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The Scottsdale Shizzle

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19th Sep 2008


You can't think about Phoenix without developing a blank stare from sunspots and visions of golf courses dancing in your head. It's just too darn hot to think, and it is home to people who like chewing tobacco in a Dixie cup. Scottsdale, about three minutes north, is the place to be more lush, a shaz more shizzle, and lots more golf. America's fast-growing desert haven is a magnet for anyone with a hankering for some sun, spa, and a seven-iron. Golf and Chill now go hand in hand in Scottsdale, the good part of Phoenix.

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Golfodation, the popular Scottsdale affair

That said the Valley of the Sun is not exactly the valley of hip urban edge, so you have to roll with the punches. Since the Valley (as they proclaim) is ALMOST as large as LA a decent rental car will be necessary, one that can hold its own in this land of Ford F-150s. A Hummer from Hertz will suffice, but if that's a bit big, the new Mustang will fit the vibe of the city perfectly. Head north with the air conditioning pumped and Sirius radio on the dash, as KNIX, the country radio station of choice, may get tedious.

one word: golfodation

Downtown Phoenix is home to nothing, and the city is very spread out. This means the location of your hotel there is not important. The action is in Scottsdale or North Phoenix, so check out the spa hotels along Scottsdale Road, which often are attached to the most gorgeous golf courses ever. The vegetation planted in the 1980s has finally matured, giving an almost green patina to parts of Scottsdale. Hence, forget hotels and accommodation: seek golfodation.

The new Four Seasons Troon North is very yum and situated in the somewhat higher foothills of Pinnacle Peak. Golf at Troon North is on the ultimate desert course, which is consistently rated one of the world's best. To play golf here with your client is to seal the deal, if only because you can withhold the water bottle on the 17th green until she signs.

For a scene, The Mondrian Scottsdale and the new W Scottsdale are the best choices. The Mondrian in particular is located in heaven - great pools and business meeting areas make this the hot choice for any form of impressive business offsite or group activity. The pool scene here brings a bit of Miami magic to the desert and its not out of the realm of possibility to actually enjoy the people watching at Skybar, since everyone beautiful seems to have left the O.C. and decamped to Scottsdale anyway. The W has a lot to offer as well, especially since it is very new, and the poolside gardens and cabanas are great locations for an evening cocktail or nine.

You could also try La Posada, which is ...gulp... a Doubletree hotel, but very beautiful. Only a few minutes from the airport, it's close to both golf and shopping at a much lower price.

If price is no object, the place to stay is still The Phoenician, the ancient grand dame (by Arizona standards) that is truly something special, beautifully appointed, and the only real power destination in or outside of the city. And it boasts excellent golfodation!

things to do

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Desert pool cabanas, The Four Seasons Troon North
Lots of old people live in the Valley of the Sun, which resulted in the opening of a Mayo Clinic some while back. Not that a visit to the most expensive private hospital is all that, but when in Rome... why not check out the latest cardiovascular treatments, get a physical, or otherwise discover why you went bald, by scheduling a private appointment. It's not a bad way to have a checkup, and you may be out in time for another 18 holes before dark.

If you're in perfect health, visit the mall instead... its where everyone hangs out. Scottsdale Fashion Square attracts desperate housewives and Kierland Commons gets the beautiful people. Kierland Commons is nice and features great one-of-a-kind shops evocative of Scottsdale's cool new spirit. There is even a Sur La Table like Pottery Barn for the West and a fantastic salon called Etch that will whip up a cool Arizona look in no time.

food & drink

You gotta do the Mexican. It's the best in the world, and features a healthy mix of light fare unlike the old heavy stuff. There are great restaurants all over the city. We've heard good reports about Carolina's in South Phoenix, as well as AZ 88, which has wonderful ceviche.

For out on the town, pop down to some of the cowboy bars and college bars in Tempe. It's all big hair and the claw (a form of hairstyle involving lots of spray and petrified curled bangs) but will be interesting for your pictures back home. If you're gagging for culture, stick to Old Scottsdale, which is a bit more sophisticated. Good bars include Martini Ranch, Cajun House, and Giligan's.

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Sonoran Desert red rock landscape
cool view

Probably the coolest thing is the desert along I-17 to the north. If you have time, drop the top on that old 'stang and head north into the Sonoran Desert. In about 45 minutes you will be in the middle of nowhere, with little old towns and biker bars that will welcome you kindly. Pull over at an exit, such as Badger Springs Road or Tuzigoot, and kick up your heels under a big Arizona sky, thousands of stars overhead. You can always go clubbing to trance opera when you get back home.

Spitting cup not included.
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