Monday, February 28, 2011

Take Spring Break to the Desert - Phoenix, AZ

Take Spring Break to the Desert - Phoenix, AZ

A few weeks ago I was in Arizona for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The weather was brisk (putting it mildly) by Arizona standards, but I was still able to enjoy watching Phil Mikelson, Vijay Singh, Ricky Fowler, and a host of other grade A golf players who swooped in to compete. Despite frost delays, the players were still friendly and engaging.

In Arizona, the words, "Spring Break," have almost become synonymous with, "Spring Training." (See list below of training facilities in Arizona from wikipedia: Droves of baseball fanatics land in Arizona in order to see their favorite team(s) play. I believe one of the biggest draws about Spring Training in Arizona is that the players are highly accessible; the fields are smaller; the crowds are happy onlookers, and the overall feel and spirit of the games are light and fun. While the players all know why they are there, and take it very seriously, there is a bit of laid back enjoyment they tend to exhibit during these exhibition games.

If there were anytime I personally would want to visit Arizona, it would be during the month of March. The weather is - perfect. The days are in the mid 70's to low 80's and the night time temperatures dip into the 40's and 50's, so if you are staying at a property that has an outdoor fire pit, you can take advantage of the cooler night temperatures, while still enjoying your time outdoors.

I've created a short list of some of my favorite places (restaurants and accommodations), and I have noted those that are family friendly as well.

  • Oregano's (family friendly) - wonderful Italian food with multiple locations throughout the Phoenix, AZ area. While it's not New York or Chicago (big shoes to fill), it's delicious and always consistently good. They serve large portions, so you don't have to worry about feeding a family of 4-6 and going broke. The salads (my favorite is the Pablo Picasso Mexican salad), the pasta, the pizza (my favorites are the El Picasso and the Frisco), and lest not forget the pizza cookie (delightful cookie lightly baked so that it retains a bit of its gooiness and served with ice cream).
  • Z-Tejas (moderately family friendly) - this is a great place that has several locations throughout Arizona as well, and a centrally located one that is nestled inside of the Fashion Square Mall at the intersection of Camelback Rd & Scottsdale Rd. This is a Southwestern food establishment that serves wonderful appetizers like their Grilled Shrimp and Avocado Tostada bites; nice salads and great specialty dishes. But, their main claim to fame (sorry Z) is their Chambord Margaritas. To taste one is to have a party in your mouth. They are reportedly so potent, that they restrict how many you can drink. Imagine that!!!
  • Eddie V's (expensive and well worth it) - it appears that the original Eddie V's that I first began going to in DC Ranch has moved to a new location in Scottsdale, located at the new mall, Scottsdale Quarter. I can not speak to the new location's atmosphere, as I have not been since their move, but it appears their menu is the same, and if it is executed as well as the original one in DC Ranch, then they will have much success. Eddie V's appeals to a crowd that enjoys their surf and turf; however, the menu is heavier on the surf, than the turf. Their Parmesan Crusted Sole is simply delectable, and all of their side dishes serve several comfortably, so you can mix them up and select as many as your heart desires. This is not an inexpensive dining proposition, but is well worth the money spent.
  • Flo's Asian Kitchen (moderately family friendly) - there are several Flo's located throughout Arizona too; however, my favorite is situated on Scottsdale Road in a strip mall. The dressing they serve on their lunch salad is good enough to drink - honest. It's likely a peanut based dressing, but it's creamy without being too creamy, and all of the ingredients blend together so well, and coat the lettuce leaves delicately as not to weigh them down, but to envelope them in the rich, creamy flavor. Unfortunately, one of my favorite dishes, they no longer serve; however, there has never been anything I haven't enjoyed here, and I've tried quite a few items.
  • Postino Winecafé - one of my most favorite places to go, and of course during my recent visit, I made a beeline to this wonderful café. There are currently two Postino restaurants in Arizona, with more on the way. If you like hearty salads and over the top Bruschetta's, you will love Postino. The original Postino is located in the Camelback Corridor area off of Campbell, just a block or so shy of Camelback. It is a neighborhood restaurant that draws a crowd from all over the Arizona Valley. The wine list changes frequently, and all of the wines are selected to enhance your overall dining experience.
  • Cafe Boa - while it is not located in an exactly central location, for those who live in the foothills of Ahwatukee area, I am certain they will attest to the fact they are glad to have this mainstay in their neighborhood. Cafe Boa is an Italian restaurant in the Ahwatukee area, and is relatively close to Tempe and South Phoenix. Located in a small strip mall, this restaurant has been around for several years, and looks to be well ensconced in this neighborhood for years to come. During my recent visit I also trekked over to Cafe Boa to dine. Their regular menu is excellent, but their selections for the day are always top notch. On my most recent visit I wrapped my mouth around the most wonderful Gnocchi with Chicken in a white sauce. Was it rich? Yes, but not in an obnoxious way. The chicken was wonderfully seasoned and was more of the back up to the main portion of the dish - the Gnocchi.

  • Camelback Inn - on the fringes between Paradise Valley and Scottsdale, the Camelback Inn has everything for everyone - golfers, spa worshippers, families and the like.
  • Westin Kierland Commons - a place for everyone, and close to everything. It is steps away from the shopping and fine dining at Kierland Commons and the newly opened Scottsdale Quarter.
  • Scottsdale Plaza Resort (likely booked during Spring Training) - a friendly, moderately priced resort located close to Old Town Scottsdale. It is one of the older resorts in the area, but it does a lot of business and hosts many of the College Bowl game athletes, as well as those participating and attending Spring Training.
  • The Phoenician Resort - expensive, but worth every penny. This property is centrally located to most parts of the valley. A short distance from the airport, central phoenix, Old Town Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. The Phoenician is a place to stay at least once in your lifetime (or more). It has a world class golf course; excellent spa treatments; luxurious grounds, and a glorious pool area. As a special treat, partake of their High Tea, you won't regret it.
This was just a short list, but if you ever find you would like to have a wonderful trip put together for a visit to Arizona, you can always contact Chicks That Trip.

