The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2014

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Page 59 of 134

58  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2014 HOT PROPERTY I t's June in Scottsdale and the blinding sun is beating down on the resort town, but walking into the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia, one is immediately transported to a village in southern Spain's Andalusia, and the relentless heat fades behind the beauty of the architecture. Redesigned as a Spanish-themed resort in 2004, Montelucia came under the Omni umbrella in January of this year—a move that its employees couldn't be happier about. Property Executive Chef and Food & Beverage Director Michael Cairns explains, "When I was asked to come work here two years ago, I really wanted to expedite my ideas and really focus the direction of the resort, but I was met with resistance. However, working with Omni has really been a lot of fun. We now have the ability to bring the quality, passion and simplicity to the property with an owner- ship group that supports those ideas." The refocusing of the property meant taking a serious look at the F&B program and figuring out what worked with this refreshed theme and what didn't. Included in this was the hiring of Executive Chef Tom Vykulil for the premier property restaurant, Prado. Resurrecting the property in the fall, Prado will be redirected with approach- able food with a Spanish influence—including fresh, local and seasonal food and beverages. "Using local ingredients is so important because it allows visitors to truly get a taste of the area. The food doesn't travel far to get to the plate, and I think that's really important for the customer to know," explains Vykulil. Locality and seasonality play important roles in the cocktail program (see "Kim- plifying Cocktails" story on page 56) and juicing program. Cairns further explains the refreshed beverage program, saying, "We want to stay in line with everything: Spanish wines, seasonal cocktails, classic Spanish cocktails, local beers and distilleries." Determined to stick to the theme while making the resort as approachable as possible, Cairns and his team have also created a full week of activities for guests and customers to participate in including daily tapas from 3-6 P.M. (the on-site wedding bells ring to signal tapas time), seasonal paella dinner every Sunday night and converting one of the suites into a Chef's Studio where wellness and cooking classes will take place. "Making our customers happy and always wanting to come back for more is the goal," explains Vykulil. "But it isn't about just getting to that point—it's about staying there." Arizonan Andalusia GETTING BACK TO THEIR ROOTS, OMNI SCOTTSDALE RESORT & SPA AT MONTELUCIA BRINGS FRESH SPANISH CUISINE TO THE DESERT by Breanne DeMore / photos by Grace Stufkosky Prado Executive Chef Tom Vykulil and Chef Michael Cairns, Proprety Executive Chef and Food and Beverage Director for Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia. Three of Prado's signature dishes: Gina's Burrata and heirloom tomatoes; Diver Scallops with saffron risotto; and the Branzino with seasonal vegetables

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