The Nines | Portland, Oregon

Every once in a while serendipity happens ~ a fortunate happenstance where everything aligns perfectly and you find yourself right in the midst of it. It’s such an unexpected and pleasant surprise.

I feel like this happened to me on my visit to The Nines hotel in Portland, Oregon. In all honesty, I just needed a place to stay for a night before catching a flight home, but of course, I always take the opportunity to inspect hotels in the area.

In doing my research, The Nines definitely caught my attention so I booked my stay there with no real expectations, but from the website I knew I would be in for something a little different.

The only way I can describe this hotel is to say that it is an eclectic infusion of Renaissance Glamour…

meets Contemporary

meets Urban Chic…

meets Breakfast at Tiffany’s…

meets funky flair!

And the answer is yes, all of the above is the same hotel!

DSC_1094The reason I call this a serendipitous experience is because everything on this very short visit fell into place perfectly.

It had probably been about 15 years since I had last visited Portland, and I ‘m not sure if I stayed in another part of town but I certainly don’t remember Portland being as active and vibrant as it was on this last visit. It was very reminiscent to me of San Francisco.

The Nines hotel is located in the heart of downtown Portland next Pioneer Square and within walking distance to the large department stores as well as boutique shops, trendy restaurants, and cultural attractions.

From the moment I arrived at the hotel, it was apparent there was an enthusiastic buzz in the air. The lobby was active and everyone seemed to be in a jovial mood. I quickly learned that the iconic pop star, Madonna, was in town for a concert that evening. I never heard if Madonna was staying at The Nines, but it certainly seemed as though some of her entourage was, as there were several people with make-up cases and large luggage lingering about. The chatter throughout the hotel was all about the concert and it created a fun atmosphere.

Another pleasant surprise was being upgraded to the one-bedroom swanky, Tiffany-inspired suite.

I’m usually more of a minimalist when it comes to design, but I have to say it felt quite indulgent opening my suite door to the living room with a velvet settee in brilliant robin egg blue and matching damask patterned chairs adorned by a dripping crystal light fixture. The decadence continued into the large separate bedroom with another sitting area and large bathroom. The suite, located on the 12th floor, offers amazing downtown city views and is a gorgeous sight at night. It felt like sheer elegance from a bygone era.

The room also came with exclusive access to the Club Lounge, featuring a daily breakfast, evening hors d’oeuvres and a dessert buffet. This is always a fun perk and I made it a point to hit the lounge to enjoy the delightful appetizers {that could easily serve as a meal} and came back for the grand array of delicious desserts later in the evening. My favorite part was meeting a WWII vet who shared some of his fascinating stories throughout the evening.

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Evening view from the suite.

I headed out for a walk around town and to do a little window shopping while enjoying the perfect fall weather. When the dinner hour rolled around, I debated about going to some of the trendy establishments nearby but in the end decided to head back to The Nines to enjoy the rooftop bar and restaurant, Departure…where another serendipitous moment awaited me.

Departure’s rooftop bar and restaurant is a hot spot in the city with prime views of downtown Portland and beyond. The bar’s outdoor deck seems to be an attraction for guests and locals to gather for a drink while enjoying good conversation and the views.

The restaurant serves Asian cuisine in a sleek, cosmopolitan setting with both indoor and outdoor seating and features the largest saké list in Portland. I sat at the corner edge of the outdoor deck for dinner which offered incredible views, but my biggest surprise was looking up at one point and seeing a full double rainbow {the picture doesn’t begin to do it justice}. Everyone on the deck walked over to the edge snapping their smartphone cameras and I have no doubt social media in the Portland area must have spiked through the roof.

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View of the sky from the other direction.

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The hotel also has another restaurant located on the lobby level call the Urban Farmer open for breakfast, lunch and dinner that looked very enticing as well.

All I can say is that in less than a 24-hour period, I feel like I experienced a plethora of unique moments that have now created lifelong memories for me.

