Phoenix . . . Valley of the Sun!


In the Phoenix area today, expect the unexpected! Who would have thought that a bagpiper would hail the sunset at a luxury resort! That’s what occurs every evening for an hour at the Westin Hotel and Westin Kierland Resort & Villas in Scottsdale. Guests sit on the patio around braziers if it is cool, and enjoy drinks and hor d’oeuvres while the poignant refrain of the bagpiper wafts from the nearby edge of the golf course.


Then move inside for a delicious dinner at Nellie Cashman’s. Or select one of the other popular dining venues such as Deseo, which features award winning Latin cuisine.


The Valley of the Sun offers many lovely resorts and this Westin is certainly one of them! Accommodations range from a spacious hotel room, to a one or two-bedroom villa with state-of-the art kitchens, gas fireplaces, patios, double spray showers, and whirlpool tubs. An inviting golf course features pros who will share some great pointers. Pools cater either to families –think water slide – or to relaxation. You can enjoy some pampering at the resort’s spa called Agave, the Arizona Spa, which emphasizes wellness.


Don’t miss the Desert Botanical Garden, a 145-acre desert garden with spring carpets of wildflowers, centuries-old saquaro cactuses and other splendors. The Garden is located a few miles southwest of Scottsdale and currently displays oversized sculptures and other art. Spring is also the time for encounters with butterflies in the Garden’s Butterfly Pavilion.


For a scenic hike, visit Phoenix’s “outback,” South Mountain Park. The Park stretches across a 16,000-acre swath of scenic Sonoran Desert terrain, making it the nation’s largest municipal park. It’s 51 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails will take you near ancient Indian etchings called petroglyphs.


Snowbirds also recommend the Musical Instrument Museum. You can spend hours viewing an expansive collection of instruments from around the world. Guests view the instruments while listening to the sounds on a headset and viewing videos showing the original setting of the instrument . Touch and play instruments in the Experience Gallery and enjoy lunch at the museum’s café.


Check out the Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale for the best restaurant view at dusk. The Orange Sky Restaurant is on the 15th floor. Reserve a west-facing private booth and savor not only the award-winning surf-and-turf cuisine, but also the spectacular view of Camelback Mountain and the Praying Monk silhouetted against the restaurant’s namesake, a blazing orange sky. The resort also has a casino.


A vacation experience we enjoy is seeing a movie since we’re often too busy at home to get to all the films we want to see. Snowbird friends told us about a unique film experience offered in Scottsdale – the upscale iPic – I P I C –theatres. Movie goers can sit in the Premium Plus leather recliners with a tray arm for cuisine. A server will take your order and bring you a cocktail, and you can dine on a variety of snacks and light meals while you enjoy the film. A fresh blanket and pillow are included. The price for this cinematic luxury is $20 per person, popcorn included. Other spacious leather theatre seating with a snack arm is available at $12 per person, but you have to wait on yourself. iPic theatres are available in a number of locations including the Chicago area and Pasadena.


Probably the best attraction is the sun, blue skies and warm temperatures during most of the year.


The Phoenix area has a beautiful natural environment, excellent and varied accommodation choices, and wonderful restaurants, golf courses and shopping. Contact your professional travel agent to assist in your selection when you visit the Valley of the Sun.


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