Interview with the Managing Director of Montelucia Resort & Spa

Interview with the Managing Director of Montelucia Resort & Spa
What is unique about your hotel's location?

The hotel is located at the intersection of Tatum Boulevard and Lincoln Drive in an exclusive residential neighborhood of Scottsdale, called Paradise Valley. Known as the Bel Air of Scottsdale, Paradise Valley is made up of sprawling residences, a dark-sky light ordinance and one-acre-per-home zoning, guaranteeing total tranquility and breathtaking starry night skies. Scottsdale is in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, a longtime destination for sunny skies and warm weather.

Montelucia means "mountain of light". The dark skies of Paradise Valley allow the lights of Phoenix to illuminate Camelback Mountain, creating the illusion of a mountain of light. The hotel opened in November 2008 with construction totaling more than $335 million, making the sprawling 30-acre resort the newest luxury property in the heart of the world-famous Scottsdale destination, just 7 miles from Phoenix International Airport and just minutes from restaurants, nightlife, art galleries and luxury retailers including Barney's New York, Saks Fifth Avenue and many others.

What authentic local experiences will guests have access to?

Hiking Camelback Mountain & Active Outdoor Lifestyle: Camelback Mountain is one of the most hiked and famed mountains in Arizona, with two trailheads located within walking distance of Montelucia. Arizona has endless opportunities for someone who enjoys an exciting and active lifestyle. Hiking trails are available all over the valley and vary from relatively leisurely hikes to more extreme and difficult climbs, and for many locals the trails serve as outdoor gyms as the ultimate place for a daily workout. Mountain biking and rock climbing are also popular ways to get out and enjoy the gorgeous mountain views while getting an intense and thrilling workout.

The Sonoran Desert: The lush desert and idyllic weather makes experiencing the beauty of Scottsdale a breeze, not to mention more than 300 days of sunshine. There are dozens of exciting places to hike on the scenic trails, or enjoy horseback riding, mountain biking or water sports. For a beautiful desert view try a hot-air ballooning ride or other aerial adventures.

Spas: Scottsdale is a spa Mecca, bringing visitors from around the world to experience its many spas and to experience the healing features of the Sonoran Desert. Escape to Arizona's newest spa, Joya, and embark on a journey to an exotic faraway place in a setting inspired by the mystery and beauty of Morocco. Arrival at the spa commences the ritualistic Joys of Discovery which prepare spa-goers by releasing negativity and setting intentions. With an organic alchemist-created product line and elements of alchemy incorporated into each spa experience, guests feel they have been transported to a magical place of healing and a cocoon of relaxation

Golf: The resorts official home course, Grayhawk Golf Club, is home to two exceptional 18-hole golf courses, Talon and Raptor. Voted to Golf World's 2010 Readers Choice Top 50 Public Facilities, along with Golf Digest proclaiming it "A Real Golfer's Hangout", Grayhawk is a golfer's paradise, and the seamless booking, transportation and greens fees make Montelucia a golfers dream resort.

Native American Culture: There are many unique and exciting ways to learn about Native American heritage, including cultural shows around the Valley, the internationally acclaimed Heard Museum, the Hoo-Hoogam Ki Museum and the Pueblo Grande Museum & Archaeological Park, among others. Be sure to visit Arizona's Native American Indian Ruins, which can be found throughout the state. Northern Arizona is home to most of the state's prehistoric cliff dwellings, mud-walled structures and pueblos.

Outdoor Adventure: Whether horseback riding, river rafting or exploring ancient caves, Arizona offers western adventures, including Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse where you can experience all of the authentic Old Western Town experiences. Shoot-outs, cook-outs under the stars and cowboys meets rappelling off stunning red rocks and extreme skiing in Arizona's two ski areas.

Family Adventures: From the Phoenix Zoo to the Desert Botanical Gardens, to Downtown Scottsdale's Arts, Shopping & Entertainment Districts, to Museums and Performing Arts centers or family fun parks including nearby Papago Park and McCormick Park, there will be plenty to do that the whole family will enjoy.

Nightlife: Scottsdale has a very exciting and sophisticated nightlife, whether you are looking for an evening bistro that turns into a hip nightclub or prefer a relaxing night listening to live jazz at an upscale lounge, Scottsdale's night life will not disappoint. From nightclubs to wine bars, to casual nights out, Scottsdale has wonderful options for every traveler.

Sporting Events: Throughout the year guests can experience dozens of exciting sporting events in Scottsdale and the Phoenix area including the Insight Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, the FBR Open, Spring Training, Arizona Diamondbacks Baseball, Arizona Cardinals Football, Arizona State University Sun Devils Football, Phoenix Coyotes Hockey, Phoenix Suns Basketball, and much more.

Adrenaline & Adventure: For the adventure seeker or adrenaline junkie, Arizona is sure to blow you away. Countless activities are available and vary from sky diving to hands-on high performance auto racing, from jeep and hummer tours to getting trained to operate firearms with the desert wolf tours. Arizona is also a great place for water adventures, such as mild to wild water rafting up the Salt River, or even at the Grand Canyon.

Shopping: There are more than 5,500 boutiques, shops, and malls in Scottsdale which provide perfect places to find unique clothing, gifts, and everything you can imagine. In Downtown Scottsdale Arts, Shopping & Entertainment Districts, you can find fine art galleries, themed bookstores, one-of-a-kind boutiques and outstanding restaurants. In downtown Scottsdale you will also discover Scottsdale Fashion Square, the largest shopping mall in Arizona and the American Southwest encompassing approximately 2 million square feet.

Restaurants: Scottsdale has dozens exciting and innovative restaurants that will be sure to leave your mouth watering. The toughest decision will likely be which culinary adventure to try first. No matter what type of culinary delight you choose to try, Scottsdale's extensive selection of dining venues will not disappoint. Recently named one of the best new restaurants of the year by Esquire magazine, Prado Restaurant at Montelucia features wood-fired grilling with a Spanish accent, showcasing an open wood-fired grill and stunning views of Camelback Mountain, while Mbar lounge boasts a sexy, Moroccan-infused atmosphere featuring live music many nights of the week and a rare, worldly selection of fine tequilas.

What are some amazing things that your Concierge can arrange?

Our concierge team is knowledgeable and extremely well-connected and work very hard to make our guests dreams, wishes and needs come true with ease. Everything from the traditional services provided, our concierge can arrange a Wild West-style cookout under the stars, a picnic on Camelback Mountain, a sunset dinner on Joya Spa Terrace, a trip on a private jet from Scottsdale to the Grand Canyon followed by a helicopter tour of one of the natural wonders of the world, a gold mine tour, a visit to a real citrus farm to pick locally grown citrus, a tour of PING Corporation factory and custom golf club fitting and much more. We welcome any request or challenge!

Does your hotel have a philosophy?

Yes, we believe in providing all of our guests with the joys of discovery. This comes about through discoveries that make Montelucia an enchanting destination where all intentions transform into reality and helps guests learn new recipes, create amazing parties, develop the perfect cocktail and surprise and impress their friends and family at home.

From tea to tapas, chocolate to caviar, picnics to parties, romantic dates to weddings, guests discover the meanings and reasons behind many of the traditions, cultures and cuisine that have shaped the Montelucia lifestyle. Guests can learn through our signature spa, Joya, the mystical powers of alchemy and the joy of purification through the four elements which motivate us to live in the present day by setting intentions for a better, more inspired tomorrow.

What makes your hotel memorable and unforgettable?

What makes the resort memorable and unforgettable is the alchemy of location, the hotel itself and then the talent – the people and the service that bring it to life. We foster a culture of warm, genuine and knowledgeable service, and will do whatever it takes to ensure our guests have a wonderful experience. All of this takes place in a beautiful 30-acre property with unique and authentic design elements from Southern Spain, Morocco and the entire Mediterranean region. Every detail was painstakingly researched and selected, resulting in comfort, style, warmth and an overall aesthetic experience, all with stunning Camelback Mountain views.

What will guests rave about to their friends and family?

While we are extremely proud of the service we provide, dining experiences we offer and many other things that make the resort memorable, Joya Spa is simply spectacular. After a visit, we know guests will rave about their journey in the spa.

Arrival at Joya Spa commences the ritualistic Joys of Discovery which prepare spa-goers by releasing negativity and setting intentions through the Joy of Purification and the Joy of Intention Setting. With an Organic Alchemist-created product line and elements of magic, mystery and Alchemy incorporated into each spa experience, guests feel they have been transported to a place of healing and a cocoon of relaxation.

The Moroccan-inspired spa is located in a spacious two-story, 31,000 square foot building, with 5,200 square feet of outdoor space including a roof-top pool and pool terrace, men's, women's and co-ed quiet and social lounges, a modern interpretation of a traditional Hammam, 19 total treatment rooms and 5 luxuriously-oversized treatment suites.

Every treatment, whether facial, body or massage, is customized to the guests needs, health and skin type. Product lines were selectively chosen to complement the Joya Spa experience and from two-hour to all-day Journeys, customized Rituals including Moroccan-inspired skin and body treatments, mineral and clay wraps, customized massages, Diamante y Oro (Diamond and Gold) treatments featuring real gold and diamond dust, treatments at Joya Spa represent a modern, creative interpretation of old world treatments not found at other spas in the region.

