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The past few Fantasy Friday's have been so completely downright dope and expensive that, at first, we pushed the $5,000 a night Villa Retreat at the Boulders Resort outside of Phoenix to the other side of the desk. We'd been talking $60,000 New Year's Eve packages and $20,000 diamond desserts, and $5,000 seemed a lot closer to reality than fantasy.
Well, guess what? We can't afford five grand a night any more than we can afford fifty grand, and if it's good enough for Lady Gaga, we suppose it's good enough for us.
The Villa Retreat is a Bali influenced five-bedroom, five-and-a-half bath home situated amongst the boulder piles (dated at 12-million years old) on property, and floor to ceiling windows help take it all in. There's an infinity-edge pool, jacuzzi, fire pit, and two patios to go along with two kitchens, an elevator, a private driveway and a courtyard. Obviously, you get some service perks, including a butler. Oh, and on-property helicopter access should you need a quick getaway.
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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.
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We have been spending so much time on cocktail culture (well, it has been a rough few months), we figured we should be a little more balanced with our beverage coverage.
We started a bit by paying some attention to another one of our favorite pasttimes--afternoon tea. That can mean a simple cuppa for some of you--a jolt of caffeine to carry you through the day, or for more leisurely sorts, a more elaborate weekend high-tea filled with all sorts of yummy delights. We want to focus on that one--so much more fun, yes?
Now that chillier climates prevail in many parts of the country, the call for afternoon tea is in full demand and these hotels put out what we think are mighty fine spreads. We’ve seen quite a few people duck in to a hotel around the 4’o clock hour and chill over a demitasse of Darjeeling, a curried-chicken finger sandwich, and a jam-filled tart. We heartily approve.
Just remember, pinkie's up!
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Wish you could have your cake, and drink it too? Well you’re in luck as we've found hotels that will serve you after-dinner booze for dessert!
That’s right: boozy desserts. This liquor food trend is hitting hotels from east to west. From zany liquor-infused marshmallows to drunken ice cream, choose your poison.
We've found three hotel restaurants sure to keep you merry until the very last bite.
Different Point of View restaurant at Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort in Phoenix serves a unique mash-up of liqueur-infused marshmallows complimentary to any guest buying drinks in the lounge. That’s right- they’re free! But wait, there’s more. The lounge includes a ridiculously swanky outdoor patio with 360 views of downtown Phoenix where a cozy fire pit awaits the roasting, ahem, buzzing. Each hand-made marshmallow features a different liqueur flavor including Bailey’s Irish Cream, Frangelico (hazelnut), Amaretto (almond) and Kahlua (coffee) and comes with a variety of dipping sauces like caramel or vanilla cream. They're also equipped with long sticks so you don’t burn yourself alive while roasting—but we must say, the taste is acquired. If you like booze, you’ll like these. But be careful roasting as they do drip up a storm and a bib isn't included.
Talking Stick Resort in Arizona has bragging rights not many other resorts can claim. This luxury resort has its own bourbon. It's officially called the Woodford Reserve Talking Stick Resort Personal Selection Bourbon--a mouthful of a name. The beverage, which will be sold in the resort’s Shadows Lounge, an indoor cigar bar, will debut on September 14.
The group of Talking Stick representatives who helped create the bourbon visited Kentucky’s Woodford Reserve Distillery where they worked with Chris Morris, master distiller. We are sure that an appropriate amount of tasting and mixing occurred, all in the name of providing a quality product for Talking Stick guests.
On the September 14th debut, guests can sample the bourbon during three tastings scheduled at 6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m., and 8:30 p.m.
Hilton peeps say that the 25,000-sq.ft. eforea spa at the Hilton Sedona Resort and Spa (formerly known as The Spa at Hilton Sedona) will open on October 5 for relaxation, including their solarium and a 25-meter pool overlooking Sedona's Red Rocks mountain range.
And much like the first eforea spa in New Jersey, Hilton Sedona's eforea spa offers guests the choice of three different types of "journeys" to embark on during their visit, such as the Essentials journey anchored by an advanced, non-invasive Signature Correcting Facial; the Escape with organic products, holistic experiences and traditional healing practices such as the Hilton Head-to-Toe revitalization treatment and lastly, a Men's Journey, made for men and featuring a variety of treatments form facials to massages.