Maybe it was the hotel’s multiple personality or downtown Portland’s vibrant city, or simply the serendipitous intervention of all of the above, but my short time here was quite impactful and I look forward to returning for more!

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Brasada Ranch | Powell Butte, CA

Savvy travelers these days are looking for more than cookie-cutter vacations, they are looking for unique experiences that are authentic to the local area that offer life-long memories…and intuitive resorts are picking up on this trend.

Ranch-style properties have been offering luxury experiential travel adventures for years labeled as “glamping” {glamorous camping}. The appeal of glamping is being able to connect with nature and to experience the Wild West lifestyle without having to give up five-star accommodations and amenities.

One such property making its mark in this niche is Brasada Ranch located in Powell Butte, Oregon approximately 30 minutes from Bend. Located in central Oregon’s high desert, this region offers 300+ days of sunshine a year, unlike Oregon’s western region, creating a perfect playground for the outdoor adventurer.

Property

Brasada Ranch {Brasada} is a luxury ranch-style resort community set on a sprawling 1,800-acre property. The property was originally a sheep ranch in the early 1900’s and in 2006 it was purchased from the original family descendants which eventually developed into the ranch-chic resort and community that it is today.

Brasada holds the distinction of being named the first-ever newly constructed resort community in the United States to receive a gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) as well as being named the Best Resort in the Pacific Northwest: Reader’s Choice Awards 2015 by Condé Nast Traveler ~ for the second year in a row.

Check-in

As you approach the property, you can’t help but be impressed by the large, timber-framed entrance and the bevy of beautiful horses roaming the grounds. It’s a peaceful and serene scene, and you immediately know that you will be in for a unique experience.

Upon entering the main Ranch House, you are welcomed by the warm and inviting refined rustic elegance. A large stone, wood-burning fireplace stands front and center with four marvelous cowhide leather chairs just begging you to have a seat and get cozy.

The atmosphere is relaxed and casual and the staff greets you as though you’re an expected friend.

Because the property is spread out, you are offered the use of an electric golf cart for the duration of your stay. This was such a pleasant perk ~ who doesn’t love putting around in a golf cart! Of course there’s always the option of getting some exercise and walking.

Guest Rooms

@2015 Susan EdelThe Brasada Ranch guest accommodations are comprised of eight suites located in the Ranch House {main lodge} and 67 individual cabins.

The Ranch House is the main hub on the property with a reception area, a library space and the restaurant/bar, in addition to the suites.

The eight Ranch House Suites range in size from 400 to 900 square feet with King Beds. The four premium suites located above the main level offer grand views of the Cascade Mountain Range from Mt. Bachelor to Mt. Hood {each suite is appropriately named after one of the mountain ranges} and have a soaking tub and private balcony. These suites offer incredible views for catching those stunning Pacific Northwest sunsets. If I were to stay in the Ranch House, the Mt. Hood Suite would probably be my choice as it is an upper-end unit with a large sitting area, fireplace and balcony perfect for admiring the high desert landscape during the day and star-gazing in the evening.

The four suites located below the main level do not have the soaking tubs but they have direct access to the private outdoor hot tub and fire pit which are only available to the Ranch House guests. These rooms also offer great views from the patio. To stay in the Ranch House guests must be 14 years and older. Includes daily housekeeping.

Staying in the Ranch House is a great option for special occasions such as wedding parties who want to be located in close proximity to one another, romantic getaways in a cozy room or people who prefer to be in the midst of the resort activities. Each suite has a Keurig coffee maker, microwave and small refrigerator.

The Sage Canyon & Cascade Cabins, on the other hand, offer the opportunity to enjoy individual accommodations with a private setting while providing all the conveniences of home. The cabins range from 1 to 3 bedrooms and have a living room with a fireplace, full kitchen, dining area, washer and dryer and some cabins have outdoor hot tubs. The cabins include housekeeping services every third day but I didn’t find that a problem having a dishwasher and the washer and dryer in the unit.

