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Phoenix Arizona

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Story by Rhoda Rizkalla

In Phoenix, you’ll find everything from world-class hotels and resorts and fine dining to exhilarating adventure, breath-taking golf courses, trendy shopping, modern nightlife and culture.

No matter what time of year you plan to visit the desert, you’ll find plenty of things to see and do. More than 300 days of annual sunshine means you can count on exceptional weather as you explore the rich diversity of the Sonoran Desert playground. The near-perfect weather goes hand-in-hand with exciting recreation and adventure activities, which can be enjoyed year-round. Families can enjoy a wide range of tours and sightseeing excursions, whether by Jeep or hot-air balloon, on horseback, or even by boat.

Of course, golf is one of the most popular outdoor activities in the area. It’s never a problem finding a tee since greater Phoenix and Northern Arizona have more than 400 pristine courses. More than three dozen luxurious resorts are scattered throughout the valley, many of which provide spectacular spas that offer special treatments native to Arizona. Visitors also take pleasure in an exceptional dining scene, which features everything from mouth watering steaks to spicy Southwestern fare. Discover all kinds of arts and performances throughout the metro area. However, if sporting events are more your game, Phoenix is a sports lover’s dream. Passionate shoppers will also find a great selection of both indoor and outdoor malls, unique boutiques and antique shops.

How hot does it really get?

The average high in Greater Phoenix is 85 degrees Fahrenheit and with more than 325 days of sunshine a year, smiles are wide and spirits are high. Although, when the calendar turns to the month of May temperatures can reach triple digits from which there is no relief and the mercury keeps rising for up to four months. Phoenicians are known to escape to neighboring California and expats make their way back up north for the summer months.


For many,golf is integral to the desert experience.Shrouded by mountains on three sides and covered by a canopy of near-perpetual blue sky, Phoenix and its neighboring communities are home to more than 200 spectacular golf courses. The astounding mix of experiences, filled with all the requisite challenges as well as wide-ranging beauty, makes this one of the most popular regions in the world for golf. Many of these courses have been designed by legends of the game such as Robert Trent Jones, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

New development and ensuing population growth arguably contribute to the allure of year-round golf in the Southwest. Whether you want to enjoy a laid-back round at a municipal facility or test your skills on a championship layout, you’ll find a course that matches your style and budget in Greater Phoenix, Scottsdale and beyond. Some courses occupy Sonoran Desert canyons where civilization feels a world away, while others are part of opulent resorts where golfers can indulge themselves with a post-round spa treatment.

Or better yet, the non-golfer in your party can enjoy some “inspired relaxation.” Since tourists started coming to Phoenix in the early 1920’s, the promise of warm winter golf has always been the draw. Whatever course you play—target, parkland or oasis—you can expect to find the fairways green and the pro shop bustling all year round. Breathtaking scenery. Unmatched variety. Amazing weather. Is it any wonder the National Golf Foundation dubbed Greater Phoenix the “Golf Capital of the World”.

Things to do for the non-golfer:

Take golf lessons! And if that is completely out of the question then head for the hills. Hikers, bikers and climbers in Greater Phoenix have come to the same conclusion as coyotes, roadrunners and jackrabbits:The Sonoran Desert is a great place to play. Lace up your hiking boots, slather on some sunscreen, grab a bottle of water and get ready to explore some of the most magnificent natural landscapes in the world.

A word of advice:go early. Not only do the trails become busy with eager, well-acclimated hikers (many hike up and down and then up again) but if you are not used to the heat it can be very challenging. I know my hiking buddy Siena is laughing right now as I have converted her into an early morning bird who laces up just for sun-sensitive me. Three major mountains buttress Phoenix, providing visitors an outlet for every grade of outdoor pursuit. And because the Sonoran Desert is one of the most ecologically diverse deserts in the world, explorers will discover an extraordinary range of plant and animal life that varies with changes in elevation and climate.

