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Travel Tales from Phoenix, Arizona
Embassy Suites Hotel by Hilton, Phoenix/Scottsdale
We have been to Phoenix multiple times, and have stayed in “suite” style hotels with complimentary breakfast before. The Embassy Suites by Hilton is clearly a step up from what we have experienced in the past. Starting with breakfast, the timeframe is very generous, and they give you an extra hour on the weekend to get up and get going. Beyond your typical fare, you can select from their hot buffet if you are in a hurry, or take a little more time and have your breakfast made-to-order by their friendly staff. Also, the Manager’s reception in the evening includes free (yes, I said free) adult beverages. The “snacks” were a little weak, but when you are on your second free martini, it doesn’t matter so much. The rooms are spacious, and well designed. There is a nice size kitchenette with a refrigerator, microwave, and sink. And the rooms include a coffee maker if you want your first cup in the room (my preference). Then there was the swimming pool and whirlpool, with extra-large towels. Finally, the Stonecreek golf course is right off your balcony. Our only complaints were very minor (the toilet paper was the thinnest double ply I’ve ever seen, and again the hors d’oeuvres were skimpy at the nightly reception), but they pale in comparison to the many outstanding features. We will definitely go again. Perhaps with our own roll of toilet paper next time. Ha!
Dine While Enjoying Golf Course Views
While staying at Embassy Suites in Phoenix, I had the pleasure of dining at Tatum’s Restaurant several times, conveniently located onsite. As a guest of the hotel, I enjoyed a cooked-to-order omelet for breakfast, with my choice of favorite fillings. I could also choose from a buffet of breakfast potatoes, scrambled eggs, bacon, oatmeal, fruit, yogurt, toast, and pastries. In the evening, we had complimentary cocktails and light appetizers (mainly just chips and pretzels). But you don’t have to be a guest of the hotel to enjoy this restaurant. I invited family to join us for an early lunch one day during our stay, where we dined while enjoying the panoramic views of the nearby Stonecreek Golf Course. The service was very friendly. In fact, one of the waitresses volunteered to take a group picture of me and my family. Very nice.
Stonecreek Golf Course
Stonecreek Golf Course is located almost literally in the backyard of the Embassy Suites where we stayed in Phoenix. Be warned: It is fairly common to see a stray coyote or two wandering around on the course, especially early in the morning. I was privy to one such sighting, as I sat enjoying my complimentary breakfast at the Hotel. Later that day, my Husband and his friend went out to play a round of golf, while I went out to enjoy other diversions. By all accounts, it is a very nice course, and particularly enjoyable to play in November, when the temperatures are considerably kinder. Since I am not personally a golfer, I can’t describe the playing conditions in any detail. But it sure does look pretty.
Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix
I could have spent a week at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix, Arizona. The MIM displays instruments from over 200 countries and territories around the globe. Music truly is the language of the soul, and visiting the MIM reminds us that every human culture, from every location on Earth has found a way to express themselves musically. Visitors see and hear examples of performances from around the world. You are also invited to play selected instruments in the Experience Gallery, and on the Grand Piano in the lobby. Exhibits are always undergoing changes, so you can stop back year after year and still experience something new.
Talking Stick Resort
The Talking Stick Resort was built on the Salt River reservation, which was established by President Hayes back in 1879. There are two tribes that make up the Salt River Indian Community: the Pima and the Maricopa. The Resort has a casino (naturally), a hotel, golf course, several restaurants, a showroom, and a spa. I favor the casino, which has Las Vegas style gaming (slot machines, a poker room, table games, and keno). I have been there before, and mainly enjoy playing the slot machines. The main casino area does allow smoking, so if you need a break you can tuck yourself away in the non-smoking poker room for a while, which includes multiple big screen TVs.
Paradise Valley Shopping Mall
Everything you would expect from a shopping mall, and then some. In addition to the usual stores (including four major department stores and many specialty stores) and food outlets, there is a Play Area for younger children that includes places to jump, crawl, climb, and slip on slides. They also have events for children on a regular basis, as well as activities for adults. I got my “fashion fix” at American Eagle Outfitters, where I was able to find the perfect denim jacket. The Mall is conveniently located within walking distance of the hotel where I was staying (The Embassy Suites). It’s nothing spectacular, but if you have an hour or two to kill, you won’t be disappointed.
Cosanti Studio, Paradise Valley
Cosanti Studio is a most unique place to visit. It is filled with the sculptures and wind chimes of Paolo Soleri and his staff. Located in Paradise Valley, Arizona, just minutes away from a modern, urban area, the unusual architecture is shocking in its contrast to the surrounding expensive suburban dwellings. Cosanti is a word created by Soleri from two Italian terms: the first being “cosa” which means “things” or “property,” and “anti” which means “against.” Together they convey an “anti-materialistic” ideal. Soleri has tried to develop a “lean” and “frugal” approach to living, for example using earthen structures that are insulated naturally to conserve energy while moderating interior temperatures. It is a fascinating place to go for a stroll. And better yet, the admission is free.
Only a Sample
This is only a sample of the many things to do and places to see in Phoenix. If you go between November and April, you should miss most of the heat. If you are a "snowbird," it would be an ideal place to spend a few months during the winter.