Travel to the Grand Canyon this Summer

“The Train,” is departing again from Williams, AZ to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park starting on June 15, 2020. Since it leaves at 9:30 a.m. and returns back to Williams at 5:45 p.m., stay overnight at Grand Canyon Hotel before or after your Grand Canyon Railway journey.


The 298-room Grand Canyon Hotel is within walking distance to the train depot and offers renovated guest rooms, an indoor pool and hot tub, two dining options and complimentary wi-fi.

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The hotel management and staff are have enforced and will follow the appropriate sanitizing measures prescribed by the CDC, local authorities, County Health Departments and the National Park Service. They continually monitor the situation to keep the staff and guests healthy.

All employees are required to wear washable face coverings while working, and while on the property in communal areas. N95 masks/particulate respirators are available for employees with high-risk responsibilities. Guests are encouraged to wear face coverings while in interior public spaces.

Register shields have been installed in point-of-sale areas and no-touch solutions have been arranged for guest transactions including the front desk, gift shop, and restaurants.

Hand sanitizer stations have been placed at the lobby, gift shop, hotel, restaurant entrances, and point-of-sale areas. Limited guest capacity usage will be encouraged for the elevator and staff will be encouraged to use stairwells when applicable.


Once you arrive by train to the South Rim, visitors will have 2.5 hours to explore areas that steeped with American heritage and Western legacy. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared the Grand Canyon a National Park.

Encompassing 277 miles of the Colorado River, the South Rim offers a paved walking path among Ponderosa Pine trees and Utah Juniper. Wildlife scattering or flying around include squirrels, mule deer hawks, California condors, ravens and eagles.


Near the train depot in El Tovar Hotel. It was considered the most elegant hotel west of the Mississippi River, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987. The guest list includes Theodore Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Western author Zane Grey, President Bill Clinton, Sir Paul McCartney, and Oprah Winfrey.


Next to El Tovar is the historic village and Hopihouse. Built in 1905, as a typical adobe pueblo that Hopi Indians of Old Oraibi lived in. The multi-story building offers museum-quality Native American arts and crafts and souvenir items to purchase before boarding the train back to Williams, AZ.

Guests can choose from two special deals this summer. Arizona residents can save 30 percent on all train fares when they enter ‘Arizona’ in the booking code field of the train ticket or hotel only reservation form.

The Summer Getaway Package offers one to three-night deals that include accommodations at Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel in Williams, dinner, breakfast, a Wild West Show, and roundtrip on the train to South Rim, Grand Canyon.

All guests staying between June 15 and September 30, 2020 can reap the rewards of a long weekend stay at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. For a one-night stay, guests will receive 10 percent off the rack rate with promo code STAY1. A two-night stay equals a 20 percent savings with promo code STAY2 and three or more nights will result in a 30 percent discount with code STAY3. All rates are per room for one or two people and you must input the promo code when making your reservation.

Escape to the Luxe Andaz Scottsdale Resort

Two years ago the luxury Andaz Hotel by Hyatt took over the Cottonwoods Resort below the picturesque Camelback Mountains. They renovated each of the 185 adobe bungalows and suites, as well as built a colorful contemporary lobby and heated saltwater swimming pools.

Driving up to the resort, a restored 1962 black convertible Cadillac, fondly named Nora, and complimentary Tesla house cars are parked in front of the lobby awaiting guests arrival. The friendly staff offers a glass of wine, beer or flavored water at check–in to kickoff the Andaz experience.

IMG_2540 Andaz Scottsdale Resort

Each of the bungalow-style adobe casitas feature stylish mid-century modern design. There are a variety of floor plans to accommodate couples, families, weddings and corporate retreats.

IMG_2443 Andaz Scottsdale Resort

Room 22E offers a king bed, two full baths, and a spacious living area with a sofa with a pull out hidden bed. Both rooms have 65′ wi-fi enabled television, and full bathrooms with a large shower, closet area, soft Andaz bathrobes, and flip flops for guests to use around the resort. Guests can use the complimentary coffee maker, or purchase premium in-room cocktails, snacks or a selection of wines. There are two patio areas with a table, chairs and a bench with decorative pillows.

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The Harper House is named after the renowned modern artist and designer Charley Harper. This stylish studio offers 550 sq. ft., with a spacious private patio and outdoor shower.

The most iconic Cattle Track Suite is furnished with one-of-a-kind art that has been meticulously crafted from local artists at the Cattle Track Arts Compound. This 750 sq. ft. designed bungalow embodies Arizona’s pioneering artists in the mid-century era. Inside is one king bed, two full baths, and a spacious living area. This suite includes access to Palo Verde Spa & Apothecary pool and facilities.

IMG_2513 Andaz Scottsdale Resort

The Palo Verde Spa & Apothecary personalizes treatment with a choice of blended oils made from desert elements and locally-sourced botanicals and natural aromatics from Sedona. Spa guests are given plush robes and flip flops. Before or after a massage or facial, the private spa pool is surrounded by comfortable lounge looking towards the Camelback Mountain. There is a sparate women’s and men’s steam rooms and jacuzzi.