Cactus League (Arizona)

Stadium name↓ Opened↓ City↓ Capacity↓ Current Occupants↓ Former Occupants↓
Camelback Ranch 2009 Glendale 13,000 Chicago White Sox (2009-present)
Los Angeles Dodgers (2009-present)
Goodyear Ballpark 2009 Goodyear 10,000 Cincinnati Reds (2010-present)
Cleveland Indians (2009-present)
HoHoKam Stadium 1997 Mesa 12,623 Chicago Cubs (1997-present)
Maryvale Baseball Park 1998 Phoenix 7,000 Milwaukee Brewers (1998-present)
Phoenix Municipal Stadium 1964 Phoenix 8,775 Oakland Athletics (1984-present) San Francisco Giants (1964-83)
Peoria Sports Complex 1994 Peoria 12,882 San Diego Padres (1994-present)
Seattle Mariners (1994-present)
Salt River Fields at Talking Stick 2011 Scottsdale 11,000 Arizona Diamondbacks (2011)
Colorado Rockies (2011)
Scottsdale Stadium 1992 Scottsdale 12,000 San Francisco Giants (1992-present)
Surprise Stadium 2003 Surprise 10,500 Kansas City Royals (2003-present)
Texas Rangers (2003-present)
Tempe Diablo Stadium 1968 Tempe 9,785 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (1993-present) Seattle Pilots/Milwaukee Brewers (1969-72)
Seattle Mariners (1977-93)

*Photos taken by That Chick Té


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lobby Bar Confessions March Madness Giveaway!

Lobby Bar Confessions March Madness Giveaway!

I know there is an expression, "You can't get something for nothing!" I'd like to prove that wrong! Any new followers (all current followers are automatically entered into the drawing) who join our blog during the month of March will be entered in a drawing to win a Duxiana™ down travel pillow. All you need to do is join as a follower, and make sure to leave your contact email information, so that if you win, we can get in contact with you. It's really that simple, and there is no purchase necessary. You will be able to relax in style and comfort with your new, down travel pillow.

*This promotion is for United States residents only. We will have other drawings at various times, and hope to be able to have giveaway items for our friends in other parts of the world. The retail value of the travel pillow is $95.00, all shipping and handling costs are paid for by Chicks That Trip, so there is truly no costs to the follower! Once the drawing is closed, the winner will be notified, and will receive their pillow within four - six weeks, upon verification of their shipping address.

*Photos taken by That Chick Té

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Part 16 of Series: 101 Reasons To Use A Travel Agent

Part 16 of Series: 101 Reasons To Use A Travel Agent

It is almost Spring Break time, and those who are traveling are looking for a place to go that isn't overly saturated, but is safe, fun, and family friendly. Yet, there are some who are looking for places that are fun, but adult friendly only. By working with a travel professional, we are able to make this an easy and painless process, as we are able to make some recommendations based on your individual needs, so that you end up at the property you wanted to be at, versus the one that you did not. Also, since we travel ourselves, we have been to a lot of these properties, so we can also give first hand knowledge from our own experiences.

Let Them Wait on Hold - By using a travel agent you no longer have to wait on hold and talk to automated systems while trying to book different parts of your trip.

Business Concerns - If the airline you are scheduled to use goes on strike or bankrupt while you are traveling, your travel agent can work to find you alternate travel means while you continue to relax at the hotel.

Transportation in Smaller Countries - Travel agents can arrange all your transportation and travel needs, especially in those smaller countries where you may not know if cabs or van services are safe.

Group Hotel Reservations - Travel agents can help to keep everyone in the group on the same floor at a hotel.

Charter Private Boating Trips - Travel specialists can help you to avoid paying top dollar for chartered snorkeling or fishing trips for large groups. They can often find great deals for large groups who want to do personalized tours.

*source information provided by ASTA


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Stop Nickle & Diming Me!

Stop Nickle & Diming Me!
Confession time. I abhor being nickle and dimed to death. While I know there are many out there who much prefer to pay separately for things such as checked luggage (90% of the time, I do NOT check luggage while traveling), food, drinks, etc, I am one of those who prefers all-inclusive pricing. Much like while traveling abroad, the tax is incorporated in the final price. If something is 25 Euros; it's 25 Euros.

Now I've read where USAirways is increasing the cost of their heavy bag fees (full story is here: While fees in and of themselves are not inherently a bad thing, it has come to the point where every single transaction that takes place (I am speaking specifically about the airlines right now) is charged a separate fee. If I had my druthers, I would much prefer they just increase airfare $20-$50 across the board and be done with it. While there are many critics who would argue that they much prefer to pay for the services they actually use, there are those of us who may not always utilize the services, but possibly would if there weren't always additional charges incurred. Again, I don't typically check luggage, so for all in tense purposes I shouldn't care - but I do. There may be a time where I do want to check luggage, and don't want to pay an exorbitant fee.

I know my protesting is for naught, because the airlines have found a way to make money, so the likelihood of them giving up this cash cow is as likely as, well, a pig flying. It's not going to happen.

*photo taken from flikr: