Tours, travels, hikes and journeys!

Posts tagged ‘Arizona’

Prescott, AZ hikes

I lived in Prescott, AZ in 1978, ended up building a house for myself there, doing labor on it daily, and worked for awhile for Prescott College as their PR and communications person.  That ultimately led me to a Findhorn workshop and then my guidance to create a wellness center.  That has led me to 34 years of research on resorts and wellness centers around the world, and boxes of research, business plans, etc.

I was led back to Prescott in May, staying only a few blocks from the downtown Plaza. I got to know more about Prescott in the few weeks I was there than I had in the year I lived there before.  My parents used to take me to Prescott as a child, to help lessen asthma symptoms,too.. Something about being up higher in elevation was helpful for me.  It was great to find out more about this sweet mountain town during this last visit  To me, it is the perfect size…big enough to have some stores, culture, movies, music and small enough that you can get anywhere within minutes, and if you live in the town part, you can walk to most everything.  It is very community oriented.

I spent quite a bit of time walking, taking the free downtown tour to learn of it’s history, walking to the Sharlott Hall Museum to find out more about her and the pioneer history and walking to the Smoki Museum to find out more about the Native Americans who used to live there.  There is a stream and path that goes through the side of town and leads to a small park.  There was often farmer’s markets and other vendors and music in the plaza on Sundays, and the last weekend I was in the area I went to a drumming circle held at the library as part of their annual music festival. There is a pretty Inn in town, the Hassayampa Inn, built in 1927 when hundreds of residents came together to fund it, the first hotel purchased in that way in the US.  Will Rogers, Georgia O’Keefe, DH Lawrence, Tom Mix, Greta Garbor and Clark Gable stayed there. The lobby ceiling is beautifully tiled.

I drove out Williamson Valley road twice and finally found the house I had built. Whoever bought it has added on to it and put up a fence around it so I couldn’t get very close to see it. My house was 12 miles out Williamson Valley Road.

I did go on a few hikes and will share them here.

The Williamson Valley  Road hike starts at a little parking lot.  The first time I hiked it, I just walked through the metal gate and took the eastern most path out and back, hiking about 1 1/2 hours. The second time, I turned right after just walking through the gate, taking the #308 trail (I think) , out past chapparal and some mesquite, then turning left to walk up and over the foothills there, and coming out to meet the path I had taken the first time, leading me back.  You can see great rock outcroppings and Granite Mountain in the distance. The loop was around 3.7 miles.

William Valley trail begins Granite MountainView to the southwest Another interesting rock pile Interesting rock Trail with juniper trees

 

The Peavine Trail is an old 1893 railway path.  You can access it off of Hwy 89 to Prescott Lake Parkway to Sundog ranch road and park in a parking lot there. There is a $2 fee or free on Wed.  There are a couple other ways to access this path, too, as it connects with other paths.  It is 4 miles out. I walked about 2.5 miles out and back. You pass by Watson Lake and the beautiful and unique Granite Dells.   It is an easy walking or biking path.

Peavine Trail 9 The trail Peavine Trail 2 cows Peavine Trail 7 Watson Lake inlet with Granite Mountain Peavine Trail 8 Rocks

 

I walked the Lynx Lake trail two or three times.  It is only 2 miles long and 1/2 of it is paved for access for people in wheelchairs.  It goes around Lynx lake, a lake for fishing and boating but no swimming. For some reason, you aren’t allowed to swim in any of the lakes in Prescott.  To access this lake, you drive on Hwy 69 east from Prescott, go south on Walker road and follow the signs to Lynx Lake. There are several trails in the area, and a campground.  There is a fee to park at the lake.

Symbiotic trees Lynx Lake May 14 2013 Lynx lake

 

The Salida Gulch trail is on the way to Lynx Lake, except you turn east off of Walker Road onto Lynx Creek road. On the way to the trailhead you will pass a sign for Lynx Ruins, which is a short hike that takes you out to some old native american ruins.  There is a fee for that parking lot but not for the Salida Gulch trail.  The Salida Gulch trail is a 4.2 mile loop that takes you pass cactus, willow trees, walnut trees, ponderosa pines, chaparral, an intermittent stream area, and you see glimpses of the Bradshaw mountains.  During the hike you are hiking up and then down on the way back.

