CITY NEWS

Greater Phoenix just wrapped up hosting Super Bowl XLIX and Verizon’s Super Bowl Central. Some
highlights from the events include (sourced from City of Phoenix):  This was the largest event to date ever managed in Phoenix with 177,000 visitors to the Phoenix Convention Center during Verizon’s Super Bowl Central/NFL Experience; Metro Light Rail recorded its highest ridership day as Saturday, January 31 with 126,000 riders – An average Saturday is typically 35,300; and February 2 was expected to be the busiest airport day ever with nearly 200,000 passengers (average day is 100,000). Phoenix is the place to be for mega-events. Phoenix will be gearing up to host BCS National Championship Game in 2016 and NCAA Men’s Final Four in 2017.

RESORT NEWS

Couples can indulge together in an array of special experiences this Valentine’s Day weekend at the Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. The Valentine’s Day In-Room Candlelight Romance for Two allows guests who prefer the romantic privacy of their room or suite can opt for a three-course candlelight dinner for two that includes soup or salad, entrée, dessert and a bottle of house wine for $150, not including tax and gratuity. The Valentine’s Day Afternoon Tea combines special romance-themed chocolate desserts with trendy tea sandwiches and popular teas. Served Feb. 13, 14 and 15 in the Lobby Tea Lounge from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m., the Valentine’s Day Afternoon Tea is $38, or $46 with Kir Royal or Mimosa.

The Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel is offering Spring Training rates starting at $179 with complimentary self-parking, in-room WiFi, and kids eat free with purchase of adult meal at District American Kitchen and Wine Bar, good through April 4th.

Enjoy Sunsational Savings at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa. Located adjacent to premier shopping and dining, The Westin Kierland offers 27 holes of golf, Agave, The Arizona Spa, an Adventure Pool complex with lazy river, waterslide and Kierland FlowRider wave simulator plus a host of dining experiences. With the Sunsational Saving offer, guests who stay four nights enjoy the fifth night for free plus they receive a $100 resort credit per stay and can enjoy a complimentary room upgrade, subject to availability. Rates start from $379 per room, per night, now through April 30.
The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician, Arizona’s only Forbes Five Star, AAA Five Diamond resort-within-a-resort, has been recognized as one of the 10 best hotels in the country by U.S. News & World Report. The boutique hotel ranks eighth on the publication’s list of 50 Best Hotels in the USA for 2015, jumping 23 spots from No. 31 in 2014, its first-ever selection.  In addition to making the Top 10 nationwide, The Canyon Suites was also named the No. 1 Best Hotel in Phoenix; the No. 1 Best Hotel in Arizona; the No. 1 Best Starwood Hotel; and the No. 1 Best Luxury Collection Hotel – the Starwood brand division of which The Canyon Suites is a member.

Guests can plan their stay, their way with The Wigwam's Discover The Wigwam package. Customize a getaway with a $50 daily resort credit that can be used at their award-winning Red Door Spa, for a delicious dining experience or on any of their 54 holes of championship golf. Rates start at $149.

W Scottsdale Vitamin W package including: W Scottsdale Tote Bag, sunblock and sunglasses, a pitcher of W Scottsdale signature cocktail- Vitamin W, a Wonderful Room you’ll love starting at $219 per night.

Kimpton’s FireSky Resort and Spa is offering guests a cure for the dreaded Mondays with its Call in Fabulous package. Play hooky and enjoy Deluxe accommodations, Breakfast in bed (up to $40 value), Complimentary in-room movie, Doctor’s Note (for your "sick" day), Guaranteed 2 PM late check-out. Guests can spend their "sick" day basking outdoors (because we salt drinks, not streets), rejuvenating at Jurlique Spa, or seeking some retail therapy in the Old Town Scottsdale shops just minutes away. Package must be booked a minimum of two days in advance. Valid for weekend stays (Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays) but must stay overnight on Sunday.  Available until March 1, 2015.

Boulders, A Waldorf Astoria Resort is offering The Truly Boulders package which includes accommodations in a private Casita, breakfast – a daily $25 resort credit, complimentary valet or self-parking, 20 percent off Spa Services at the Waldorf Astoria Spa and unlimited access to the Spa facility and fitness classes. The cost of the “Truly Boulders” package starts at $359 (double occupancy).

