A weekend in Scottsdale: Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa Review

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A couple weeks back, I took advantage of the long weekend hopped on a plane to visit my boyfriend, who’s currently spending the summer working in Scottsdale, Arizona. Since both of our schedules are quite hectic, I had booked the trip last minute and was a bit worried about finding a place for us to stay while I came to visit. To my surprise, I discovered that June to August is actually the off season for Arizona (I didn’t realize quite how HOT it would be – it is the desert after all!), and for that reason there was a fair bit of choice when it came to choosing a hotel.

The Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa immediately caught my eye while browsing vacation packages. The resort is beautifully designed and modern, having opened recently in the Fall of 2016. Typically, my accommodations when traveling play a secondary role, as I usually spend more time exploring the area than relaxing at the resort. However, as temperatures in Scottsdale reached 40+ degrees Celsius during my stay (making exploring during the daytime a difficult feat), the hotel played an extremely important role.

The Room

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We were lucky enough to be upgraded to an XL King Room, which was more than enough space than the two of us. The rooms at the resort are set up “casita” style (like a little house), making it super private. The room featured a king-sized bed, wooden beam ceiling and was tastefully and simply decorated. We were greeted with a thoughtful card and cactus-shaped macaron on the bedside table – my idea of the perfect warm welcome. There was also a gigantic television hung on the wall opposite the bed, which made for great binge-watching/snuggling sessions when it was just too hot to go outside. The resort offers Chromecast (allowing you to project anything you’re streaming on your phone onto the TV), which I hadn’t previously used before. We had some difficulty setting it up, but the resort was quick to send a technician out to our room to help us figure it out! Once it was set up, it was honestly life changing to be able to watch whatever we wanted on the big screen.

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The best part of the room? The swoon-worthy bathroom! The modern, beautiful space was flooded with natural light thanks to a skylight and patio entrance, and the gorgeous, white subway-tiled double shower was big enough for 10 people. I often find myself frustrated that there aren’t enough mirrors or natural light in the hotel to do my makeup comfortably when traveling – but this was definitely not the case here. The room also had a nice closet area, vanity space (perfect for doing your hair and not hogging the bathroom), and mini-fridge area with a Keurig.

The Resort

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An open concept style lobby that leads into the resort’s restaurant made for a grand entrance when checking in. The resort itself was absolutely stunning and felt completely secluded, with Camelback Mountain providing the backdrop. The bungalow style rooms make the property feel more like an exclusive neighbourhood community than a resort, dotted with adorable cacti, palm trees, and desert-native plants. The Andaz is equipped with three pools (the main pool was located near our room, and the other two by the spa), a gym and a restaurant.

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The Turquoise pool (the main pool) was definitely the star of the resort, situated in the centre and a popular spot during the hot, sunny day. I loved the cactus and pineapple shaped pool floats they provided for resort guests, and there were more than enough lounge chairs and cabanas to accommodate everyone. My favourite feature was that the pool was salt water, which I prefer over traditional chlorine. I wish it could have been kept at a cooler temperature (I love a cool, refreshing swim in the heat!), but it’s unrealistic to keep a pool cooled in such intense weather conditions.

Location

Scottsdale is a relatively small city in comparison to the big cities I’m used to – meaning everything is located conveniently close together or just a short drive away.  The resort provided a complimentary car service (in a Tesla!) to shuttle guests to downtown and Oldtown Scottsdale, or anywhere within a short drive away. We used this to get downtown each day, and then used  Uber to get back to the resort, which was very affordable due to its central location.

Since I was in Scottsdale for only three days, I didn’t get to visit all of the spots on my wishlist – however I did get to try a few cafes and restaurants I had researched beforehand. I highly recommend stopping by these places if you’re ever in the area:

  • Diego Pops: an adorable Mexican spot with a cute patio & yummy food
  • Sugar Bowl: an old-school cafe and ice cream shop that’s been in Scottsdale since 1958. Also home to the most perfect pink wall for Instagram opps!
  • Ruze Cake House: the cafe of my dreams! This little spot serves boba and other sweet treats
  • Sprinkles Cupcakes: not unique to Scottsdale, but adorable nonetheless

Within walking distance of the resort, there’s also a Walgreens, Trader Joe’s and a casual but tasty Mexican spot (Blanco Tacos + Tequila), which basically covers all the bases.