View west Salida gulch trail Tree and rocks View north

 

 

The Willow Lake area is pretty but part of the trail leads you next to traffic and that is a little disconcerting. There are beautiful Cottonwood trees next to part of the path and Willow Lake also borders the Granite Dells.  On the hike back, I had looked up the path and hadn’t seen anything and then all of a sudden there was a long snake stretched across the path. I screamed and it quickly slithered off. I felt disappointed as I love snake energy and would have liked to have seen more what kind of snake it was, but I missed it.  When I got back near the beginning to the path, I explored some semi-enclosed buildings and it turns out they were ruins from local tribes.

Prehistoric pit house ruins 2 Wonderful smelling bush Lake in the distance with Granite Dells Lake with Granite Dells 2

 

There are many other trails around Prescott but these are the ones I checked out!

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Arizona Inn, Tucson, AZ

I had never heard of the Arizona Inn, but while in Tucson my temporary landlord invited me to a Passover meal and one of the guests worked there as the master woodworker in the onsite cabinet and furniture making shop, and he was talking about it’s beauty and history, so I went to check it out.

A friend and I went one Sat. afternoon in March and wandered around.  It is located on 14 acres in mid-town Tucson, on Elm Street, between Country Club and Campbell Ave., not far from the house my Mom lived in.  It was opened in 1930, and at the time it was considered out in the country.  Isabella Greenway built it partially to create an Inn for visitors to stay in, but also to provide a market for the furniture that was being built in her business that hired WWI Veterans.  The market crash of 29 had cut down on the market for the furniture she was building and she wanted to keep these vets employed so created her Inn and furnished it with the furniture they were building. The Inn still employs master woodworkers, such as the man I met, to restore the original furniture and create new pieces. The Inn still continues Isabella’s progressive policies and often hires immigrants to work there. They are very supportive of their employees. The man I met at the dinner had worked there happily for many, many years.

Isabella was quite a progressive woman and became the first congresswoman for AZ. She was close friends with Eleanor Roosevelt and her husband rode with Teddy Roosevelt’s rough riders.

The 4 diamond Inn is beautifully landscaped with many gardens and fountains spread throughout.  There are 95 casita type rooms and suites, 2 2-story 6000 sq. foot residential homes with 5 Bdr. each and their own private pool and a smaller 2 bdr. guest house.  The room rate starts at $139 a night.  They host weddings, corporate retreats, family reunions and other events.

There is a tennis court, heated outdoor pool, large library, an exercise facility, a sauna, a 4 diamond dining room, a bar that serves food and food available next to the pool, a business center, various games and even ice cream served by the pool seasonally. I love the beautiful Spanish architecture, and all the little added details on the windows and tiles.

So if you are in Tucson and need a place to stay, check it out. Or even if you don’t, go walk around and enjoy the beautiful landscaping.

Arizona Inn 7 entrance Arizona Inn 1 going up to a room Arizona Inn 3 a great window on the property Arizona Inn 4 view into another area of rooms Arizona Inn 6 courtyard

 

 

Hikes Galore in Tucson, AZ!

I have lived in Tucson, AZ a few times, graduating from the University of AZ with a degree in Early Childhood Education.  Tucson is where I started studying holistic health and spiritual therapies in 1973. Tucson is where I really started studying and playing guitar.  Tucson is where I had my profound near death experience in 1987.  I used to hike there up to 7 days a week and sometimes I’d do 2 hikes in a day.

One of my favorite hikes and one that I spent a semester going to every day, is Upper Tanque Verde Falls.  It is a pass between the Santa Catalina Mountains and the Rincon Mountains, huge granite boulders.  You reach it by driving out Tanque Verde road which turns into a dirt road called Reddington Pass Road. You continue past the signs for lower Tanque Verde Falls and look for usually at least a few cars parked on the left hand side of the road.  There is a metal sign that marks the main trail head. The trail is only about 1/2 mile down to the beach and falls.  You can just park yourself there or scramble up or down stream. The rocks are slippery so be careful.  When the water is running it is beautiful and cooling. Even in the winter when there is no water, it is very lovely as the water has carved out these beautiful shaped boulders. It is clothing optional so be ready for nudity. The upper falls are kept cleaner, there are less people and it is an easier hike to it than lower tanque verde falls.

