stuff. In the Goddess’ brief presentation I learned a lot about tequila. First, tequila is only tequila if it comes from blue agave from Tequila and a few surrounding areas in Mexico. Much like Champagne or parmigiano reggiano, the product name is tied to the region. Check your bottles, is your tequila 100% agave or mixto? Mixto is 51% agave and 49% other stuff. Mixto is probably to blame for all those college hangovers, resulting in the often heard comment, “Tequila, I never touch it, it messed me up once.” Give the good stuff a try.
Looking over the menu, I was overwhelmed with my choices. Despite having spent the majority of my day eating, I wanted to indulge and enjoy dinner. As a rule I try to order something different than each member of my dinner party, that way my fork can do some roaming and I can sample everything and of course, my plate is open to other wandering forks.
Our table was served the guacamole sampler, a trio of bacon, crab, and pomegranate guacs. The crab was out of this world. I could have just eaten that for dinner but I knew I had to pace myself for the next round.
When the next course came, well, it was game over for me. I took one bite of my lobster taco and a single tear ran from the corner of my right eye. I have enjoyed lobster over the years, but there was nothing quite like it, butter, mild spices, freshness. I was sad that there was only one on my plate, but I was utterly grateful when Susan of 30aEats loved it as much as I and asked for one more. They brought her two and I was the lucky recipient of the other.
So far, all of our courses were presented to us but our entrée was left to our choosing. This is where my feeling overwhelmed came into play. What to order? What-to-order?
I decided a nice steak fit the bill and went with the Filet a la Parilla, cooked medium rare (because cooking past this point is just wrong.) Sadly for me, I was extremely full by the time dinner arrived and I knew dessert was coming, in fact we were told dessert was going to be special.
My steak was so tender, the knife was merely a table decoration. The enchilada was perfect, the tortilla maintaining a firm texture but a fork-softness and the Oaxacan cheese had the requisite splendid creamy, buttery flavor.
When dessert was brought around, a very important phone call came in and I had to take it. I did get to see the demonstration, but I think I need to go back one more time to really get the whole experience. But the call was worth whatever I did miss. It was Elizabeth.
Along with the flaming coffees, we were served house-made churros with three dipping sauces in edible chocolate cups.
I mentioned I was was full by the time my dinner came around, so I popped it in the fridge back in my room and enjoyed it and the chocolate cups for breakfast. It all made the most exquisite breakfast.
My time at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess was short. To say I enjoyed my time there would be an understatement. I did not get to enjoy all the amenities that the resort offers, but I do see myself going back next summer with my girl. With 5, soon to be 6 pools, next summer seems like the perfect time to return despite the 115°F heat. While summertime is the on-season for most places, it’s off-season for Phoenix, but who cares, sitting poolside, well, some like it hot for that.
If you are looking for a fantastic place to take the family or somewhere to simply escape and get some R and R, I can’t recommend the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess enough. Great food, great atmosphere, hospitality, and desert tranquility, all the hallmarks needed for the perfect getaway.
7575 East Princess Drive Scottsdale, AZ 85255 TEL + 1 480 585 4848 FAX + 480-502-9492 https://www.fairmont.com/scottsdale
Stay tuned for more about my time in Phoenix.