Tag Archives: Arizona tourism

5 more where-to-stay ideas in Phoenix, Arizona


Getting older leads some folks to want to escape the winter weather here in Chicago. If warm weather’s your objective for your upcoming winter vacation – whether you simply hate the cold or just want to treat yourself – think Arizona. A very nice variety of Four-Diamond-and-better hotel accommodations await your pleasure. We mentioned a few Scottsdale/Phoenix accommodations here, and below are five more to consider:

Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar Phoenix opened in June 2012 at CityScape Phoenix’s hotel/residence/office complex.  The boutique Hotel Palomar Phoenix is an urban retreat that balances the energy of its city setting with Arizona’s laid-back lifestyle. Its 242 spacious guest rooms and suites all provide views of the surrounding city and mountains. Multi-use space of 10,000 square feet includes ten customizable meeting rooms. Its restaurant, Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails, features new American cuisine for lunch, dinner, late-night snacks and weekend brunch, and the cocktail program raises the bar for drink culture in the city. The third-floor outdoor pool terrace and adjacent Lustre Rooftop Garden bar provide a scenic venue for gathering.

Phoenix’s light rail line travels past Civic Space Park in Downtown Phoenix and towards the western end of the line, which terminates at Montebello and 19th avenues in Phoenix. Civic Space Park opened in 2009 and makes use of sustainable design to generate power, keep the area cool and capture rainwater.

The Sheraton Grand Phoenix (formerly the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel) , is located a block from the new Phoenix Convention Center. Its 1000 guest rooms make it the largest hotel in Greater Phoenix and in the entire Grand Canyon State.

The Sheraton conference center – more than 112,000 square feet of flexible meeting space – includes 17 meeting rooms, two ballrooms, two boardrooms and a terrace for outdoor events. High-speed Internet access and videoconferencing capabilities and an audiovisual staff are available on site.

When meeting attendees and their families are ready to unwind, they can do so outside at a 2,000-square foot outdoor pool and sundeck or inside at a 6,500-square foot fitness center and spa. The Sheraton Grand Phoenix also features a contemporary restaurant with a full bar, private dining room and outdoor seating. The hotel opened Oct. 1, 2008.

The Westin Phoenix Downtown provides another boutique lodging option in Phoenix’s urban core. Catering to discerning business travelers, it features 242 super-sized guest rooms (all of which are at least 540 square feet), and its upper-floor meeting spaces have floor-to-ceiling windows that afford mountain views. Province Urban Kitchen & Bar is lead by Chef Allison Bird and specializes in sustainable ingredients and features organic wines, plus an enclosed patio accented by a waterfall cascading down from the second-story Lapis pool.

And then there’s the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa where each eveningScottish bagpipes usher in the sunset in homage to Scottish immigrants’ contributions to Arizona’s railroads, mines and towns.

Patio at the Arrogant Butcher in downtown Phoenix

Since 1931 the Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix Downtown, a 12-story icon in Phoenix, has stood as a brilliant example of West Coast Art Deco architecture thoughtfully restored to that era’s glory. Come in and experience the swank and sophistication of a bygone era. The 24-feet-tall, two-story lobby features original marble floors, Deco-era Corinthian capitals, bronze elevator doors and original wrought iron details. All 170 guest rooms boast the brand’s signature bedding featuring fresh, white duvets and crisp linens. Relax in an ergonomic desk chair and write postcards or get some work done on a spacious and clutter-free work desk with. Enjoy the convenience of a mini fridge, microwave oven and Keurig coffee maker. Impressive window views in every room and suite. The Hitchcock Suite – which features a unique private terrace – stands as a tribute to the filmmaker who used the building in the opening sequence of “Psycho.”


Vacation ideas in warm-winter Arizona

Even when your Baby Boomer life is very comfortable, things can sometimes start to feel really low-key, even  routine. So it’s good to know about travel/vacation options that could revitalize you with their unexpected vibrancy. Arizona is one of the few states we’ve been to multiple times – and enjoyed very much each time. The folks from VisitPhoenix.com partnered recently with Lux Bar, 18 E. Bellvue Place, to showcase the winter joys of Arizona and invite Chicagoans to include this winter-warm state in their upcoming travel plans. Scottsdale serves as the main hub for Phoenix, Mesa and more and is continually growing and changing.
Sonoran Desert Scottsdale AZ 50349
Sonoran Desert Scottsdale AZ 50349 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wineries in the desert?