Whether it is Camelback Mountain, Squaw Peak or the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, you are in for a breathtaking experience. Many visitors are also surprised to learn that seven large lakes within a leisurely drive of the city offer picturesque settings for water recreation. As you explore the more than 200 shops including GUCCI, Bottega Veneta, Louis Vuitton and TIFFANY at Scottsdale Fashion Square you are sure to find something you cannot live without. Once you have run that track, enjoy the upscale ambiance of the Biltmore Fashion Park, or the outdoor walkways and specialty stores that make up Keirland Commons in Scottsdale.

Original Southwestern art and eclectic gifts are sure to pique your interest as you peruse the art galleries along Main Street and Marshall Way in Scottsdale. Art collectors and enthusiasts revel in the vast array of artistic talent on display here. For a shopping experience that is decidedly young at heart, visit Mill Avenue in Tempe. A stone’s throw from Arizona State University, Mill Avenue is a great place to find unique gifts, jewelry, souvenirs and clothing–-much of which is made by local artists and designers.

Getting around:

Upon arriving in Greater Phoenix, you’ll find that getting around is a breeze—if you of course you have wheels.Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is a mere 20 – 30 minutes from most major hotels and resorts. Taxi cabs, although plentiful at the airport are not common fixtures in waiting on the streets of Phoenix and Scottsdale. You can, however, get a private limo within minutes but be prepared to pay,especially if you are thinking of taking in a concert or hockey game at the Glendale Arena. Ka-Ching! Phoenix is proud to have the new METRO light rail system in place. It spans over twenty miles. It reaches from Downtown Phoenix both north into uptown Phoenix and east to Tempe and Mesa. This system provides access to even more art museums, shops, dining and attractions from Downtown. With 28 stops and a car guaranteed every ten minutes, the METRO light rail moves in a hurry.

USE Phoenix as a hub and explore by car:

Montezuma Castle (1.5 hrs)
Saguaro National Park (2 hrs)
Sedona (2 hrs)
The Grand Canyon (4 hrs)
Lake Havasu (3.5 hrs)
Tombstone (3 hrs)
Nogales (3 hrs)

Be sure to put Phoenix on your list of destinations. And while you are at bring your cheque book. Real Estate is still a great deal with a fantastic choice of inventory. Coupled with a strong Canadian Dollar, it’s worth exploring and investing.

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SunRidge Canyon Golf Club – 18 holes and 6,823-yard, par-71 layout designed by Keith Foster is hidden among the ridges and canyons of the foothills of the McDowell Mountains, widely considered one of the most picturesque and dramatic stretches of natural land left in the Southwest. 13100 N. Sunridge Dr. Fountain Hills, AZ 85268 480.837.5100 •

TPC Scottsdale – Stadium Course – the magnificent 36 holes, par-71, 7,216- yard Stadium Course was designed by Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf expressly to serve as the stage for the PGA TOUR’s legendary FBR Open – the largest spectator golf event in the world. 17020 North Hayden Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85255 450.585.4334 / 888.400.4001

Grayhawk Golf Club – Raptor Course – Stretching 7,135 yards from the back tees, the par-72 Raptor Course meanders over the gentle hills and across shaded natural washes that are typical of this picturesque corner of the Sonoran Desert. It is considered to be one of the finest daily-fee golf courses in Arizona and is listed among the “Top 100 You Can Play in the U.S.” by Golf Magazine. 8620 East Thompson Peak Parkway Scottsdale, AZ 85255 480.502.1800 •

We-Ko-Pa Golf Club – Saguaro Course – 18 hole course designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. There is a large practice facility and a full service clubhouse. Ranked #16 – 2009 Golfweek’s Best Resort Courses. 18200 East Toh Vee Circle Fort McDowell, AZ 85264 480.836.9000 •