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Another pool at the resort is the main saltwater pool heated to a pleasant 83 degrees. Whimsical pool inflatables provide a pop of color and add additional fun while soaking in the sun. Surrounding the pool area are pool cabanas available to rent for the day. There is a one-of-a-kind red cabana for a good cause. Andaz will contribute 30 percent of this cabana package rate to (RED)’s fight against AIDS.

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All day dining options at Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen include creative breakfast items that include Chipotle Eggs Benedict, and French Toast stuffed with Nutella and topped with fresh blueberries and bourbon syrup. Brunch dishes are made with seasonal ingredients inspired by the Sonoran Desert. Guests have a unique opportunity during  dinner service by reserving a space in the exclusive Chef’s Table inside the kitchen.

In the evening the Andaz staff light the fire pits for guests to sit around, sip a glass of wine and look up at the stars in the ebony colored sky.

Andaz Scottsdale Resort and Bungalows 6114 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ (480) 368-1234.




The article is also published in Luxe Beat Magazine

Mommy and Daughter Weekend at the Four Seasons Scottsdale

The adobe design blends in with the Arizona landscape.

Driving up to the Four Seasons Scottsdale, a friendly valet welcomed us with a bottle of water and glass of hibiscus tea, before entering the lobby. Inside is a very pleasing signature “desert rose” Four Seasons scent that lingers, as the well trained and attentive staff check guests in.

Entering one of the deluxe adobe-style casitas, we admired the saltillo tile flooring, high ceiling, spacious living area, custom king bed and cozy corner gas-burning fireplace. A large sofa folded out into a bed for our teenage daughter. Walking out onto a large private terrace, we looked out onto the bi-level lagoon-style pools and panoramic view of the serrated Pinnacle mountain peaks and boulders. Furnishings and decor are inspired by Sonoran desert sunsets.

Room with a view of Pinnacle Peak.

For families or those seeking the ultimate accommodations, the Prescott two-bedroom suite offers three private patios, a heated plunge pool and telescope for late nigh stargazing. The Pinnacle three-bedroom suite sleeps up to nine guests.  There are two king beds and two double beds, plus rollaway beds if needed in this private 3,000 sq. ft. casita.

Donning our swimsuits, we swam in the saltwater heated to 84 degrees pool. Nearby is a quieter lower level adult pool with plenty of lounge chairs for relaxing in the sun or under a shady umbrella. There is also a large lagoon design whirlpool tub that can accommodate up to 25 guests.

Set in the majestic Sonoran Desert, Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North offers a variety of outdoor adventures.  Complimentary shuttles in one of the six Mercedes Benz cars can take golfers to two nearby world-class golf courses.

Another popular activity is hiking from the resort’s trailhead to Pinnacle Peak Park. My daughter and I took a scenic trail on a smooth path and read informational signs to educate us about the flora and fauna. At every turn there were panoramic valley views.

After a hike to the top of the peak, we visited the spa and learned the alchemistas in the aroma design bar create custom essential oils and body butters to apply during a healing treatment.

While leaving the spa, we noticed the staff was setting up for a wedding on the Fountain Terrace with Pinnacle Peak as a backdrop. The resort’s wedding team provides everything a bride and groom need for an intimate Sonoran wedding to a lavish Grand Ballroom style epic event.

Proof is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Stopping at the contemporary Gin Bar, guests were enjoying libations from the Spanish inspired menu. With over 20 different gins, the mixologists prepare Spanish versions of a gin and tonic. The bar also serves seasonal sangrias, wine, beer, sherry and cider, as well as tapas before dinner at Talavera restaurant.

Dinner at the modern Spanish steakhouse on the covered terrace at Talavera, we sat near a long fire pit, while taking in the dramatic desert views, and enjoying the chef’s vibrant Latin dishes using local ingredients to enhance proteins from the sea and land.

Best cookies and milk ever!

Walking back to our casita, we ordered room service for dessert before bed. A staff member brought us freshly baked warm chocolate chip cookies and a bottle of milk.

In the morning, my daughter and I enjoyed a lavish breakfast buffet at Proof Canteen. The eggs Benedict, chicken and waffles, sweet potato hash and yogurt, granola and fresh fruit parfaits were some of our favorites.

For the ultimate family desert vacation, the Four Seasons Scottsdale won’t disappoint your senses.

Another Four Seasons Scottsdale review was feature in JUSTLUXE on April 9, 2019.


Family-Friendly Spring Breaking at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale

Where do you stay when in Scottsdale, AZ? Check out my review of the family friendly Hyatt in Scottsdale Read the review by clicking hereFullSizeRender-443

Family Fun Activities at the Hyatt Regency in Scottsdale

I knew the Hyatt Regency in the Gainey Ranch area of Scottsdale was family friendly, as soon as the front desk staff offered our daughter a choice of an apple flavored Capri Sun or bottle of water. Next, he asked if I would like a cactus cooler or bottle of water, as we checked in. It was a nice touch after driving four hours to Scottsdale.

