I left the busy Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport and headed to Scottsdale, Arizona. Once I drove down the beautifully landscaped East McCormick Parkway and passed a rolling golf course with mountain views, I knew I was in for a treat. The entrance to The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch was marked with elegant white columns. The splashing sounds of the large horse motif fountain relaxed me as the valet staff took care of my car and luggage. I looked around… more white columns, bright red geraniums and beautiful Spanish-Southwest architecture and décor beckoned me inside.
The Scottsdale Resort—A Bit of Scottsdale History
The lovely horse fountain and the historic photo in the lobby showing a well-dressed man and a woman in a flowing dress mounted on a mule piqued my interest in the resort’s history. Not many know that Scottsdale got its name from early settlers, brothers Winfield and George Washington Scott. In the mid-1880s Winfield Scott, a US Army Chaplain, visited the Salt River Valley exploring its potential for farming.
In 1888 he returned with his wife Helen and purchased 640 acres. You’ll notice the name of the indoor-outdoor bar where guests gather… it’s Bar SIX40! Winfield and George grew citrus fruit, figs, potatoes, peanuts, and almonds. The developing town was first named Orangedale (for the citrus fruit) before it was changed to Scottsdale in 1894.
But what about McCormick Ranch? Other settlers arrived and farmed the land. In 1942 Anne and Fowler McCormick bought 160 acres of this land. The original ranch and home where the affluent McCormicks lived during the winter were built in 1921. Their holdings grew to 4,200 acres in the area and became the Black Angus Cattle and Arabian Horse Ranch. Ultimately, a conference center and resort hotel were located on part of the land. The resort was designed by Scottsdale architect Bennie M. Gonzales and originally opened in 1976. You’ll notice that the courtyard with the huge fireplace where people gather to relax is named Bennie’s Courtyard.
So the historic themes, the architecture and references to ranching at today’s elegant resort harken back to these earlier times in the “wild west era of Arizona.” While this history lends a sense of place to the resort, it’s the newly renovated resort with casual luxury and modern amenities that is drawing people for weddings, meetings, family vacations, and romantic getaways.
The New Scottsdale Resort
For 39 years, the conference center was known as a major western destination for meetings. The Scottsdale Resort I visited recently had the same convenient location and mountain vistas but I experienced the newly renovated property.
The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch, A Destination Hotel, reopened on Sept. 8, 2015, after completing a massive renovation that transformed the independent resort and revitalized its amenities. As part of the $10 million transformation, the resort features two new restaurants and a bar, a transformed main pool, a significant addition of outdoor meeting and event space, enhanced guest rooms, and an open, welcoming feel throughout the resort.
The property now has 326 guest rooms and suites, each with the elegant décor and residential ambiance reminiscent of private haciendas. Amenities include four restaurants and bars, two pools, Luna Spa, and preferred tee times at McCormick Ranch Golf Club just across the road. With more than 100,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, groups and meetings have their pick of 50 meeting rooms accommodating groups of 10 to 1,200. The Scottsdale Resort is one of the newest properties in the Destination Hotels portfolio and is a AAA Four Diamond resort.
The Scottsdale Resort—Relaxing with a View or Pool Room
The gracious front desk staff was able to check me in early. I was given a card that invited me to text the staff should I need anything.
The way the resort is configured, it retains a small cozy feel despite the 326 rooms. There are seating areas in gardens, the lobby and Bennie’s Courtyard. The corridors are art-filled and elegant architectural touches like the staircase off the lobby add to the ambiance.
I looked forward to relaxing in my room before a busy afternoon. The beautifully decorated third-floor room continued the elegant southwest theme. I opened the plantation shutters and was surprised to find a stunning view of the golf course and mountains beyond.
It was that view that rewarded me when I awoke at sunrise and opened the shutters and when I returned to my room and settled down in the cushy leather chair to catch up on email between activities.
I was pleased that the room had a tub as well as a shower. I’m a tub person and like a bit of luxuriating in warm water after a busy day.
As I toured the resort, I noticed the private patios that guests in the 20 first-floor rooms enjoyed with private access to the main pool and thought that would be ideal for families. And, I noticed there was a second, smaller pool for those who would want to get away from it all.
And if you need more pampering, The Scottsdale’s Luna Spa offers a multitude of services and treatments to refresh both mind and body. Guests can enjoy rejuvenating treatments such as a hot stone massage, antigravity facial, desert mineral hydration body wrap and the spa’s signature Sonoran body rejuvenation. Guests can also squeeze in a sweat session at the Fitness Center, which has cardiovascular machines, treadmills and strength training equipment, or play volleyball and basketball on the resort’s new sports court.
The Scottsdale Resort—Dining
I enjoyed lunch at the Kitchen West Restaurant, just off the lobby. It’s decorated simply and focuses on the open kitchen and wood-fired grill.
We were greeted warmly and sat inside with a view of the grounds. Later in the day, the weather improved and the restaurant had more of an indoor-outdoor feel. At Kitchen West, they offer a modern interpretation of American Western cooking. We were surprised to be served an appetizer… a delicious flatbread is served with a chutney that was reminiscent of India’s naan bread.
I enjoyed a marvelous flatbread sandwich with carved chicken breast and very fresh lightly dressed greens.
My friend enjoyed the excellent fish tacos served with a delightful mango salsa and fresh limes.
Guests can choose between single or family-style dishes, and the restaurant serves both lunch and dinner along with weekend brunch. Executive Chef Rick Dupere has created a seasonal menu of unique American Western fare, and sources seasonally for freshness.
In the middle of the lobby, The Scottsdale’s new lobby bar serves as an extension of the restaurant. Bar Six40 serves coffee, juices, and light breakfast options and snacks in the morning and afternoon both inside and on the patio. Guests enjoy craft beers and wines on tap with live entertainment during the afternoon and evenings along with delectable bites from Kitchen West. Try one of their signature cocktails. How about a Prickly Pear Refresher made with Herradura Tequila, Pama liqueur, and prickly pear puree. How Arizona!
But why leave the luxury of the main pool when you’re hungry? In fact, you might be lucky enough to reserve one of the Cabanas where you can be served drinks and meals from The Twisted Vine Pool Bar & Grill. The cabana experience includes modular deep seating with coffee tables, chairs and cocktail table, two reserved chaise lounges with tea tables, your own refrigerator and a 32″ flat screen HDTV!
The Twisted Vine Pool Bar & Grill is known for its Piña Coladas. Pair yours with a cheesy quesadilla, taco or burger and you’ll be settling in for the afternoon. I watched Damian make one Piña Colada after another while keeping up conversations with us as we sat around the tile bar.
It was a great way to pass the afternoon after a morning walking around the beautiful Desert Botanical Garden not all that far away by car.
When You Go to The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch
The resort is only 12 miles from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport but you’ll feel like you are escaping the city for a desert retreat. Inquire about a shuttle service if you are not driving. Valet and self-parking are free. I used a rideshare to get the short distance to downtown Scottsdale for evening activities.
If you play golf, be sure and let the resort staff know so you can get a good tee time at the close-by McCormick Ranch Golf Club.
The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch is located at 7700 E McCormick Parkway, Scottsdale, AZ 85258. Call 480.360.9562 for reservations or the main number is 480.991.9000. Visit online at www.destinationhotels.com/scottsdale-resort. Be sure to check out Wander for other great ideas of things to do while visiting Arizona.
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations, meals, and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.