Eagle Mountain Golf Club – Eagle Mountain is all about the views. Standing on the raised tee box of this 18 hole, Scott Miller-designed course, the par-5,554-yard Number 4 hole offers golfers a striking panoramic view of Camelback Mountain, downtown Phoenix, and Greater Phoenix. 14915 East Eagle Mountain Parkway Fountain Hills, AZ 85268 480.816.1234 •

Raven – South Mountain – Raven at South Mountain has on-site meeting facilities for up to 200 people. Just minutes from Sky Harbor Airport and downtown Phoenix makes the perfect golf destination for business affairs. Held the 72-hole Arizona Stroke Play Championship for the last 10 years. 3636 East Baseline Road, Phoenix, AZ 85042 602.243.3636

Ocotillo Golf Resort – Designed by Ted Robinson, it is recognized as a Top 50 Resort by Golf World and a 4 1/2 star golf course by Golf Digest. A traditional-style course with lush fairways, cascading waterfalls and colorful flora offer a unique contrast to the desert landscaped courses that permeate the Valley. 3751 S. Clubhouse Drive, Chandler, AZ 85248 480.917.6660 •

ASU Karsten Golf Course – The championship par 70 Pete Dye, Scottish links design with rolling hills and railroad ties is home to one of the strongest collegiate golf programs in the country, and boasts exceptional playing conditions year-round. rated “FOUR1/2 STARS” by Golf Digest’s “Best Places to Play”. 1125 East Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, AZ 85281 480.921.8070 •

Vista Verde – Ken Kavanaugh has designed a golf course reminiscent of famed Pinehurst #2 with fun greens which fall off to surrounding chipping areas. Vista Verde has 5 sets of tees to present a challenge for every skill level. 18934 Avenida Del Ray, Suite V Rio Verde, AZ 85263 480.471.2710 / 800.233.7103


W Scottsdale Hotel and Residences – infused with natural water elements with exhilarating arts, shopping, golf, and nightlife. With 224 rooms featuring views of desert landscape, signature W bed, technology, Munchie Box, Spa and entertainment. Enjoy Savory Asian Creations at Sushi Roku or socialize at cool open-air bars and beach-themed pool. 7277 E. Camelback Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85251 480.970.2100, toll free: 877-WHOTELS

Royal Palms Resort and Spa – Privacy is the ultimate luxury with enchanting walkways curved through the property for leisure strolls. 119 beautiful casitas, guestrooms, and villas offers tranquility and solitude. Each room rilled with Old World charm and collection of European antiques, tiles and artifacts. Set in the Valley of the Sun, located in PhoenixScottsdale resort community, with Camelback Mountain providing striking visual backdrop. Four-Star Alvadora Spa with swimming, fitness centre, and full-service salon. Close to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, shopping, galleries, golf and attractions. 5200 E. Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018 602.840.3610, toll free: 800.672.6011

Hotel Valley Ho – Expansive renovation in 2005, all the while keeping its mid-century landmark with playful rooms and suites, fab fare at ZuZu and Trader Vic’s and VH Spa for Vitality and Health. Centrally located in downtown Scottsdale, close to renowned art galleries and artwalks. The Tower offers spacious one- and two-bedroom Tower Suites with complete kitchens and Signature guest rooms located in seven story tower. Rooms are light, bright and havens wilt panoramic views and very guest is offered VIP status. 6850 E Main St., Scottsdale, AZ 85251 480.248.2000, toll free: 866.882.4484

Fairmont Scottsdale – AAA Five-Diamond Farimont Scottsdale resort offers Willow Stream Spa, ranked one of the best Spas in North America, state-of the art meeting facilities, and two 18-hole championship golf courses, home of the Annual PGA Tour FBR open. Hottest new nightspot, complimentary breakfast and honor bars. 7575 E. Princess Dr., Scottsdale, AZ 85255 480.585.4848, toll free: 800.344.4758