The Hermosa Inn’s Play Ball package includes a stay at the best available rate, $36 breakfast credit per day to LON’s at the Hermosa, baseball-themed snacks, sunscreen, a Cactus League game schedule and two drink vouchers per night to Last Drop at the Hermosa. Rates are starting from $417/night. Available Feb. 28 to March 30.

Enjoy the Spring Training Stay and Play package at the We-Ko-Pa Resort & Conference Center that includes a $75 resort credit that can be used at the Ahnala Mesquite Room restaurant, pool bar or room service, $10 free slot play for new Fortune Club members ($5 free slot play for existing Fortune Club members) at Fort McDowell Casino and 20 percent off spa services at the Amethyst Spa & Boutique. Standard rooms are $269, and pool view/mountain view rooms are $294. Available from Feb. 23 to April 30.

Providing welcome relief from winter’s wrath, Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain, the award-winning resort in warm, sunny Greater Phoenix, is offering couples a chance to turn up the heat this Valentine’s Day Weekend with its Sweethearts Sanctuary escape. Paired with dinner by Executive Chef Beau MacMillan at elements restaurant, the lover’s holiday will be filled with sun-kissed romance. Available Feb. 13 to the 16, the Sweethearts Sanctuary package provides 10% off two night’s room and tax, a 60-minute Couples Massage or choice of two 60-minute treatments at the intimate Sanctuary Spa, Valentine’s Day dinner at the award-winning elements and a romantic rose petal turndown. Rates start at $1,866 based on a two night stay.

This Valentines, “sweethearts” are invited to treat their special valentine to Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa. There are a variety of options from which to choose, including live nightly entertainment in Center Stage Bar, dinners and cocktails, Spa Avania experiences and gondola rides. Alto ristorante e bar is the ideal place to celebrate with a special valentine. This comfortable Italian restaurant offers fresh and flavorful dishes with an emphasis on “the season.” This romantic evening is complete with a complimentary gondola ride along the resort’s waterways. The Alto Special Valentine’s Day Four-Course Prize Fixe Menu is available Friday and Saturday, February 13th and 14th for $100 per person and a wine pairing option available for an additional cost.SWB, a southwest bistro, is energized by the delicious aromas and activity coming from its open kitchen. This casual Southwestern bistro offers wood-fired specialties featuring fresh, seasonal ingredients. The SWB Special Valentine’s Day Three-Course Prix Fixe Menu is available Friday and Saturday, February 13th and 14th for $48 per person. An A la carte menu is available. Romantic Gondola Rides are available for $10 per adult from 5:30-10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, February 13th and 14th.

ARTS, CULTURE & ENTERTAINMENT

A new mural comes to downtown Phoenix. Celebrated artist and designer Andy Brown will create and added cultural element in downtown and contributes to the growing network of public art in the community. The newest mural will be painted on the façade of the award winning nightclub, the Monarch Theatre.

Works by Leonardo da Vinci will be on display in Arizona for the first time through a new Phoenix Art Museumexhibition. Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester and the Power of Observation will open at Phoenix Art Museum on January 24, 2015. The exhibition is focused around the Codex Leicester—comprised of 18 double-page and double-sided sheets (72 pages total). This is the only manuscript by Leonardo in a private American collection and one of the world’s most important intellectual manuscripts. Focused primarily on Leonardo’s study of water and the moon, the codex pages display his creative process, the way he reasoned through a concept, and how he influenced artists throughout centuries. Along with the Codex Leicester will be 31 additional artworks by artists ranging from Claude Monet and Gustave Courbet, to Ansel Adams and Bill Viola. Included will be paintings, photographs and a video installation, all going along with the themes found in Leonardo’s Codex.

First Fridays, Native + You, or NU, are at the Heard Museum, with free admission from 6 to 10 p.m. every First Friday of each month except March. In April, the theme is “Women Rock!” Join us for a celebration of female creativity, from yoga to dance to art. Enjoy the Heard’s 11 exhibit galleries, nationally-acclaimed Courtyard Café and gourmet drinks at the Coffee Cantina, and see the best in Native art at the Heard Shops.

The Phoenix Symphony takes you out for a movie in style with a unique, first-ever presentation of the legendary Hollywood musical film Singin’ in the Rain, starring Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds. The Phoenix Symphony, conducted by Randall Craig Fleischer, accompanies this feature film projected live, while bringing the iconic classical score to life with hits like the title song “Singin’ in the Rain,” and others such as “Make ‘Em Laugh,” “Fit as a Fiddle,” and “You Were Meant for Me” sprinkled throughout this classic March 14 and 15 at Symphony Hall. Tickets start at $18.

