Located in the heart of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, Scottsdale has a lot to offer for families looking for a fun outdoor adventure. And when you’re choosing the right place to stay, there’s a lot to consider – location, cost, amenities and more. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is a resort that does it right on all counts – all in a beautifully landscaped setting.
My 5-year-old daughter and I were recently hosted by the Princess for two nights and had the opportunity to experience the resort from a family perspective. From the complimentary tea and water in the lobby to the bubble bath left in the huge bathroom for my daughter’s enjoyment, we had a wonderful time. Here are some of the highlights of our trip:
Check-in, Layout and Parking
My daughter’s first exclamation as we drove our rental car into the driveway at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, was, “Look – a fountain!!” And she continued to be intrigued by all of the fountains on the site – from that one in the front to the smaller ones throughout the grounds. The resort is laid out in a somewhat sprawling (but contained) manner – the buildings are all interconnected with several courtyards in between.
It took us a little while to find our way around, but maps were available and the buildings are all labeled with clear directions to help you find the area you’re looking for. And we enjoyed seeing the beautiful flowers, cactuses (and yes, fountains!) as we walked. The design reminded me of a Spanish hacienda with archways and open walkways – very attractive and with a definite southwestern feel. The resort is quite large (65 acres) and incorporates 5 pools, a spa, several restaurants, 2 championship golf courses, a tennis center, kids club and more.
Checking in was very easy and the staff was knowledgeable and helpful when I had questions. We spent a bit of time in the lobby over the days we were there (and also afterward when we drove back to recover my daughter’s hat that we’d accidentally left at breakfast on our last morning). Everyone from the bellmen to the front desk attendants were polite and had fun interacting with my preschooler. Being used to midwestern humidity, I found myself constantly thirsty while we were in Arizona – so I greatly appreciated the lemon-flavored ice water that’s available in the lobby.
There are two parking options – you can self-park in one of the available lots for $10/day or you can take advantage of their valet parking for $20/day. In our case, the self-park option was a better option since our room was located closer to that lot than to the lobby, so it was a shorter walk whenever we left and returned.
Our room at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess had one of the most unique layouts that I’ve seen – with a separate entryway area as you walk in, complete with walk-in closet, mirror and padded bench. This area also opened to a huge bathroom with separate soaker tub and shower and more countertops that we have in our entire house at home. There was a lighted makeup mirror, scale, hair dryer, the aforementioned bubble bath, and robes – including a plush, kid-sized robe that fit my daughter perfectly.
Past the entryway and bathroom a hallway took us to the room itself, boasting a small cutout along the way with a wet bar and espresso maker. The room was a good size and included two queen-sized beds, a large desk, a flat-screen television, comfy chair & footstool, an iHome clock radio, and a balcony with table and chairs. Our balcony had a tree blocking much of the view -but that was very nice for privacy. This room was a ‘Fairmont Room’ style – there are several other options for rooms and suites available as well.
The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess has plenty of on-site dining options available, whether you want to sit down and relax inside, or outside by the pool. We arrived in between the lunch and dinner hours so sat out by the South Pool and ordered a poolside lunch on their patio. It was very relaxing to be able to sit outside and eat while watching the other guests enjoy the pool area. And water mists down along the patio edges to help keep you cool. There was a kids menu available – my daughter enjoyed a grilled cheese sandwich while I munched on an order of waffle-cut fries. So delicious!
We also had the opportunity to try several of the dishes at the new La Hacienda by Richard Sandoval. This Mexican-inspired restaurant provides a luxurious dining experience with an authentic southwestern flair. The new Tequila Bar offers 200+ varieties of tequila along with their specialty flaming coffees. The food was amazing but this is a more upscale option that might be a better choice for mom and dad to have a relaxing, enjoyable dinner away from the kids.
For breakfast, the LV Bistro has a wonderful buffet that includes both hot and cold options – but the most fun part was the separate kids’ buffet on a separate table with a jungle theme and at a level where kids can easily serve themselves. The LV Bistro is extremely kid-friendly in general – they have a private family dining area that offers toys and games for kids to play with along with movies on the big screen. I was so sorry that we missed the opportunity to try it out during lunch on our first day! The food is fresh and they purchase most of the seasonally changing menu from local farms and providers.