@2015 Susan EdelI personally enjoyed the privacy and serenity of staying in a cabin {#58}. My cabin overlooked a portion of the golf course and had a nice view of the Cascades in the distance. While sitting on my deck admiring the views, I saw some of the largest Jackrabbits I’ve ever seen. My cabin had an outdoor hot tub which was perfect for relaxing in the evenings under the stars.

The cabins are spaced out enough on the property to offer privacy and yet many of them are still close enough to be within walking distance to the main Ranch House…but of course, there’s always your golf cart, if needed.

The wonderful aspect of this property is the option to accommodate almost any situation whether it’s for a couple, an individual family, a group reunion, wedding party or corporate event. Brasada has the ability to customize the size of their cabins by connecting the rooms for larger parties or reducing spaces when needed. The Cascade cabins {#32-35} offer some of the best views on property are a great option for extended families and multi-generational travel because of how they can be configured to create one large “house” or to close the rooms off to create individuals units.

Dining and Events

Brasada has two restaurants, the Ranch House Restaurant and the Range Restaurant and Bar.

@2015 Susan EdelThe Ranch House Restaurant: is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, year round. The atmosphere is cozy and casual with a fun flair to it. A mix of regular table rounds along with high-top tables fill a communal area in front of the bar, and off to the side is a large, stone wood-burning fireplace with plush seating that beckons you over. The atmosphere is light and fun and the chatter of conversation fills the room with a warm, friendly vibe. It’s the type of place where once you get comfortable, you want to sit there and enjoy the ambiance for the entire evening. If you prefer a more intimate setting, sink yourself into one of the leather chairs in the Roadhouse Library to enjoy an after-dinner drink, a little reading or a nice conversation. However, don’t miss the opportunity to sit on the outdoor patio with the phenomenal views of the Cascade peaks at sunset.

The Ranch House Restaurant serves great comfort food such as fried chicken, mac ‘n cheese, and burgers that pair well with their selection of local microbrew beers. And if your palate desires something with a little more sophistication try the Bay Scallop Risotto, Imperial Stock Ranch Lamb Ragu, or Slow Cooked Pork Osso Buco paired with a great wine. For dessert, grab your s’mores packet of housemade marshmallows, rich chocolate and graham crackers and enjoy your delicious creation by the large, crackling firepit on the patio.

@2015 Susan EdelThe Range Restaurant and Bar: is open for dinner, dessert and drinks on a seasonal schedule {May-Sept} as well as for private parties. The restaurant is inspired by the farm-to-table concept and the menu is created based on the fresh ingredients available from many local farmers, orchards, and creameries and will change throughout the summer based on availability.

If you’re looking for an authentic homestead experience, this is where you will find it. From the moment the large wrought-iron Cowboy dinner bell rings, you know you’re going to be in for something good!

Guests not only gather here for the great food and to enjoy the indoor/outdoor dining space, but come to witness the incredible sunsets, roast s’mores around the oversized firepit surrounded by Adirondack chairs and listen to the Cowboy Poet, or come to enjoy the weekly {seasonal} BBQ & Live Music Series. It’s also a perfect place to pass the time playing Bocci Ball, Pickleball, or any one of the many other games available.

For a really unique and memorable experience how about a private dinner up in the hills, complete with great food, ambient lighting, and with you arriving on horseback all prepared by Brasada…oh yeah, they will do that for you. Magical.

Brasada does not offer room service but there is a General Store onsite {used to be the town Post Office} that offers local and regional items along with everything you need to stock your cabin.

@2015 Susan EdelFor special events such as weddings or corporate get-togethers, The Barn is the perfect venue to for a rustic-chic gathering. Local Ochoco milled wood was used in the construction of barn, the large stone fireplace rises all the way up to the peaked ceiling capped off by a large skylight. The juxtaposition of the rustic elements and elegant light fixtures and beautiful table settings create an enchanting atmosphere.

