Seriously, I don’t think current zoning laws would allow a build like this, because it is not just at the base of the mountain but abutted right into the side.
The Phoenician proper is already a great resort, but the Canyon Suites take it up several notches.
From the hotel’s website:
Here’s the lobby:
Check in was seamless. We stayed in a one bedroom suite on the first floor. There was an entry with two closets and a powder room (LOVED the marble sink), a living and dining room, enclosed patio, separate bedroom with a king bed and a master bath.
Not sure if the video tour will work, but here it is:
A few stills:
Here is the marble sink I loved in the powder room:
And the patio:
Added perks to staying at the Canyon Suites included free breakfast, a private pool for suite guests, valet parking and free shoe shine services. I sent some Gucci loafers off and they returned quite spiffy.
For fellow toiletry hoarders, the amenities are Byredo Le Chemin and include face wash, body lotion, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and soap, plus lip balm and bath salts.
We arrived Friday and went for a run, went for a swim, soaked up some rays and had dinner at the on-property J&G Steakhouse, where the weather was so fine that we ate al fresco.
Then we waddled back to our suite.
Saturday consisted of more running, breakfast (free and still delicious – the Nutella mini croissants should be illegal, but at least the fancy fruit art slightly balanced it out).
I was *so* excited for Saturday night, where we’d planned dinner with my dear friends R. and J.
I brought a hostess gift and I could hardly stand to wait for them to arrive:
We had a drink at their beautiful house in Paradise Valley (the name! I want to live there for the name alone), met their dogs (and I almost stole the tiny one), had a fabulous dinner at Eddie V’s and I smiled so much that my face hurt.
It was a perfect night.
Sunday required burning off Saturday night via a long run, undoing that with the Nutella croissants, then some serious pool time.
I was super jazzed that afternoon because I’d also booked a deluxe facial. The Spa at the Phoenician is located in a building adjacent to the main hotel. As far as hotel spas go, I would rate this a 9/10. The common areas were recently re-vamped and felt peaceful and modern. There is also a really well-curated spa boutique and a separate Dry Bar.
I loved this piece of art in the waiting area so much that I tracked it down and ordered it for Fancy Pants Ranch:
My 80 minute facial was top notch. The only problem was that it was so good that when I was done, I was done.
All I wanted:
I didn’t make it far beyond relaxing on the patio, but that was just fine for our last night.
We returned home Monday, another seamless but sad affair.
Final thoughts: Spouse and I had a serious debate about The Canyon Suites versus The St. Regis. My best St. Regis comparison would be the one in Bal Harbour (Miami), which also involves a single flight (for us) and affords both sun and city amenities. Overall, I would give the nod to the St. Regis, since some suites there have their own private elevators (THE THING I DIE FOR) and there is the winning element of the ocean.
The Canyon Suites were also really, really spectacular. The view of Camelback Mountain was something special and the on-site restaurants and spa give the Canyon Suites an edge. Adding the opportunity to spend time with our friends really makes the two properties a push in the end.
Which means I need to visit both a lot more to collect additional data.
Spoiler: Sometimes things turn out better than you expect.
I’d signed up for the Minneapolis Halloween 10k for one purpose: to get a documented proof-of-finishing time that *might* get me more favorable placement for the “real” goal races I was planning for early 2020.
November 2nd is the last day to submit a proof of time, so racing on October 26th was pushing the envelope a bit.
Especially since it already snowed last weekend in Minneapolis.
My plan was simple: Finish.
Treat the race more or less like a regular weekend run, except with more people.
I was relieved when the forecast suggested low 40s but no precipitation at the start.
It’s the small things, People.
The reality: 41 degrees F. Sunny. Crisp.
Considering that my comfort zone is a limited 71-73 F, my teeth were chattering at the start.
I bought a coffee solely to warm my hands.
Ok, I had a few sips.
The race began.
The start of the race was pretty loose, meaning that there were no corrals and you could step off the curb and cross the timing mat at any point. All 5k, 10k and half-marathon runners started together.
I was fine with that.
Many, many faster people passed me in the first miles. This was not surprising since I started the race fairly early.
Their energy propelled me.
I’d concocted a killer playlist the night before and figured that I would divide the race into 15 songs, 5 for each third.
The race signage was limited, but after 5 songs I thought I would be about 2 miles in.