There are other dining options that we didn’t have the chance to try ourselves – Bourbon Steak – a contemporary steakhouse, the Stone Rose Lounge – for a chic nightlife experience, and the Grill At TPC – overlooking the 18th hole of the Stadium Course. Right now, through September 22, 2011 you can receive a $50 daily food and beverage credit for any of the resort’s dining options with the “Sip, Savor& Splash Package”. There’s also a Kid’s Daily Dining Passport that you can purchase for $25, and for only $24 you can order a picnic-to-go for the whole family that’s delivered right to your room.
Pools and Spa
The resort boasts 5 pools, 3 of which are located on the main resort grounds. The one that my daughter and I enjoyed the most was the kid-friendly Sonoran Splash that has a zero-entry deck area. My 5-year-old hasn’t always been comfortable in swimming pools in the past, but I couldn’t get her out of this one! For older kids there are also 2 water slides and a separate play area that’s attached to the pool grounds. Cabanas are also available at Sonoran Splash (and also at the South Pool) – I saw a couple of birthday parties while we were there that were taking advantage of the cabanas and pool.
We also experienced one of the Dive-In Movies at the adjacent East Pool, where we enjoyed Finding Nemo while floating or splashing in the pool. My daughter thought this was a lot of fun because we’d never seen a movie at a pool before. Along with these, there’s also the South Pool, the Casita Pool (overlooking the TPC Stadium golf course) and also a private rooftop oasis pool at the Willow Stream Spa.
I was also treated to a spa experience at the Willow Stream Spa while staying at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, and it was definitely a highlight of my time there. The spa is 44,000 square feet and includes a fitness facility, salon services, 25 treatment rooms, meditation gardens, men and women’s spa and lounge areas, and the private rooftop oasis pool. I had the Arizona Aromatherapy Facial, and enjoyed it thoroughly. We had lunch at the spa as well – their ‘Spa Me’ package includes lunch delivered there for you. I didn’t get the chance to try out the rooftop pool, but I talked to several others who did, and they loved it. As a busy mom, I so enjoyed the relaxing environment, the treatment itself and the pampering that the whole spa experience provided.
The Willow Stream spa is all about You. And you deserve more attention than you’ve been giving yourself lately. Let us help you escape your fast-forward, mad current world and bring you to a quieter place to recover and to dive into life again – energized. The environment at this tranquil Scottsdale spa reflects its majestic desert surroundings. Our experiences are authentic – they work. Some are inspired by local traditions, plants and herbs. Others are designed for specific results like stress relief, diminishing the appearance of fine lines or connected to your favorite interests like golf, skiing or spending time outdoors. Some are just pure pampering. Whatever the result, we make sure all of our experiences feel wonderful. Our staff will guide you to getting the most of your time at our Scottsdale spa resort. Make Willow Stream your place – your own personal escape – a place to find your energy.
New for families is also the Bobcat Billy’s Clubhouse for kids aged 5 to 12. Daily activities include ice breakers, arts and crafts, pool games, ice cream and more – plus each day there additional activities such as science projects, western games, scavenger hunts and my daughter was thrilled to be able to go fishing while I was enjoying my spa treatment. Half and full-day packages are available and there’s a 20% discount for families with more than one child (plus after 3 days of Kid’s Club the 4th is free!). For families with teens, there is also a Teen Hangout where kids aged 13 to 17 can play XBOX games, surf the internet and more – for free.
Some of the areas of the resort that we didn’t have the chance to experience personally were the golf courses and the tennis club. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess offers not just one, but two championship golf courses at TPC Scottsdale. And families who are into tennis can choose the John Austin Family Tennis Lesson Package – which includes Fairmont accommodations, unlimited court time, racquet rentals and balls, one 60-minute family tennis lesson with former Wimbledon Champion, John Austin, John Austin Center for Tennis T-shirts and (adult-only) access to the Willow Stream Spa (to relax and enjoy the rooftop pool, sauna, inhalation room and steam room after play). Other packages and programming are also available. We did have the chance to meet John Austin briefly and it was a thrill to see him in person.
Overall, my daughter and I had a wonderful time at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess and were sorry to have to say good-bye. You can see the rest of my photos from the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess over on Flickr!
Deb is Traveling Mom’s Social Media Manager. She also writes as West Michigan TravelingMom as well as at Mom of 3 Girls and Just a mom’s take on things…. You can also find her on Twitter – she’s @DebMomOf3.