Activities

Brasada offers so many exciting options and experiences that they have an entire adventure center dedicated for their guests, Brasada Adventures. And it’s no wonder with the area’s reputation of being the “outdoor playground of the West”.

I could sit here all day and rattle off all the exciting adventures that are available but in an effort to not inundate you, I’ll just give you some of the highlights such as the Equestrian Center, hiking, biking, fly fishing, sunset helicopter tours, canoe tours with lakefront beer tastings and so much more. Where else can you snow ski in the morning and golf in the afternoon? The opportunity for amazing adventures are endless here, truly.

Don’t want to leave the property {and who would blame you?}, then take advantage of all the options located directly onsite such as…

The Spa: offers 4 treatment rooms, along with a salon for mani’s and pedi’s. All guests can utilize the steam rooms and it’s worth your while to stop by to pick up one of the daily special cookies made only for the spa guests. The spa is open to the public, so do make reservations.

Fitness Center/Pool/Tennis/Volleyball:@2015 Susan Edel The property has a large fitness center with Cybex equipment and offers fitness classes including Yoga, Pilates and Zumba. There are two outdoor pools as well as an indoor pool for year-round swimming and water classes, as well as, tennis courts and sand volleyball courts.

Golf: Golf is one of the main attractions here. Brasada Canyon is an 18-hole Peter Jacobsen-designed championship golf course and is only available to the private members and Brasada Ranch guests. The course is revered for its privacy and is known as one of the most beautiful and enjoyable courses in the West. Play the course on your own or improve your game with some lessons from the golf pros on staff.

Kids Program: Brasada offers an excellent kids program for kids of all ages. What child doesn’t want to saddle up for a Cowboy cookout, roast housemade marshmallows, swim and slide at the pool…and they didn’t forget the Tweens, they can hang out at The Hideout and play ping pong, air hockey, foosball, watch movies and more.

The property also stocks their pond with 3 different types of fish, a perfect place to hone your fishing technique.

If you’re craving a little more city action, take a ride out to Bend and walk around downtown for some local shopping and restaurants, The Pine Tavern is one of Bend’s iconic restaurants but there are many great restaurants to choose from.

Sisters is another fairly close town known for its charming village setting and western themed downtown with unique shops, galleries and restaurants. Sisters is home to the Sisters Rodeo, Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, Sisters Folk Festival and Sisters Starry Nights concert series. And be sure to stop by Sisters Bakery for a little treat.

For the snow ski enthusiast, Mt. Bachelor is located only 30 minutes away and is one of the largest ski areas in the Pacific Northwest.

@2015 Susan EdelIn Summary

In relative terms, this is still a fairly new resort and I believe they will continue to refine themselves as a luxury retreat. I would love to eventually see the Range Restaurant open year-round, room service would be a nice option for the cabins, and to place robes in the cabins…I always enjoy sipping my coffee outside on the deck in the early morning…but none of the above diminished my experience here.

Overall, this property exceeded my expectations in so many ways. I found the location and landscape to be beautiful, serene and relaxing. The Cascade peaks provide a gorgeous backdrop and the sunsets are stunning.

The atmosphere is so warm and welcoming you almost feel as though you are staying with good friends. The resort’s creative and authentic experiences let you leave with plenty of stories to tell and reminisce over, and isn’t that what it’s all about? This is the type of get-a-away that creates bonds between families or friends and wonderful life-long memories. And if I can offer any advice, don’t worry about spending too much time here, be more concerned about not spending enough time here!

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The Inn at Entrada | St. George

The Inn at Entrada {The Inn} is a small luxury resort residing within an upscale gated golf community in St. George, Utah. Set among the striking red rocks and near the entrance to Snow Canyon State Park, The Inn boasts a prime location for both its beauty and proximity to local attractions and activities.

Property

Serenely situated on the Ninth Fairway of the Entrada Golf Course, many of the casitas at The Inn have views of the meticulously manicured golf course and stunning red rocks beyond. I was most impressed by the pristine condition in which the entire community is maintained.

