Whatever happens, we’ll always haveÃ¢Â€Â¦ Montelucia. The first US-based resort for the venerable and global InterContinental brand is a valentine to the art of the amorous — guaranteed to melt the hearts of all who visit. It is also an impressive accomplishment in the hospitality industry’s art of the big gesture.
It contains enough piazzas, campaniles and cupolas, stone-clad walkways and quiet cloisters to keep you and your partner in a state of wonder and mutual lust for at least a week. But it’s no dusty outpost, either. It comes alive at night — great music, art and a lively bar scene. The total absence of cars transported me back to another time, where it was throngs of people, rather than cars, that were the dominant kinetic force. A river of pretty bridesmaids flowed past in their summer best, flirting with the boys, chatting. The smell of wood-fired meats from Prado and the aroma of fresh waffle cones from Crave combine to give a heady atmosphere of barely suppressed excitement.
Paradise Valley’s well-kept secret
The brand new InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa is nestled beautifully in the foothills of spectacular Camelback Mountain in Paradise Valley, Arizona. The property features 293 guest rooms as well as 34 posh privately-owned villas on 34 acres of lush desert landscape. The resort also offers 24-hour concierge service, six restaurants and venues, the 31,000 square foot Joya spa, multiple shopping areas, an art gallery, a wedding venue and multiple ballrooms, five pools and other luxuries for use by resort guests. Sunsets are exceptional and framed by rugged mountains, palm trees and shimmering water.
One of the most goose-bumpy moments for a seasoned world traveler is the feeling that you are discovering something truly unique — that you’ve stumbled on a well-kept secret. Montelucia, and especially the Joya Spa, felt like that to me: it’s a picture-book place, with colour-washed buildings and detailed architecture. There are beautiful gardens to walk in and Crave Cafe at the entrance which serves fantastic coffee; you could sit there all day and watch the comings and goings from the open-air courtyard lobby. The courtyard itself is quite chic — lots of cozy places to gather — but it maintains a historical feel, thanks to all the cobbled alleyways and courtyards. You need time to wander and allow yourself to get lost.
Prado, the resort’s signature restaurant, offers wood-fired grilling with a Spanish accent. Within Prado is Mbar, featuring tequila, tapas and temptation in an ambiance perfect for socializing. Kasbah Restaurant and Bar entices guests with a sparkling pool and showcases a Rum Bar that prepares unique poolside cocktails and offers a variety of flavorful pomme frite from around the world. Another poolside option is Oasis Pavilion, a fun place to relax and enjoy items on a tasty poolside menu featuring handmade empanadas. Crave Cafe offers gourmet coffee, gelato, chocolate, wine, and everything you crave.
Montelucia’s Prado will surprise business travelers who often encounter lackluster hotel restaurants or have permanently written off hotel food. Named for the Madrid museum, the restaurant features an Andalusia-inspired menu. The Montelucia resort as a whole captures the more soulful side of Spain and features the ambiance of the southern region of Andalusia, where culture is vibrant and flavors distinctly alive. Prado and the adjacent Mbar focus on fresh drinks and a cultural atmosphere that promises to impress. A venue where food enthusiasts and wine connoisseurs can dine in luxury, enjoying signature dishes and regional cocktails while overlooking the majestic Camelback Mountain.
Chef Claudio Urciuoli couldn’t have asked for a more idyllic spot. The restaurant at this luxe new resort offers an elegant interior that invites guests to simply relax. The kitchen sources many artisanal products: half the meats on the menu have private labels. Urciuoli samples the sublime ingredients with more of his supremely confident, creative constructions: divine lamb cathedrals, cured sausages over seared artichoke. Hotel food has gone through a renaissance, clearly, at Prado, which offers so many culinary wonders. Dining at Prado proved an extraordinary event.