Watching sunset-fueled shadows dash across the landscape and dance amid jagged peaks from the balcony of my room, I understood how at Mountain Shadows resort, a luxury property in Arizona’s Paradise Valley, got its name.
When it first opened in 1959, Mountain Shadows set a new standard for luxury. This Sonoran desert oasis quickly became a favorite playground for Hollywood stars and big-name entertainers—think Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Sammy Davis Jr., Steve Allen, and Jane Meadows.
As the decades progressed, the jet-set jetted elsewhere: The lights went out in 2004 and the hotel was demolished in 2014. Enter Westroc Hospitality, which invested $100 million to rebuild the resort from the ground up. The renewed Mountain Shadows resort opened in 2017, providing discerning travelers a new luxury lodging choice in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area.
Needing a room for one night, I accepted an offer to visit this new version of a classic before departing on an early morning flight out of Phoenix. Although I had only about 12 hours to explore the hotel, it was plenty of time to fall under the Mountain Shadows spell.
Mountain Shadows resort overview
The resort, with 183 rooms and 42 condominiums and suites, takes full advantage of its Sonoran desert siting near the base of Camelback Mountain. The design gives midcentury modern a contemporary spin, while the décor winks at the property’s heritage. Plentiful floor-to-ceiling glass along with flowing lounging, dining, and activities areas make it hard to discern at times whether you’re inside or outside.
The interplay of indoors and outdoors continues in the guestroom. Upon opening the door from the hallway to my 464-square-foot Immerse-category guestroom, I entered into an open-concept bathroom, with oversized glass-walled shower, along with a sink vanity and a water closet on one side. A clothing closet and dressing table filled the opposite wall.
Curtains could be drawn to separate the entry and bath area from the bedroom, with a king-size bed framed by night tables. Opposite it, a desk with 55-inch wall-mounted TV above extended to include a minibar and beverage drawer (stocked with a lot of fun local products as well as cocktail recipes) and a Keurig coffee machine. This gave way to an easy chair with lamp.
On one end of the back wall, glass doors opened to a private balcony. On the other, a deep soaking tub angled to enjoy the views out over the balcony and beyond the golf course to Camelback Mountain, filled the corner nook.
I liked the soothing, easy-on-the-eyes décor in shades of cream and gray with blue accents along with complementary artwork and historical photos. As one would expect, the bedding was plush and turn-down came with bottled water, comfy robes, and slippers. I had barely arrived but already I regretted having to depart so soon.
Facilities and amenities
With little time to waste, I began exploring the property, beginning with the art gallery. In The Gallery, a spacious hallway between the reception area and the conference rooms, curated exhibitions of museum-quality works with an Arizona connection change every two months. During opening receptions, the curator offers insights into the works while guests enjoy wine and passed hors d’oeuvres.
Tee off at The Short Course, the par-3, 18-hole course redesigned by Forrest Richardson
Retracing my steps to reception, I peeked into a small boutique before moving onto the bar and lounge, which opened to the pool area. I wanted to dive into one of the two, bi-level, back-to-back, 75-foot outdoor pools, part of The Century Club, the resort’s fitness component. The facility also includes an impressive, well-equipped workout center that offers classes as well as guided hikes and has a juice bar.
Many guests come to tee off at The Short Course, the par-3, 18-hole course redesigned by Forrest Richardson: Ask about the Forrest Wager before teeing off, as that determines who buys during Happy Hour at Rusty’s. Mountain Shadows resort guests also have preferred access to the 36-hole championship Camelback Golf Club, and the concierge will arrange transportation via the hotel’s Tesla Model X courtesy car.
Wine and dine
It would be easy to while away an afternoon hanging out in the bar, the Living Room lounge, or on the patio, before or after dining in the Hearth ’61 restaurant. The open-concept floor plan flows as easily as the craft cocktails and local wines and beers.
Executive Chef Charles Wiley has earned kudos from Food & Wine, the James Beard Foundation, and the Scottsdale Hall of Fame.
Begin with espresso at 6am, sip drinks poolside during the day, return for happy hour Monday-Friday afternoons or for live music Thursday-Sunday evenings. I especially loved the retro, sunken living room, with its central, free-standing, circular fireplace and wall-to-wall couches.
The bar flows into Hearth ’61, the resort’s restaurant. Over his 40-plus year career, Executive Chef Charles Wiley has earned kudos from Food & Wine, the James Beard Foundation, and the Scottsdale Hall of Fame. With his team, he prepares seasonal, ingredient-driven American fare in an exhibition kitchen; translation: fresh, inspired, worldly, and delicious. The dining space is hip yet casual, with tables inside and outdoors overlooking the pool.
After treating myself to a nightcap, I padded back to my room and stargazed from my balcony. I made a wish upon a star, then reluctantly set my alarm for 4am, hoping my wish to return came true.
What’s appealing to the over-50 luxury traveler?
- An upscale resort with retro appeal.
- The option to play two golf courses, one on site and the other nearby with transportation provided
- Arizona’s desert climate in winter
- Easy access to the many museums, shops, and other attractions of Scottsdale and Phoenix
- A nightly $32 resort fee, plus tax, is charged.
- Mountain Shadows resort is pet-friendly.
- The open concept bathrooms might be a bit disconcerting for those who prize privacy.
IF YOU GO
5445 E. Lincoln Drive, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253
Disclosure: The author’s hotel stay was hosted by Mountain Shadows.
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