Visitors can join Pueblo Grande Museum in February for a variety of tours, hikes, and classes with something for all interests, ages, and budgets.  Some highlights include: Archaeology for Kids (Feb.7), discover the science of archaeology; Behind the Scenes Tour with Curator (Feb. 11), join the curator for a “behind the scenes” tour of the museum learning about artifacts and how the museum cares for its collections; and Hikes in a Hurry (Feb. 14), experience a one mile hike at South Mountain discovering Hohokam petroglyphs.

Childsplay presents a hilarious new play, The Boy Who Loved Monsters and The Girl Who Loved Peas. Performances will be held at Tempe Center for the Arts, Feb. 8 through March 8, Saturdays at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m. The play features 8-year-old Evan who hates peas. And to make matters worse, his baby sister Sue loves them. When forced to remain at the table until his plate is clean, Evan makes a wish for a monster to come eat his family. But be careful what you wish for! Single tickets start at $15. This play is recommended for ages 3 and up.

Scottsdale Arts Festival will be at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts from March 13-15.  The three-day event features 200 jury-selected artists from throughout North America who display their work. Works of art are available for purchase directly from the artists and from the Scottsdale Arts Festival’s online art auction. Visitors also enjoy continuous live music and entertainment from Arizona’s top bands and performers, temporary art projects, fun activities for children and families at Imagine Nation, delicious foods and beverages including a wine and beer tasting garden, free admission to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) and free parking and shuttle service.

Carefree Festival of Fine Chocolate and Fine Art will take place Valentine's Day weekend from Feb.12-15 in the Carefree Desert Gardens. The entirely free event includes 100 exhibitors and vendors of fine art, chocolate, and handmade confections. Live music and dance performances will take place throughout the weekend. This year's highlights include the San Francisco Chocolate Factory, known for its small, quality batches of fresh-dipped fruits, sauces, and signature candies. As well as the signature, handmade chocolate designs by Jason Wasser of Xocalatl Confections.The festival emphasizes quality over quantity, showcasing delectable treats made from the freshest and finest ingredients.

A new California Sea Lion Exhibit and Educational Show is now at Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park. The outdoor exhibit has a pool, public seating and viewing area for its three juvenile California Sea Lions-- the only marine mammals in Arizona and the first sea lions on permanent display in the state in about 40 years. The energetic sea lions can be seen daily at "Shipwreck Cove," a pirate ship themed display with upper deck and underwater viewing.  The new pool brings the total volume of man-made salt water for the sea lions to approximately 100k gallons. The spacious outdoor exhibit allows visitors to attend an all new public educational demonstration featuring these acrobatic animals two times daily.  For a small fee, a limited number of guests can even feed the animals during two scheduled feeding times.

A LEGO® Model of Taliesin West has been unveiled at the Pavilion at Taliesin West on Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard. Created by Architectural LEGO® Artist Adam Reed Tucker, this is largest-ever LEGO model of any Frank Lloyd Wright Building. Containing more than 180,000 LEGO bricks in 11 colors and 120 different shapes, the model measures eight by four feet and is made entirely of standard LEGO parts. This model will be on display until the end of April and available for viewing by anyone attending a tour of Taliesin West. This model is the third Wright building in a series that Tucker will eventually exhibit on tour. Working in accordance with the LEGO Certified Professional Program, Tucker spent 40 hours researching and studying the project, 120 hours designing the LEGO model and 260 hours constructing the final model of Taliesin West.

DINING

Arizona Cocktail Week (AZCW) is returning for a fourth round Feb. 14-21. The fourth annual AZCW will feature a Artisanal Spirit & Cocktail Market, a “Bitter & Twisted” bartender competition, pop-up speakeasies, a salute to the cocktail “Dark Ages” and more. Highlighted once again by the Cocktail Carnival at the Hotel Valley Ho on Saturday, February 14 2015, this poolside shindig will showcase dozens of vendor booths, carnival games, aerial pool performers and countless cocktail tastings. Plus, all week long, guests can once again take advantage of tons of cocktail specials at their favorite local bars and restaurants with the AZ Cocktail Week Wristband, purchased online or at any BEVMO store.  Also enjoy Imbibe & Dine cocktail and food pairing dinners at restaurants across Arizona.

