Tag Archives: adventure vacation

Phoenix at The Phoenician

I recently returned form a wonderful trip to Phoenix, Arizona and had the chance to check out The Phoenician, a Luxury Collection Resort, Scottsdale. The location could not have been more perfect. Situated on Camelback Mountain, it is an easy drive to shopping areas and the Old Town.

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When first arriving, you are greeted by a winding entrance through the 250 acre property leading up the mountain. The golf course and casitas entice the view until you reach the main resort. You are greeted by the valet who escorts you into the main lobby with expansive views of the surrounding area from the balcony.

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All of the 538 rooms have been recently renovated to a calming contemporary style with large bathrooms containing both a separate tub and shower. Depending on your view from the balcony, you could have the pool view or the mountain view. Either are breathtaking.

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A local favorite dining option is at their J&G Steakhouse, an award-winning restaurant inspired by renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. It is perched atop the main building with again, expansive views of the destination. There are also private dining rooms available for groups and small functions.

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Further exploring the resort, we came across shops on site which included a cute little ice cream shop that served Sweet Republic Ice Cream, a local artisan creamery. Their custom “Phoenicain Crunch” was wonderful! They even can put together a picnic basket if you would prefer to enjoy the outdoors.

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Along the back of the property, there is a fantastic cactus garden. Guests can explore many of the different varieties of local flora and fauna as they walk the paths. There are guided tours if you would like a more in depth exploration but there are also signs by many of the cacti. One of the holes of the golf course will send the players through this area as well.

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Adjacent to the main property, there are also the Canyon Suites. This is an exclusive 60-room boutique hotel located at The Phoenician, providing guests with a Five-star experience from arrival to departure. There is private check-in and hotel amenities although you are also welcome to use the main resort areas as well. There are also great meeting spaces here overlooking the mountain. It is even possible to have the mountain lit if you are having an evening event. Guests also have the opportunity to test drive one of six available Porsche luxury vehicles for a period of time up to two hours.

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The golf course is a favorite, not just of travelers but locals as well. This championship course has 27 holes for the most discerning golfer. Views range from sweeping skyline to mountain landscape. Golf Digest has even ranked them in the top 75 courses in North America! Designed by Ted Robinson, Sr. and Homer Flint, The Phoenician’s three diverse nine-hole courses create 18-hole combinations for the challenge and fun any golf enthusiast will crave.

golf

Moving on to their spa…. “Absolutely Incredible” is the first term that comes to mind. With 24 treatment rooms and 22,000 square feet, this space is dedicated to a peaceful retreat for your mind, body and soul. Along with many, many treatment options, there is a guided meditation every day at noon in these unbelievably comfortable, leather gravity chairs. Unfortunately, I just missed this experience but did get a chance to experience their comfort.

spa

Last but certainly not least is the pool area. This large centerpiece of the resort has many different areas which makes it feel a bit like intimate spaces rather than one large swimming area. There is even a children’s splash pad complete with a water slide and cabanas for parents to relax in close proximity.

pool

Overall, this spectacular resort is truly an oasis in the Phoenix sun. From the newly renovated rooms to the plethora of resort amenities, this property has a bit of something for anyone’s enjoyment.

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Exploring Brussels

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Good morning Brussels! This little weekend getaway came about when we saw how cheap it was to take the train to Brussels. So with a 5 am morning call to catch the Eurostar from St. Pancreas at 6:30 am, we just had a backpack for the two days worth of clothes that we would need and of course my running gear. After a little mishap with finding our way out of the train station we were on our way to the hotel to that they can hold our bags while we toured the city.

We stayed at the Royal Windsor hotel which is central to the old city and in walking distance of everything that you can imagine. We were lucky enough that our room was available at 11 am, never hurts to ask the front desk. After dropping off the bags we were off to have lunch in the little plaza around the corner in front of the Grand Dash Place which is the town square and are able to see the spire from our bedroom window.

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After confirming with our tour company that was booked through Viator with Brussels City Tours for where and when the pick up would occur, we were off to explore the Royal Gardens as well as the outside of the Palace. I talked Josh into the challenge of taking on the Metro to get out to see the Mini-Europe as well as the Atomium from the World Fair that was outside the city and not with in walking distance.

