The Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale off the 101 at Indian Bend is the newest of luxury accommodations in the Valley of the Sun, complete with casino gaming, entertainment and fine dining and iron curtain tough elevator gatekeepers, which I will get into later.
I had the good fortune of staying at this desert oasis this past Labor Day weekend. The deluxe king room (pictured) is well appointed and comfortable. Its best feature is the glass enclosed shower with the rainfall style showerhead. At $134 a night (with Triple A discount – $149 regularly), it puts the Talking Stick in the same price categories as other Scottsdale fine resorts such as The Phoenician and Royal Palms.
Is it worth the money?
I ask you, How much you got?
The gaming is on the high side. Gangster Bugsy Siegel said the house always wins, and he’s still right about that. There are a handful of penny slots in this casino. The majority of slots are nickel and two cent, which might as well be in the high roller room.
A five cent machine with a 30 plus line bet and various multipliers will cost you close to four bucks a pull. To give you an idea, I spent forty dollars in less than three minutes. It was like I never had the money in the first place it was gone so fast.
The gaming genius who designed these slots understood something about human psychology. The brain sees five cents and thinks five cents, I can afford that, that’s a deal! The reality is you couldn’t bet five cents, two cents or however many cents if you wanted to. The brain keeps thinking five cents even though you’ve just gambled away your car, home and inheritance.
On to dining:
Since we lost of all our money at the casino, the only sensible thing to do was eat at the most expensive restaurant in the hotel, the Orange Sky.
See menu here.
The Orange Sky is expensive. You can expect to pay around $50 per person. The exclusive restaurant is on the 15th floor of the hotel. The views were great if you happened to be seated close to the windows, but as we were seated in the middle of the room and it was about as large as a football field, we really couldn’t see much.
I highly recommend making a reservation.
Actually, I take that back. Don’t bother. Here’s why:
After making two separate reservations through the hotel concierge, we somehow were not on the list to go up to the restaurant. Like The Roxbury, you have to be on the list to be waived onto the private elevator for dinner.
For reasons that were never explained, we were ushered into a corner while one of our party went back to the concierge to see what the problem was. The elevator gatekeeper was a stern guardian from the old school of non-existent social skills, and she would not be persuaded to let us up until she received word from someone that we were okay, mostly germ free, which she never did.
Personally, if you charge $50 and up for dinner, you had better make my experience as pleasant and rewarding as possible. You had better do things like make a telephone call to see what you can do to make my experience a little less stressful, maybe throw in a comp for all the aggravation. No comps here. No telephone call.
Our party represented a potential $500 bill for the restaurant. Step right this way is what we should have heard. I thought these casino folk were math people?
While we waited in exile in the corner, nine of us, all manner of dinner guest from frat boy on up was let onto the elevator going to the restaurant. They knew the secret code.
“We’re going to the bar.”
It’s what we should have said all along. You have to be quick on your feet in these situations.
We eventually made it to the restaurant, by basically bypassing the woman downstairs and getting on the elevator. They had the reservation the whole time in the restaurant. They, whomever they were, forgot to tell the woman downstairs who held power of life and death over us for a few minutes. It really does come down to the little things.
Uh, I hate to say it, but I got better service at Chipolte last night.
We told the restaurant manager upstairs what had happened and he listened attentively, shaking his head up and down every now and then. He was probably thinking, “Who cares, you won’t be back anyway.” He was probably right about that.
As to the food, the sides were better than the entrées, except for the steaks. ‘Nuff said.
We ate at the buffet the next day for breakfast and lunch, and I thought that was exceptional. Where else can you get curry wontons, gourmet gellato and breakfast pizza and just about anything else you care to name foodwise all in one shot?
If you like Cajun, the Ocean Trail is also a good bet. You can get a delicious spicy gumbo with the kitchen sink in it and it would take three people to eat it.
We stayed on the 9th floor, and had a great view of the gigantic pool and the mountains to the east. At about 2am, we had a traditional Motel 6 experience with a lot of yelling and commotion in the hallway. It could have been Mel Gibson out there, but I am not sure.
I got a great haircut there for $15 with a coupon. The normal price is $21. I would go back for the haircut and the buffet. The bathrooms at the Orange Sky were some of the nicest restrooms I have ever seen, complete with views! I am not kidding.
All in all, the Talking Stick is worth checking out. Bring your wallet. Bring your patience. They are still working out the details.
I guess for the money they are charging, the details should have been worked out…
File this under stress and holiday.
Elevate your experience, just make sure you are on the list.