A little further on the trail ...Upper tanque verde falls Amazing boulders Upper Tanque Verde falls Beach and pool Upper Tanque Verde falls Stiated boulder Upper Tanque verde falls

 

When I came back to Tucson in March and April this year I went back to a few old hiking places but went online and found more options, exploring areas I hadn’t been to before. Some of the hikes I did several times.  I was often the only one on the trail, and really pushed myself to go further, doing over 20 hikes in the two months I was there.  One of the new hikes I went on was a loop trail combining the Camboh, Panther Peak Wash and Roadrunner trails adding up to 4.6 miles.  it is out in the Northern part of the Saguaro Forest West park, my favorite for its plethora of Saguaro Cactus and the beautiful road leading to it.   The Camboh trail takes you curving through low desert plants and I passed a rattlesnake sleeping partly underneath a bush.  You then turn north, crossing the road and head into Panther Peak wash, walking in the wash north and then west with the Tucson Mountains on the north side.  Then you turn south and walk the Roadrunner trail, walking through a forest of cholla cactus. People have often seen roadrunners here.  There are a few houses next to this part of the trail but it is still beautiful.

Cam boh trail 2 Tucson Mountains with Catalina Mountains in background April 3 2013 Cam boh trail rattlesnake Cam boh trail  6 lush cholla cactus on Roadrunner trail Cam boh trail 1 lush desert

 

Another new one I discovered in Dec. when I was in Tucson and then returned to in March and April is the Camino de Oesta trail to the Stone house.  You drive out Speedway heading West and that turns into Gates Pass Road. As the road curves left to change names, you will intersect with Camino de Oesta. Follow that to the end and park.  I liked this trail because it is close to town and so was easy to just head on over to for a quick afternoon hike. I often heard owls here.  It is beautiful to see it greening out in the spring and the spring flowers popping up.  I usually just took the path along the side of a mountain, back and forth through the washes and desert to the stone house built years ago.  Toward the end of my stay though I explored the Resort road trail, which leads to the Marriott Starr Pass  resort.  You can reach the road there, to the east, walk north past the entrance and catch another trail heading west and then south up and over a mountain, hooking in with the resort loop trail and then coming back on the CDO trail. That is about 3.7 mile trail. This is on the west side of Tucson so you get that wondrous Saguaro forest of the west side.

Old homestead on Camino de Oeste trail Another cactus forest shot on the Camino de Oesta Trail April 1st Bowen homestead looking west CDO resort trail 4 View looking east

 

For the first time I checked out Catalina State State park.  There is a fee to enter but worth it. There are camping and RV sites and places for groups to picnic or camp, too.  To reach it, you drive north on Oracle Road and you will see the signs.  You get a beautiful view of the western and northern sides of the Santa Catalina Mountains.  I went on three trails, well, four trails really. I started out on the Canyon Loop trail going counter clockwise (the easier direction), hiking up a short hill and then took a detour to the Montrose Pools. These were sweet pools off the trail leading to Romero Pools. Then I came back on that trail, continued on the Canyon loop trail going counter clockwise, down a long set of steps (hence the benefit in going counter clockwise), through landscape dotted with amazingly old Saguaro cacti with many arms, next to small stream and ending near the parking lot. Then I crossed to the south and took the birding trail through stands of different trees and riparian areas for birding. Then I drove to the trail head for the short trail through the Romero Ruin trail. This trail leads you to the ruins of an old Farm house, and also older Indian ruins. The total for all the hikes was around 5 miles.

 

Birding trail view of mountains Canyon loop trail 3 Saguaros Canyon loop trail 9 amazing saguaros Canyon loop trail begins view of Santa Catalina Mountains

 

Gates Pass is famous as a place to watch sunsets. There are always many people gathered there to watch sunsets, often from other countries.  You reach it by driving out Speedway, heading west, and that becomes Gates Pass Road. It is quite a curvy road and often has bicyclists on it so be careful.  It is best to get there early to find parking. You then scramble up in any direction and find a place to sit to watch the beauty revealed in another gorgeous desert sunset.  My son and I used to come here almost daily when he was young. It was a great ending to our days.

