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Archways at Montelucia keep you cool.

Situated at the foot of Camelback Mountain, InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa is designed along the classic lines of an Andalusian oasis:  geometric stone and masonry facades in pastel shades, gently lapping pools and fountains, everything to emphasize the serenity of a desert retreat in southern Spain.

When evening falls and the camel's back looms backlit in the glow of city lights beyond, "Monte Lucia" indeed seems an appropriate name for this delightful new resort in Paradise Valley, just outside Phoenix, Arizona.  

The atmosphere is quite simply romantic. Bougainvillea climbs along secluded garden walls. If nightingales were native to the American desert, they would surely abide here to sing their hearts out.

The concept is a welcome one, especially in an era of splashy megaresorts bidding to out-dazzle one another. And its tenor is admirably carried through, from the rich brown woods of the 200+ room accommodations to the billowing pool side tents, a nod to the European preference for cooling shade in the midst of desert heat. 




Oasis Village guestrooms overlook the Oasis Pool and Pavilion;
an intimate retreat with views of Camelback Mountain. 

The Prado restaurant features Italian chefs offering an interesting Italo-Spanish cuisine with an emphasis on fresh seasonal vegetables and savory meats grilled in the traditional Castilian style.




Alfresco dining on Prado Patio.





Arabesque Joya Spa at Montelucia.

Of particular note is the magnificent Joya spa, a generous 31,000 square feet of anteroom into Heaven. You may wish to spend an entire day within these transforming confines, indulging in a variety of oil & massage body treatments,  experiencing Arizona's only Hammam bathing ritual or just lounging in a cabana by the rooftop pool.

The opulent decor and dark interiors of the luxury suites might bring to mind memories of a Moorish seraglio (that is, if any of us are ancient enough to recall Greater Arabia under aegis of the Ottoman Empire!).

The Joya Spa was conceived by renowned spa creator Sylvia Sepielli. This sanctuary offers guests a figurative and literal escape into the beautiful desert. The two-level jewel also offers 5,200 square feet of outdoor space; the spa itself contains 19 treatment rooms, including skincare, meditation, and private cabana suites.




Joya Spa’s splendid rooftop pool in a magnificent desert setting.

Guests can also enjoy a 24-hour fitness area with state-of-the-art cardio and resistance equipment, plus a wide range of group fitness classes from yoga to flamenco fusion to spinning.

The spa also offers a full-service destination salon, Joya Salon, and, a fashion-forward retail boutique, Joya Bazaar.




Joya spa treatment room brings to mind  a Moorish seraglio.





Take a lap before you nap.

Joya Spa at the InterContinental Montelucia Resort makes personal well-being a top priority with its free health seminars. The Wednesday night workshops, held from 6 to 7 p.m., focus on various areas of health such as heart, skeletal and arthritic care.

The programs are led by local doctors who offer expert advice on prevention and treatment. Classes supplement Joya’s pro-wellness emphasis, and will eventually lead to a full menu of lifestyle offerings, including guest speakers, weekend- and week-long workshops slated to begin later in 2009.




Week-long wellness sessions are planned.


Montelucia represents a first entry into the US resort market for Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts, the British based chain noted for its urban locations worldwide. 




The renovated Montelucia lobby.

Five years of effort and $300 million have produced a remarkable vision of Andalusia, with its rich cultural history and influences of Roman, Greek and Moorish occupation. The resort's Alhambra walkway is modeled after the Alhambra in Grenada.  

The signature restaurant, Prado, of course takes its name from the great art museum of Madrid.  Its design is inspired by Michelangelo's Villa San Michele in Tuscany

The wedding chapel, Castillo Lucena, is representative of the ballroom at Hotel Cipriani in Venice.  And throughout are numerous antiques and works of art gathered in Spain to adorn Montelucia.

The 34-acre resort includes 253 luxurious guest rooms and 40 suites, including two presidential suites. (Appropriately, President Obama recently stayed in one of them!)




Romantic guestrooms
are tranquil in Oasis Village.

All guest rooms provide the latest in modern technology, including flat-screen televisions and high-speed internet access. The suites offer up to 3,000 square feet of living space in addition to a private event lawn and pool.

The 27,000 square feet of meeting and convention spaces represents both ample size and state of the art communications equipment.

The builder, Crown Realty and Development, has also constructed 34 detached, single family luxury villas, a few of which remain on the market  These are very much in keeping with the Spanish thematic elements of the resort as a whole.




Relax for a tan.



Room service view.

Restful calm is the keynote here. Of course a round of golf is readily arranged at one of several championship venues within minutes of the resort.  Tennis?  The sixteen courts at the famed Village Tennis center is a mile away.

If you wish to hike up Camelback, the Sonora Desert trails begin just outside the gates of Montelucia. 

It’s difficult to leave this marvelous “green desert” without spending at least a few hours traversing the area’s numerous secluded trail ways.  The landscape is rich in a wide variety of natural plant life, including cholla, Saguaro cacti, ocotillo, and Palo Verde trees. 

Within walking distance of the hotel is a beautifully designed desert park, the Barry Goldwater Memorial Park

Dedicated in 2004, the memorial park was commissioned by the Town of Paradise Valley as a thank you and remembrance of Goldwater, who was a United States Senator and presidential candidate.   Goldwater was born in Phoenix in 1909 in what was then Arizona territory and later became a resident of Paradise Valley.   An enthusiastic photographer, Goldwater was also known as a friend of the Native American Community.




Memorial to Senator Barry Goldwater.

The park’s centerpiece is a nine-foot bronze sculpture of Goldwater which was created by Joe Beeler, a well-know Arizona artist.   Beeler worked for six months on the sculpture and was quoted in interviews that he was honored to produce this tribute to a great American, a personal friend and a long time supporter of the arts in Arizona

Beeler, who passed away in 2006, was an American illustrator, artist and sculptor specializing in the field of Western art.  In 1965, he cofounded the Cowboy Artists of America (CAA) with Charlie Dye, John Hampton and George Phippen. 

Entering the park, visitors take a short stroll over a bridge and falling water.  Abundant desert landscaping is blended with rock and stone design elements that display Native American symbols and signs.   The memorial is a delightful place to reflect on Barry Goldwater, a distinguished American, and to admire the desert habitat filled with delicate plants and trees.  The memorial provides a stunning view of the Phoenix Mountains and of the subtle shading of Camelback Mountain as it looms over Paradise Valley.

Treks of a theoretically less strenuous variety are to be had among the nearby boutiques of Scottsdale, one of Arizona's premier shopping destinations. 

For those interested in spectator sports, greater Phoenix has become a truly big league city over the past decade. 




After golf or shopping relax at Montelucia's Kasbah Restaurant.





. Cocktails are mixed or stirred.

Now, at any season of the year one is able to enjoy major league competition either in baseball (the Diamondbacks); football (the Cardinals), basketball (the Suns) or ice hockey (the Coyotes). 

Important PGA golf tournaments like the Phoenix Open are also part of the annual sports agenda.

For additional information on InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa, visit the website.

Reservations by telephone at 888-627-3010.

— Feature by Jerry Nemanic, Jetsetters Magazine Luxury Editor; photos by Donna Nemanic and courtesy of InterContinental Montelucia Resort and Spa.



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