Old building off a main road, more motel than "resort"
Cheapest rooms have parking-lot views
Crowded pool; stiff lounger competition
Resort fee covers Wi-Fi, self and valet parking, coffee and tea in the living room, and access to the fitness and business centers
A middling motel in downtown Scottsdale turned boutique-style standout, the FireSky "resort" offers something for everyone -- a sandy play space by the pool; a cozy cocktail lounge; a small but sufficient spa; kid-friendly marshmallow roasts; the list goes on. It's crowded for a reason: value.
In order to appreciate FireSky -- and it is a hotel worth appreciating -- one must first accept that it is not a resort in the same way that Boulders or The Sanctuary or the Westin Kierland is. Located in Downtown Scottsdale, amidst Phoenix's ever-expanding suburban sprawl, FireSky's 196 guestrooms and eight suites are consolidated into a collection of low-rise buildings just off a major thoroughfare. Even calling FireSky a hotel is a bit generous; given that the great majority of its rooms directly attach -- and most often face -- a network of parking lots, a motel would actually be a more apt description. A fair assessment: It's the most luxurious motel in Arizona.
The hotel is friendly, but also crowded with a broad base of overlapping guests who, often, struggle to find a lounge chair anytime after 11 a.m. But in its efforts to please everyone, FireSky is an anomaly: It actually pleases just about everyone. A cozy lounge; a lively bar scene; a quality restaurant with organic fare; free s'mores kits for kids to use at the evening bonfire pits; perfectly comfortable beds; a stylish lobby (see if you can spot representations of all four Greek elements); exceptionally attentive bellmen and concierges; a well-regarded (if not extraordinary) spa -- all this, and more, at a fair price. So while it's not in the same league with the big guys, and it might be better suited to a long weekend than a week-long vacation, most guests check out feeling entirely satisfied. Just note that when they return, they'll likely upgrade to a pool-view room.
In the middle of Scottsdale, a short walk from great dining, restaurants, shopping, and more (should someone in Arizona decide to walk anywhere at all)
A scenic escape, FireSky is not. Depending on your point of view, this can be a good thing. While the views are far less spectacular here -- unless you are looking up at the stars -- a central location makes it a lot easier to dodge paying inflated resort prices for every single meal. While great restaurants and bars are within walking distance, it's worth noting that no one really walks in Arizona, even across the street.
Scottsdale's main drag, Scottsdale Road, varies from office complexes, to strip malls, to large-scale department stores -- all near FireSky. Great restaurants and bars are scattered throughout the city, often attached to hotels. Overall, Scottsdale is a quiet, upper-middle-class suburb with the occasional unique restaurant, bar, or boutique.
Safe, suburban location
Minutes from upscale department stores (Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Barneys, and more at the Fashion Square Shopping Center) and superb restaurants (Maestro's City Hall Steakhouse, Petite Maison, and J&G Steakhouse, among others) on downtown Scottsdale's main drag, East Camelback Road
Free drop-off and pickup service anywhere within three miles of the hotel
About a dozen golf courses within an hour's drive; among them there's the Phoenician (about 5 minutes away), T.P.C. (a stop on the PGA tour, about 20 minutes away), and Talking Stick (two new courses about 15 minutes away).
Clean, comfortable, and up-to-date, if not thrilling
The standard room, the Deluxe Patio Guestroom (400 square feet), comes with a king or two double-size beds (a bit of a squeeze), as well as a private patio or balcony that overlooks the parking lot. The Deluxe Garden Courtyard and Deluxe Pool Lagoon rooms are basically the same, though they look out on the hotel's interior garden or pool, respectively (a big improvement).
One- and two-bedroom Deluxe Suites are basically the same as the standard rooms, though they have an adjoining living room. The 800-square-foot Presidential Suite (small, as far as presidential suites go) comes with a separate dining and living area and a larger balcony.
Special "Tall Rooms" are basically just Deluxe rooms with 96-inch long beds and adjustable shower heads; ADA compliant and wheelchair accessible rooms are also available.
Tip: Ground-floor rooms, even those facing the pool, can be a bit dark because they are shielded from the sunlight by the above balcony. Request a room on a higher floor.
Generally poor in-room insulation -- expect to hear doors slamming, and other neighborly racket
Tip: Guest rooms don't normally have a coffeemaker, but you can ask for one when checking in. In addition, there's coffee and tea available in the lobby (meaning you can get real milk as opposed to artificial creamer) and if you don't want to leave the room, just ask someone to deliver a cup.
Snagging a poolside lounge chair can be tough, especially on weekends and during spring break (both college and grade school); guests tend to arrive early and stake their claim with a towel (also in short supply)
24-hour fitness center with weights, treadmills, bikes, and elliptical (no strength-training machines)
24-hour business center with laptop stations and a printer
Wi-Fi throughout the hotel is covered by the resort fee
13 flexible meeting rooms (14,000 square feet of space), including outdoor spaces for up to 500 seated guests -- like most Scottsdale resorts, FireSky is a popular venue for weddings and business events
The Jurlique Spa, a nationwide spa chain with another outpost at the Mayfair Hotel in Miami, uses certified organic herbs (grown in the hotel's own garden) and other all-natural, biodegradable products not tested on animals. While its slight facilities don't quite compare to the more renowned spas in Scottsdale -- such as the Golden Door Spa at Boulders or the spa at the Sanctuary -- the facilities are clean, comfortable, and perfectly adequate.
Six bright treatment rooms and a relaxation lounge (open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
Full menu of treatments, including facials, waxing, wraps, hot stone massages, mani/pedis, and water therapies (soaking tubs); 60-minute massages from about $125