Turns out it was 3.
I kept running.
Then I noticed a sign that said 4 miles. I checked my watch for the first time.
It said 34 minutes.
This just got interesting.
All I had to do was stay upright and I could finish in under an hour, which would potentially put me in a very favorable position for my 2020 races.
I stayed upright.
Final tally: 147th place. 68th woman. 8th in my age group.
Now that I re-read it, the above title sounds a bit provocative, but I’m referring to a specific canine who is, in fact, quite ill-behaved.
Ostensibly, Penny is 25% Labrador retriever, 25% standard poodle and 50% miniature poodle.
Plausibly, she is 90% Fozzie Bear and 10% Junk Yard Dog.
Penny arrived on the rebound after an unfortunate incident involving our geriatric poodle, a sudden blinding rainstorm and the swimming pool in the house we had lived in for three days.
I’ll let you fill in the gaps, but this was a Trauma of the First Order for our kids, and suddenly a new dog seemed like an *amazing* idea.
My dear friend M. tipped me off about a breeder of impossibly cute doodle puppies, which is basically the Frankenstein version of mating anything with a poodle.
This girl caught my eye.
After an exhaustive application process including references, vetting, an essay about our family and submission of photos of our living space (I conveniently omitted the pool), we were (barely) approved to spend the tidy sum of $3k+ for this fur ball.
The breeder sent such detailed instructions (14 pages!) about puppy care, including an agreement that we must feed her specific food (purchased from her), how we were required to spay her within 6 months or pay a $5ooo fine, how we should address her when we picked the dog up (no eye contact, she will get in our car and sit in the passenger seat), how we needed a specific carrier to bring her home, etc, that I feared we would be disqualified at the 11th hour from dog ownership.
Much to my surprise, when I met at the appointed meeting spot (Parking Lot B – not A! – at the Gander Mountain in Rogers, MN, 8 AM SHARP!, near the grassy knoll), I was stunned to discover that it was not the 60-ish age breeder but a 20-something proxy who pulled up in a battered Subaru, popped the rear gate and dumped a 3 pound stuffed-toy-come-to-life in my arms, all within 15 seconds.
I fell in love.
The kids had no idea this was coming, and to burst through the door of Fancy Pants Ranch Deux: Fancy Pants Ranchier and shout, “Who wants a puppy?” was a pinnacle of Doctor Mom Life.
We let the kids name her, and they reasonably determined “Penny” was a good fit. I concur.
We hadn’t had a puppy for 18 years, so the brutal reality of new parenthood struck hard.
I spent the summer of 2018 sleeping on a mattress, constantly touching the dog to see if she moved more than 1 mm, which would prompt complete awakening and a trip outdoors.
I learned quickly what is happening in our neighborhood at all hours of the night. (Spoiler: nothing).
Eventually she became more-or-less continent (my new rugs would say otherwise) and she began sleeping through the night.
But what she never stopped was CHEWING ALL THE STUFF.
To date, Penny has consumed 4 pairs of eyeglasses (including at least one lens, which prompts the question of “How is her colon intact?”, and I am SO MAD because that pair was my absolute favorite), the cushions from two leather chairs, countless shoes, the leg of a coffee table, dozens of eviscerated squeaky toys, 5 leashes, a tube of toothpaste, lip balms, LEGOs, and so many various Barbies and their accessories that she is easily the most prolific Barbie Serial Killer Of All Time.
I am her person.
I see her visually track me as I round the corner of the stairs.
You know that one time when life was coming at you a million miles an hour and you got overwhelmed, then tried to catch up but you were so far below ground that it seemed impossible to dig your way out, and there were so many things happening – and a lot of them were so, so good – and you wanted to share but there was never enough time, never enough space, but then you decided to push past that and just dive in?
Spouse and I recently spent a glorious week at the St. Regis Punta Mita, and I found myself wanting to take the St. Regis Experience home with me.
Check out that infinity pool. I mean.
Upon arrival, they will greet you with a cold, perfect margarita, should you choose to imbibe. Of course I did.
The drinks are served in these colorful confetti glasses. I loved them enough to quickly locate a set on Amazon and have them delivered to me before I arrived home.
