By Jeni Soloman
Statuesque saguaros, lush golf courses, and magnificent mountains welcome visitors to more than 300 days of sunshine each year in this desert paradise. Phoenix brings those seeking solace from the elements a chance to chill, as in relaxing, without the freezing temps. Before you get bored with all the cold and white stuff this winter, get “straight outta the Big Apple” to the divine Valley of the Sun. Here, seven reasons to visit this fascinating city.
BASEBALL SEASON IN FULL SWING
Fifteen major league baseball teams train in Arizona’s Cactus League throughout the Phoenix area from February to April. Watch a game in Glendale, Goodyear, Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Surprise and Tempe, all within a 47-mile radius. That means you catch one team in the afternoon and another team at night, totally under the desert sky. With the World Series Champion Chicago Cubbies training at Sloan Park in Mesa, there’ll be plenty of exhilaration in the air as the season opens. For more information, please visit cactusleague.com.
ADVENTURE AROUND EVERY CURVE
Surrounded by the scenic landscape of the Sonoran Desert, you’ll find many memorable ways to find a welcome in the dry, desert air. Phoenix provides the ultimate in outdoor recreation with spectacular golf (more than 200 courses), mountain biking, rock climbing and hiking. Revel in the beautiful backdrop on a thrilling Pink Jeep Tour or horseback riding. Or take to the skies on a great hot-air balloon ride, glider or helicopter.
A CULTURAL WONDERLAND
You won’t miss a beat of the culture scene with live shows at the Phoenix Theatre, the Phoenix Symphony, and Ballet Arizona. Visit the Heard Museum, filled with fascinating Native American history and art. For families, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix features more than 300 hands-on, interactive exhibits for children up to 10.
Tip: The museum is free the first Friday of every month from 5-to-9 PM.
With modern malls, outlet centers, unique boutiques and art galleries, you’ll find many reasons to shop until you drop. The Biltmore Fashion Park, Scottsdale Fashion Square and Kierland Commons are just a few of the upscale offerings.
Satisfy your cravings with utterly delectable cuisine from steak houses to traditional Mexican to Asian fusion and more. In the Valley, there’s tremendous emphasis on local, farm-to-table fare, so you’ll find food that’s fresh and delicious. Try Legends Steakhouse in the Sheraton Mesa (sheratonmesa.com) for a hearty NY strip, grilled asparagus and potato au gratin. Top it off with one of their decadent desserts and see why this is one of Mesa’s finest dining experiences. For possibly the best breakfast in Phoenix, head on out to Over Easy (eatatovereasy.com). Have a hankering for a waffle dog or banana nut French toast? Chef Aaron May offers a delicious way to start your day. Open for breakfast and lunch at multiple locations.
EXCLUSIVE SPA TREATMENTS
Natural botanicals, blended with Native American traditions, provide inspiration for different healing treatments. More than three dozen luxurious resorts are scattered throughout the area, many with spectacular spas that offer special treatments you won’t find anywhere else. Visit the Center for Well-Being at The Phoenician (thephoenician.com) and indulge in the Desert Serenity Scrub, Wrap, and Massage. Get the Jojoba and Prickly Pear Body Polish at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale (fourseasons.com/scottsdale) at Troon North. The Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass (wildhorsepassresort.com) in Chandler offers a Native Sun Wrap at the Aji Spa, featuring the only authentic Native American spa menu.
Like the desert flowers in bloom, new hotels keep popping up to tempt visitors with luxury, desirable amenities, and new experiences. Just opened is FOUND: RE (foundrehotels.com), a new 105-room boutique hotel that offers a true one-of-a-kind lifestyle, inspired by contemporary art, culture, fashion and music. Art is the focus that features an impressive collection of contemporary art from local artisans as well as creative guest experiences.
Visitors have been awaiting the opening of the newly remodeled JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa (marriott.com), offering the epitome of luxury, including four acres of shimmering pools and lazy river, a full-service spa, 36 holes of championship golf and six dazzling restaurants.
AC Hotels, from the signature vision of Spanish hotelier Antonio Catalan, makes its debut in Greater Phoenix with the recent opening of the AC Hotel Phoenix Tempe (marriott.com). AC Hotel provides thoughtfully-designed, contemporary design, innovative beverage and cuisine, and locally-inspired stays.
The Camby Hotel (thecamby.com) which offers a playful mix of the professional and the avant-garde, is Arizona’s first and only hotel from Autograph Collection Hotels. Inspired by the name of the city’s iconic Camelback Mountain, the Camby Hotel blends timeless beauty, contemporary design, and on-trend services. The hotel features 277 luxury guest rooms, three innovative restaurants, rooftop pool, boutique spa and state-of-the-art fitness center.
Greater Phoenix will become one of 12 destinations worldwide to house Hyatt Hotel’s luxury boutique hotel brand, the Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa (scottsdale.andaz.hyatt.com). Overlooking Camelback Mountain, the hotel features 201 eclectic bungalows inspired by the desert canvas, three tranquil pools and the Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen that puts a contemporary twist on local flavors. A unique element is the nearby Cattle Track Arts Compound, which creates a collaboration between guests and local artists, musicians and designers.
The desert beckons. There is much to discover and explore. Plan to make Phoenix your winter escape this season. For more information, please go to visitphoenix.com.