Relics and raptors: Old Scottsdale at its finest


SCOTTSDALE — There is a fertile spot in the American desert where the ancient waters flow. A confluence of tributaries fed the Salt River in Arizona and supplied water to the earliest settlements in the Sonoran Desert, an otherwise uninhabitable landscape.

Home to a diverse array of wildlife, the natural waterway is a favorite recreation area and integral part of human infrastructure in the Copper State.

In the late 1880s the Arizona Canal was completed and led to the founding and development of several towns — one of which is now known as Scottsdale.

Today, there remain relics of a romanticized past scattered throughout Arizona. Symbols of hospitality in the old Southwest are covered in cities like Scottsdale, where these treasures are preserved in the buffed and coiffed, elaborate and elegant grounds of luxury resorts like The Phoenician.

Built around the Jokake Inn, translated as “mud house” and one of the city’s historic landmarks, The Phoenician was established in 1988 and is an oasis getaway offering world-class service. With names like “mud house” few could have conceived that a resort featuring the highest-rated amenities would dominate the base of Camelback Mountain. Jokake Inn was also featured in the Nicholas Cage movie “Raising Arizona.”

The original Pueblo home continued operating as a hotel until the late 1970s, whereby most of its buildings were demolished, although its best-known structure, the twin bell tower building, still stands just inside the grounds of The Phoenician as a symbol of the hospitality of the old Southwest.

Presently, the luxury resort and conference center is set on 254 acres, five minutes from Old Town Scottsdale and bordered by Phoenix to its west.

The nearby canal has also become a hub for an array of waterfront activities, attracting walkers, bikers and shoppers enjoying the diverse selection of restaurants, shops and galleries that boast the moniker, “the West’s most western town.”

Keeping with traditions of desert preservation, the resort is home to a two-acre Cactus Garden, featuring 250 varieties of cacti and succulents. It also offers a seasonal bike tour to the Scottsdale Farmers’ Market, Dueling Pianos every Friday night, and an abatement program from Falcon Force that provides both entertainment and education for guests while dining. When designing the grounds, facilities and activities of such a premiere attraction, The Phoenician spared no expense.

Drawing in the locals, and located on the first floor, Mowry & Cotton serves modern American cuisine in a relaxing lux style. While dining al fresco, this is where you can meet Omen, a handsome Harris’s Hawk of the Southwest, sporting bold markings of dark brown and chestnut red — the most social of North American raptors.

A crafted redesign of the resort whispers to the Hohokam and Pima tribes that had lived in the area for centuries.

Beginning with a bronze screen at check in, and inspired by the Pima basket designs, a concierge desk fabricated in cow hide reflects the region’s cattle ranching heritage. In total, 645 rooms, eight restaurants, seven tennis courts, two pickleball courts, a 4,600 square foot fitness center, a Forbes Five Star spa and an 18-hole championship golf course showcase the unique beauty of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. Five swimming pools are sure to wet many palettes.

A more intimate option inside The Phoenician resort is The Canyon Suites, which debuted in 2007 as a boutique resort within a resort, a one of a kind for Arizona. The exclusive services like a private infinity pool and chauffeur-driven luxury car only scratch the surface of what is offered at this, the only Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond hotel in the Valley of the Sun.

Whether it be for the summer getaway currently being offered, a dining adventure, or to simply re-visit Scottsdale and take a gander with fresh eyes, this Luxury Collection resort is a way to grace and to discover old Arizona with a modern flair for elegance. Built to please, The Phoenician reflects an immortalized symbol in its spectacular opulence.

The longstanding myth of the Phoenix bird remains an emblem for character and a muse for all who grace the halls of such a lavish spectacle. Such a hot spot in the old west remains a grand place for rebirth and reflection, marking time in Arizona’s resort of relics.

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Phoenician, Scottsdale, travel