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After reaching the end of the line 6 on the Metro we made it. Now a little warning, the Metro is not like the one in London or Moscow. This is old school where you need to pull the handle to open the doors and they are super loud when they close so a nap is out of the question. Trust me I tried.

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After standing in line to get the combo tickets it was up to the exhibit that was in the Atomium, see some of the photos and read the information from the world fair. After some amazing views of the city it was time to head over to Mini Europe.

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They provide you with a pamphlet that gives you the history of the country and the building that was used to represent the country as well as a little background information on the currency and the population at the time of printing. I kinda felt like Godzilla taking on Tokyo in the park but it was educational and there were buttons to press to hear the anthem of that country.

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Since it was starting to get dark and we had an early morning, we headed back to the hotel with a little stop at the Little Peeing Boy. You can’t miss his tiny street corner. Look for all the tourist huddled around the street corner and the signs listing a waffle for a euro and you are there. Do not get the waffles there! Go to an actual restaurant where they are so little you do not fell guilty about eating a couple of them with ice cream of chocolate.

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The hotel was amazing! The beds were nice and soft with plenty of pillows. The staff was helpful in providing directions and suggestions on what to see. In the morning I went to the gym and had a nice work out with adequate equipment for both cardio and muscle training. It was a little hard to find, but they even had a little sauna in the dressing area to enjoy before or after your work out. We checked out and had breakfast at a local cafe before heading over to the pick up point.

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We met another solo traveler, Ashley from California, who was great pleasure to spend time with on the bus and around the city when doing the tour of Ghent and Bruges cities. The only issue I had with the tour was that it was in three languages. Now this could have been done better with an audio guide but we had the live guide repeat the same thing in English, French and Spanish. While this was impressive, it ate up a lot of time that we could be spending in the cities on our own.

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So after the walking tour of Ghent that included the cities of the old, a meat and fish market as well as the medieval castle, we were off to Bruges. Ashley, Josh and I decided that we would split from the group to walk around and see the city. After lunch at the local brewery and a lovely and highly recommended boat tour, we hit up the local markets. There was some amazing art work, pottery and scarves. You don’t realize how big the city is until you actually get lost in the heart of it. I would recommended spending a couple of days here. Half a day was not enough time to take everything in.

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Because we had to catch the late Eurostar back to London, we booked a ticket for the train running from Bruges to Brussels to make sure we had enough time to go through check in and passport control. At this point the UK Border Control is getting a little concerned about my coming and goings but I have my return flight to prove I intend to go home and not immigrate illegally. Next stop is in a couple of weeks to Birmingham but right now I have to get my Doctor Who Convention outfit together. Now to go as a Darlek or the TARDIS…

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<3 Secrets Aura Cozumel #Mexico

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I recently visited Secrets Aura in Cozumel, Mexico. The resort was absolutely amazing. We felt special just walking in the front door. As we were waiting for check-in, we were greeted with friendly smiles and a cool drink along with a cool cloth. After getting our room key, we were escorted to our swim out suite on the ground floor which opened up to the lazy river wondering the property.

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There was an Apple Vacations desk where we could book our tours right there in the lobby. It was nice to not have to plan all of that in advance if you didn’t want to.

I have to say that the staff was amazing. From the second day at the resort, the staff from the bartender to the waiter knew our names and treated us like good friends. They knew our breakfast preferences and even served us cheesecake on the beach. I had a neck pillow shaped like an elephant and our room service staff even made one of our towels shaped into another elephant and sat them together on the bed when we came back to the room later that night.

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The best evening of the trip was when my fiance booked a private dinner on the pier. We had a private waiter that evening and when dessert came, he proposed. Who wouldn’t say yes in such a magical place?

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We took a day trip to see the sights like the Mayan ruins, tequila factory and the lighthouse. You could climb to the top and see for miles down the coast. It was beautiful! There was a lunch break at a cute little shanty on the beach.

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Overall, the trip was amazing and I cannot wait to return! Here are some links below for more information.

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