@2015 Susan EdelIn this high-desert environment, it’s a pleasant surprise to see such healthy green grass, natural plantings, and river beds flowing throughout the community. The lush vegetation is an extraordinary balance to the striking red vermilion cliffs that surround the property in every direction.

Check-In

The property has an exclusive feeling being located within a privately gated golf community. Pleasantly, it’s not your typical hotel check-in experience, and yet it does offer the convenience of a 24-hour reception desk. The reception area is a comfortable, large space that feels more like a residential great room and is used as a common area for the guests to gather.

Guest Rooms

To call the accommodations at The Inn Guest Rooms is a severe understatement. The units here are casitas that reside within an affluent community. There are a select number of individually owned units that are seamlessly managed by The Inn and operate as a boutique hotel. The units are a combination of 26 Luxury Casitas and Executive Suites, ranging from studios to 3 bedroom units along with one four bedroom and one five bedroom unit.

DSC_0203The interior of the units are all designed in the same luxurious style with cozy furniture, stylish accessories, fireplaces and all the amenities of home. All the units offer a living and dining area, fully equipped kitchen, washer/dryer and separate bedroom(s) aside from the Studio unit which offers a spacious open area with a bed, a small dining table and kitchenette.

For the convenience of larger families or groups, casitas can be connected to create extended accommodations. The four bedroom/four bath suite {#3201} is a nice option for a girl’s getaway with its stylish features and light finishes ~ the owner of this unit is an interior designer/property manager from London.

The five bedroom/five bath, Johnny Miller Suite {#900}, is a great option for a guy’s golfing trip with gorgeous views of the cliffs and a man-cave style den with rich leather furnishings, a bar and pool table.

All units have an outdoor patio to enjoy the peaceful landscape. And in keeping with hotel-style services, housekeeping comes once daily and does an amazing job. The units are spotless.

I stayed in a well-appointed two-bedroom unit {#1502} that had a great view of a pond complete with resident ducks, the golf course and the gorgeous red rocks. To see the sunrise and sunset on the stunning cliffs is quite a treat. It was a pleasant and comfortable experience to stay someplace that was so spacious and offers all the conveniences of home.

Dining

As a guest of The Inn, you are able to dine at the Kokopelli Restaurant located at the member-only Entrada Clubhouse. The restaurant serves delicious dishes for lunch and dinner and do note that there is a Country Club attire dress code for the dinner hour ~ collared shirts for the men and no jeans allowed for either men or women. A casual grill adjacent to the restaurant is also an option with expanded dinner hours. The outdoor patio with its stunning view of the red rocks is a perfect place for a happy hour beverage or to enjoy outdoor seating for lunch or dinner. The restaurants operate on a seasonal schedule so hours do change throughout the year.

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Freshly baked cinnamon rolls are served in the lobby every morning provided by a local bakery, Grandma Tobler’s. The snack bar at the golf course also serves breakfast and lunch. Snacks are available by the pool.

The resort does not offer room service, however, they do provide coffee in the rooms and with a full kitchen in each unit you can stock up on all your favorite items at a local grocery store.

Resort Amenities

As a guest of the resort, you have access to all of the amenities offered at the private community clubhouse.

Spa and Fitness Center
Spa and Fitness Center

There is a quaint spa on-site that surprisingly offers a full-service menu which includes facial treatments, massages, and manicures/pedicures. A spacious fitness center provides an array of exercise equipment including Pilates and the option of hiring personal trainers for numerous different activities.

The clubhouse also offers an indoor and outdoor pool, as well as tennis courts. And one of the main draws here, is the Golf at Entrada. As a guest of The Inn, you have access to play this member’s only, Johnny Miller Signature Design 18-hole championship private golf course.

Local Activities

DSC_0383St. George is a stunning region of the Southwest with its surrounding vermillion cliffs and has so many activities to offer. There are many hiking trails and bike paths within the town itself.

Zion National Park is within a 45 minute drive from Entrada and many other national parks and monuments are within driving distance.