Gates Pass 1 March 12 2013 Gates pass 3 March 12 2013

 

Another new discovery was the Honey Bee Canyon south and north trails. I went out here several times as it was an easy hike.  When you combine both hikes it adds up to 4.8 miles.  The South hike winds along a trail, through an old dam into the canyon, through a wash, up over a hill and around through a wash and back, passing many old Saguaro Cactus. I found this awesome Saguaro with a large number of arms and another that had all these arms pointed down, like a ballerina’s skirt. The north hike takes you through a wash and you run across some old Anasazi petroglyphs.  I often saw bunnies along the trail.  There are reports of people seeing cougars.

Honey Bee Trail take two strange hole Honey Bee trail 1 south loop March 16 2013 Honey bee trail 6 petroglyphs north wash trail Honey Bee trail take two interesting cactus March 24 2013 Honey Bee Trail take two Saguaro with most arms Honey Bee Trail take two south trail Honey Bee Canyon

Another old favorite is Lake Patagonia.  When I used to live in Tucson in the mid-late 80’s, I used to go down there alot to hike, canoe, swim and even camped there one night. I challenged myself and swam across the lake and back one time.  It is famous for it’s birding and was recently seen in a movie with Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson.  One side of the lake is allowed for motored boats and the other non-motors.  You drive down like you are going to Nogales, and turn left and follow the signs to Lake Patagonia.  A friend went with me in April and we tried out a new hike in the preserve that is north of the lake. At first we lost the trail and ran across a geocache box. That was exciting as I had run into  a couple hiking on another hike and they had talked of geocaching.  The water was too cold to swim in but my friend and I rented a double kayak and kayaked around the lake. It was very windy, so challenging, but still great to be on the water. The hike was 3 miles long and led us up and down and up and down various hills and past stands of cottonwood trees. The hawks were flying over us.

Lake Patagonia 7 inlet on Lake Lake Patagoia April 5 2013 1 north part of lake Lake Patagonia 6 Remnants of river

 

The Loma Verde Trail is part of an extensive set of trails in Saquaro National Forest east, on the east side of Tucson.  I reached it by driving out Speedway until it dead ends.  I know I’d hiked out there before but found new trails this time.  A friend and I went and hiked for a couple hours just before sunset. The Saguaro cactus aren’t as prolific as on the west side but it is still a very pretty and varied area next to the Rincon mountains.

Loma Verde trail 2 Loma Verde trail Saguara National forest east March 10 2013 1

 

I never tire of driving to Mt. Lemmon.  It takes about an hour to get there and drive to the top but you end up driving through all these different climates.  You get there by driving out Tanque Verde Road going east and take the Catalina Hwy left driving up switchbacks to the top. It is so beautiful and different at every turn. There are numerous hikes along the way.  I once did a hike starting on the side of the mountain and ending going down the Sabino Canyon  7 Falls trail, an 8 mile trail that my then 4 year old son did with me and two of my friends.  I have been on other hikes on the way to Mt. Lemmon but my favorite is the Aspen loop trail.  To access it, you drive to the top of the mountain, past the ski resort and town of Sumerhaven until the road dead ends in a parking lot. I took the Marshal Gulch trail going counter clockwise (much easier than going the other direction).  The trail gains about 560 in elevation and the loop is 3.9 miles, up along a stream through forests and up a mountain, across and around and then down through an aspen grove.  There was a big fire a few years ago so many of the pine trees were burned but there is a sweet crop of newly growing pine and aspen trees.

 

Mt Lemon climbing Marshal Gulch trail Mt Lemon 6 new growth Mt Lemon 8 view from the top Aspen trail

 

Pima Canyon is a hike I used to do a lot and I did when I first got back to Tucson in March.  It is on the north side of Tuscon up against the south side of the Santa Catalina mountains.  The views from it are pretty. It is an uphill hike, reached by driving out 1st. ave north.

Pima canyon 2 looking south Pima Canyon 1

 

Another new hike for me was to go to Saguaro National Park West and combine a few trails. There is a fee to enter this park. i combined the Valley view trail, a gently uphill trail to wonderful views; turning back and following it back to catch the Wild dog trail out and back and then going back to the beginning of the valley view trail to catch the Bajaha wash trail, walking through the wash; then I hiked out to the road and walked back uphill to my car, a 5 mile combo.  I got to the park by going out Gates Pass road then following the signs to Saguaro National Park west.