Arizona's growing thirst for craft beer will be quenched when Arizona Beer Week returns Feb.12-21. Dozens of the state's best breweries collaborate to bring craft brew connoisseurs food pairings, tap takeovers, pub crawls, special giveaways, meet the brewer nights and other events that pay homage to craft beer in Arizona. The week kicks off with the Annual Arizona Strong Beer Festival on Feb. 14, the "Best Beer Festival" award-winner according Phoenix New Times, held at Steele Indian School Park in Phoenix. Although strong beers (those with high alcohol content) are the focus at the festival, a huge variety of craft beers — as well as specialty styles and unique, just-for-this-event brews — are made available to festival-goers, who will receive a commemorative four-ounce tasting glass and 15 tasting tickets for the price of admission. And because food and beer just naturally go together, there will be plenty of top-notch food vendors on hand, serving up tasty eats that wash down well with frosty suds. Live music will keep the atmosphere rockin’. The craft beer week will have over 200 events on tap from Flagstaff to Tucson and every brewery in between.

Arizona Celeb Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza’s new concept Barrio Urbano is now open at The Yard, Uptown Phoenix .Chef Esparza takes aim at a wider stage of her notable cooking style, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and of course, a serious cocktail program. Barrio Urbano pushes and blends the boundaries of what authentic Mexican cooking can be, with personality. From housemade everything, to incorporating exotic varieties of imported Mexican chile, Esparza continues to deliver bold flavors. Bucket-list menu items include the Menudo estilo Chihuahua ,Tacos de Pescado, and trophy Relleno.

Wrigley Mansion's signature Geordie’s Restaurant has received an Italian steakhouse menu makeover, courtesy of acclaimed Executive Chef Robert Nixon, as well as consulting from James Beard Award-winning chef Christopher Gross. The popular restaurant that boasts the best panoramic views anywhere in the Valley is now enhancing their more carnivorous offerings with a new collection of grilled, prime-cut steaks, as well as a strong refocus of the restaurant's direction toward a new Italian-inspired steakhouse concept. Established Geordie's Restaurant menu staples like handmade pastas and family-style sides will still be available at the new Geordie's Steak, but new and abundant offerings like the 24 oz. Bone-In Rib Chop ($52) and the exceptionally memorable Porterhouse for Two ($86), carved tableside by your server on an antique pushcart, provide diners the opportunity for added one-of-a-kind guest experiences.

In celebration of the festive Mardi Gras holiday, Southern Rail is bringing the Big Easy’s storied traditions to the Valley for its inaugural Mardi Gras celebration on Tuesday, Feb. 17. All day long, guests can “search for the baby” in their own personal King Cake, while adorning colorful beads and sipping on Southern Rail’s signature Sazerac for just $5 a glass, available Feb. 15-17. For those who want the entire “N’awlins” experience, the Uptown Phoenix-area restaurant will be offering live jazz featuring some of Dixieland’s greatest hits, from 5-7 p.m.

Kai Restaurant at the The Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa recently announced that it has been named a winner of OpenTable Diners’ Choice Awards for the “Top 100 Best Restaurants in America.”  Kai was the only Arizona restaurant named to the list of the top 10 honorees, coming in at number 8 in the nation. The list of winners is derived from more than 5 million reviews submitted by OpenTable diners for more than 20,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 

SPA

A few of Spa Biltmore Valentine’s Day Specials include the Couples Massage Workshop, designed to increase individual and integrated awareness. Gain knowledge through body mechanics and demonstrated massage techniques, along with useful tools for preparation.  This time will be dedicated to exploring relaxation and enhancing connection as a couple. Practice and become comfortable with the many life applications and benefits of touch (three hours, $495). The HydraFacial® to Cupid’s Delight will thoroughly enhances the skin using patented Vortex Technology™ to cleanse, exfoliate, extract and hydrate while simultaneously providing the skin with cellular supportive serums and hydration.  But then, Cupid strikes and you enter Cloud Nine with a Farmhouse Fresh Whipped Whoopie! hand and foot treatment. Shea butter laden with soft notes of white velvet butter cream will surely be to your heart’s delight (45 minutes, $225). Lastly, the Infinitely Loving Restorative Massage, a relaxing full body massage that restores with anti-inflammatory properties of organic sesame, sunflower and Jojoba oils (50 minutes, $155).