I decided to view the beautiful red rocks from my first helicopter ride with Zion Helicopters. It was an amazing experience and there is no better way to take in the beauty of this area.

If you’re short on time and can’t make it to Zion, The Inn is located at the doorstep to Snow Canyon State Park, which may as well be called mini-Zion. Explore the many trails and dunes of this breathtaking canyon on foot, bike or horseback.

For a unique and unforgettable experience, take in a show at the Tuacahn Outdoor Theatre offering broadway style shows just a short distance from The Inn.

In Summary

Staying at The Inn at Entrada is unlike any regular hotel experience. It offers the unique position of residing within an affluent gated community and the spacious casitas offer all the conveniences of home-away-from-home. When you top that off with the striking views of the surrounding red rock landscape, I can’t imagine a better place to stay in the St. George area.

 

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Four Seasons Scottsdale | Scottsdale, AZ

When visiting Scottsdale, Arizona, I generally stay near Camelback Mountain so I was excited to visit the Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North {FSS}, located approximately 30 miles from the Phoenix airport on the outskirts of town.

I knew the FSS was located farther out from town and I wasn’t sure what to expect or if I would like the location as much. However as I approached the property, I knew I had made the right decision. The FSS is located in an exclusive area nestled into the foothills of Pinnacle Peak surrounded by indigenous Saguaro Cacti and the beautiful Sonoran Desert landscape. The inherent setting is a peaceful and tranquil environment.

@2015 Susan Edel

Property

The FSS sits on a 40-acre property with an elevation that provides gorgeous views. This was a pleasant surprise as none of the other properties that I have visited in Scottsdale has ever offered a panoramic view of this type. Due to the resort’s location, it offers the advantage of looking towards the city of Scottsdale showcasing its beautiful city view in the evening.

The property offers a unique setting with its location adjacent to Pinnacle Peak and it sits at the base of the Crescent Butte mountain range with its striking golden boulders. The natural landscape of beautiful boulders, cacti, and brush surrounding the resort make the property feel very private. This is exactly what I look for when choosing a property. I want to feel as though I am experiencing the local culture and environment and staying someplace special that reflects the surrounding region. This property offers that feeling.

@2015 Susan EdelAs I strolled the grounds, I enjoyed the unexpected touches throughout the property such as decorative pottery arranged within the plantings, antique wooden doors tucked against walls, and pops of color in the natural landscape. It’s quite beautiful and makes it a joy to walk around the property. The evenings take on an enchanting ambiance with strategically placed wood-burning chimineas and glowing candle lanterns scattered throughout the property.

Check-in

For the first time, I used the FSS resort app to check into the property prior to my arrival, and I have to say I liked it!

At the time I was filling it out, I wasn’t sure if it would have any real benefit but as soon as I drove up and presented my name, I was told that the Bellman had the keys to my casita and we were ready to go. I was actually caught off-guard and if it weren’t for the fact that I wanted to speak with the front desk personnel, I would have been whisked away immediately. I was very impressed and I highly recommend using the resort app to check-in prior to your arrival.

Guest Rooms

@2015 Susan EdelThe resort offers 210 casitas/suites which are tastefully designed with a southwestern flair {some single level rooms but most located in two-story buildings}. The casitas range from the basic rooms called the Desert Garden and Sonoran Casitas to the Premier Casita Rooms. These rooms are all similar in style and size with the difference being the view and the Premier Casitas are slightly larger.

The suites range from one-bedroom {900 sq. ft.} to three-bedroom {3,000 sq. ft.} units and offer a separate living and powder room along with the additional bedrooms. See {here} for a comparison of all room categories. Some casitas also offer the option of private patios with outdoor spas.

As with all things in life, you sometimes have to make choices. While booking my stay, I was torn between reserving a casita with a panoramic view or booking one with an outdoor spa. The spa casitas are located on the ground floor and have a privacy wall surrounding them so the majority of these rooms do not offer expansive views.

