The Global Ambassador: Decadent Desert Luxury in Phoenix

Lobby seating / Credit: Emily Hochberg

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The fifth-largest city in the US, Phoenix is a scenic desert destination known for golf, baseball spring training, and a real estate market as red hot as its blistering summer temps. 

It’s also home to world-class resorts, and now, an emerging luxury hotel scene. 

The latter is what inspired me to make the four-hour drive from my home in Southern California. Brand new and incredibly designed, The Global Ambassador caught my attention, and I was eager to see it for myself. 

Created by revered restaurateur Sam Fox, the hotel opened its doors in Phoenix at the end of 2023, marking Fox’s first foray into the luxury hospitality world.

Situated where Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Paradise Valley converge under the gaze of Camelback Mountain, the 141-room cosmopolitan enclave was meticulously designed to create an elevated experience previously unseen in Phoenix.

The check-in desk/Credit: Emily Hochberg

A lobby dripping in decadent luxury

Pulling up to the polished entrance, I wondered if maybe I took the wrong turn onto I-10 and ended up in Beverly Hills. 

Around me was a swarm of Teslas, Porsches, Land Rovers, and BMW luxury cars. I handed the valet the keys to my Chevy Equinox and told him to enjoy the ride.

Inside, a highly manicured lobby dazzled with attractive seating areas and a sophisticated bar under a tinplate ceiling. Every detail was meticulously chosen by Fox, along with Judith Testani from Testani Design Troupe, who also designed many aspects of Fox’s restaurants, office, and family home. The hotel is part of Preferred Hotels & Resorts Legend Collection, which includes other prestigious properties such as Baccarat Hotel New York, Montage Laguna Beach, and others. 

The space was buzzing with activity as well-heeled groups milled about the bar and clinked glasses on couches for socializing and power meets. It was clear to me this was just as much a place for locals to mingle as it was for overnight guests. 

I walked up to the glossy green check-in desk and was handed a tasty daiquiri while I went over the details of my two-night stay. 

I was booked in a Camelback Two Queen Room, which is a mid-tier option, and an upgrade over a standard room in terms of the view and its large patio. Lower category rooms face away from the mountain and have smaller Juliet balconies.

The author’s guestroom / Credit: Emily Hochberg

Sleeping in style—and silence

Upstairs, I found my room to be impressively spacious with oak hardwood floors, a sleek writing desk, and original art hand-picked specifically for each room. The bathroom was my favorite, with Waterworks fixtures, statement wallpaper, and a marble walk-in shower with divine pressure.

The mini bar housed brands I’d expect at Sephora or high-end department stores, with Augustinus Bader and Supergoop, as well as personal pleasure products. The bar itself was well stocked with gorgeous glassware, ready-to-go cocktails, and a paring knife for adding fragrant citrus peels to homemade tipples.

The bathroom / Credit: Emily Hochberg

Fluffy robes and slippers, a collection of books by Maison Plagea, a Dyson Supersonic hairdryer, in-room steamer, and Byredo toiletries rounded out the room’s five-star amenities.

As a light sleeper, I was initially worried that all the buzz downstairs and the crowds I later observed on the way to the rooftop (more on that in a minute) would translate to a rocky night’s sleep. But I was pleasantly surprised that the room was pin-drop silent. I didn’t hear a sound from the hallway, other rooms, or outside. 

My stay was comped for the purposes of this review, but rooms start at $650 per night based on the category booked.

An area of the rooftop patio at theà / Credit: Emily Hochberg

Destination dining 

It wasn’t just the gorgeous design of the rooms that made me want to check-in to The Global Ambassador. It was also the amenities.  

Sam Fox is a 12-time James Beard award nominee, and so I viewed the five on-site restaurants as destination-worthy in their own right.

For the most part, I was right. 

I had breakfast at Le Market, the cafe adjoining Le Âme, an upscale French steakhouse. I dined on a rainy morning when drizzles cascading down the large window overlooking bistro tables immediately transported me to a cozy winter day in Paris. The coffee and pastries were excellent but my smoothie was such a miss that I had to send it back to the kitchen. So, come for the baked goods, skip the sipped treats.

Tables at Le Market / Credit: Emily Hochberg

I also booked dinner at theà, the Mediterranean rooftop deemed the largest in Arizona. The swanky, sunsoaked interior was framed by floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the impressive vistas, as well as an expansive deck with plush couches, a decorative fireplace, and a large bar with high tops and a DJ booth. The scene immediately struck me as see-and-be-seen with well-dressed guests piling in. 

