Posts Tagged 'Hilton'

Escape to Arizona

view from my room

The spring weather was rainy. It was cold. It was not at all spring-like. I may have mentioned that in prior posts. I decided that I needed an escape. My son used to live in Florida, and I used to escape down there in the winter to get some warm sunshine. Last year he moved out to Arizona, as I mentioned at the time. dining 1st classWhile AZ is very sunny and warm (actually, let’s be honest – it’s HOT), it doesn’t have an ocean. An ocean typically figures in my idea of “escape”. I decided that I would try a desert escape instead and see how it worked.

If one is escaping, one should do it with bells and whistles. I booked everything to be as self-indulgent as possible: first class seat on the plane, private car service to the resort, amazingly gorgeous upscale resort. I’m a little frustrated with paying for first class plane tickets and not loving my seat. Sure, they give you linen napkins and glass, not plastic, but it can still have drawbacks. On the way out I ended up next to a gentleman who wore WAY too much scent. I’m allergic to perfumes and aftershaves and such. I wish the folks who wear these things would not bathe in them nor wash their clothes in them. So sorry but you, sir, stink. 😦 On the way home, silly me, I thought I’d get to board among the first folks to board, thereby not having to worry about storing my carry-on bag. room at The Boulders By the time Group 1 got to board, every seat in 1st class was filled but 2. The seat next to mine was taken by a young man with headphones on, head down deliberately avoiding any eye contact with anyone. I’m short – 5’1″ on a good day. The overhead bins were not only nearly full, but folks had not put their bags in the “correct” way so they occupied more space than required. As both aisle seats were full, and neither “gentleman” (perhaps I should use the term “occupant” as a more accurate description) considered leaning away out of the aisle, I was struggling to lift MY bag, turn it properly and stow it. I thought there was a very good chance I’d end up hitting my seat-mate in the head. As I struggled from the lack of space, a true gentleman from 2 rows back came and placed the bag for me. morning cactus*smile* He also took it down for me at journey’s end. The young man did not stink, thank goodness, and was very quiet. The flight home was a red-eye, and it was delayed over an hour. I think that I am done taking the red-eye home. The last 3 times I’ve taken a red-eye, trying to not “waste” a day, the flights have had issues (2 from Arizona, 1 from Nevada). I think from now on I’ll just waste a day.

Absolutely no complaints about the car service. I took Super Shuttle. I got used to hiring them when I travel on business. I’m not interested in trying Lyft or Uber. I’ve heard too many bad stories and I’m not unhappy with Super Shuttle, so to date I’ve had no reason to change. My driver was being trained, so I had TWO drivers. They were charming, informative (my generation!) and not only drove me to the resort but gave me a running commentary on what we were passing and suggestions on what I should do/see while I was out there. I also learned about how those drivers get their passengers, and how the payment works and such. I am always interested in how other businesses operate.boulders map Although my pre-paid fare had included a tip already, these 2 were so engaging that I added to it. And I did follow 3 of their suggestions!

I stayed at The Boulders. I did very little research on picking a place to stay. I knew that Scottsdale, AZ was known for upscale spa resorts. I knew (or thought I knew) that Scottsdale was close to Tempe, which is where my son lives. I don’t do well when I have to choice from a multitude of options. I decided to narrow my search by starting with Hilton resorts, as I am on their frequent guest plan. (I LOVE the Hilton Orlando with its lazy river!!!!) I put in my key amenities: free wi-fi, a spa, restaurant on site, pool, near Tempe. Answer: The Boulders. I never looked at the building plans. I began to be very nervous when the car service told me I was “way out there”. Apparently The Boulders is in Scottsdale but it’s in Carefree, and the northernmost part of Carefree. spa viewThat makes it closer to 45 minutes from my son, not 20-30 as I was guessing from my last trip. Not only that, but as we drove the winding road through the grounds, I realized there was no main hotel building. There were separate low one-story buildings nestled about the landscape. The resort has a zillion golf carts to pick you up and take you where you want to go should you not want to walk. The map they gave me at check-in was intimidating – it looked like I’d be hiking EVERYWHERE. I took a golf cart to my room.

The room was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. The view outside was astounding. The spa was a 5 minute walk from the room. I unpacked and headed there to spend the afternoon by the spa pool. The view everywhere was spectacular. spa pool The pool was refreshing. I was too late for the lunch menu but the server brought me a muffin to tide me over until dinner. I headed back up to the room after a few hours and fell asleep waiting for my son to arrive. He came up after work. By the time he got there, my body clock was telling me it was nearly 10 and I was HUNGRY! We decided to walk to one of the restaurants. *grin* We didn’t do all that well with our map. We might have been better off calling for a golf cart. But we did get there and dinner was lovely. The best part about eating in Arizona (and Florida) is that all the restaurants have huge outdoor areas. They have fans and misters and awnings – everything to make outdoor dining pleasant. We dined looking over one of the golf courses (there are 2). We did take the shuttle back to the main building and a golf cart home, which really was an extravagance. cottontail jack rabbit (There is no charge for the golf cart service. Or rather, there is, but it’s a daily fee added on to all the other charges so you don’t have to worry about tipping each ride.)