Valley view trail 8 onto Wild dog trail Valley View  trail 1 Saguaro National park west March 13 2013 Valley view trail 3 over look west Valley view trail 4 over look south

 

Another new trail in Saquaro National Park East was the Wildhorse trail combined with some other trails to create a loop. It was a challenging hike for me because it was hot and I was tired after 1 mile of going gently uphill and  I pushed myself to finish the 5.2 miles of trails up a mountain, around next to a an old dam, down the hill, in and out of various washes, which makes walking a little more challenging.  It was quite pretty though, hiking in the foothills of the Rincon mountains.

Wildhorse trail 3 canyon off switchbacks Wildhorse trail 1 Wildhorse trail 2 vista

 

The Cougar trail was at the edge of the Saguaro National park west, not in the park but next to it.  The hike leads you through the foothills of the mountains and to the Desert museum (a wonderful museum).  I got started a little late and ran into a wonderful couple on the trail and we ended up chatting for an hour.  They told me about geocaching.  It was hot and so by the time I got to the end of the trail, I didn’t have the energy to go back the way I had come so chose instead to make my way to the road and walk back that way.  It wasn’t the safest way to go as the road is quite windy with very little shoulder, so sometimes I’d have to just step into the desert, off the road when I could hear and see cars coming around the curves towards me, but it was a flatter hiking choice and I made it back to my car safely. I found this great “stegasaurus” looking cactus on my hike and a pretty blooming cactus next to the side of the road.

Cougar trail Saguro Natl park west Stegasaurus cactus March 26 2013 Cougar trail Saguaro Natl park west roadside wild flowers

 

And lastly, after walking up and down Tucson Blvd. I found the house that my Mom’s father had built for them when she was about 8, around 1928, when Tucson blvd. was the edge of town.

Mom's childhood home Tucson Blvd.

 

The heat in Tucson gets to be a bit much for me so I haven’t chosen to move back there but it will always hold a place in my heart and a place i will go back to for all it’s beautiful hikes and what an easy town is to get around!

Canyon Ranch, Tucson, AZ

In Dec. I went with a friend to tour Canyon Ranch. We received an extensive tour, with a wonderful young man leading the way. He had been working there a little while and loved working there, was pleased with how supported he felt there, how much they encouraged him to grow.

Canyon Ranch was created by it’s owner who still lives in a home on the property, right a midst the rest of the offered lodgings. I was impressed with this.  There are several Canyon ranch facilities in different locations including 2 resorts, one hotel and spa in Florida, and 3 spa clubs at other hotels.  I liked the concept of this family starting this one resort and seeing how much it has grown and expanded to other locations. That must be quite fulfilling. Canyon Ranch Tucson was originally a working ranch, then from the 1930’s to 1970’s, it was a guest ranch.  It now consists of 200 acres including a housing development with the owners able to have access to the spa and activities.

It is nestled at the south side of the Santa Catalina Mountains, near Sabino Canyon.   Facilities include regular rooms to a  2700 sq. feet 2 bdr. home.  The rates are all inclusive and include use of all classes, meals, facilities. They start at $3030 for 4 nights, including $650 service allowance to $6500 for 4 days, depending upon room size chosen.  One of the great room amenities is your choice of pillows from the 20 pillow menu.  for someone who has purchased numerous therapeutic pillows and even attempted to make my own pillow, I loved this offering. The young man told us that there are people who come and stay for a month at a time or more, no matter the cost.

There are 4 swimming pools, including a watsu pool and aquatic therapy pools.  There are three food venues, with all nutritional information and ingredients listed on the menus, with various diet restrictions honored. There are regular cooking classes to teach guests how to cook using more healthy ingredients. No alcohol is served but you are allowed to bring alcohol with you and consume it in your room. The resort is a cell phone free zone.

Their spa, salon, and fitness facilities are VERY extensive, including a large staff of medical professionals, MD’s, chiropractic, acupuncturists, hypnotherapists and others.  You are able to choose your therapies or join in one of the various programs.  There is even a gait and footwear analysis.  The spa also has metaphysical offerings including astrology, tarot, clairvoyant readings, crystal energy sessions, Feng Shui, handwriting analysis, and numerology.  There are various spiritual programs, life enhancement programs and creative arts activities.

While I was there they were building a new ropes course to include in their fitness programs and business offerings.  They have hikes, horse back riding and other outdoor activities.

