We Asked Local Gold Key Concierges for Their Valley Recommendations

Lauren Swanson-Tyda | May 29, 2019 | Lifestyle

Whether it’s finding a rare bottle of wine or commissioning a pink elephant to appear at a wedding (yes, that has happened), members of Les Clefs d’Or—a national association of the country’s best Gold Key concierges—have seen it all. We asked some local Les Clefs d’Or members to share their most over-the-top requests and white-glove recommendations for VIP visitors to the Valley.

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Rebecca Rorabough, concierge, Sanctuary Camelback Resort & Spa

OK, dish. What is one of the hottest spots in and around Scottsdale right now?
Without a doubt, Ocean 44. It’s the newest restaurant for Prime Steak Concepts (the original Mastro family). It’s sleek, sexy and absolutely the most requested by our guests.

The most unique experience you recommend to guests?
I would say the helicopter ride and tour of the amethyst mine in the Four Peaks via Sami’s jewelers. You can mine for [your own] amethysts!

Best shops and boutiques?
I really like Fashion by Robert Black in Old Town, very unique consignment boutique. The Shops at Gainey Village have a good selection of small, exclusive boutiques.

What does an exclusive, unforgettable evening look like to you?
A private helicopter ride and dinner on the rocks in Seven Canyons in Sedona. We actually arranged that for a very VIP guest.

Fill in the blank. You haven’t truly experienced Scottsdale unless you... have seen the sunset from Taliesin West after doing their Insights Tour.

Best patio restaurant?
LON’s at the Hermosa Inn

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Mary Buvalic, concierge, Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort at Gainey Ranch

Best spot for cocktails?
One of the most unique cocktail lounges I have ever been to is the UnderTow in Phoenix. It sits below a coffee shop and has the feel of being inside an old ship, complete with portholes, lightning and sound effects.

If a VIP has only 48 hours in Scottsdale, what should they do/see?
Take Scottsdale by storm and hike one of the many beautiful trailheads the Valley has to offer. Then stop in Old Town where it all began and visit the shops; take in the Western Spirit museum; and grab a sundae at the Sugar Bowl, one of the oldest ice cream parlors here in Scottsdale, dating back to 1958. Top the night off with a sunset tour on Desert Belle on the Saguaro Lake.

Perfect romantic evening?
Orange Sky Restaurant at Talking Stick Resort offers a beautiful restaurant on its 15th floor with floor-to-ceiling windows and 360-degree views of the Valley. A perfect romantic evening would be to reserve one of their private booths and eat a sumptuous dinner, and then, perhaps, enjoy one of the many shows the resort offers. Or, if you’re feeling lucky, try your hand at [the casino.]

Hidden gem?
The reopening of Castle Hot Springs, a small historical 32-room resort situated at the base of the Bradshaw Mountains that offers the healing powers of their therapeutic hot springs.

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Michelle Caldwell, chef concierge, The Phoenician, A Luxury Collection Resort

Hidden gem?
The chef’s table at Razz’s is a one-of-a-kind culinary adventure through the word travels of chef Erasmo “Razz” Kamnitzer. After each summer’s closure, Razz journeys to new destinations and translates new flavors and experiences into his tasting menu.

The craziest or most unusual request you have ever received from a VIP guest?
I was asked to have a local desert rock, found on a guest’s hike, polished to gem quality and delivered back.

The most extravagant in-room surprise you have ever provided?
A fourth-edition fully illustrated and signed copy of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov for first lady Barbara Bush.

Top three restaurant recommendations?
Kai, Binkley’s and J&G Steakhouse

Shops and boutiques you love?
I like to recommend Alixandra Blue and Amy Inc. if my guests are looking for current trends; Vintage by Misty for the timeless, designer pieces; and To Be Continued… for unique finds at a great price.

Most exclusive, unforgettable experience you would recommend?
Travel by charter plane, with mimosas for breakfast, as you head north to Lake Powell. Upon landing, enjoy a guided tour of the majestic Antelope Canyon for a photography experience of a lifetime. While you are in the canyon, your captain will prepare your relaxing houseboat and Jet Skis for an adventurous day on the lake. Upon your return, a private chef will prepare a gourmet lunch for you and your group.

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Judy Kabler, chef concierge, Hotel Valley Ho

What is one of the hottest spots in and around Scottsdale right now?
Fat Ox—the restaurant is a spacious, sleek Italian spot offering homemade pastas and roasted meats, plus a global wine list.

The most unusual request you have ever received from a VIP guest?
It was one of my favorite people, Patrick Swayze! He called to ask if I could recommend a ballet teacher, as he and his wife, Lisa, wanted to take a lesson. Patrick’s mom was a choreographer and ballet teacher, and his ballet education was at the prestigious Joffrey Ballet School. Of course, I loved Dirty Dancing, so I was so happy to help him. I called Ballet Arizona, and they were thrilled to have him come to the school.

Favorite spot to recommend for cocktails?
I love to send guests to either the Jade Bar at the Sanctuary Resort, or Mountain Shadows Resort, as they have the best cocktails and you can enjoy a five-star view of Camelback Mountain.



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Photography by: photo of hyatt regency scottsdale resort at gainey ranch courtesy of hyatt regency scottsdale resort at gainey ranch | photo of the sanctuary camelback resort & spa courtesy of the sanctuary camelback resort & spa | photo of hotel valley ho courtesy of hotel valley ho/westroc development | photo of the phoenician courtesy of the phoenician

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