Last month I attended a special media reception to introduce the $10 million dollar transformation of the Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch. Previously a conference resort, it is now part of the distinguished Destination Hotel and Resort collection with inviting updates including enhanced guest rooms and public spaces and the all-new Kitchen West and Bar Six40. As we arrive, we are warmly greeted and led to the picturesque Paradise Park Lawn to mingle and enjoy cocktails, wine, and passed appetizers. It's a beautiful setting for a welcome reception.
We listen as Ken McKenzie, general manager, tells us more about the history of the property, once owned by Anne and Fowler McCormick, who built a ranch where they raised cattle and Arabian horses on 4200 acres. The Scottsdale Resort opened on Sept. 4, 1976 as part of the McCormick’s ranch, and was the first conference resort in the country. Its 8-month renovation was completed during the summer of 2015 with a grand reopening on September 8th. "The vision we had for this facility, which has always been known as a great meeting facility, was to turn it into more of a leisure facility and also open it up to the community." he tells us. "We welcome all to come in and enjoy our food and our wines and beverages and to enjoy this part of Scottsdale."
Patrick Connors, director of sales and marketing, concurs, "we want to be open to all travelers, not just conventions." He also tells us that "the name Paradise Park Lawn plays into the story that this property has gone through over the decades", as Ann McCormick's Paradise Park, situated on 150 acres of the ranch, hosted Arabian horse shows from 1956 to 1978. We also learn about the resort's engagement with community and that it has partnered with award-winning Simple Farm, a three-acre private goat farm five miles from the property, who make Grand Marnier and espresso goat caramels exclusively for the resort.
Executive Chef Rick Dupere is introduced and expands on his culinary philosophy for Kitchen West, Bar Six40, and the poolside Twisted Vine. "This is pretty exciting for me," he says. He speaks of his focus on a creative and seasonal menu and his commitment to "bring in all the best products." "It’s a craft and I have a great group of guys - innovative culinarians. It's bold food, it's unapologetic, it's innovative." Future events will include twice-monthly farm to table dinner collaborations with Simple Farm.
We start with cocktails at Bar Six40 before moving on to Kitchen West, where we are entertained by live music and treated to a menu sampling that includes carved meat and fish, an "Everything Salad" piled high with kale, frisee, arugula, and fresh vegetables, mesquite honey cheese curds with juniper-cherry jam, chorizo hush puppies with garlic-poblano dip, and a decadent signature burger with two beef patties sandwiching smoky brisket layered with pecan bacon, cheese, lettuce, and tomato jam on a brioche bun.
I especially loved the warm and puffy flatbread cooked in a kiln/tandoor. Options on the menu include toppings of mushrooms, local I'itoi onions and chimichurri, or smoked ham, housemade ricotta and arugula.
We are invited to end the night under starlit skies at the McCormick Pool with coffee drinks and desserts. One of two pools that were newly remodeled, it now features expanded amenities including eight private cabanas, a central water feature, and the Twisted Vine Pool Bar & Grill.