Revive with Romance-Escape with your Valentine to Agave Spa this February at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa with a special experience designed to help you relax and rejuvenate together. With the half-day Romance Revival Package, you each can enjoy relaxing side by side in a couple's suite with soft lighting, soothing music, and glowing candles. Choose a 50-minute Agave Master Massage, Rollerssage or Therapeutic massage customized especially for you. Then sip a glass of champagne and luxuriate poolside in your very own cabana at the Agave Spa's Aguamiel Pool. The Romance Revival Package, priced at $298 excluding tax and gratuity, is available from Feb. 1-28, 2015.

Hotel Valley Ho’s VH Spa Romance Package allows you to treat yourself and your sweetie to a 60-minute Aromatherapy Massage, followed by a glass of Champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries on the spa deck. The package is offered Friday, February 13 through Sunday, February 15 at $150 per person including service charge.

Spa Avania at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch is offering the My Suite Valentine package, which comes with a choice of a 60-minute Signature Avania Massage or Facial and a 15 minute hand, foot or scalp enhancement, performed in the privacy of one of our suites. Enjoy a glass of wine or champagne and your choice of food amenity and a “take-home” gift of hand-crafted chocolate truffles. $400 per couple. Available February 6th to the 16th. Enhance your experience with a $100 upgrade to the Spa Avania Suite and enjoy private time in suite for an hour.

SPORTS/GOLF


Cactus League Spring Training, a seasonal rite in Greater Phoenix, roars to life every March with the iconic sounds of cracking bats, snapping mitts and happy fans. For baseball lovers, it doesn’t get much better than this: sunny weather, affordable tickets and unparalleled proximity to the best players in the game. The 2015 Cactus League season features 15 major league teams and more than 220 games from March 3 to April 4. There’s never an off day, and the longest “road trip” between stadiums is 45 minutes.

The 5th Annual LPGA Founders Cup will be played March 17-22, 2015, at Wildfire Golf Club at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa. This full-field, four-day event will be televised live on The Golf Channel all four days The Founders Cup was established four years ago to honor the 13 original Founders of the LPGA, as well as to help provide a future for the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf Program, which has received more than $2 million from tournament proceeds in the last four years.

Unlimited Golf for Two package at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa. Now through April, guests can enjoy Resort accommodations, unlimited golf at the Resort’s three nine-hole courses including golf cart, use of practice facilities and a one-hour daily golf clinic. The Unlimited Golf for Two package is priced from $699 per room, per night now through April 30, 2015.

For the 2015 winter and spring season The Pointe Hiltons at Tapatio and Squaw Peak’s Golf Stay and Play package includes a one-night stay, Hilton breakfast and one round of golf at the scenic Lookout Mountain Golf Club. Rates start at $298 through April 12.

The JW Marriott Desert Ridge Unlimited Golf Experience package starts from just $319 and includes unlimited golf on both the Faldo and Palmer courses, complimentary golf cart with GPS and bag storage, advanced tee times and a daily breakfast buffet. Guests can tee off on two 18-hole championship golf courses -- home to the LPGA Founders Cup -- and relax after rounds on the links with the resort’s luxurious amenities, including acres of turquoise pools, unique dining experiences and the world-class Revive Spa.

Arizona Grand Resort & Spa is offering the Total Golf package. The package includes: Spacious Suite with Living Area & Separate Bedroom; Unlimited Golf (after 11AM); Centrally Located to the Best Golf in Arizona; a 7-Acre Oasis Water Park; and a 20,000 Square Foot Athletic Club. Rates Starting at $199 (thru May 2015).

JW Marriot Camelback Inn Resort & Spa Scottsdale offers a golf package that includes unlimited golf at Camelback Golf Club, deluxe accommodations in the resort’s casita-style guest rooms, 20% off in resort, spa and tennis retail shops, and more, starting at $369/night.

The Boulders, A Waldorf Astoria Resort offers The Stay and Play Golf package which lets golfers relive the highlights of their game over lunch at their choice of resort dining venues. This package includes accommodations in a private Casita, one round of golf per person/per night, a $25 per person lunch voucher, and complimentary access to the Waldorf Astoria Spa facility and unlimited fitness classes. The cost of the package starts at $797/night (double occupancy).