Beautiful pools at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale - Photo by Jill Weinlein
Beautiful pools at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale – Photo by Jill Weinlein

Walking past the Native American Learning Center, we noticed a colorful Gingerbread Village being built for the holidays.

Reaching our room I remarked that this property has a Frank Lloyd Wright feel. Our standard room 2743 was located in a quiet section of the property with a big tree off our balcony, offering shade and privacy from the open grassy courtyard area.

The room offered two Queen size Hyatt Grand beds, a small balcony with two chairs, high speed internet, a marble bathroom with shower and Kenet MD bath amenities. There was an in-room safe, turndown service at night, small refrigerator and coffeemaker. Our room was clean and had recently been “refreshed” in decor.

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

We donned our bathing suits and went out to explore the large resort. The centerpiece of the property is the high ceiling Center Stage Bar offering fabulous views and live nightly entertainment. As we walked through this area to go to the pools, we watched two Native Americans dressed in authentic outfits, sharing their culture and history through song and dance next to the Fountain Court.

Casitas are great for couples and families - Photo by Jill Weinlein
Casitas are great for couples and families – Photo by Jill Weinlein

We also discovered there are Casita homes overlooking a lovely lake bordering the resort. These casitas are ideal for families, with some located near the Fun Zone. Many offer stairs up to viewing deck for meals, reading or private sunbathing.

We also noticed in the evening, families riding in a gondola around the resort’s seven-acre lake. The boat driver sings in Italian while guests skim the shoreline and along the nearby golf course by boat. It’s a free ride if you dine at the resort’s Italian Alto Ristorante e bar. Otherwise, the ride costs $10 for adults and teens, $5 for kids 4-12, and free for children 3 and under.

beach, slides and warm water keep families at the pool all day long - Photo by Jill Weinlein
beach, slides and warm water keep families at the pool all day long – Photo by Jill Weinlein

Hyatt offers a Camp Hyatt Kachina children’s program with half day and full day sessions for ages 3 to 12 years old. On Fridays and Saturdays the program provides activities until 9 p.m. Parents can enroll their child in Camp Hyatt and go enjoy a relaxing, romantic dinner at one of the three themed restaurants.

Besides the fine dining Italian restaurant, there is a Southwest bistro serving wood-fired specialities and a Wine Me, Dine Me four-course dining experience in a demonstration kitchen. Each course can be paired with wine and tequila for a true Southwest experience. Nearby is a small sushi bar serving Japanese cuisine.

There is also a Canyon Market that is popular for a quick breakfast with pastries, oatmeal, fresh fruit and Starbucks coffee. It’s open 24 hours for snacks and casual meals.

Sparkling warm pool and fun slide - Photo by Jill Weinlein
Sparkling warm pool and fun slide – Photo by Jill Weinlein


Families congregate around the 2.5 acre “water playground” with ten different swimming pools. There is a shallow sand beach pool with center float and fountain, an adult-only pool, and two poolside bars. Near the sand beach is a multi-level circular waterslide that is fun for adults and their children. This is a big waterslide, similar to one you would find in a water park.

The whirlpool is located in a Frank Lloyd Wright with Greek architecture area with elegant columns and a cascading waterfall streaming around the columns offering pleasing sounds.

The Family designed Fun Zone features golf clubs and balls to play at the beachside Putting Green. Sprinkled around this area is a shuffleboard court, giant chess and Jenga set. For an additional fee, families can climb a 28′ high rock climbing wall in this area.

While the kids are at Camp Hyatt, adults can relax in the Spa Avania for a facial or massage in one of the 19 treatment rooms. What is unique at this spa is the Himalayan Salt Room providing overall wellness with its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. This area encourages clear skin, enhanced breathing, endurance and restfull sleep. Also, there are five Garden treatment rooms with their own private entrance, and an outdoor heated mineral pool. Before or after a treatment, relax near a lotus pond, shaded with a covered outdoor trellis. There is a state of the art exercise facility that is open 24 hours a day, and men and women’s locker areas. Comlimentary classes include morning Boot Camp, Yoga Core and Yoga Flow.

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

On-site bicycles are available to cruise along bicycle and jogging trails. Nearby is a shopping and dining center to ride bikes to for lunch.

The Hyatt Regency is next to a 27 hole championship golf course at the Gainey Ranch Golf Club. A cart and range balls are included in the golf fee.

The Berk Tennis Academy provides four lighted tennis courts with recreational and competitive tennis for all levels. Professional instruction by Jennifer Berk is available to those seeking a lesson, clinic or to hit with on Saturday and Sundays by appointment.

This Hyatt Regency is quite large, yet offers some unique amenities that will entice families to come back again.

This review was published in the December 2016 issue of Independent Traveler.