Since Norm and I live in the greater Phoenix area, and Brenda is a frequent visitor to enjoy what Phoenix has to offer, I’ve decided to give you monthly updates on a little of what is coming up. There is more than I can begin to post and I get all this wonderful information from Doug MacKenzie at the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau. So, if you want to know more, check out the CVB.

This month Kokopelli Suites will highlight the Annual Red Rock Fantasy with the return of the 50% special for the fall/winter season. A favorite among locals and tourists alike, the Annual Red Rock Fantasy is a light show composed of over 20 different displays scattered throughout Los Abrigados Resort. The event runs through January 2nd and is offering reduced ticket fees this year with Adult tickets priced at only $5 per person. In addition, the popular 50% off special will be available until February 28thfor guest to enjoy 50% rack rate on the Sugarloaf Suites or Cathedral Suite on any stay.


Forbes Travel Guide has awarded Kai restaurant at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa with the Five-Star Award, making Kai the only restaurant in Arizona to receive the guide’s highest rating. Kai is now one of 17 five-star restaurants in North America. In addition, Kai was the only restaurant in Arizona to make AAA’s 2010 list of Five-diamond Award winners. These prestigious awards mark Kai’s second Five-Star rating and fourth Five-Diamond designation.

Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa is offering the Triathlon Package for tri-athletes coming to train in Arizona’s warm climate. In addition to spa treatments at the end of each day, this Triathlon Prep Program will personalize a three-day exercise regime with suggested meals. Triathlon hopefuls can harness the expertise of Sanctuary’s on-property fitness staff that includes Olympic swimmer, Misty Hyman. The package includes 3 nights’ accommodations, a power breakfast daily, 3 days of training on core (swimming, biking, and running) and 3 spa treatments geared toward the muscles and feet. The program is available through May 16, 2010.

The Boulders is commemorating their 25th Anniversary by inviting guests to celebrate January 2010 with special promotions the entire month and throughout the year. From architecture to amenities, guests still celebrate The Boulders’ dramatic desert location and sense of place. Promotions range from a Silver Anniversary package, to golf and spa silver surprises–even a Silver Sip cocktail. In addition, the month of February brings a victorious package in celebration of the 2010 Winter Olympics. The Boulders “Go for the Gold” package offers guests its own version of the 5 Olympic rings. Guests can get the 5th night free when they book four nights and have the option to combine additional golf and spa specials.

Sedona offers visitors exhilarating scenery with a variety of outdoor adventures, cultural events and shopping excursions, including Tlaquepaque Village. During the holidays, Enchantment Resort is giving guests two additional nights at no charge when three consecutive nights are purchased between November 26 and December 25.


Environmental news and information media outlet has featured local chef and restaurateur Greg LaP
rad ofQuiessence Restaurant at The Farm at South Mountain as the only Arizona chef to make the national list of “40 Chefs Under 40”. The list includes young American chefs who routinely support local farmers and lead the promotion of sustainable eating. Chef LaPrad has cultivated an army of local farmers, herdsmen, artisans and vendors to contribute to his daily menu, sourcing ingredients from over 90 smaller suppliers, most of them located within the Phoenix area. Other than locally sourced ingredients, the restaurant’s daily-changing menu features American products for a truly contemporary American dining experience.

If you’re ready to shake things up, visit Talavera Restaurant at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North and enjoy a whole new drinking experience: eatertainment. The team is introducing Tableside Cocktails that boast an exciting new flair from the traditional cocktail. Spanish Coffee, Bananas Foster and Caramel Apple are a few of the seasonal concoctions guests can experience as a dramatic finale to their meal.

Camelback Innwhich recently received its 34th consecutive AAA Five Diamond Award, has launched a series of “Meet the Winemaker” wine tastings at Rita’s Kitchen. Guests can ask questions and mingle with the winemaker in the restaurant’s indoor dining room and outdoor patio area. Upcoming events are January 13th “Barra Wines of Mendocino” with owner Martha Barra, February 3rd “Hanna Winery and Vineyards, Sonoma County” with president Christine Hanna, and March 3rd “Panther Creek Cellars, Willamette Valley” with owner Liz Chambers. Wine tastings take place from 6pm – 8pm, and include three glasses of wine and appetizers from the southwestern inspired Rita’s Kitchen.

JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa is offering $29 gourmet dinners featuring chefs’ signature dishes during its “Restaurant Month” Dec. 1-23. Ristorante Tuscany, Meritage Steakhouse and Blue Sage restaurants are participating at the AAA Four-Diamond resort with each offering special three-course menus.

