Phoenix Travel Guide
The world is officially in "Countdown to Christmas" mode and now, so are we. Every day until Christmas we'll be featuring a hotel that's in a holiday mood--whether it be with gigantic gingerbread houses, over-the-top Christmas decorations, thrilling lighting displays and best of all, Santa appearances. But of course, any hotel can assemble a fake tree, put on some lights and declare themselves "festive." Which is why we're looking at hotels that are really going ALL OUT. Know of a hotel that's super excited for Christmas? Let us know!
Hotels love building gingerbread houses for Christmastime but the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix has gone above and beyond with their first life-size, walk-through Gingerbread Village.
The mini-molasses city include 13 four-feet by six-feet gingerbread houses and a clock tower in Santa's village. The whole thing takes up 1,500-sq.ft. of space and required 4,000 POUNDS of gingerbread cookie dough, 3,240 gingerbread bricks to shingle roofs for the houses, 2,000 POUNDS of icing, 750 POUNDS of sugar and an astounding 25,000 eggs. Good lord, we nearly fainted just reading this. God bless the souls who had to roll out that cookie dough. You can see some of the behind-the-scenes photos here on the hotel's Facebook page.
But it's not just this JW Marriott thats going all out for the holidays. All JW Marriotts are offering a special Holiday Getaway offer that start at $139 a night and include a $50 nightly resort credit as well as access to all of the hotel's holiday festivities. Use code P91 at marriott.com when booking by December 15th.
See below for the list of participating JW Marriott Resorts and terms and conditions of the deal
Earlier this year, we proclaimed that if we found ourselves in Phoenix for a spell, we'd be staying at the Clarendon Hotel and Suites. It had a knockout Mexican restaurant, a fresh, young vibe and a cool pool scene we were keen to explore.
Fast forward seven months and we've kept our promise with two stays, one just last week. Aside from being a magnet for locals, the Clarendon is handy for visitors, too. It's conveniently located in the Midtown-Downtown area of Phoenix, a short light-rail ride, drive or bike ride away from museums, bars and more laidback southwestern restaurants. (The hotel has loaner bikes, but we'd caution that you should take it easy in the summer.) It's also close to one of the city's major hospitals, St. Joseph's, and offers a rate for patients.
But aside from the food, location and the 24-Hour Hotel Stays we told you about recently, what's so good about this independent little desert gem? Read on...
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You may actually get to enjoy the pool at The Clarendon now.
Just the other month, we were all hopped up on a new hotel trend, 24-hour hotel stays, wishing, hoping, praying that more and more hotels would start offering this. And guess what? One hotel in Phoenix has.
The friendly, independent and social media savvy, Clarendon Hotel in Phoenix just launched this option a week ago, making the announcement on Facebook. Starting this month, the hotel has been allowing all one-night bookings to be 24-hour full-day stays. So if you check-in at 7pm, you don't need to check out until 7pm the next day. Best of all, the hotel is not charging any extra. We found rooms next week for $109 a night for either the Best Available Rate or the 24 Hour Room. And rates were super affordable too, at $109 a night.
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The Mystery Room at Arizona's Biltmore Resort is a mystery no more.
As we told you back in February, the Waldorf Astoria resort's historic Mystery Room has reopened as a speakeasy, which is actually what the Mystery Room initially was during Prohibition. Back then, it was called the "Men's Smoking Room" and required a secret password to enter. Inside was a well-stocked liquor cabinet that converted into a bookcase in the event of a raid. Men could purchase a "set up" of glass, ice and mixers for bootleg liquor. (The 20s version of bottle service, we suppose.) The resort even kept watch for police and would shine their high-powered spotlight into the Mystery Room if they ever saw patrol car outside.
Today, the speakeasy is open to both men and women and it's totally legal. Yet it's only open on Sunday evenings from 8 to 11pm. And it requires a password which will change weekly. The hotel's Twitter feed, @Arizona Biltmore, will post clues every week . Here was last week's passwordg:
“I am looking for the blind pig this evening” #speakeasy— ArizonaBiltmore (@ArizonaBiltmore) July 26, 2013
Fun fact: Speakeasies were also called "blind pigs."
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Hard to believe, but baseball is back with spring training under way down South. Florida is hosting its half of the action as well, but the unique thing about the scene in Phoenix is how close all the teams are (see map comparing Arizona and Florida facilities). Not only does this mean lots of options for games, it also means lots of hotel choices. And seeing as this is one of the best times of the year to visit the southwest weather wise, it's time to check in on some of the hotel discounts and packages happening in the desert that will help make your childhood dream of jet-setting down to spring training a bit more feasible:
Hotel Palomar: This Kimpton property is offering the "Batter Up" package that gets you 25% off the best available rate, two local beers, a baseball-themed welcome treat, and complimentary access to Gold's Gym Elite in case you want to hold your own spring training.
The Westin Phoenix Downtown: The 2013 Baseball Package has rates starting at $189/night Thursday through Sunday -- nice for a long weekend trip. It includes overnight parking, high speed internet access, and baseball “snack pack” amenities (there better be some Cracker Jacks!).
