The Modern Gladiator | A Man's Guide to Living

10 days / 4 Resorts in Scottsdale, Arizona

on January 4 | in Cover, Travel & Leisure | by | with No Comments

10-4 Good Buddy, I’m on the Road Again!

Scottsdale, AZ — home to jetsetters, sun worshipers, and those that just plain ole love to kick back and soak in the surroundings as they work on perfecting their tan and golf game. But in reality there is so much more to Scottsdale than just sun and golf. There is also high-end resort living at its finest and top notch dining and hospitality to go with.

I decided to meet up with my little cutie in the desert—she had been working there for the past two months and was in much need of some R&R. As most of you know, the desert can be a dry, harsh, unwelcoming, and unrelenting place to be…Unless of course you’re in Scottsdale, AZ!

We decided to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of our readers and scout out four of the top rated resorts in the area, along with their lavish spas. Our goal? To see if they lived up to their hype. Our sacrifice, doing the “leg work” for you!

So the next time you want a weekend getaway in the desert, you wont have to guess where to go!

Our First Stop: “The Jewel of the Desert” – Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel – 4 Stars


Front view of the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, Scottsdale, Arizona. Courtesy:


Main lobby area of the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, Scottsdale, Arizona. Courtesy:


Villa Suite, Arizona Biltmore Hotel. Courtesy:


Wright’s, At The Biltmore. Courtesy:

Wow! Any architecture lovers out there? I love architecture and this hotel is an absolute masterpiece. It opened its doors in 1929 and was the vision of two McArthur brothers and the well known John McEntee Bowman, the entrepreneur behind the Biltmore Hotel chain. From the first moment you set your eyes on the “Textile Block” masonry construction, to the second you walk inside the lobby and see the beautiful Tiffany stained glass, the sleek contemporary lines (owning to the form meeting function principles), to the “sprites” in the gardens, to the ambient lighting and mission style décor, you would swear you walked into a Frank Lloyd Wright Museum. Although Frank is oftentime mistaken for being the architect behind this magnificent structure in the desert, it was actually Albert Chase McArthur who was the brilliant mind behind the design with FLW consulting on the project for about a period of four months in 1928.

The hotel truly is a historical monument, a real testament to a bygone era where structures were made of substance and character, with charming detail and grand entryways and areas for people to sit and talk and enjoy libations in an enchanting setting.

If you have the opportunity, book one of the apartment style villa suites. They come complete with a kitchen, dining/living area, and a beautiful outdoor patio. The bedroom is spacious and grand; so is the five-piece bath that is just off of the bedroom and main living area.

Upsides: Amazingly beautiful hotel and fabulous architecture, rich in history and culture. The location is great and it is close to dining, shopping and the swanky area of Scottsdale. Renting a car is mandatory. Frank & Albert’s is a restaurant inside of the hotel, very good food (they make and amazing Waldorf salad) and also a great wait staff. Dining is casual.

Downsides: Parking. Renting a car becomes somewhat limited if you do not opt to pay the daily valet fee. The gym is somewhat antiquated and in need of some updating, as is the rest of the spa area. Same goes for the pool areas—they are in need of some cosmetic assistance.

Our Next Stop: An “oasis” in the desert – The Sanctuary At Camelback Mountain – 5 Stars

Now, for those of you looking for seclusion and more of a “don’t bother me, I’m on vacation” type of an atmosphere


The Infinity Edge pool at The Sanctuary. Courtesy:


View of the Camelbacks and casitas at The Sanctuary. Courtesy:


Jade Bar patio at The Sanctuary. Courtesy:


Mountain Vista Suite, living room. Courtesy:

…then The Sanctuary is just what the doc ordered. This resort is totally secluded and tucked away in the recesses of the Camelbacks. It is the perfect retreat for one seeking solitude and a total “relaxed spa” experience. The units are individually decorated with a very “hip” contemporary vibe. Our particular villa made us feel as if we were coming home to our own little apartment where everything was set up for us just the way we like it. The staff is very hospitable and non pretentious; they make you feel right at home.

The infinity pool is tranquil and has an amazing backdrop of beauty and serenity. The atmosphere of the resort is almost magical with a hint of rugged sophisticated appeal, without the pretense.