As part of the Kierland Epicurean Club at The Westin Kierland Resort and Spa, their signature restaurant,deseo, is featuring new “foodie” events. Every Wednesday guests can join deseo’s Master Mixologist, Gerardo “G” Mendoza for Wednesday Muddle Drink Making” from 5:30 to 6:30pm. Guests can enjoy a new unique cocktail and leave with a new skill to impress friends at their next cocktail party. In addition, guests can discover ceviche preparation with Chef Roberto Madrid while sampling three ceviche recipes with wine at Thursday Ceviche Tastings from 5:30-6 p.m. For Friday and Saturday nights, experience dinner at “Table 32”, located in the heart of deseo’s lively dining room. “Table 32” seats 10 guests together for a fun “community” dining experience with a Prix Fixe menu featuring choices available in three courses, rotating weekly, for $29.

The recent opening of Ling & Louie’s Asian Bar and Grill blends Asian American culinary cultures inside the Wild Horse Pass Casino. The grill rose from a small Denver-based chain founded by restaurateur Randy Schoch and features dishes from lettuce wraps, fried rice and orange peel chicken, to American menu items that includes meatloaf and surf n’ turf. The liquor menu also caters to dual tastes, with offerings ranging from Moonstone Asian Pear sake to Oregon’s Jezebel Pinot Noir, served by the glass or bottle. The newly opened Wild Horse Pass eatery is open until 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

The Grill, located at the TPC Scottsdale, has introduced an all-new menu featuring the highest quality sustainable seafood. The Grill has partnered with the CleanFish Alliance, an organization that carefully selects fisherman and artisan fish farmers around the globe to support sustainable practices that are healthy for the fish population, consumers and the planet. This Fairmont Scottsdalerestaurant has gained acclaim over the years with its decadent dishes and world-class views, and this menu is no exception, featuring fresh catches and daily market grilled fish, with structured entrees ranging from $24-$28, along with a fun new Clam Bake on Friday nights.

Foodies can learn about Scottsdale’s history while sampling the city’s culinary delights with two new tour companies. Arizona Food Tours offers “A Taste of Old tow
n Scottsdale” walking tour and Foodies Like Us features downtown trolley tours to select area restaurants in December, January and February.

The Arizona Biltmore marked its 80th anniversary with the opening of Frank & Albert’s. Named for the resort’s architects, Frank Lloyd Wright and Albert C. McArthur, it features American classics and comfort food with a Phoenix twist, an exhibition kitchen and stunning garden views that contribute to its vibrant energy and ambiance.

Looking to place an order for a drink on tap? Postino Central is now offering wines on tap, which adds them to a list of trendy restaurants that offer the new wine-on-tap system. Postino Central is also featuring a European-influenced weekend brunch from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. So if you’re craving ciabatta French toast, muffins and mimosas- this is the place to be. The original Postino Winecaféin Phoenix will have Palmina Winery wines available on tap shortly.

The Verde Valley Wine Trail invites you to experience a destination rich in history, beauty, and the production of exquisite wines. The wine trail connects communities of Cottonwood, Sedona, Camp Verde and Jerome and includes the wineries of Alcantara, Page Springs Cellars, Oak Creek, & Javelina Leap. Guests can experience anything from a romantic get-away to a fun leisurely weekend with friends. During the holidays, local wine from the Verde Valley provides the perfect gift or compliment to holiday meals. Upcoming festive events include the Chocolate Lover’s Walk in Old Town Cottonwood on December 5th, Chocolate competition, live music, trolley transport, store decorating contest and raffle.


When holiday stress comes calling, refer to the holiday survival guide at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort’s Spa Avania at Gainey Ranch. Soothe stress away with special pricing and holiday packages for intensive relief that include the Holiday Survival Package or Holiday Rescue Package that feature variety of spa services.

Relieve stress and get ready to start the holiday season with “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” therapy at Westin Kierland’s Agave Spa. Whether it’s getting ready for a night out or taking a break from the holiday shopping and decorations, give “head, shoulders, knees and toes” some tender-loving-care when you book three of five 25-minute holiday-inspired spa therapies that include peppermint neck, back and shoulder massage therapy and a guided meditation and relaxation session, to name a few.