My crew, meanwhile, was my husband, our 3.5 year old, and 10-month-old. While we were welcomed warmly, I felt like we stuck out in such a glam space. Frankly, we’re just not the target audience, additionally evidenced by the lack of kids menu. On elevator rides up and down to the restaurant, and later to our room, we contended with steady streams of people heading to what felt like the city’s hottest club. On a Saturday night, it reminded me of a night out in Vegas. We crammed into elevators with stylish clientele who seemingly didn’t find it adorable when my kid asked to press the button.

I tried to keep my kids as quiet as I could in such a high-end scene, before apologizing to an apathetic bus boy for the pile of buttered noodles my baby left behind on the floor. 

Dining at theà / Credit: Emily Hochberg

We did see one or two other children at theà, but it’s not a place I’d bring my kids back to. Rather, I’d gladly return for a date night with my husband or a girls’ night out. It’s just so much better suited to that type of hang. Regardless, the food was excellent, from creamy baba ghanoush to charred octopus and margherita flatbread. The off-menu buttered noodles, by the way, were fantastic, both my child and I can confirm.

Other venues include Pink Dolphin, a whimsical bar overlooking a pool scene seemingly plucked from the movie “Barbie.” While I didn’t dine here, I did lounge on a large first-come, first-serve oversized daybed as my husband and older daughter swam in the pool. 

The author at the pool / Credit: Emily Hochberg

Other offerings

Dining and design are two of the three main pillars at TGA, with the last being wellness.

In addition to the pool, a 19,000-square-foot fitness center has state-of-the-art equipment from Technogym and Eleik, two outdoor terraces, group workout classes, and private training.

I sadly missed a spa treatment, but it’s a flagship feature, as well. Augustinus Bader products are exclusively offered in Arizona with treatments here, and likewise, French brand Biologique Recherche feature prominently, too.

And next door to the pool is a curated boutique with womens and menswear ranging from smart casual to beach boho chic. Brands include Charo Ruiz Ibiza, Raquel Allegra, Xirena, Orlebar, and a collection from Aviator Nation that is exclusive to the hotel.

The author in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve / Credit: Emily Hochberg

Save time for Scottsdale

While technically the hotel is located in Phoenix, Scottsdale’s Old Town is under 5 miles away, and that’s where I found the best dining, shopping, and art around.

Start a day at Prep & Pastry, a bright, contemporary space for indulgent goodies and beautiful plates. The shakshuka or smoked salmon benedict are excellent, but sweet treats are the real star. Don’t leave without sampling a fresh-baked dossant, a cross between a croissant and a donut that I’m still thinking about weeks later.

For something lighter, Farm & Craft serves healthy and sustainable comfort food in an airy, modern space. Fresh-squeezed juice and fruit-topped acai bowls are offered alongside pancakes, but their stack comes loaded with extra protein. 

And if, like me, you arrive at the hotel and feel woefully underdressed, the Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall is only minutes away. It’s home to every major retailer and designer brand. Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, Bulgari, Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Prada, are just a few. This former New Yorker also grabbed a burger from Shake Shack here. 

While at the mall, be sure to check out Wonderspaces. This year-round, always changing modern art show was extraordinary. Exhibits include immersive installations from VR simulations of what it’s like to be blind, to a light show inviting guests to sink into bean bags and take it all in. All ages are welcome, but a bar serves cocktails for thirsty adults.

And since you’re in a location renowned for the outdoors, you’d be remiss to skip a hike. Camelback Mountain is an exhilarating, challenging trek to the peak with an elevation of around 2,700 feet. For something easier, take a drive over to McDowell Sonoran Preserve in North Scottsdale with a wealth of trails, wildflowers, and views.

Finally, aside from theà, make reservations for dinner at either El Chorro or Canal Club. The former, in the aptly-named Paradise Valley, is a gorgeous restaurant with a patio that feels equal parts Greek island and California mission. Stunning views of Camelback and Mummy Mountains are the backdrop for a hearty meal of prime steaks and fish, all preceded by signature sticky buns, which are served in place of traditional rolls and butter.

The Canal Club, back in Scottsdale, was a favorite for Cuban-inspired fare in a boho cool dining room. Cocktails are expertly mixed–try the Helen & Maude with rum, coconut, lime, mint, and soda for a sip of Havana. The ceviche, paella, and crispy skin salmon are also standouts.

The lobby / Credit: Emily Hochberg

The bottom line

The Global Ambassador is a beacon of luxury that made me feel like I’d checked into Beverly Hills’ chicest hotel. It’s clearly the hotspot on the block in Phoenix right now, with locals and out-of-towners pouring in for the chance to admire the fine furnishings, eat at one of Fox’s hotly-anticipated restaurants, and sink into soft duvets in exquisitely-appointed rooms. 

While I believe in exposing my kids to travel and beautiful places from a young age, I know we stuck out from the uber cool set who dominated the hotel. I’ll be back, but only when Grandma can watch the kiddos.

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