Personal Memories: Our Belated “Mini-Moon” to Scottsdale

August 27, 2019

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After our wedding in La Jolla we enjoyed two short days before heading home. While these were an amazing two days, you could hardly count it as a honeymoon. However, since we had already spent ten days away from home, we didn’t want to turn back around and leave for another week (our pups were missing us… or maybe that’s the other way around). So instead we opted to trade in the traditional honeymoon for a couple of mini-moons to come in the following year. We chose to book a three day weekend to Scottsdale in January as a retreat from the nasty winters in Iowa, and a week in London in June.

Our trip to Scottsdale could not have come at a better time. The temperature in Iowa was setting ALL TIME record lows (this was later named the Polar Vortex and caused my school to have 16 snow days) and I had recently wrapped up a couple unpleasant weeks at work. We were ready to get away!

We arrived late on a Thursday, with just enough time and energy to get checked in at the Omni Scottsdale. The resort was stunning: spanish tiles, ornate doors, sparkling blue pools and fountains, and all perched below Camelback Mountain.

On Friday morning we enjoyed coffee on the back patio of our hotel room before setting off to hike Camelback Mountain. We had hiked the Cholla Trailhead once before and thought we would try the same trail this time. Our GPS, however, sent us to the Echo Canyon Trailhead on the other side of Camelback. I found the Echo Canyon Trail to be a bit more difficult than the Cholla Trail, but I could be remembering wrong (or just more out of shape now!). We climbed the rocky trail, taking in the scenic views along the way. Parts of the trail were very steep and required a bit of support from your hands, but it felt so good to be active outdoors without having to don a bunch of snow gear. The view at the top was a nice reward for the trek.

After our hike we returned to the hotel and took a dip in the hot tub (it was still a bit chilly in the morning for the pool) and ordered lunch. It was a lazy, relaxing afternoon – what vacation is all about!

In the afternoon we took a tour of Taliesin West – Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home. I really wanted to go on the Night Lights Tour, but it didn’t work out with our dinner reservations, so we took the afternoon Insights Tour instead. While I wasn’t blown away by the tour guide, it was really cool to see the winter camp and hear how it was built. I would definitely recommend the tour if you’re looking for something to do in Scottsdale. It might seem a little pricey, but if you enjoy architecture and want to support the conservation of historic sites, then it’s worthwhile.

After the tour we drove down to Old Town to have dinner at The Mission. Old Town offers a lot of neat shops and restaurants. We didn’t have time to shop, but if we had I would have picked up some souvenirs for my nieces and nephews. The Mission serves “modern Latin cuisine”, according to their website. We ordered the guacamole (made table-side), margaritas, and tacos – and left stuffed! I’m a sucker for atmosphere at restaurants and The Mission ticks all the boxes: beautiful architecture, moody lighting, cool bar, and lots of textures. We have been during the day and night and sat inside and outside – there is no bad seat!

On Saturday morning Alex and I parted ways for the morning. He went golfing with his uncle and I went to the Joya Spa at our hotel (it was my birthday present to myself). I checked in early so I could use the spa amenities that included access to the rooftop pool. On the way in there are options to choose a stone to set your intention for the day and touch a crystal to release negative energy. I chose the agate gemstone for balance. I lounged by the pool and sipped the fruit infused water that was stationed everywhere. I also did a few cycles through the steam room, sauna, cold plunge, and relaxation room. The relaxation room was particularly nice. The beds were so comfortable and the room was softly lit with glowing crystals. The spa is Moroccan themed and offers several different rituals, some unique to the spa. I chose to try a Hammam – something I had read about but never tried. A Hammam is a traditional bathing ritual originating in Turkey. Here, they take you into the Hammam room (like a massage table in a wet room – it was attached to a semi-warm sauna) where you lie face down on the table. They give you an option to wear disposable underwear or go completely naked (with a towel over your butt). A technician then uses a scrubbing glove to exfoliate your entire body. This is done first with black soap and then a scrub. The best part was having warm water poured over your body after being scrubbed. After the backside you roll over to the front with the towel covering all but your arms and legs. If you wish to have your belly scrubbed they give you a second towel so your are covered except for arms, belly and legs. When done, you are left feeling smooth and polished, plus you get to keep the scrubby glove to exfoliate at home. The whole process takes about 20 minutes. When you are finished they recommend cycling through the sauna, steam, cold plunge and relaxation room. I think the recommendation is 15 minutes hot (whirlpool, sauna, or steam) followed by 2 minutes of cold plunge, and then 20-30 minutes relaxing at room temperature – repeat as you like. I didn’t follow this exactly and only did it once after my Hammam as I had done it several times earlier. I will say the key to this feeling so awesome is the cold plunge – you have to do the cold plunge! I prefer to be able to submerge in the cold completely, but here they only had a cold shower.

After my lovely spa experience, I met back up with Alex at the hotel pool. We soaked up the sunshine and then went back to our room to shower and get ready for dinner.

For my birthday we made reservations for a romantic dinner at Talavera. Talavera is the restaurant in the Four Seasons resort in Scottsdale. It has wonderful sunset views! I had to get the seafood Paella and Alex ordered the crispy half chicken. Both were delicious! They brought out complimentary flan for my birthday that was also excellent.

Sunday morning we went for one last walk around the resort before packing up our bags and heading to brunch. We ate at Olive & Ivy, a very cool Mediterranean restaurant near Fashion Square. After brunch we walked around the neighborhood, enjoying the sunshine and watching all of the kids and dogs play outside. We weren’t at all ready to leave beautiful Scottsdale, but had a fantastic weekend away.

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