We stayed in a fabulous ocean front one bedroom suite. More on that later. The linens are heavily scented with an aroma that is hard for me to nail down, but trust me when I say the laundry smells fabulous. Later in the week we sent a bunch of workout clothes to be laundered and they came back smelling so nice that I kept sniffing my clean running socks.
While I am not sure what detergent they use, I was able to find a similar pillow mist to what they provide:
I *may* have borrowed the small bottle that was on the nightstand when we arrived, but after researching and ordering, I would say that this Calm Sleep Mist with a lavender/chamomile mix is really, really similar. It’s $19.99 at Amazon.
The sheets and pillows are not too shabby, and by that I mean they are super luxurious. You can buy them directly from the St. Regis online boutique. When I first checked they were having a 20% off sale but now it looks like that promotion is no longer running. I’m sure it will be back and I plan to check around the 4th of July. The oversized bath sheets are the real stars here. I probably could have wrapped them around myself three times. I definitely plan to make a set of these mine.
One or two droppers of the concentrated coconut flavor is enough for a 12-16 oz bottle of water. I’ve been putting mine in sparkling water, especially with flavors like pineapple that go well with coconut. Yum.
Spouse and I enjoyed Moet & Chandon Ice Imperial a few times by the pool. If you’re not familiar, it’s champagne that’s meant to be casually consumed and over ice. Yep, ice in champagne. This is the perfect summer poolside drink. The champagne came served in these cool acrylic ice buckets. These seem to be promotional items from the company. While they can be found on sites like eBay, Moet doesn’t appear to directly sell them. Spouse surprised me by getting me one of my own (although for Veuve Clicquot, which is what we usually serve at home), along with a set of glasses. You can bet I am going to drink champagne while floating in my new pool this summer.
The last thing that really brings the Punta Mita experience home is my collection of odds and ends from the beach:
I absolutely love beachcombing and spent about two hours a day searching for unique treasures. This beach did not disappoint. I found so many interesting things that I had to get a new bowl to hold it all.
I can’t wait to go back, but in the meantime you can bet I am doing every possible thing to bring the St. Regis to me.
With the first part of the trip done, MGM (10), Trixie (9), and I had the rest of our Spring Break week to spend doing all things Disney. See yesterday’s post for Part 1.
We had three day park hopper passes, which allowed us to do exactly what that sounds like – skip from park to park, essentially exhausting ourselves across the Disney complex from sunrise to last call.
I thought that since the kids were a bit older now we’d be able to go all day until we ran on empty. That turned out to be wrong.
They were mostly one and done, parks-wise.
I consulted a few blogs (this is my favorite) for touring strategies, and we made Fast Pass reservations for the following:
Day 1: Magic Kingdom – Big Thunder Mountain, Peter Pan, Snow White Mine Train
Day 2: Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios – Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest, Flight of the Avatar. We got a bonus Fast Pass later that day for the Tower of Terror.
Day 3: EPCOT – Frozen Ever After, Spaceship Earth, Journey into Imagination
Day 1 was a lot of fun. I love the Magic Kingdom. Many of the recent times I’ve been in that park has been during a running event, and that hardly counts since my primary goal is to keep moving forward.
We got to the Magic Kingdom about 25 minutes after rope drop and watched the stand by line for Space Mountain creep from 25 to 40 minutes as we (briskly) walked to the entrance. Still, it would climb to more than 180 minutes later in the day, so this was worth it.
We ended up doing almost all of the classic rides and also were able to see a new Muppet show in Liberty Square. This runs several times per day and is rife with Muppet humor. It started a year or so ago and I have been wishing for the opportunity to see it; I loved it. This lasts 10-15 minutes and is totally worth stopping to watch.
The kids were ready to leave the Magic Kingdom around 5:30 PM, after arriving around 8:30 AM. We caught a Disney bus back to the hotel. They were ready to call it a night.
Day 2: Animal Kingdom
I’ve technically been inside Animal Kingdom four separate times while running the Disney Marathon, but I never stopped to look around or get oriented. I also realized that each time, I missed seeing the spectacular Tree of Life (above), which is just awesome. I’ve seen so many pictures of this but to see it in person was something special.
Flight of the Avatar is currently one of the hottest attractions at any of the Disney parks, and for good reason. It is immersive (4D?) and you really feel like you are flying on the back of a dragon-like creature. Unfortunately, it was so realistic that I felt motion sickness and had to close my eyes twice. I was slightly wobbly as we exited. Both kids declared it the best ever, but the 180+ minute wait precluded them from a second trip via stand by.
