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The Scottsdale Resort_Front Drive 1.jpg Scottsdale Resort & Spa
Scottsdale Resort & Spa is no longer just a conference hotel.

Scottsdale Resort & Spa shifts from conference focus with four new foodservice options

The Arizona resort’s $40 million renovation positions it as a destination for travelers and locals alike

The Scottsdale Resort & Spa at McCormick Ranch, a Curio Collection Resort by Hilton, has been known as a classic conference property since it was built in 1976, but now is repositioning itself as a food and beverage destination for both locals and travelers, with four new dining outlets.  

After Driftwood Capital acquired the resort in 2022, the commercial real estate investor spent $40 million on a property-wide transformation, which was just completed in Jan. 2024.

“By reimagining the resort as a destination, we aimed to cater to a broader audience, to offer a seamless blend of business and leisure,” Alan Klein, regional director of operations for Driftwood Hospitality Management, said. “With the addition of the new outlets and the newly expanded fitness center and gym, we can offer a venue that still caters to our conference attendees but now also offers a haven for relaxation, entertainment, and exploration. The new approach offers a more inclusive and enjoyable retreat for individuals, families, and groups alike.”

Those guests can now choose from multiple options including elevated Sonoran (Mexican-American) cuisine with global influences, a health-focused café, a hidden speakeasy, and a family-friendly lounge with interactive games.

“Food and beverage [before the renovation] kind of became an amenity for rooms, or an amenity for group business, but now we’ve really switched to a freestanding mindset where we want to drive revenue and folks and experiences into our food and beverage outlets, just because they're good—and not necessarily because you’re staying in the hotel,” Ken Arneson, Driftwood’s area executive chef, said.

Enhancing comfort through food and beverage

Whereas in the past, guests may have walked between ballrooms and guest rooms, the new Scottsdale Resort provides plenty of opportunities to visit other venues and order food and drinks.

“We still do a good amount of conference business, but we’ve really changed the face of it to be very comfortable,” Arneson said. “Lots of couches, lots of love seats, open seating, fire pits, things like that. We wanted to enhance the food beverage offering, as well, by adding, first and foremost, a coffee shop, which is something that we’ve never had.”

That coffee shop is Barnaby's Café + Wine Bar, focused on “wellness-oriented cuisine with a holistic approach,” highlighting local purveyors and offering a global wine list. Barnaby’s footprint previously was part of one of the resort’s ballrooms. The space has now been converted into the successful grab-and-go concept, which features local drip coffee from The Roastery at Cave Creek.

Prior to the renovation, the resort included Bar Six40, a cocktail lounge and restaurant.

“We knew that we wanted to turn that into a single entity that really kind of focused on the Arizona Sonoran Desert, so we chose the name La Fogata, which means ‘the flame’—and a lot of that is driven from our large use of mesquite wood from the culinary side,” Arneson said. “Then, of course, we have our large fire pits. That is the signature piece to La Fogata, with the idea that people can come out there enjoy camaraderie around the open flame.”

La Fogata pulls three-daypart duty, including breakfast service and introduces guests to the depths of Sonoran cuisine.

“[We] wanted to move beyond the preconceived notion that Sonoran cuisine and Tex-Mex were very similar in flavor profile,” he noted. “If you go back to the Native American roots of our Sonoran Desert, they’re very different.”

Accordingly, La Fogata uses local cactus in its salsa and oxtails instead of braised short ribs. But La Fogata transcends Sonaran cuisine into global fusion.

“For example, the Chilean sea bass, it’s very much a Thai dish, but the actual look of that plate mimics the Sonoran Desert,” Arneson said.

The property’s Roaring Twenties-inspired speakeasy, The Madam, is open Wednesday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to midnight, serving high-end classic cocktails and modern creations, including the Shot To Your Heart (with Dos Hombres mezcal, Gran Ponche, coconut water, lemon juice, pomegranate compote, agave and egg white) and the Word of Mouth (with High West double rye, Celaya Reposado tequila, aperol, lemon juice, ginger, Demerara sugar and Lagavulin whiskey spritz).

The Social Boardroom, meanwhile, is, “almost the polar opposite,” Arneson said about the casual, lounge with entertainment for all ages. Pool, shuffleboard, board games, and a golf simulator ($60 an hour) keep things lively in The Social Boardroom while bar and waitstaff supply cocktails and casual small bites, including sliders, naked wings with dipping sauces, nachos, and more. The Social Boardroom is also available for private group rentals.

The new foodservice outlets do not produce fare for banquets and catering, which Arneson said is “a completely separate metric” with a separate team.

Operating in a new era

With the renovation complete, the Scottsdale Resort team is glad to have F&B operations fully open again.

“It’s been kind of mind-numbing going from five or six guests during a renovation period, where you have construction walls up and things like that, to be fully open now, seeing bodies in seats,” Arneson said. “And it’s been constant.”

Helping the transition pick up steam is Scottsdale’s thriving Major League Baseball spring training, along with strong group travel numbers.

“The feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive,” Klein said. “We have learned that with the variety of options available, the flow for a seamless evening can be done without leaving the resort. Starting with a cocktail in La Fogata’s bar, followed by dinner in La Fogata, is how many guests start their night. After dinner, some time is spent in The Social Boardroom, followed by a craft cocktail in The Madam as a great way to cap off the evening.”

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