Dining

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The resort’s restaurant is the Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen, which serves up farm-to-table dishes and features an awesome “glass box” kitchen. We received a $50 credit for the restaurant and used it to grab a lovely Sunday morning breakfast. I’ll admit it was a bit on the pricier side, but everything was delicious – especially the avocado toast!

Overall, the Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa was honestly one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had! The staff was friendly, attentive, and more than ready to help with any special requests or needs my boyfriend and I had. The weekend truly felt like our own private getaway and was just the escape I needed! I would highly recommend staying at the Andaz – and if you’re working with a tight budget and can brave the Arizona summer heat, booking during the off season is a great way to save.

Barcelona Travel Guide

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Earlier in the Fall, I travelled to Barcelona, Spain with my boyfriend for a week. It was one of our favourite trips, filled with sunshine, good eats and amazing sights! Here are my tips for everything you should see and eat while you visit this beautiful city.

What to Do

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Take the HOHO bus

My mom is an avid traveller, and one of the first tips she shared with me about visiting a new city is to take a Hop On, Hop Off (HOHO) bus tour! Yes, it is the #1 most touristy thing you could do, but it also gives you a great overview of the city and the major sights. You can decide what you’d like to explore further and hop off the bus whenever you like! The HOHO is particularly handy at the beginning of your trip, when you’re trying to get the lay of the land and see what you’re most interested in.

See the beautiful architecture

Barcelona is well known for its beautiful architecture, particularly the work of Antoni Gaudí, a Spanish Catalan architect. La Sagrada Família is his most famous work, and the most popular tourist attraction in Barcelona. The stunning church draws in huge crowds every day of the week, so be sure to buy your tickets ahead of time online to skip waiting in line!

Another beautiful attraction by Gaudí to visit is the Park Güell. Here you can go through a stroll of the gardens, snap amazing photos, and take in breathtaking views of the city. This was one of my favourite spots to visit on our trip!

Stroll along La Rambla

La Rambla is a pedestrian street along the edge of Barcelona’s historical Gothic Quarter. Lined with tons of shops and restaurants, you can easily spend an afternoon walking along and taking in the sights.

Hit the beach!

Barcelona is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches! Spend a day soaking up some sun at Barceloneta (the closest beach to the tourist areas), or travel a bit further and visit one of the other beaches. We visited both Barceloneta as well as Platja del Bogatell, a smaller beach up the coast.

Be warned – it’s much more common at European beaches to go au natural – and for a timid girl like me, the sight was a bit shocking at first (but you’ll get used to it!). There will also be a lot of vendors attempting to sell you drinks and beach blankets.

Spectacular views at Tibidabo

Tibidabo is a mountain that overlooks Barcelona, offering up awesome views from the highest point in the city! To travel to Tibidabo, you’ll use the Funicular, a tram that takes you up to the top of the mountain. At the summit, you’ll find a stunning church and an adorable amusement park (instas anyone?).

Where to Eat

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La Boqueria

You’ll find the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria off La Rambla, a huge market home to some of the freshest produce and seafood in Barcelona. Get delicious juice for 1€ or sit down at one of the many bar style restaurants for the best meal of calamari, grilled fish and razor clams you’ll ever have!

Brunch & Cake

In addition to the traditional Spanish fare, Barcelona also caters to the trendy, modern food scene. Brunch & Cake serves up gorgeous brunch dishes including eggs benny and banana french toast. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported into a Pinterest wonderland when you sit down in this pretty space featuring white marble, wicker chairs and gold accents.

Taller de Tapas

While there may be more authentic choices for food in Barcelona, Taller de Tapas became one of our favourite places to eat while visiting. With multiple locations in the city, this restaurant offers an extensive menu featuring different Spanish tapas including patatas bravas and more.

Plaça Reial

Located just off La Rambla, Placa Reial is popular square in Barcelona with a number of great restaurants to choose from. Sip sangria on a patio onlooking picture-perfect palm trees and share an order of paella with friends. We tried Les Quinze Nits and Ocaña and loved both.

Other Things to Consider

  • It’s normal to eat dinner late in Spain – most locals don’t go for dinner until 9pm or later. We totally adopted the siesta lifestyle and napped from 6pm – 8pm almost every day!
  • Barcelona is notorious for pick pocketing – protect your valuables, especially in busy tourist areas and try to use purses with secure zipper closures.
  • Stores are closed on Sundays – if you’d like to get some shopping done, be sure to keep this in mind!
  • Tipping is not customary in Spain – leave a tip only if you had an exceptional experience or were very happy with your meal!

Happy travelling!