If you've ever wandered the legendary Arizona Biltmore Resort, you've likely stumbled upon a photo of the "Mystery Room," though never the room itself as the location has long been — you guessed it — a mystery. That's all about to change; last week we were among the first to learn that this mysterious room will soon be revealed and restored to a version of its former self as a speakeasy lounge.
Back in the day, the cozy club masqueraded as a "Men's Smoking Room" requiring a secret password for entry and accessible only through a secret passage that started behind the resort and traveled up a hidden staircase from the kitchen. In many ways it was a true man cave, where gentlemen could kick back to smoke cigars and pipes, swap news about the stock market and sip on bootleg setups of gin and juice.
A clever fuzz buster was in place, too, with a spotlight that was officially known to guide guests at night, and unofficially used to search the desert for police raids. Whenever a raid approached, the spotlight would shine through the Mystery Room's stained glass roof, signaling guests to return to their rooms and the booze to be tucked back into the room's hidden bookshelf.
Go shorty, it's your birthday, Arizona Biltmore's gonna party like it's your birthday…
We'll warn you now: this song may be playing in the lobby of the Arizona Biltmore when you check in.
This historic Waldorf Astoria property totally digs you getting one year older, so they're offering a free room for you during your birthday month (a minimum of two nights booking is required). To make it a serious party, they're also throwing in a cupcake and balloons delivered straight to your room. Bring your own party hats, though.
We suggest rounding up an active crew as this birthday bash is going to be off the hizzle: there's eight swimming pools, including a 92-foot-long water slide; 18-hole PGA golf course; seven tennis courts; mountain biking; hiking; life-size chess lawn and a 22,000-square-foot spa.
We've been talking about Phoenix for a minute at HC, and with good reason. It seems like good things are happenin' around this town and we like nothing more to be around when places start hoppin'.
But we realized we'd missed a potentially cool little property. So next time we're in town, you can bet your bottom dollar we'll be staying at the Clarendon Hotel and Suites.
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We already told you a little about Hotel Palomar Phoenix, but, perhaps predictably, we started off talking about the food. The Blue Hound Kitchen restaurant ticked all of the right boxes—but what about the rooms?
We're happy to report that our stay here was one of the most comfortable city stays we've had in some time. The room was spacious, the bed comfy for both sleeping and working on an iPad while half-watching TV, and the bathroom was also roomy and had a distinct, clean and new feel about it.
We also loved the quirky decor that raises Kimptons from the same-old, same-old pack of city hotels. When traveling for business, a designer pattern here or funky piece of art there always makes us feel slightly cooler than our reason for travel that night might suggest.
Click through our gallery for more shots inside a Deluxe room, facing downtown Phoenix, across from all the sports stadiums.
When we stayed at the newish Hotel Palomar Phoenix recently, we were psyched. Not just for the free WiFi we get for being Kimpton InTouch Members (although that's pretty awesome), but because we knew the hotel was home to one of Kimpton's Directors of Pet Relations.
This is Bosco. We felt like stalkers, lurking near the front desk and peeking around corners to try and find him. Then, when we finally did spy him, he was skipping through the lobby for a walk, so we got to pet him but missed a photo op.
To console ourselves, we shuttled off to the hotel's restaurant, Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails. There, we not only got a canine fix, scoping out all the dog-themed artwork and statues, but we also stuffed our faces with delicious, farm-to-table-good food.
Check out our gallery for shots of both the decor and the dishes.
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Yeah, we know: airport hotels are little more than a necessary evil.
Whether it's a delayed flight, a layover, a late arrival or a god-awful early departure the next day, our reasons for staying in one rarely involve the word fun. Or even "nice."
Imagine our relief then, when we arrived at the Aloft Phoenix Airport recently—after midnight, tired and cranky—and were rewarded with something closer to a city boutique hotel experience.
Check-in was fast and simple, and the front-desk guy made sure to tell us about the free WiFi. Bless.
Click through our gallery to check out our room and you'll understand why we wish we were staying longer than eight hours.
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One of the most surprising things about Phoenix is how uninvolved its downtown has been in the overall scene of the city. It's the sixth largest city in the United States, yet there are only two -- that's right, two -- leisure-focused hotels in downtown Phoenix (you can get a great perspective on the small part downtown plays in the greater area from the top of South Mountain, where you can see the entire valley almost tip to tip, about 60 miles).
Kimpton's Hotel Palomar, which opened this summer, hopes to create a spark and start bringing some of the business that's currently going on out in Scottsdale back between the skyscrapers. The hotel, built amongst the shops and restaurants of CityScape, features a rooftop pool and bar with views of downtown and the sports' stadiums -- which, currently, the downtown social scene revolves around.
While the city certainly doesn't want to let that go, it has begun to embark on the chicken-and-egg game of attracting tourists, locals, and businesses all at the same time. Could a modern rooftop pool scene from Kimpton light a fire in the desert heat? The concept sure worked in Philadelphia when they built a rooftop lounge next door to Independence Mall.