I take any chance I get to skip town. Exploring new destinations or finding fresh angles on longtime favorite travel spots is a major thrill. But, sometimes it’s fun to vacation in your hometown. When you live in the Valley of the Sun, this opportunity presents itself on a regular basis.
Case in point: The Saguaro in Scottsdale. The first hotel from Joie de Vivre (Ace Hotels) outside of California, The Saguaro is a welcome gem on the local hotel scene.
When I first saw The Saguaro’s bright splashes of color taking over the whitewashed building, I was scared. I am a major fan of vibrant design but too often this can edge more on the side of kitsch.
Thankfully, The Saguaro got it right. Décor is trendy and not cheesy. Rooms are mostly white with the signature bright hues found in things like throws, pillows and accent walls. Architecture is simple and design is basic: you’ve got a bed (extra comfortable), TV stand/desk and a seating area. Guest bathrooms are stocked with LATHER products – a nice touch!
My favorite part of The Saguaro is the lobby, where you’re greeted with pops of bright green, yellow, orange and pink. Down the stretch of the hallway are Old Town Whiskey and Distrito, both by James Beard Award Winner Jose Garces.
Old Town Whiskey’s 100+ varieties of whiskey, bourbon, rye and scotch are a major draw. There’s a collection of Prohibition era cocktails, too, as well as local and regional beers and decent list of wines. Modeled after a speakeasy, the spot’s culinary focus is on creative bar snacks, burgers and other comfort foods.
Even if you don’t stay at The Saguaro, you have to at least try Distrito. Modern Mexican cuisine comes to life in the form of yellow fin tuna ceviche in Serrano-coconut sauce ($13); Huarache de Costillas, a short rib flat bread with a spicy chile BBQ sauce ($13); and queso fundido with duck barbacoa ($12).
Flavors of pomegranate, honeydew and orange pop in the Granada salad ($8). The best way to do Distrito is by ordering a bunch of sharing plates for the group. If it’s a full-blown entrée you’re craving, there’s a section dedicated to barbacoa (Mexican BBQ).
There’s plenty to keep you busy besides delectable dining, too. At The Saguaro Spa, emphasis is on desert-inspired treatments with a Nuevo Latin twist. The 90-minute Desert Essence Poultice ($185) is downright euphoric and is a pressure-point massage using herbal compresses.
The Saguaro knocks it out of the park when it comes to dining, spa and design of its common areas. And while the amenities are outstanding, they’d be nothing without The Saguaro’s stellar staff. It’s the employees you encounter during vacation that could make or break the whole thing. The Saguaro’s are some of the nicest I’ve come across.