#TravelTuesday: Mountain Shadows, a Risen Phoenix in Paradise Valley, Arizona

by Dana Kent Maass & Brian Maass on June 4, 2019 in Travel,

Forty years after first opening its doors, Mountain Shadows resort has risen transformed, like the proverbial phoenix, in Arizona’s most aptly-named valley.

Sitting in Paradise Valley, at the foot of both Camelback and Mummy Mountains, the resort earned its unmistakable name based on location. In earlier years, this property hosted many well-known celebrities such as Lucille Ball, Bob Hope and countless other Hollywood personalities. After closing in 2004, Mountain Shadows was finally purchased. It underwent a major three-year, $75 million renovation before reopening in 2017.

Location + Accommodation

With 183 fully modernized guest rooms, a luxury wing with 42 condos and suites, a high-tech fitness center, full-service five-star restaurant, and fully revamped golf course, this resort delivers the full package. A  20-minute drive from Phoenix International Airport and just north of Scottsdale, Mountain Shadows is easily accessed for meetings, weekend retreats, wedding celebrations or honeymooning.

Mountain Shadows was once filled with Hollywood stars and travelers in search of something special near Scottsdale. Today, after a $75 million renovation, Mountain Shadows has raised the bar of excellence with modern style, comfort, impeccable service and interactive amenities for all who grace it in the 21st century.
Photo courtesy Mark Boisclair Photography, Inc.

Views All (Fair)Ways

Besides the perfect blend of modern style and a nod of mid-century decor, what was one of the first things we noticed at Mountain Shadows? Amazing mountain views. Whether playing a round of golf on The Short Course, the 18-hole golf course, or swimming in one of two 75-foot pools, you can’t escape the impressive natural structures which frame this oasis in the desert. Register at the front desk for one of many activities around the mountains, from hiking, to golfing, or trying one of numerous fitness classes. The par-3 course is perfect for both the seasoned golf veteran and beginners to gather together. After completing a round of golf on the green, grab a cold beverage and sandwich to refuel at Rusty’s Patio and Lounge. Turn down the heat by taking a dip, a most refreshing way to cool down; catch some rays on the plush loungers; or rent a private cabana and order up a round of hand-crafted cocktails from The Citizens Club.

Scenic views and a solid stretching routine are guaranteed at Mountain Shadows resort. Courtesy photo

Play Time

Keeping up with an exercise program can prove to be a travel challenge. With numerous group classes and a 4,000 square feet fitness center, active guests have no excuses for neglecting their work-outs. Yogis can strike a pose under the evening stars or challenge their balance on a paddleboard for a few sun salutations. Those seeking flexibility may opt for a speciality class, such as aerial yoga. You can view the world from a new perspective, enjoy a few good laughs, and limber up for plenty of hiking around the property. Try out golf lessons with a pro, or sign up for an early “Manager’s Hike,” while skipping the long lines and parking hassles of getting on and off the mountain. Curious to venture off the property, we opted for a ride in the resort’s complimentary Tesla Model X and enjoyed the ride to a neighboring restaurant. Book an in-suite massage through the concierge, or take the Tesla to nearby Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa for a different slice of relaxation.

After a round of golf on the Short Course or one of Mountain Shadows many exercise classes, relax poolside by one of the two 75-foot pools. Photo courtesy The Bold Botanist

Dining + Mingling

Mountain Shadows’ premier restaurant, Hearth ’61, offers fine dining throughout the day and evening, an added convenience for guests. The name pays homage to 1961, the year when Paradise Valley officially became incorporated as a town—another throwback to mid-century origins. With an open concept and kitchen, Hearth ‘61 invites guests to watch chefs creating their culinary masterpieces. We enjoyed the fresh banana pancakes with a pistachio and bacon compote accompanied by hand-blended berry smoothies for breakfast. The beef tenderloin and salmon were grilled to perfection at dinner and then topped off with two favorites in one dessert. Bananas Foster bread pudding, a house speciality and one for the travel journal. Outdoor seating provides the ideal setting for a romantic dinner by moonlight, in the company of Camelback Mountain. Throughout the year, Heart ’61 offers community programs such as a Sunday Supper Club and Spirited Sipping Seminars for both guests and locals to mingle while sampling local flavors. We attended the Friday night Sunset Champagne Toast, featuring a complimentary sabering and tasting. Captivated by a presentation on the history of this unique ceremony, we watched as an expert used his sword to literally slice off the end of a Champagne bottle before pouring glasses of delicious bubbly.

At Mountain Shadows, the Camelback Overlook Deck is ideal for a ceremony and reception, where you can say your vows and party under the mountains on a starry night.Photo courtesy Jenn Wagner Studio

Wedding Bliss

Searching for a wedding destination? The lush Mountain Shadows lawn is surrounded by stunning views, just perfect for capturing sunset wedding photos and memories. The Camelback Overlook Deck is ideal for a ceremony and reception, where you can say your vows and party under the mountains on a starry night. Mountain Shadows specializes in wedding packages for small and large groups, from 20 to 200. A special events team customizes events and ensures every detail is handled, so you can spend more time with family and friends.

Since its original inception sixty years ago, Mountain Shadows has been filled with Hollywood stars and generations of travelers in search of something special near Scottsdale. Sitting in Paradise Valley, Mountain Shadows has raised the bar of excellence with modern style, comfort, impeccable service, and interactive amenities for all who grace it in the twenty-first century. We could only imagine the tales the neighboring ancient rock formations could tell, but they are busy recording the evolving story of this classic resort revived in a brand new age.


Cover photo courtesy Mountain Shadows

Dana and Brian Maass are married and live in Round Rock, Texas. When not traveling, writing, and taking photos, they can be found hiking on trails, visiting new spots in the Hill Country, serving the community, or catching a live performance. Follow them on Instagram at @Dana_Maass_Adventures and @Brian_Maass_Photographer.