In the end, I chose to book a room with the view instead of the spa because my fear was that I would feel closed-in with the privacy wall. However, when I toured the property and saw a spa casita in person, it did not feel closed-in at all. The particular casita I saw {#2004}, I thought was very nice although this unit happened to sit below the pool so it might not be the most private option. There were some spa rooms located at the base of the Crescent Butte that I felt would offer some privacy and nice boulder views {Bldg 3}. After all is said and done, I was very pleased with my gorgeous view but I would also consider booking a spa casita next time.

As always, I try to give some insight into what I believe are some of the more desirable rooms. I stayed in Building 4, room 415 {2nd floor} and I truly believe I had one of the best views at the resort overlooking the pool and city view beyond. Building 2 located next to Building 4 also offers very nice views. Building 8 backs up to the Crescent Butte and offers a nice setting. I was told that Building 10 is highly requested as well. Having said that, all of the property is beautiful and surrounded by gorgeous landscape.

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The rooms offer comfortable bedding, lush, thick towels with L’Occitane bath amenities. Each room has a stocked mini-bar with snacks that are available at cost…and as always, my favorite amenity ~ a Keurig coffee maker with real cream so I can wake up and have my early morning coffee on the deck with the birds. That quiet time in the morning is always such a peaceful way to welcome the day.

Dining

The resort offers several great dining options. During my stay, it appeared that many locals seem to frequent the restaurants providing for a lively atmosphere.

Talavera: Talavera is the finer dining option on property serving a seafood and steak style menu. The restaurant has a nice ambiance and offers both inside and outside seating. I did not eat here so I can’t speak about the food but from what I saw it looked wonderful and it was a full house. Resort attire. Dinner only.

DSC_9437Proof: {I could move to Scottsdale just to eat here…often!} Proof is the resort’s main restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with both indoor and outdoor seating. They call it an American Canteen serving comfort food with a twist and it’s full of character. The decor is a unique design, filled with rustic charm. Some of the table bases are made from actual train components and there are railroad tracks embedded in the hardwood flooring which allows the tables to move around. Fun Edison style bulbs hang from the ceiling, and the bar is designed as an old-fashioned soda fountain. The food is terrific and the menu offers fun options such as Fried Green Tomatoes, Duck Fries and other creative dishes. Try their micro-brew beers as well and I highly suggest trying their breakfast buffet. Casual attire.

Saguaro Blossom: Saguaro Blossom is the poolside dining option. A perfect lunch/late afternoon option for a casual bite offering salads, sandwiches and great fish and chips. Limited hours. Very casual attire.

Onyx Bar & Lounge: The Onyx Bar & Lounge is a perfect place to have a cocktail before or after dinner or you can order a lite meal. This is a perfect spot to watch the sun set or enjoy the gleaming city lights in the evening. The lounge also offers live music. The evening I was there, I chose to eat a lite meal overlooking the city lights and listened to a lovely singer with a very creative spin on some cover songs.

24 hour In-Casita dining is always an option.

Spa

Indulge at the full-service spa. The spa offers several signature treatments such as the Pinnacle Facial and Jojoba and Pickly Pear Polish. Guests are welcome to relax and use the spa facility even when a treatment has not been booked. Enjoy a steam shower, sauna or de-stress in the relaxation room. The spa also offers salon services and treatments for Kids and Teens and a 24-hour fitness facility. The spa is open to the public so reservations are recommended.

Pool

Ah yes, the pool! One of my favorite spots on property.

The FSS has three pools to enjoy ~ the main pool, an adult pool and the kids pool with the Crescent Butte boulders commanding your attention in the background. The pools are nicely configured and I must admit, at a family friendly resort, I always do appreciate the option of an adult-only pool.