I was having such a good time on the tour that I only took a few pictures afterwards, so am including a few pictures from their website instead.

canyon ranch main canyon ranch pool canyon ranch room canyon ranch rope course Canyon ranch spiritual canyon ranch

The Scottsdale Princess, Scottsdale, AZ

I went to see the Scottsdale Princess in Feb.  They gave me a map and I just walked around on my own.  I did receive a tour of the spa and fitness center. This is a newer resort and is a 5 diamond resort.  It has a newly added 53,000 sq foot ballroom and conference center and caters to business meetings, events and business travelers.

The resort has 4 restaurants and a lounge; 2 18 hole golf courses; 2 fitness centers (one free, one fee based); tennis courts; 2 catch and release fishing lagoons; 5 pools, one of them with 2 200 ft. water slides; a kids club and Family adventure center with a playground, sports courts various activities and games and seasonal dive in movies.

The spa and wellness center was my favorite part of the resort.  There was an adult lap pool; various fitness classes including simulated surfing; numerous  therapies including different massages, reiki , craniosacral , body and facial treatments; a salon; 2 wellness MD’s to create a wellness program; and my top favorite, a series of “waterfalls”, with varying water intensities,   that you stood under for neck and shoulder massage.

There are 649 rooms ranging in size from 525 sq. feet to 3150 sq feet and rooms start at $149 per night.

Photos are of the rooms, swimming pool and Wellness center.

Tower at hotel rooms Entrance to the spa, fitness center and Authentic Mexican food restaurant Fountain and hotel rooms Hotel room Pool and lagoon at the Princess

 

 

The Phoenician, Scottsdale, AZ

I went to tour the Phoenician, in Feb. 2013. They just handed me a map and I walked around on my own.  The history is interesting. An artist, Jessie Evans, fell in love with the land up against Camelback mountain in the early 1900’s, built a small house for herself, bought 40 more acres and gave 12 of them to her son and daughter-in-law. They decided to build a unique adobe home that they eventually opened up to visitors. This home still stands on the grounds and was featured in the movie “Raising Arizona”.  Charles Keating, bought the land in 1985 and decided to fashion it into something rivaling grand European resorts. It now consists of 250 acres. He brought in white tiles from Italy, had ceilings etched with 24 karat gold. It is a 5 diamond resort. He brought in workers from Tonga to create the tropical landscape.  The serenity pool is tiled with mother of pearl from Italy. The pool renovations cost $1 million.

There are various sizes of rooms from 530 sq. feet to the Presidential suite within the hotel and is 4000 sq feet. Prices start at $199 per night and go into the thousands.  There is a resort, the Canyon Suites, within the resort that has it’s own pool and a chauffeur driven car for the use of the guests.

Activities include the Family activity center that includes a theater, a basketball court, foosball, video games, pool, etc.; 9 pools that include a river like pool that has several sections, a kid’s pool and water slide; hikes to Camelback mountain, a playground;  a Koi Fish feeding activity; lawn games, bikes, art tours, wine and cheese tasting; tennis courts and lessons; a 27 hole golf course and lessons; fitness center with classes and facilities; a salon; a 22,000 sq foot spa/salon that offers body and face treatments, body therapies, astrology, hypnotherapy, chakra balancing, tarot readings and even golf imagery for golfers I was glad to see the guided imagery on their menu as I have successfully used hypnotherapy and other mind/body therapies for use with golfers.

There are 8 food venues and 5 private dining rooms available. They offer facilities for weddings, business meetings and other events. Locals can purchase membership to the tennis courts and golf course.

The pictures show the resort at the base of the mountain; the river and pool; the fountains and rooms; the landscaping.

Cabanas by pool with lobby and rooms and mountain beyond Entrance Fountain in part of lake with rooms beyond One of the pools next to the necklace lake Part of the grounds

 

Arizona Biltmore Resort, Phoenix, AZ

I also worked here in 1997.  I had less work here, but did enjoy it for the most part. The spa was ok when I was there, but just like the AZ. Grand, they completely remodeled it after I left. (is there a trend here? This also happened at the Cordillera resort where I worked in CO).

I went back to visit the Biltmore in early 2013 and paid to take their historical tour. We had been given a tour as an employee but I’m so glad that I took the extensive historical tour and I found out much more about it’s history.  When the Biltmore was built, it was considered out in the middle of no where. A man from the mid-west, created a car dealership in Phoenix, then gathered investors and started building the resort. During this time the costs doubled, the depression hit, and the man lost all stock in the resort and it became the property of the sole owner, Wrigley, of Wrigley gum.  He has a mansion built next to the resort. My family and I used to drive by it most Easter Sundays, and I loved all the bunnies jumping up and down the hill that the mansion is built upon.

