Exhilaration in the Desert

Situated in the lush Sonoran Desert, Scottsdale, Arizona, is home to chef-driven restaurants, luxury resorts, and exciting nightlife. The go-to expert for the top food, beverage, and nightlife experiences is Gem Ray, founder, CEO, and Marketing Director of ScottsdaleNights.com.

Exhilaration in the Desert: A Feature from Food & Beverage Magazine


Ray has lived in Scottsdale for 13 years after living in Los Angeles and London, raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, and attending Ohio State University in Columbus. He saw a need for a premier company to showcase nightlife and hospitality and offer media marketing in Scottsdale. Working and partnering with many companies and businesses, he developed a massive database and hosts over 100 events monthly.

“We market very aggressively and have a powerful presence in 18 cities,” explains Ray. “This includes cross promotions, marketing in other cities, exchanging contacts and clients, and brokering business.” Scottsdale and Phoenix had become booming markets with continual growth and expansion. “This has been a blessing for us,” says Ray. 

With an extensive database, they can channel it positively when booking people for restaurants, hotels, nightlife, and Airbnb. 

“I have been doing this for over 30 years, and it continues to grow. This is something I want to do,” he says.

Ray admits that while attending college, he was the person who connected people and really enjoyed this skill set and taking care and hosting of people. His career continued as a two-time graduate of Le Cordon Bleu culinary and hospitality school, graduating in Pasadena, California, with one degree and completing his degree in hospitality management in Scottsdale. Creating Scottsdale Nights became an avenue as he watched the city’s growth and the significant Midwest presence in the city. 

“I received the best education from my co-workers, mentors, and long-time residents when I realized that the city would be a focal point for the hospitality business. That is when I decided to create a company that would channel everything and become a one-stop shop.”

Ray shared his expertise and was asked what are the Top 5 restaurants in Scottsdale. His criteria include customer service, the quality of the product, and ambiance. All five have unique characteristics, some have a longer tenure in the industry, and some are trendier. One is a favorite neighborhood eatery. There are different factors, but ultimately, it is about great ownership, operations, and customer service. He also includes feedback from customers and clients. 


His Top 5 restaurants in Scottsdale

No. 1 Mastro’s City Hall

No. 2 Maple & Ash

No. 3 Toca Madera Scottsdale

No. 4 Steak 44

No. 5 Evo


Ray was asked what are the Top 5 nightclubs in Scottsdale. The five he mentioned are all located in the heart of Scottsdale in the entertainment district featuring numerous bars and restaurants. There are trends in nightclubs but the five he named do exceptionally well for the experience they create for customers (locals and tourists). They also offer great ambiance and the demand for the product. He named them in this order because of his track record and interaction with customers and clients.


His Top 5 nightlife spots in Scottsdale

No. 1 Riot House

No. 2 Cake Nightclub

No. 3 El Hefe

No. 4 Bottled Blonde

No. 5 Casa Amigos


Ray then ranked his top five hotels in Scottsdale. All of the hotels feature different brands. While the lodging is one factor, the experience of the stay is definitely the key. The restaurants located on the property are also important. Some of them offer nightlife, and others are family-based. There is a reason these five names will be mentioned, including their location and the experience they feature.


His time Top 5 hotels in Scottsdale

No. 1 The W Scottsdale

No. 2 Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia

No. 3 The Phoenician

No. 4 Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

No. 5 Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, A Gurney’s Resort & Spa


According to Ray, Scottsdale has seen an upward trend in culinary and hospitality in the past ten years. “One of the cool things I have witnessed is that Scottsdale and Nashville have become a huge haven for singles events, bachelor and bachelorette parties. Many East Coast people and Canadians visit Scottsdale more frequently and stay longer. Food, beverage, and the nightlife experience the biggest part of their trip.” Also, Arizona remained open to tourists during the pandemic, and many tourists discovered the state in a good way.

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There are no subscription fees, and everyone can access ScottsdaleNights.com for free. The beautiful website will give ideas for guests, clients, and business owners, and everyone is encouraged to reach out to Ray and his team members. This is an open forum that is very approaching and welcoming to everyone.

Visit ScottsdaleNights.com and follow on Facebook @gem.s.ray, @gem.ray, @gemat.vegas and @ScottsdaleNightsAZ, on Instagram @gemraymedia and @scottsdalenights, on Twitter @gemraymedia and @ScottsdaleNites, on LinkedIn @gemraymedia.