We've all had that moment of fear when we've checked out of a hotel and felt a little itchy. Uhoh, did we just spend the night with bed bugs? Now imagine if not only you were itching and scratching but your cat was too!
That's what a woman is claiming happened to her and her pet after they both spent a few nights at a Holiday Inn in Glendale, Ariz. The woman, who is only going by the name Elena, says she developed red itchy bumps on her neck after checking out the hotel. A doctor determined she had bed bug bites but her cat ended up in worse condition. ABC15 local news reports:
"I noticed she was starting to pull her hair and itching," Elena said. "I said let's see in a couple of weeks if it gets any better. Within that time, it had gotten much worse. There were bald spots throughout the cat's body and (pus)."
Elena took her cat to Apollo North Animal Hospital in Glendale. Dr. Patricia Bennett treated the cat. Bennett tells me the cat had "damage due to scratching an itch." Bennett said there were "scabs, bumps, and lesions" from "head to toe."
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We already gave you the lowdown on some top spots for hotels with om-inducing yoga offerings. But yoga is becoming such a popular amenity that we had to scope our some more places where you can do your lotus pose. We found five additional hotel yoga sessions that will infuse you with prana, or life force.
Check out our top five picks for hotel yoga after the jump.
Poolside at the Hotel Valley Ho.
Last week, the state of Arizona enacted a severe new immigration law that aims to "identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants." Anyone caught without their immigration papers could be detained by law enforcement and anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant can be questioned and detained by law enforcement.
So what does this have to do with hotels? Well, it turns out several people feel so strongly about how awful this law is that they are canceling their trips to Arizona and subsequently, their hotel reservations. A luxury travel agent told us that two of their clients canceled their hotel stays specifically because they refused to pay revenue to state that would pass such a harsh law.
This could be just one example of hundreds of other cancellations going on at Arizona hotels. Indeed, USA Today has found a bunch of other businesses calling for a boycott of the law.
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This, a motel, really? Yes, really.
Do you ever get those nightmares and neuroses before setting off on a road trip? Like: what if we stay in a motel that turns out to be like the one in Vacancy, and we end up starring in our own snuff movie? Or, what if we run out of food in the middle of the desert with only “best jerky in the world” shops ever 50 miles to refresh us? Or what if, while driving through the tiniest of tiny towns in 9ft snow drifts in the middle of the night, our car decides to give up the ghost?
Well, as of last week, we can answer the last one for you. We were on a road trip from Vegas to Sedona, and as we passed the Grand Canyon and drove through Williams for some Route 66 lovin, our
crappy lovely old car conked out on us. Happily, it did its conking out on the doorstep of the Downtowner Motel, which we’d just decided, while driving by, would be our top choice of accommodation should we need to split the journey on the way back.
The grounds at L'Auberge de Sedona
Time, energy, and millions of dollars are often fed into resort overhauls to prove that they are bigger, better, and more luxe than their swanky competitors. The $25 million dollars that L'Auberge de Sedona invested into Phase One of their expansion project was a symbolic expense, meant to coincide with the property's 25th anniversary. And here, we thought that a sterling silver plaque would suffice.
Previously honored by Wine Spectator and Condé Nast Traveler, the message L'Auberge de Sedona seems to be sending with the renovation is, "The more frills, the better." Many of the lodgings are meant to be private mini-retreats, with 64 brand new cottages recently added to the grounds. At 1,200 square feet, with indoor and outdoor spaces, outdoor showers, and gas fireplaces, the phrase that comes to mind is "rental property," not weekend getaway.
With prices ranging in the $400-500 range for cottage accommodations, you're definitely paying a premium for all of those extras. However, there are rooms and Gardenside Cottages available at a comparatively more reasonable $200-300.
If you're ready for some football, spend the season opener at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa's new Catalina Sports Bar and Grill in Tuscon, Arizona.
Formerly dubbed Catalina Steakhouse, Catalina Sports Bar and Grill was reopened on Sept. 4 with a new casual tavern-style look, menu and focus on sports fans. Watch the kickoff from one of seven HDTVs and guzzle some beer from local breweries like Barrio and Thunder Canyon. If you visit during happy hour, daily from 4 to 6 p.m., all pints of draft beer cost $2.50, glasses of selected wines are $3 and all cocktails are $5. There are also daily specials available.