Upsides: The villas are beautifully appointed and very cozy with fantastic balconies. Staff hospitality is outstanding. The hotel restaurant has amazing views, great wait staff, and a delectable menu (try the sea bass, to die for; melts in your mouth)! The gym area is very pleasant it has mostly free-motion weights, cardio equipment, and an area for functional movements and yoga. The kicker? You get a pair of very cool neon green flip flops that you get to take with you. Yeah!

Downsides: If you do not like walking and you are up on the hill, you will have to wait for a golf cart driver to scoot you around. For a hotel that’s focused on tranquility and spa services, the spa was less than impressive and was in need of a serious “makeover.” Also, there is some expansive construction currently going on site.

Resort No. 3 – We coined this resort “Arabian Nights” – The Montelucia Resort and Spa – 5 Stars


View of the main pool at Montelucia. Courtesy:


Mbar at Montelucia. Courtesy:


Meditation/Relaxation Room at Joya Spa. Courtesy:


Hammam circuit at Joya Spa. Courtesy:


Camelbacks View Suite at Montelucia. Courtesy:

From the moment you drive up to the resort, you know you are in store for something grand and majestic. You are greeted by the massive Andalusian and Moorish style influence of the architecture, beautiful large breezeways, and arched entrances that seamlessly guide you from one area to another. The pool areas are massive and well appointed with meticulously manicured landscape and enchanting fountains with the calming effect of trickling water.
But for me, the true beauty rests with something that when I am on vacation I always gravitate to: THE SPA! Oh yes guys, call me “metro,” but I love my spa time. This was no ordinary spa, this was a true manly spa—yep, you guessed it, one fit for a gladiator!

I felt as though I was transformed back to a time when men would seek the calming waters, balms, and soothing ointments from the medicus after a long day in the vigor of battle. Yes, you could truly rest your aching and sore muscles and find comfort in this true sanctuary of a traditional style Turkish spa. It was complete with a full steam and shower room, a relaxing hot tub and cold water shower that delivered water at the temp of 42 degrees to give you that revitalizing jolt you would need after relaxing in the co-ed meditation room or reclining in the gentleman’s lounge.

It was in this Turkish sanctuary that I received my very first Hammam treatment, which is a traditional ritual cleanse that involves volcanic ash and scrubbing that not only cleans your body but revitalizes your soul. A must try…it was amazing!

Our room at the hotel was very well appointed and had a comfortable and highly elegant five-piece bath with all the necessary comforts to make you feel like royalty.

Upsides: Beautiful architecture and all the 5-star amenities you would expect. Excellent happy hour and live music at Mbar. Joya Spa, it was truly a 5+. The gym was very adequate, plenty of cardio equipment and functional weights. Beautifully appointed pool areas.

Downsides: You have to pay to self park your car on their premises; that was unusual. The staff was not rude but not hospitable either, very indifferent.

Last Stop on our desert trek: Firesky Resort and Spa – A Kimpton Hotel – 4 Stars


Main reception area of FireSky Resort and Spa. Courtesy:


Main entrance to Firesky Resort and Spa. Courtesy:


Pool area at FireSky Resort and Spa: Courtesy:

The FireSky Resort and Spa is a nice representation of a business class, resort style hotel. Not what I would call luxurious but definitely has a lot of amenities and luxury elements that make you feel like you can get business done and still relax and feel a bit pampered in the process.

The pools at the hotel are very intriguing, a good place to kick back, relax, and enjoy a cocktail or beer, especially in the evening time when everything lights up and the FireSky torches are lit.

The hotel staff is very accommodating and courteous; the hotel has the traditional, Kimpton Hotel “happy hour” with a selection of wines to enjoy in the main reception area. It was a nice way for us to end our trek through the desert and conclude with a hotel chain that remains consistent with their world-class reputation of delivering excellence at an affordable rate.

Upsides: Convenient hotel parking, contemporary and confortable accommodations, great staff and the reception “happy hour” in the lounge. The gym is small but adequate for a basic 20-30 minute workout. The pool area is unique, fun, and relaxing. The spa is relaxing and comfortable—I got my very first pedicure at this resort, highly recommended; see Jamie if you get the opportunity, she does an amazing job!

Downsides: Not a luxurious “weekend getaway” type of resort, more of a business class resort.

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