The Boulders Resort has added a new “Golfcation” package that includes playing 36 holes of golf at one of the country’s top golf courses and a custom golf club fitting. Hot Stix Performance Center provides a personalized golf fitting that includes a complete six-hour station circuit fitting. The package is available through March 31, 2010 and includes two nights in a private casita, two rounds of golf at the Boulders, complimentary cart rental, and Hot Stix Performance Center Game Fitting.

Special tee time prices are now available at Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliff’s championship Lookout Mountain Golf Club. Enjoy a challenging round of golf and save by taking advantage of special pricing. Tee times price at $69 before noon, $59 after, $49 after 2 pm, and $39 after 3 pm.


Come support our Arizona home grown garden at the new Wild Horse Pass Farmer’s Market open every Saturday from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. The market will feature produce from the community’s 2.5-acre organic garden, local farmers, artisans, vendors, kids activities, cooking classes, breakfast and story telling in Akimel Basho, the newest frontier attraction. There will also be a mechanical bull, live music, and college football in the Golden Belle. You will find the best produce and plenty of family activities at this unique farmer’s market.

Come attend a special panel discussion about the work of Allan Houser moderated by Sara Cochran, curator at the Phoenix Art Museum on January 15, 2010. With free admission, the discussion begins at 6 p.m. In partnership with Arizona Opera, there will be an 8 p.m. performance by lyric soprano Jennifer M. Stevens, Oneida, at the Heard‘s NU (Native + You). Stevens was a soloist for the Green Bay Civic Symphony with conductor Patrick Miles, a National Anthem soloist for the Oneida and Wisconsin Veterans’ “Moving Wall” and a guest soloist for the Club Zitalo-American of Green Bay.

Visitors of the Heard Museum can experience the first of the exhibits created from the Dr. E. Daniel Albrecht Collection with the arrival of the traveling exhibit Arctic Spirit: Inuit Art from the Albrecht Collection. The exhibit opens Saturday, January 23, and features 150 sculptures, textiles and graphics. It is a rare opportunity to view more than 2,000 years of Canadian Inuit artwork crafted from stone, antlers, tusks, whale baleen, paint, wood, pencil and pen that vividly portrays the everyday life of Inuit communities. Also view the stunning newer works by award-winning Inuit artists such as Othniel “Art” Oomittuk.

The Pointe Hilton Resorts are encouraging a warm Christmas this year, and are providing three holiday themed buffets so guests can relax and leave the cooking to the professionals. This Christmas, the River Ranch at Pointe Hilton Squaw Peakwill have dive-in movies, arts-in-crafts, s’mores, trivia, and Santa sightings. Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs is transforming The Falls Water Village into a Winter Wonderland Oasis and invite the whole community to join them in celebration of the winter holidays. With admission at only $5 or two canned-food items per person, guests can visit December 10 from 5-7 p.m. All canned food and funds collected will be donated to St. Mary’s Food Bank.

Phoenix Theatre’s Greasepaint Youtheatre is kicking off the season with an all-new production of the beloved, Tony Award-winning musical Oliver! The musical is an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ famous tale Oliver Twist, with music, lyrics, and book adaptation by Lionel Bart. The production will run from December 4, 2009 through December 20. For one special performance, December 5 at 2pm, Greasepaint will be hosting a food drive to benefit St. Mary’s Food Bank. Any patron who donates canned or boxed food items will receive $2 off their tickets to Oliver! Single tickets are $12 and can be purchased by contacting the Greasepaint Box Office. The production will be performed out of the historic Stagebrush Theatre in Scottsdale.

The Phoenix Chapter of the Arizona Green Chamber of Commerce (PGCC) has partnered with Arizona Science Center in the creation of the “Green Room Gallery,” which opened this November. Both the PGCC and Arizona Science Center recognize the need for environmental and social education and responsibility in our community. The 2,000 square foot exhibit is a unique opportunity to educate visitors, expose them to local green resources, and get them thinking about possibilities for sustainable practices in all aspects of every-day life and business. The installation will be open through January in the Sybil B. Harrington Galleries and is free with general admission at Arizona Science Center.

If you’re wondering what to do after Christmas with your family, friends and out-of-town guests, bring them to the Heard for Holidays at the Heard Museum. This signature event includes five fun-filled days of dance and music performances, film, fry bread and of course, the museum’s 10 exhibit galleries. A variety of performances will compliment this year’s artist demonstrations that feature sculptors and watercolor artists. Catch Heard for Holidays Saturday-Thursday, December 26-31, 2009, and Saturday-Sunda
y, January 2-3, 2010.

Big Blend Magazine

“Success” was Indie Finalist in the Writing and Publishing category of the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards