When one thinks of Scottsdale, immediate images are of desert, resorts, golf courses, hills, rock formations and cacti, not to mention Taliesin West, architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s former home and studio, plus Old Town Scottsdale with its 1920s buildings and 19th-century olive trees.

We, on the other hand, can only think of the AAA Five Diamond Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, the perfect setting to enjoy al fresco living in the blooming Sonoran Desert. Its vast open spaces, lushly landscaped grounds, regal Saguaro cacti and a burning orange sun sinking behind the majestic mountains will inspire and energize you. From the rich purple hues of the desert sunset to the green agave plants and coral pinks and butter yellow of blooming cactus flowers, the natural setting is one of the most unique and stunning in the world.

This highly acclaimed Scottsdale resort is truly an experience like no other: four top-ranked Arizona restaurants, inspiring indoor and outdoor meeting facilities, innovative spa and fitness programs, six sparkling pools including the all-new Sunset Beach, and two magnificent 18-hole championship golf courses. The newly renovated Stadium Course is home to the annual PGA Tour Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Life is sophisticated, warm and inviting at this breathtaking resort offering world-class hospitality in the Valley of the Sun. Never have we met such an extraordinary group of people working hard to please each and every guest. Credit must go to the eagle-eye manager, Jack Miller, for inspiring all the staff to the highest levels. It is Jack’s dog, Bixby and his pal, Gibbs, by the way, who greet guests in the hotel’s lobby.

We found thoughtfully appointed accommodations on our recent visit. The Princess offers 750 richly appointed guest rooms, including two Presidential Suites, 69 Fairmont Gold Rooms and 119 Casitas. All have well-defined living and work areas, terraces, wet bars, refreshment centers and oversized luxury bathrooms. We stayed in one of the new 102 guest rooms at Sunset Beach, designed with modern Southwest decor and the latest trends in upscale residential design to provide an inviting indoor-outdoor experience that maximizes enjoyment of Arizona’s beautiful climate.

Sunset Beach – the resort’s sixth and largest pool surrounded by 830 tons of fluffy, cool white sand – proves their commitment to maintain the resort’s status as the vibrant, premiere entity in Scottsdale.

We highly recommend upgrading to the Fairmont Gold Lounge, which serves a bountiful breakfast each morning, complimentary hors d’oeuvres in the afternoon and desserts at night. A large screen TV, newspapers and comfy chairs and sofas make this an oasis to be savored.

Each of the fine dining establishments offers distinctive flavor in cuisine and décor. La Hacienda by Richard Sandoval is Scottsdale’s top-rated Mexican restaurant experience, featuring a modern, lighter, ingredient-driven approach to Mexican cuisine. Do not miss the Tequila Los Azulejos. If you’re lucky, you’ll meet the charming Tequila Goddess to guide you through a tasting. They’ve got 340 different ones, but we liked the Snake Bite Flight best, a sample of sotol, mescal and tequila on a plate with a decorative rattlesnake head and tail.

Acclaimed chef Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak represents the height of Scottsdale dining with contemporary American fare, and a focus on all natural, organic and hormone-free cuts of beef, poached and finished over the wood-burning grill. Let them make you a special bourbon drink in a frosted silver cup or ask for the unique tableside absinthe presentation.

Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar is chef Sandoval’s latest concept. We ate divine sushi and Pan Latin dishes accompanied by sexy rum drinks, as we watched the sun go down over the recently renovated TPC Stadium Course. With more than 151 rums, Toro boasts the valley’s largest rum selection, along with a collection of Latin wines and innovative cocktails prepared with the finest spirits by the Rum Princesa.

Ironwood American Kitchen is the Fairmont Scottsdale’s main dining room, serving breakfast and lunch featuring wood-fired specialties in a warm and casual atmosphere. The Plaza Bar is an indoor/outdoor lounge, welcoming guests to unwind with mixology-driven, signature craft cocktails in the Princess Plaza.

Don’t miss eating poolside at the Princess Pool, Sunset Beach, Sonoran Splash and Sonoran Landing. Whether you want to watch the game, relax in your luxurious cabana rental, send the kids down one of Sonoran Splash slides or do a few laps, these pools have everything you need for a perfect day in the sun.

Rising from the resort’s beautiful Hacienda Plaza is Well & Being Spa. Inspired by a hidden oasis deep in the Grand Canyon called Havasupai, the design of this alluring spa of serene Sedona sandstone and relaxing waterfalls is drawn from nature’s primary elements – air, water, earth, wood and fire. Combined with innovative treatments that inspire and rejuvenate, the spa is a fusion of spa and wellness, and we languished in their waterfall grotto for some time before diving into the rooftop pool. From the exhilaration of Aerial Hammock Yoga to the tranquility of a customized aromatherapy massage and the motivating kick start of a new, evidence-based approach to nutrition and exercise, you’ll go home feeling energized, enlightened and empowered.

Outside the gates awaits a treasure of things to do, just minutes to shopping centers, a short drive from Sedona, the Grand Canyon, the Phoenix Open, spring training baseball, five Major League sports teams, Arabian horse shows and more. From art walks and culinary festivals to hot air ballooning and Jeep tours, spend your next vacation in style at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess.

Email questions and comments to travel columnist William Tomicki at wtomicki@aol.com.