What is the atmosphere of your hotel? What types of guests does it attract?

InterContinental Montelucia discovered its inspiration, from the architecture to the lifestyle, in the Andalusia region of Southern Spain. Andalusia has a rich cultural history and influences from Roman, Greek, and Moorish occupation. These European influences and attention to detail are reflected throughout the resort from the décor and distinctive colors to the flavors within the dining experiences.

The inspiration is showcased in dozens of areas throughout the resort, a few of the most prominent instances being the Alhambra walkway, Prado, and Castillo Lucena. The Alhambra walkway is modeled after the Alhambra in Grenada, Spain, the signature restaurant, Prado, is inspired by Michelangelo’s Villa San Michele in Tuscany, and the wedding chapel, Castillo Lucena, is representative of the ballroom at Hotel Cipriani in Venice. Throughout the entire resort are beautiful Spanish inspired courtyards and countless unique antiquities from Spain.

We welcome guests from our literal backyard as well as from all over the world. With the central location, business travelers and guests just passing through Phoenix and Scottsdale might stay just a night or two, or a family from Canada seeking warm sunny days during the winter might stay a month or longer. We welcome guests of all ages and nationalities, but we find a common theme is that our guests are seeking unique, authentic experiences, so in everything we provide authentic, warm, friendly service and access to experiences our guests will remember forever.

What makes your hotel a destination within itself?

Quite literally, you never have to leave the hotel, and can enjoy new discoveries and experiences every day. With all the standard amenities of luxury resorts and 5 pools, 6 spas, 13 fountains, a Bocce court, Planet Trekker's Kids Club, bikes, a café and market, guided and unguided hiking and jogging, a 24-hour state-of-the-art fitness center, the expansive and magical Joya Spa, restaurants and bars and a constant calendar of parties, events and discovery activities, guests of all ages can have fun and experience magical moments and new joys of discovery.

Do you have a favorite meal in your restaurant(s)?

Through Chef Urciuoli's commitment to the Slow Food movement and his connections with local and regional farmers and suppliers, Prado features an authentic cooking method where the freshest seafood, meats, and produce are cooked on a grill over a wood burning fire. Traditional Mediterranean flavors with a Spanish accent are interpreted into a modern, fresh approach using only the finest ingredients, dressed simply to allow quality to shine through.

My personal favorite meal is the fresh Mediterranean Branzino, simply grilled and dressed with olive oil, salt and pepper, served with locally-grown organic mixed greens. To start, I always order the Burrata with slow-roasted tomatoes, and I never share – it is that good!

What is the best way for guests to "arrive in style" to your hotel?

With a location in the heart of a beautiful and exclusive neighborhood, but still just 7 miles to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, our guests have many convenient and stylish options, but I would recommend a luxury rental car service, arranged through our concierge, for guests that want to explore the area. Definitely rent a vintage Cobra, with more than 330 days of sunshine guests want to experience the amazing weather.

For guests looking to truly escape, no car is needed; you can enjoy the resort and never leave. Simply ask our concierge to arrange car service for you, and arrive in style and with no concerns.

Do you provide any welcoming or parting amenities to guests?

When guests arrive they are greeted with bottled water and chilled towels, along with a semi-precious stone from Joya Spa. Guests are instructed to follow the gemstone to the fountain of Joya Spa, and take a moment to set an intention to define their dreams and desires and then gently release your stone into the cooling waters. This helps guests understand the philosophy and vision of Joya Spa and set their intention for their stay – no matter the reason for their visit.

Can you recommend other destinations/hotels nearby (within 300 miles) that your guests should consider combining into a trip?

Sedona is one of Arizona's most beautiful destinations featuring stunning red rock formations. Sedona is also known as being an artist colony with dozens of unique and eclectic shopping areas and galleries. Sedona jeep tours provide exciting off-road adventures and excursions and are a "must-do" in Sedona. They are perfect whether you are seeking a rugged adventure, Native American history and culture, nature, geology, or gorgeous views. While there, the Enchantment Resort and Mii Amo spa are absolutely beautiful, or, for a boutique experience, the Briar Patch Inn is fantastic. Visiting Bell Rock is a must-do, and on the way out of town, stop at Dahl & DiLuca A'roma Bistro for a great meal.

Arizona is full of diversity and many amazing experiences. Beyond Sedona and the Grand Canyon, other lesser-known options include Bisbee, a historic mining town with a unique art culture, Tombstone to experience the old Wild West, Sonoita and Elgin to visit Arizona wineries producing award-winning small-production wines, or Flagstaff, a quaint and charming town with great dining, art and seasonal skiing on the San Francisco Peaks.

Hotel Profile: InterContinental Montelucia