Expedition Everest was also a terrific surprise. The only thing I’d ever heard about this roller coaster was that runners could ride it during the marathon. I’ve never felt confident enough to do a hard stop during the race (and it comes mid-race, maybe mile 15-16?) and then resume the furor once the coaster ride is done. MGM sat this one out, but Trixie and I were surprised and delighted when the ride suddenly encountered broken tracks and then went backwards. Huge thrill.
Comment about the food: we tried eating at a few places in Animal Kingdom and struck out miserably. This was disappointing as there are apparently several interesting/good restaurants in the park. I was totally hypoglycemic and had a twist cone from something that looked like a food truck. In the moment it was the best ice cream cone I’ve ever had.
Kilimanjaro Safaris were another kid pleaser. MGM insisted on taking my phone to capture animal images. I’ll spare you the 200+ photos he took on this 20 minute ride.
We had enough stamina to park hop to Hollywood Studios, where we saw Muppet Vision 3D (another favorite for me) and scored bonus Fast Passes for the Tower of Terror. MGM was solidly NOT into riding Tower. Trixie had trepidation but went through with it, ultimately declaring it one of her favorites. She’s still talking about it, especially the part where the ride attendant ominously said “Good luck” as the elevator doors were closing.
I just can’t get enough Muppets, so we had dinner that night at Pizzerizzo, a new-ish Muppet-themed pizza restaurant. It took a while to get our order since Trixie had to wait for a gluten free pizza, but everything arrived hot and fresh. My cheese pizza tasted exactly like an individual sized DiGiorno pizza, although well-prepared. I am not saying that as a criticism since I have been well-known to eat DiGiorno. We all got a spectacular kick out of the restrooms, which were labeled with signage for “Gonzo’s Executive Used Toilets Showroom.”
The kids were zonked at this point and we decided to head back to the Swan hotel. There is a path from Hollywood Studios to the Boardwalk hotels that is slightly less than a mile. Walking it is quicker than any other transportation; plus there is the added effect of exhausting your kids to the point that they will immediately fall asleep once they return to the hotel room.
Next (and this got too long so I had to break it up): EPCOT, outfits, final thoughts.
Last month the kids and I escaped winter and went to Florida, along with seemingly everyone else in Minnesota.
It’s a fake out. They’re actually quite warm.
Except Spouse, who held down the fort and was on geriatric dog duty.
Oh, and he bought a new house while we were gone. Lots more about the latest iteration of Fancy Pants Ranch to come.
Here’s how the three of us spent our trip time:
Part 1 – My mom’s place (2 nights)
Part 2 – Disney (5 nights)
My Mom’s place is about an hour south of Orlando, located in an “active senior community.” Think lots of golf carts. Also many, many rules about street parking, community pool use, etc.
This part was pretty low-key. We went swimming, worked on a puzzle and mostly hung out. One morning we went to a nearby flea market. There was an astounding amount of absolute junk.
Later that day I took the kids to Legoland. This was my second – and hopefully last – time there. It was crowded, hot and the lines for rides were painfully long. Most of the rides are low capacity and there seemed to be a high number of park guests with various passes that allowed them to cut right to the front of the line, which was frustrating to those of us who had been waiting 45 minutes for a 45 second ride. This was not money well spent.
After two nights at my Mom’s, we headed back to Orlando to check into the Swan Hotel, which is one of my favorite places to stay. I’ve mentioned the Swan so many times here; I love the fact that it is a Westin in disguise (it’s sister hotel, The Dolphin, is a Sheraton), so I can earn loyalty points. Because I spent a lot of last year living in a hotel, I am currently a Platinum Starwood member and we were upgraded to a family suite. This was a terrific place to spend five nights.
We arrived at the Swan on a Sunday but were only planning to do the Disney parks Tuesday – Thursday, so we had about a day and a half to spend otherwise occupied. This was easy to do.
We went to Disney Springs and bought an overpriced stuffed rabbit at Build A Bear. We bought Lego mini figures. We ate dinners at Trattoria al Forno on the Boardwalk and Bluezoo. We swam in the excellent pools at the Swan and Dolphin.
And finally it was time for Disney!
Up next: our Disney parks days and trip packing list.