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With an imposing backdrop of Camelback Mountain, Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia, an award-winning AAA Four Diamond property, makes an ideal getaway, especially with several airlines offering nonstop service to nearby Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.

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The luxuriously appointed, Andalusian-themed resort is surrounded by gorgeous landscaping, including bouganvillas, palms, fruit trees and cacti.

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Montelucia is named for the “mountain of light” that glows off Camelback Mountain at sunset. The current owners travelled to Spain and Morocco to get inspired and to infuse the regional architecture of both countries into Montelucia.

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Colourful tiled fountains, arched doorways, antique wooden doors and an El Camino Real bell evoke the spirit of Andalusia (and recall fond memories of my visit there decades ago).

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The theme carries through to all 293 rooms (including 38 luxury suites and two presidential suites), with wrought iron light fixtures, cooling stone floors, patterned carpets and arched entryways.

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Buildings are illuminated at night to take advantage of their shapely details. As I make my way around the grounds at night following dinner, I’m impressed with what this hotel has achieved in recreating that Andalusian vibe, in the heart of Arizona’s Paradise Valley!

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Two pools (plus a third pool patio at Joya Spa, for spa guests’ use), a bocce garden, full-service salon, 24-hour fitness center, live entertainment at happy hour (Mbar), a business center, complimentary wifi and a range of spa treatments are here for guests to enjoy, making it all the more tempting to stay on property and simply enjoy the pampering.

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[Cozy patio for relaxing]

The in-room resort guide is filled with both daily and seasonal events and activities, from Make Your Own Margarita Bar to gentle flow yoga and meditation, TRX Strength and Core — or a guided Camelback Mountain hike ($25 fee).

As for shopping, it’s Joya Spa Boutique (footwear, skin and body products, jewellery, hats, sunglasses) and Dulcinea (clothes, accessories, swimsuits), both located near the main pool.

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The Omni Scottsdale does it right with curtains that keep things dark at night, offering a fitful sleep. The large tiled bathroom contains a dimmer switch as not to shock your eyes during the night. The airco is amazingly silent and is automatically set to eco mode to help lessen the hotel’s environmental footprint.

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In fact, I’ve rarely experienced airflow at such a silent level. The beds are ultra comfortable too, inviting you to linger just a little longer before waking to a hot bath or shower and breakfast.

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Seek out a hammock in one of the gardens for a mid-afternoon snooze. Both Oasis (adults only) and Kasbah pools have cabanas that can be reserved in advance.

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Joya Spa

Joya Spa is the place to come for a divine experience. Walking through the large wooden doors reveals a two-floor complex with a series of aluminum Moroccan lamps spanning both floors.

Once checked in, a spa attendant will bring you to the second floor where several hallways lead first to the fitness center, then further to a darkened hallway flanked by tiny lights in the walls with a large illuminated crystal as its centrepiece (feel free to set your hand on it as you breathe deeply to help release stress and negative vibes).

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When you first enter the spa, you’ll be asked to select one of five stones and place it into the blessing bowl, to set your intention for what you’d like to create in life (this can be voiced inside the echo dome or simply left in silence).

A silent room and social lounge serve as pre- and post-treatment spaces.

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Each of the 25 treatment rooms (including five suites) is named after a Moroccan dance. Interiors are candlelit and simply decorated, with soft music playing throughout the treatment.

I’ve booked in for a 50-minute classic Swedish massage ($159) followed by a Hammam add-on (20 minutes, $79). My masseuse, Christina, works through my stiff muscles with medium pressure, bringing much needed relief to a stressed body! By the end of the session, I’m ready to unwind on a bed in the candlelit silent room and wrap up with a final steam.

The Hammam experience begins inside a heated room with curvy tiled seats that address the body’s pressure points, then moves into the adjacent room where you lie down on a 200-year-old Moroccan cherry wood bathing table.

You’ll receive two brisk scrubs: one with black matcha cold process soap followed by one with liquid Matcha soap, both worked through your body with an exfoliating glove.

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Once you’ve been scrubbed and rinsed off with buckets of warm water, follow along the circuit inside the steam room, cold deluge (copper bucket of cold water splash), hot tub and dry sauna to finish. Joya is the only Arizona spa offering an authentic Hammam experience.

The spa offers facials, a wide variety of massages, facial enhancements (think eye rejuvenation, lip repair therapy, etc.), body detox and renewal treatments, meditations, manis and pedis, naturopathic services, fitness consulting and salon services for everything from cuts and highlights to bridal and groom hair styling.

If you’re a resort guest and want to use Joya’s spa facilities, fitness center and heated rooftop pool with stunning views of Camelback Mountain sans massage, you can do so for $35 per day (plus tax).

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[Harira soup at Prado Restaurant]


There are five on-site dining venues: Mbar, Prado Restaurant & Tapas Bar, Crave Café, Tacqueria Centro and Joya Spa Terrace (serving Centro’s menu if you’re taking a spa day), plus in-room dining.

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Mbar is located inside the front half of Prado Restaurant, where happy hour is offered Thursdays through Sundays from 4 to 6 pm. Their all-day menu contains shareable snacks, flatbreads, tapas, plus burgers and sandwiches. All can be enjoyed on the patio out front too.

Specialty cocktails, wine and beer all feature on the drink menu, but I’d recommend the Montelucia sangria containing the resort’s own house wine mixed with fresh fruit, agave nectar and Torres brandy.

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[L to R: Andalusian vibes inside Prado; lunch by the pool at Centro]

Signature Prado Restaurant serves Mediterranean meets Southwest cuisine inside an elegant, warm-toned space with a lovely three-tiered wrought iron chandelier suspended from a wooden crossbar inside the room’s skylight.

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There’s also a cozy outdoor section with a fireplace at one end for those who wish to admire Camelback Mountain’s fiery beauty at sundown.

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I enjoyed a delightful bowl of harira to start, followed by a salad served with grilled salmon.

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An interesting, not-too-sweet finish to a meal here is the phyllo-wrapped warm chocolate torte with a mini scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

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Crave Café is great for a light meal, coffee (Peets Coffee!) break or scoop of gelato. There’s a small shop within the cafe for souvenirs, locally-made goodies and snacks.

Right in the heart of the resort next to Kasbah pool is Tacqueria Centro, an indoor/outdoor restaurant for a fix of Mexican cuisine (I enjoyed a plate of tostadas here one afternoon), tequila, hand-crafted cocktails and local beer).

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Aside from several walking trails (including one a 15-minute walk from the resort that leads to Echo Canyon Trail at Camelback Mountain, Scottsdale’s answer to Vancouver’s Grouse Grind), you’re a 10-minute Uber or Lyft ride from downtown Scottsdale.

Scottsdale's Museum of the West
[Scottsdale’s Museum of the West]

This lively, walkable town is filled with art museums, Scottsdale Fashion Square, several outdoor sculptures, the Old Adobe Mission, restaurants, historic Old Town (with its assortment of jewellery and souvenir shops) and 21-acre Civic Center Park.

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Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia is located at 4949 East Lincoln Drive in Paradise Valley, Arizona.

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I was a guest of the resort for purpose of experiencing the property for feature. Opinions, as always, remain my own.

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