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Asia De Cuba – For travelers with a cultured palate and a love of variety, Asia de Cuba restaurant at the Mondrian in Scottsdale, overseen by renowned international restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow, combines elements of Asian and Cuban cuisine served sharing-style in a high energy, sophisticated, yet relaxed environment. Asia de Cuba serves an innovative menu in its sleek-designed surroundings. 7353 E. Indian School Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85251 480.308.1131

Barrio Café – Established in 2002 by partners Wendy Gruber & Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza, The Barrio was a dream come true for the duo — a little neighborhood eatery providing authentic southern Mexico cuisine and chef’s original creations in a unpretentious atmosphere. Mission accomplished! The Barrio Cafe has been hailed as one of the hottest & original restaurants to hit Phoenix. 2814 N 16th St., Phoenix, AZ 85006 602.636.0240 •

Chompie’s Delicatessen – More than thirty years ago, the Borenstein Family… Lou & Lovey, Mark, Neal and Wendy of Queens, New York ventured west to Arizona to fulfill their dreams. On February 14th, 1979, their dream became a reality when the doors opened to Chompie’s Bagel Factory in a strip mall located at 32nd Street and Shea in Phoenix. Since its humble beginning in 1979, Chompie’s has become a New York style Delicatessen, Restaurant, Bakery, and Bagel Factory and over the years expanded to three unique locations, valley wide catering, and a 40,000 sq foot wholesale bakery supplying supermarkets, hotels, and restaurants. 9301 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ 85260 480.860.0475 •

Estate House – Executive Chef Gio Osso (a former musician most recently of Luc’s), joined the staff in late August 2008 with plans to unveil a new, less French menu at this mansion-style dinner house. Relax in the elegant dining room, at the sparkling champagne bar or luxurious upstairs lounge. Seasonal menus may include rotating entrees. A tasting menu with wine parings is available as well. #200-7134 E. Stetson Dr., Scottsdale, AZ 85251 480.970.4099 •

Mastro’s City Hall Steakhouse – Dedicated to the late Herb Drinkwater (Scottsdale’s most colorful Mayor), this plush, contemporary steakhouse turns out unbelievably good steaks. The pricey menu is a la carte, but portions are huge and good for sharing. 6991 E. Camelback Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85251 480.941.4700 •

Ocean Club Fish House – Mullioned windows and fossilized limestone walls give this sybaritic seafood restaurant an elegant ambience that locals love. The dimly lit lounge offers drinks and live entertainment, while the dining room zeroes in on the ultra-fresh (if starkly presented) fish and generously portioned a la cartes sides. 15045 N. Kierland Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ 85254 480.443.8555 •

Pizzeria Bianco – Located in a beautiful old building in Heritage Square, this tiny place offers exquisitely simple but sophisticated food with an Italian slant. The house-baked bread, focaccia and handmade mozzarella are fabulous, while the wood-fired pizzas are the best in town. 323 E. Adams St., Phoenix, AZ 85004 602.258.8300 •

Richardson’s – Good New Mexico-style food and lively bar make this neighborhood hangout fun. Great carne adovada and excellent breakfasts to cure your hangovers. 1582 E. Bethany Home Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85016 602.265.5886

Roka Akor – The open charcoal-fire robata grill anchors this polished-looking Japanese restaurant, which is designed with rammed earth walls, glass and reclaimed wood. Robatayaki (a grilling technique devised by Japanese fishermen) also provides inspiration for an eclectic and contemporary menu that features sushi, salads, small plates and grilled entrees, offered on handmade dinnerware. Check out Roka’s many sochu cocktails and grab a seat on the patio. 7299 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85253 480.306.8800 •

Vincent on Camelback – There’s a reason why Vincent on Camelback has been a favorite for over 20 years: Consistently wonderful meals, an award winning wine list and unparalleled attentive service. Critics say our food is “always intriguing and inspiring.” We say it’s Chef Vincent’s unique blend of classic French recipes with Southwestern ingredients that makes patrons and critics rave. 3930 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85018 602.224.0225 •

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