Until the second owners, Talley Industries, had their grand opening in 1973, the resort was only attended by invitation only.  Heads of state, all of the Presidents, movie stars, politicians and sports stars were invited. In the beginning, the dining halls were adults only and families brought their nannies with them to care for the children and they and the children were housed in different quarters than the adults. Irving Berlin composed many songs by the pool, including “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas”. Marilyn Monroe considered the Catalina Pool, made with tiles from Catalina Island, to be her favorite pool world wide.

The resort first opened in 1929, with the key in the photo dropped from a plane above. Thankfully, it didn’t land on anyone.  The ballroom and the main room were made with ceilings of pressed gold leaf. The architect had been a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, and the stained glass display in the lobby was from one of his throw away sketches.  Talisen West oversaw the remodel done by the 2nd owners, after Wrigley sold it to them. During that remodel, there was a fire, and miraculously the remodel was completely redone within 82 days.  All of the original blocks and the remodel blocks were made from an original design, made from sand gathered onsite, and produced on site.

The resort is on 39 acres. It also is surrounded by various housing developments and those home owners have access to the country club and golf course.  In addition, the villas are privately owned, managed by the resort and available to be rented out.  There are 740 rooms, from the basic 400-450 sq foot room with the rate starting at $99 a night, and extend to 78  1 and 2 bdr. villas up to 1600 sq. feet. The various rooms and villas are surrounded by lush gardens.

The spa, salon and fitness center are now in a 22,000 sq foot building.  There are tennis courts, the golf course, croquet, lawn chess, local horse back riding, tours, and numerous classes in the fitness center. The spa has several body treatments, facials and body therapies available.  There are 5 dining options and 8 swimming pools, including the Catalina Pool.

They have a green initiative and serve locally grown and organic food as much as it is available. They are moving toward having all organic gardening. They are available for weddings, business meetings and other events. I love the elegance and history of this place.

Biltmore Block designed by McArthur Catalina pool made with tiles from Catalina Island Ceilling of the Aztec room with copper struts Entrance to the Lobby Key dropped from airplane  for Opening Day Stained glass panel in lobby, from drawing by Frank Lloyd Wright, Saguaro Cactus with blossoms

 

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Arizona Grand Resort and Spa, Tempe, AZ

I used to work here in 1996-97, and enjoyed the job, doing massage and body treatements, along with other great therapists and a wonderful supportive massage therapist manager.  The spa left a lot to be desired decor and space wise but we had access to the fitness center, the pools and employee dining. We were treated very well.  I recently went on a tour of the resort again, in early 2013 and was impressed with all the re-decorating and newly redesigned spa, salon, fitness center and added water park.  The place has changed owners and been renamed from “The Pointe, south mountain” to “The Arizona Grand Resort and Spa.” What is unusual about the property is that it is nestled a midst the amazing 17,000 acre South Mountain preserve ( wonderful hiking), has a business park next to it, apartments for rent, along with villas that are available for purchase. This allows all these home owners and tenants to access the restaurants and facilities.

The 4 diamond resort has 740 redecorated rooms, now decorated with a southwestern motif, ranging in size from the 400 sq ft rooms, starting at $109 a night, to the 1980 sq foot 3 bdr. villas.  There is a  golf course; a full fitness center that also offers memberships to locals and 45 weekly classes; 6 dining venues,; meeting spaces;  and a spa and salon that offer various therapies, services, wraps, scrubs, body treatments and has a saline pool. There are several pools on the property including the 7 acre water park.  This looks like great fun for the family with an 8 story water slide , a 25 person hot tub, a large wave pool,  swimming pool, and a sweet floating “river” that you can float down.  During the summer the water park offers dive in movies for the family on Friday and Sat. nights , a dance on Friday and Sat. nights and pool side dining.

I like that even though it is a large facility it still feels warm and friendly, not corporate.

 

View 3 of water park with river  to float and tall slide tower Adult only saline pool by spa and fitness center with view of golf course Entrance to hotel rooms and villas View 2 of water park with fake boulders

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