Recently my family of four went to celebrate the Memorial Day holiday with my grandfather, a pilot in WWII and Korea, who was also having a birthday. We not only had some great family time, but discovered five new things to love about Scottsdale.
1. Allegiant Air: Surprised by the great deals I found, I booked a package to Scottsdale, for $1,200, which included four airline tickets, two nights in a hotel (decent spot, but not worth mentioning) and a rental car for two days. The catch was Allegiant Air has very strict fee policies. You can’t bring a bag larger than a backpack (no additional purse). You have to either download their app or print out boarding passes ahead of time ($5 per pass if you don’t) and there were more rules. Not only did we follow the rules, I created a new hashtag #wearyourweekend, as I layered my clothes so I could bring everything I needed. I’m not a fan of jumping through hoops, but I do love a good deal –– hence we will definitely fly Allegiant Air again.
2. Spa Heaven: Luckily our unmentionable hotel was right next door to the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess and with all the money saved, I was able to splurge on a spa treatment at the onsite Well & Being Spa. Beyond the treatments, the facility is impressive with a co-ed rooftop adult pool, waterfall plunge pool as well as men's and women’s only steam and sauna and therapeutic pools. Choosing a treatment was not easy as they have med spa facials, craniosacral and a bevy of therapeutic massage treatments that read as they could change my life. I opted for the Hacienda Retreat, which looked good enough to eat. It included a yellow corn and lime body polish, shea butter scented with lime zest and ended with a mojito body butter. Just what I needed to prepare for any wayward family dynamic.
3. Also on the Fairmont campus is La Hacienda (it seems to be a theme), which has been one of their signature restaurants since opening in 1987, however four years ago, the resort partnered with Richard Sandoval to give a fresh, new approach to an already popular restaurant and replaced the white table clothes with rustic wood and outdoor dining options. He kept long-time favorites such as the flaming coffee , while adding lobster tacos and my personal favorite–the Snake Bite Flight. This pre-dinner flight, presented by the resort’s expert Tequila Goddess, consists of three Mexican sprits, tequila, mescal from Oaxaca and sotol from Chihuahua served with a real rattlesnake head and rattler. I couldn’t resist getting a few “snake selfies” when in Arizona.
4. Speaking of when in Arizona … as a belated Mothers’ Day Gift I asked to go to the Scottsdale Gun Club, which happened to be near the property. Even since skeet shooting in Lanai last April, I’ve been obsessed with learning how to aim and shoot. I don’t want to ever kill anything and I don’t want to own a gun; that said the experience was exhilarating. Luckily, my husband knows his way around fire arms, so the didn’t ask us many qualifying questions. After watching an eight minute video my family of four (two teenagers) were allowed to pay $100 ish, rent two guns, ear covers (a must) and buy a box of bullets. After walking through two security doors, we were in a room with 20 strangers all shooting guns at various targets. I chose the tin cans a fence –– seemed the least violent. On the way back to the hotel, we all talked about how strange the experience was –– but were happy we tried it.
5. Dinner al fresco. My grandfather’s wife chose Rita’s at the Camelback Inn, which is now run by J.W. Marriot, for the birthday dinner. She grew up in Scottsdale and knew the best spot for our group. While this is usually a brunch destination, I loved eating under the stars, with a sundress and no sweater. The food was delicious, I had a ceviche dish, while my 91-year old grandfather powered through a burger, fries and his own large slice of chocolate cake, (he has never liked to share his food and he is not going to start now).
Us cooler weather folks decided for us, Arizona shines from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m.