Turning 43 isn’t as scary as having a birthday in a snowstorm, which is why I chose to head west to Scottsdale Arizona for my birthday in January. I really can’t remember having a birthday in New York when it didn’t snow, sleet or hail. Every January, I’m prepared for it. But this year played out differently, thank God! I heard wonderful things about Four Seasons Scottsdale so my little family and I left New York City in the icy dust to experience a short retreat in the desert. Here’s what we did and how you can make the most of a weekend in Scottsdale before the temps hike up to the 100’s by early summer.
I fell in love with Scottsdale, Arizona years ago after visiting my sorority sister, Erica Sietsma, there. She had put down roots in Scottsdale and seemd exceptionally happy. A TV show in Phoenix invited me to interview with them for a hosting spot, so I headed on down to kill 2 birds with 1 stone. I didn't end up getting the job but I got to see Arizona through the incredible lens of my best friend...and it was mesmerizing. Dry heat is my preference to humidity so I instantly had a connection with this spectacular place! If you've never been to Arizona before, be prepared for a lot of fake grass, tons of cacti, a whole different style of architecture, and a new understanding of the expansive color range between red and brown. I like brown, so for me it wasn't a thing! Since this first trip out to Scottsdale years ago, I never hesitate returning. I absolutely love it! I have some suggestions though, because in the summer it gets very hot! Late winter, early spring and mid fall are my favorite times to visit. The weather is absolutely perfect, fluctuating between cool and warm. I like it best at these times because there's honestly more to do outside when you're not shielding yourself from the sun or sweating buckets. For my birthday weekend we took full advantage of outdoor activities and spots to check out.
My (now) fiancé and I looked at many hotels and landed on Four Seasons Scottsdale primarily because of the location at Troon North. It's about 30-40 min away from downtown Scottsdale and the airport, but feels so beautiful and elevated. You kind of feel like you're in a desert forest out there. We were intrigued by the serene and wellness-focused resort experience that this Four Seasons was known for. I was craving a healthy retreat for my birthday and really lucked out with this choice. There are fitness classes every day (mostly yoga, pilates and hiking) and a gorgeous windowed gym with a view. I took an outdoor group yoga class on my actual birthday, laid out by their gorgeous pools, relaxed in their jacuzzi and enjoyed several champagne cocktails.
Even in January, it can be very warm so pool days are possible!
Our "casita" room was PERFECT! Check out the room tour I filmed with little Frida.
We obviously take her everywhere with us, and it's really convenient that Four Seasons Scottsdale is 1) dog friendly and 2) pup pampering. They literally had a soft dog bed, dog bowls and treats set up for Frida near the fireplace as the coziest welcome ever! When we walked into the room for the first time, Frida immediately went to the bed and got comfortable. She's never done that before! I think this was her favorite hotel stay by far! These aren't the best pics but Joseph took them the evening we checked in and you can see happy she was, which clearly melted my heart.
For my birthday dinner, we stayed in-resort and dined at Talavera. Everything was perfect. The apps and entrees were delicious. You can find my review on Talavera here! As much as I love fine dining though, I think my favorite places to eat at the resort were:
1) In-casita (in our room) at our outdoor terrace which faced a lush oasis of cacti.
2) Proof Canteen restaurant, Four Season's more casual restaurant & bar which literally serves the best breakfasts I've had in my life! You really can't mess up at Four Seasons Scottsdale when it comes to food.
The Spa at Four Seasons is small and has a very private vibe. There's little opportunity to socialize with other guests. You're there to receive immaculate treatments and focus on you. I got the Nopal Massage which was the first time I had a cactus massage, and if I could give this as a gift to everyone I meet, I would! It's sensational, super hydrating and the antioxidants contained within the Nopal cactus are very nourishing and preventative for your body. Here's a video I made so you can see how they soften the Nopal for the treatment...
My massage therapist was the best and while doing killer bodywork, gave me a bunch of hiking recommendations. People in Arizona love telling you their favorite place to hike, especially if they have a dog. Not all hiking areas in AZ are pet-friendly so it's nice when you can find trails for you and your bestie.
These were our favorite trails:
- Pinnacle Peak Hike at Troon North (no dogs allowed) - 3.5 miles and an easy hike with a smooth path.
- The Gateway Loop in the McDowell Mountains (pet friendly) - roughly about a 4.5 mile hike and it's more challenging because the terraine is rough, rocky and winds around a lot.
A shopping area we loved getting lost in was Kierland Commons. At the time we were still decorating our duplex, so we popped into Arhaus (one of my favorites). It's probably the most gorgeous Arhaus I've ever been to! There are a bunch of furniture and home design shops in this area as well as fashion and jewelry stores. I think our more exciting find was Shake Shack though! There's something about being in Arizona that makes you want a juicy burger. They even gave us an overflowing pup cup for Frida, which was a frozen yogurt with dog treats on top. She ate the froyo and not the treats, lol!
Aside from a lot of hiking, strolling and eating, our time was spent catching up with friends. I could really see myself living in Scottsdale. And if I had to move somewhere besides NYC tomorrow, that's where it would be. I even considered getting engaged there--in a hot air balloon!!! Rainbow Ryders Tours was helping us arrange something (they're fabulous btw). But after a lot of research and watching 1 couple nearly fall to their deaths, Joe and I decided we'd play it a bit safer since we're both queasy with heights.
There's something really special about Scottsdale, and most of the country realizes that because in March it's hard to find available rooms at hotels or airBnb/house rentals. Everyone is there! It's not far from scenic Sedona, and so many other day trip spots where you can go ATV riding and truly enjoy the desert. The best part is how pet-friendly they are in hotels and restaurants. Traveling with Frida was so easy here, and while we did leave her behind for the Peak hike (dogs not allowed) she joined us for everything else. Make sure to inquire about pet policies before you travel. When traveling with a pet, I think the best thing you can do is be prepared. Arizona can be a hot place, so making sure your dog can handle the elements wherever you go is crucial.
We love Scottsdale so much and plan to head back this year. Let me know if I can help answer any questions you have about vacationing there, booking a room at Four Seasons Scottsdale or ideas for what to do while you're there.