Over the next few days we tended to take a break up at the lodge pool. Again – totally beautiful with a manufactured waterfall in the background. Children are not allowed at the spa pool but I enjoyed seeing them in the lodge pool. My favorite recollections of our family trips when I was just a young sprout were the various hotel pools on our journeys. I was definitely a fish in those days and part of me joins in with the children I see loving the water.

I didn’t take any pictures inside the room – the resort website has completely accurate representations. morning companionsEvery time I went out on our patio/balcony I took millions of photos. I sat out there every morning, drinking my coffee and enjoying the company. There were birds that are not in NJ, there were desert cottontail rabbits, there were lizards and there were quail. OMG, the quail have such cute heads. I’d gaze up at the mountain in the distance and breathe in the air and the quiet and the cactus and the rocks. It was heaven. Staring at the desert produces the same serenity as gazing at the ocean.

My “tour guides” suggested that the next time I come out I should stay at The Biltmore. That is a fantastic suggestion. But if I can’t get a room there, I’ll be delighted to go back to The Boulders.

more view

Happy Birthday to Me

IMG_8905 (1)So now a post about a hotel that does things right…. Okay, that’s probably not fair. The staff at the Four Points did all they could to help make a bad situation (no a/c) better. The complaint really should be directed at the management in charge of the infrastructure. Be that as it may, we fled the Sheraton Sunday morning and spent most of the day running around again in the 100+ degree temperature.

We arrived at the Hilton Phoenix/Chandler a little after 5pm. I have no idea how many miles we’ve logged on the car by this point. We have been all around Tempe, around Chandler, to and from Scottsdale, pretty much everywhere but Phoenix itself. I was hot, headache-y, dehydrated (my fault) and thoroughly done with all of the errands we’d been doing (more about that in a different post). Today is my birthday. I’ll be spending most of it alone at the hotel. When we checked in at the front desk yesterday we told the front desk clerk how thrilled we were to be there. We began to tell her the highlights (lowlights?) of the last 4 evenings. When we mentioned no a/c she looked truly horrified and said that she thought that might actually be illegal in Arizona. We told her our woes and she immediately wrote a voucher for 2 free drinks from the bar. 🙂 I thanked her and said that it would be a wonderful birthday treat as my birthday was the next day.

We went up to our room on the Executive level. The room was nice, had WORKING a/c, access to the Executive lounge, free breakfast, and I have a late, 2pm checkout. We changed into our bathing suits, stopped at the lobby bar to get directions to the pool and ask about hours for our free drinks. The bartender offered to put our drinks in plastic cups so we could take them to the pool. *huge grin* We accepted. We had the pool to ourselves. IMG_8918It was great. There was a faint breeze (warm of course but at least moving air). After the pool, it was perfect (I even was a bit chilled). We went into the whirlpool. Ahhhh, jets on my aching back. We sipped our drinks. The woman in charge of public areas, Luisa, came by and we had a great chat with her. She was the first native-to-Phoenix area we’d met. We talked weather, and which Hilton I should use when I come back to visit my son in February. (I confess, I’m going to miss my yearly February trip to see him in FLORIDA.) Luisa was lovely and very helpful. When we went back inside she introduced us to one of the managers and mentioned my birthday. *grin*

We changed and went back to the lobby bar/grill for dinner. The food was fantastic, much to my surprise. I know we are off-season and it did not appear that there were many people there, so it could have been possible to have the kitchen off its game. Not the case. The same bartender also took our order and knew how to make my G&Ts (yes, plural) just the way I like. I had a very interesting chat with my son and learned more about his writing work, the details of which I’d never quite understood. At the end of our meal the front desk attendant came to comp us a dessert for my birthday, and the bartender comped me a drink. It was absolutely lovely. We came back upstairs and luxuriated in the COOL room.

This morning we took advantage of our executive breakfast privileges. My son headed off for his first day of work at the new job, and I came back to my COOL room to blog. 🙂 In a bit I will change into my bathing suit and head to the pool. Keeping with this theme of hardship and suffering today, I need to search for a place for birthday dinner and first-day-of-work celebration. We’re thinking steak. I have a red-eye out at 11pm tonight. I have checked in and it seems that I am still in 1st class, and my plane is on time. May it be so – don’t fail me, United!!!! Let’s end this travel on a positive note!!!!!!


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