DSC_9516Music is piped in throughout the day and poolside service is provided which includes food and beverage orders along with complimentary water, snacks, and suntan lotion. There are numerous cabanas located around the pools that are first come, first serve, with the exception of two luxury cabanas that have a TV and come with a fruit platter which merit a fee. If you want to guarantee that you will get a regular cabana {they do go quickly}, you can reserve one of them for a nominal fee which can be a reassuring option during those peak periods. The cabanas have misters that help alleviate some of that Arizona heat during the summer months. In the evenings, the pool is illuminated with colorful lighting and is available for use 24/7.

Unique to Property

What is most unique to this resort is the Sonoran Desert landscape which gives the property such a distinctive feel. No matter where you are on property, there is a gorgeous view. There are walking trails throughout the resort and up to Pinnacle Peak that everyone can enjoy.

The resort also offers numerous on-site activities and the concierge desk can help with any plans ~ how about being a cowboy for a day, enjoying some family adventures or romantic retreats, maybe you prefer a few rounds of golf or a game of tennis. It’s all available for you.

And take time to do a little star-gazing. In the evenings, this is a perfect location to star-gaze. Being in a remote location away from the city lights means the sky is dark and the stars are bright. Nothing like having a drink on your patio searching for shooting stars.

A nice little perk is the use of a guest washer and dryer on property. I really felt that this was a useful guest feature, especially if you are staying the better part of a week or have children with you.

The hotel also offers some nice boutique shops, wedding consulting services, meeting venues and more.

But none of the above mean a thing without a staff that provides you with excellent service, and this is what the Four Seasons brand excels at! In my opinion, what makes a resort stand out above the others is how special they make you feel, how they go out of their way to accommodate {or even anticipate} your needs to ensure your comfort and satisfaction. I found the staff here extremely friendly and accommodating and I feel that my experience here was enhanced by the gracious staff. I find this to be true and consistent at all Four Seasons resorts.

In Summary

In summary, don’t hesitate to visit this property! I would come back here in a heartbeat. I found everything about it to be beautiful and enjoyable. It may be a little farther away from downtown Scottsdale but in my book, that’s a plus. I truly enjoyed the indigenous landscape surrounding the property and the relaxing atmosphere it offered. This resort is a Sonoran Desert gem!

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Exploring The Russian River Valley

Napa Valley and Sonoma are world-renowned for its wines, fine restaurants and luxury accommodations. A person could spend weeks and weeks exploring this region and only scratch the surface. So with as many times as I have been to the Napa Valley wine region, it was refreshing to discover yet another sector that I have never visited…the Russian River Valley.

On my drive to the Farmhouse Inn in Forestville (see here for the full review), I drove through the town of Sebastopol and stopped for lunch at The Barlow, a 220,000 square foot culinary and art center. There were many intriguing choices but I went with the Zazu Kitchen+Farm recommended by a friend. It was an excellent choice with unique menu items, open air seating and surrounded by fun and funky art sculptures.

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The Russian River Valley is in the heart of Sonoma County and has become most well-known for producing world-class Pinot Noir wine. Although Napa Valley is the more popular and polished destination, the historic RRV offers a rustic charm with an exciting incoming infusion of sophistication, fun and funk.

On the concierge’s suggestion at the Farmhouse Inn, I drove the proposed route going through several charming towns, some so small if you blinked you would miss them, but full of character just the same.

The town of Graton, now well-known for its Casino* (see hollyhan77’s comment below) seemed to be a pit-stop for cyclists who wanted to take a break at some of the coffee shops, there are a few antique and art stores and the Paul Mathew wine tasting room.

Unfortunately the Bambú Tea House wasn’t open, but it sure looked full of personality.

Freestone was one of those “don’t blink” towns but the colorful market and beautiful landscape are sure to catch your attention.

The largest (in relative terms) town on this route is Occidental. This bohemian town offers several restaurants, shops, a church, market and a hotel. I stopped for lunch at the Howard Cafe and the food was fresh and tasty…just keep in mind, you’re on “bohemian” time here so sit back and relax. 😉

It’s always a fun journey to discover new and unexpected places, and I’m definitely feeling the love for the Russian River Valley now.

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