Destination Weddings: Guide For A Scottsdale Girls Getaway
Enjoy the Vegas’ party vibe, but not the exorbitant prices and long lines? Want to swim, spa and swing your clubs during the day, but indulge in more exciting late-night options than you’d find in Palm Springs or Santa Barbara?
If you answered yes to those questions, Scottsdale, Ariz., might be the right place for your bachelorette party or pre-wedding weekend away with friends. The ritzy suburb of Phoenix offers a little bit of everything whether you want to dance the night away or melt into a massage table, feast on fine foods or hike to the top of the looming Camelback Mountain or bake in the sun poolside. It is a short plane ride away from most parts of California, can easily be done car free and benefits from fairly comfortable weather most of the year. (Be forewarned: the summers are absolutely boiling. Of course, that gives bridal parties all the more reason to wear that bride bikini, dive in and day drink!)
STAY: The W Scottsdale, with its clean lines, Bliss Spa products and boutique hotel vibe is such a one-stop party shop. The Last Hurrah special provides a 20-percent discount (when five or more rooms are booked), a welcome amenity and planning help from the Insider, a local good times expert who can make arrangements for VIP access at the hotel’s lounges and nearby nightclubs and handle special requests like rooftop access or a meal in the colorful zen cactus garden. Splurge on a WOW Suite so you can get the party started in your tech-savvy living room, prepare appetizers and drinks in the well-equipped full kitchen and flirt with other guests from the balcony. Make your way to the WET pool deck--open 24/7—with it’s cabanas and daybeds, fire pits and activities like Beer Pong. DJs spin until 2 a.m. most weekends. Slightly more subdued live entertainment can often be found in the lobby lounge, a chic den offering bottle service and board games. The animal-friendly property is also a quick walk away from a high-end shopping mall, the downtown Arts District, restaurants and a collective of jumbo dance clubs and bars. (No designated driver needed!)
RELAX: When you’re ready for a change of pace and some grade-A pampering, deliver yourself through the bougainvillea-surrounded ornately carved front door of Alvadora Spa, a Mediterranean-themed oasis tucked into a tranquil corner of the Royal Palms Resort. Recharge by a crackling fireplace in an open-air courtyard or in the minty fresh steam room before being whisked away to one of eight handsomely appointed indoor-outdoor treatment rooms. The signature scent is Neroli and you can’t go wrong signing up for any service that incorporates native ingredients like desert sage or orange blossom like the Citrus Ritual (full-body exfoliation while on a heated stone table and under a soothing Vichy shower followed by lotion application) or hot stone massage. After heat and chlorine have taken a toll on skin, rehydrate with a calming facial.
DINE & DRINK: LA import Sushi Roku, a gleaming and lively open dining room just off the lobby, gives you another reason to stay put. The menu contains such a wide variety of options —from classic rolls (think spicy tuna or yellowtail) and house specialties that fuse old-school Japanese techniques with global ingredients like truffles and jalapenos to creative starters like tofu three ways and Kobe meatballs with karashi mustard. Continue your happy hour with sake shots and pear martinis and unlike many fine dining establishments, they welcome rowdy and racy. (During my visit, a woman slid down the grand staircase from WET and sidled up to the sushi bar in her swimsuit, barely a head turned.)
You can also get your California cuisine fix at Street Food Saturdays, a weekly Fifth Avenue gourmet gathering of 15 rotating mobile eateries put on by Food Truck Caravan. Sit at communal tables while listening to live music or splurge on packages that can include hookahs, a Sherpa or a rosewater hand wash.
Other notable places to wet your whistle and fill your belly include Citizen Public House, serving upscale pub grub like gorgonzola-and-emmental mac-n-cheese with tomato relish and bacon fat heirloom popcorn. Their upstairs speakeasy, R + D doles out superb craft cocktails like Paint Can Punch, which gets its name from the vintage object its mixed in. Take a short detour to any of the three Phoenix locations of Pizzeria Bianco for a pie that consistently makes national best-of lists. Recuperate from a wild night with pressed juices, parfaits and salads from the fresh and healthy Original Chopshop Co. Then undo all the good you just did with a stop at Sweet Republic for artisanal ice cream in unique flavors like honey blue cheese or I Love Bacon. Their Toffee Banofi sundae is a gamechanger for even the biggest connoisseurs of dairy delights.
PLAY: Spend a few hours at the expansive and gluttonous Maya Day + Nightclub and you’ll think you’ve been transported to Sin City or Miami where the all-day pro pool party with a cover was invented. A cabana with ceiling fan and curtains is worth the extra cash for the added privacy and a great vantage point to watch all the drenched debauchery and the DJ show. The debauchery dries off, dresses up and moves under the disco ball and strobe lights when night falls.
Biltmore Fashion Park, an open-air upscale shopping center that deals in designer heavyweights like Chanel, BCBG and Prada, unveiled the addition of UNION in 2012, an innovative coterie of locally owned independent retailers housed under one roof. Pick up new shades at Framed Ewe, small-batch olive oil from Queen Creek, bridesmaids presents at home design/gifts store For The People and cutting-edge big day jewelry at Mother of Gideon.
Other options: Set up a custom tastings tour of the growing Arizona wine region about an hour outside of Scottsdale. Tour the spectacular Taliesin West, the winter home and architecture school of Frank Lloyd Wright. Stroll through the Desert Botanical Garden or get more adventurous and explore the real thing on over 100 miles of trails in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.