Yes! Downtown Scottsdale features four Arizona wine tasting rooms that tell the story of the state’s 100 award-winning wineries including LDV Wine Gallery – eat, sip and taste on their two shaded patios. Further south in the Wilcox wine region, check out Salvatore Vineyards, Carlson Creek Vineyard, and the Sue Vino Winery, all of which serve, along with the four tasting rooms, as part of the Scottsdale Wine Trail.
Scottsdale is also now home to a unique cocktail bar called Counter Intuitive. Open only on Friday and Saturday nights, 8pm to 2am, it rotates its decor and menus every few months – from a New Orleans antique shop or Cuban hideaway, to an Agua Caliente Racetrack during Prohibition or a Chinatown hangout. You never know what kind of ambiance to expect – just that it’ll be interesting and stimulating – which gives even full-time area residents something new to get excited about.
Southwest culture and art

Besides imbibing, of course, other activities may call to you on your visit. You might like to go exploring the cultural footprint of the Southwest’s Native American nations during Native Trails. This is a series of noontime festivals that tell stories of Native culture through song and dance. Free, at Scottsdale’s Civic Center Park January through March. Then you can always visit the Arts District where dozens of creative minds have their shops;

Soleri bridge in the desert

extended hours on Thursday evenings let you take the Scottsdale ArtWalk. Or take a self-guided tour of the Scottsdale Public Art Program (love the holiday musical greeting on their website!) of some 50 artworks, including well-known pieces like Robert Indiana’s iconic “LOVE”sculpture and Soleri Bridge & Plaza.

Challenge yourself!
Wanna be a cowboy? Almost all local resorts in Scottsdale offer trail rides and communal cookouts, but how about this for a challenge?! Arizona Cowboy College gives you a closeup view of what it’s like to be a true cowboy. Learn horsemanship skills – yes, serious things like cutting, branding, inoculating, dehorning and driving cattle – and then go out and do that stuff on the range. Yikes! We’d have to sign up for an awful lot of horsemanship skills before even thinking about attempting the rest of it. Hmm. Wonder if trying this at a ripe old age like 60 would ever result in actually achieving such skills? Hey, who cares? If it’s on your bucket list, go for it! If your taste leans more towards a less vigorous horse-related activity, check out Fort McDowell Adventures for a trail ride.
Or how about learning (or at least trying) to drive like the pros on a racetrack? Bondurant Racing School experts teach high-performance racing skills on a 1.6 mile, multi-configuration track. From four hours to four days, the school offers racing courses for every level of driver. If you’ve already graduated to a huge Cadillac or Buick, consider how this might shake up your life.
Green Zebra Adventures

Then there are adventure tours that include climbing mountains, stargazing, hiking and bicycle riding. Try Green Zebra Adventures or a trek with Arizona Outback Adventures (AOA) that includes the history and gelology of the landscape and some insights into the desert’s flora and fauna.

If you like to plan your own adventures. get yourself a copy of the Scottsdale Area Hiking and Trail Guide from ExperienceScottsdale.com.

Where to stay
In case you’ve been there before and would like to indulge at a new top-of-the-line location, three new luxury resorts are coming on the scene in the Scottsdale area. Hyatt Corporation just opened Andaz Scottsdale Resort and Spa. Then in February 2017 Mountain Shadows debuts. Then mark your calendar for late 2018 for the unveiling of Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley.
Fly the skies in hot air balloons from The Boulders Resort

Other facilities to consider: The Boulders Resort & Spa. One-hundred-sixty private casitas (small individual houses) set out in the Sonoran Desert just far enough to be free of light pollution – the canopy of stars out there is magnificent and seemingly endless. The resort just underwent a multimillion dollar makeover that incorporates the area’s indigenous roots and Old West charm along with new furnishings and upgraded fixtures in bathrooms. Enjoy your private fireplace and cozy patio. Commune with 12-million-year-old natural rock formations. Enjoy drinks in the redesigned lounge bar and dig the Southwestern cuisine in the Palo Verde restaurant.

Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa

Or check out the new custom-designed furniture in the completely restored and modernized 60-year-old Hotel Valley Ho that welcomed Hollywood’s finest during its heyday in the 50s and 60s. There are dozens more places in a wide range of prices, including the wellness experience at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa‘s Spa House.

Lux Bar hosting
Lux Bar welcome Arizona Tourism attendees with tasty appetizers that led to a first course of rich crab bisque, then the diner’s choice of broiled skirt steak with caramelized onions and maitre d’ butter, or sauteed whitefish with lobster butter, or penne pasta with dried tomato, parmesan, arugula, and zucchini, seasoned with thyme and roasted garlic and topped with smoked Nueske’s Farm smoked chicken. Entrees were accompanied with creamed spinach and mashed potatoes served family style. Dessert was an old fashioned chocolate cake with dark chocolate ganache and chocolate frosting – perhaps a new “near-death by chocolate.” High five to the Lux Bar culinary and service teams.
If warm-weather-destinations are on your agenda, consider Arizona/Scottsdale/Phoenix/Mesa this season. And if happy hour’s on your agenda, try Lux Bar’s new one 3-6pm Tuesday to Friday.