CITY NEWS

The Greater Phoenix –area just got a little bit easier to get around. The Northwest expansion of the Valley Metro Light Rail will open March 19, and give riders the opportunity to easily commute from the airport to downtown Phoenix to downtown Mesa to Tempe -and now-to Dunlap Ave. The additional three miles makes it a 26-mile system that connects many of the hot spots in Phoenix. This comes just seven months after the opening of the downtown Mesa portion of the line, which connects riders to many unique shops, restaurants, breweries and museums. 

RESORT NEWS

The massive effort to restore the historic Professional Building in downtown Phoenix and build the Hilton Garden Inn comes just in time to welcome guests for busy season. The newest addition to hotel market honors one of Phoenix’s building steeped in local history and showcases the restored design of the Former Professional Building. This long-vacant historic landmark at Monroe Street and Central Avenue was built in the 1930s. The Phoenix landmark was added to the National Register of Historic places in 1993, and its original limestone façade features classic Art Deco embellishments.

The Arizona winter will soon be coming to a close, but the resort deals aren’t quite done. The Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort is offering their Arizona Winter Package through Feb. 28. The package starts from $339 and includes all-suite accommodations for two, seasonal spa treatment for two (the 50-minute Gingersnap Body Wrap), hot chocolate for two at Rico’s American Grill or Hole-in-the-Wall restaurants, two poolside cocktails or two drinks at Slim Picken’s or Hole-in-the-Wall restaurants.

The Camby Hotel –a highly anticipated independent luxury lifestyle resort – is finally open. Offering a playful mix of the professional and the avant-garde, The Camby is Arizona’s first and only hotel from Autograph Collection Hotels. The name is inspired by its location near the city’s iconic Camelback Mountain.  The Camby Hotel seamlessly blends the timeless beauty of the property, originality in contemporary design, and on-trend services to create a colorful, elegant, and bold hotel that is exactly like nothing else. The hotel will include: Luxury accommodations in 277 guest rooms; Three innovative food and beverage outlets with Director of Culinary Experiences Dushyant Singh at the helm; A fresh rooftop pool experience; A boutique spa; Contemporary fitness center; and More than 20,000 square feet of meeting space. Led by Stonewall & Taylor and inspired by the desert landscape, the artfully designed hotel incorporates the five C’s of Arizona – cattle, copper, citrus, climate, and cotton – to shape The Camby Hotel’s identity and guest experiences blending imagination, sophistication and statement-making designs.

Greater Phoenix will become one of 12 destinations worldwide that house Hyatt Hotel’s luxury boutique hotel brand, Andaz. Expected to open mid-year in 2016, Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa will cover 22.5 acres of land that overlook Camelback Mountain. The resort will have 201 guestrooms, a spa, large pool, over 20,000 square feet of meeting space, and restaurants that take local flavors and put a modern twist on them. One of the most unique elements of the Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa is their collaboration with local artists, musicians and designers. The partnership will help create events and programs for guests based upon themes unique to the Sonoran desert. The Andaz Salon, the brand’s signature cultural program, will also feature interactive events to support and nurture the nearby community of emerging artistic talent.

Celebrate a huge milestone with the iconic Hotel Valley Ho. They are celebrating 10 years with Westroc Hospitality and 59 years of business with some incredible specials. As part of the 10-year anniversary, guests can receive 10% off their room, two welcome drinks, $10 in hotel bucks each night, a special arrival amenity and $10 room upgrade through 2016! Check out some of the enhancements that were recently made, which include new décor, 49-inch HD TVs, modern furnishings, and upgrades to the ZuZu Lounge and hotel lobby.

Relax and indulge in some New World cuisine at the newly-renovated Hilton Scottsdale Resort and Villas. The property is undergoing a $5 Million ongoing renovation to the entire property that includes a restaurant bar now nearly three times the original size. The executive chef, Patrick Doyle, uses his Mexican-Irish heritage to inspire dishes at the new BlueFire Grille. Other renovations at the resort include improvements to the guestrooms, villas, meeting spaces, Oasis Bar and Grill, lobby and pool, which are all set to be completed in January.

ARTS, CULTURE & ENTERTAINMENT

Bring the whole family, dogs included, to the Desert Botanical Garden for their Dogs’ Day in the Garden.  On Jan. 23 and spend time in the “doghouse” with vendors sampling the best dog food and treats. Listen to special presentations ranging from healthy dog treats to keeping dogs safe in the desert environment. Go for a walk on Garden trails, heel for family photo opportunities, and participate in craft activities for both children and dogs. Dog admission is $4 and they will only be admitted to the Garden between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Arizona Humane Society.

Make your appearance at what’s been called “The World’s Greatest Collector Car Auction” on Jan. 23-31. The Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction is back at WestWorld for its 8-day festival. The auction will feature more than 1,000 collector and special interest automobiles being auctioned off at No Reserve, as well as daily "automobilia" auctions. Over 350 vendors and exhibitors will also be on hand. The Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction was established in 1971 and is expected to draw 300,000 people this year.

Catch one of the many shows being performed this month at Herberger Theater in downtown Phoenix. The schedule includes Waist Watchers: The Musical!, Snapshots: A Musical Scrapbook, Operantics, LTT After Dark Show, Becoming Dr. Ruth, and Gretel and Hansel.

Be part of a huge milestone for The Carnival of Illusion by attending the duo’s 350th show, “Magic, Mystery and OOOH La La.” The vaudeville-inspired event will be held at the Grand Stage at Tempe Center for the Arts on Jan. 23. Other showings will take place at the Waldorf Astoria's Arizona Biltmore and Mesa Arts Center.

Wine and the tranquility of the desert – Only in Arizona. The Corks & Cactus festival will happen Feb. 20-21 and is the Desert Botanical Garden’s premier wine event where guests can sample from 40 different varieties of wine from different regions of the world and to talk with representatives from the different wineries.  All proceeds from sales of the wine will benefit the Garden’s education, conservation, research and horticulture programs. Tickets for one day are $35 for members and $40 for the general public.

New exhibit Gifted! opens at Heard Museum. Gifted! celebrates the gifted people who made the art and the gifted collectors with an eye for art who generously gave their art to the Heard Museum. In addition, some donors have provided purchase funds, recognizing the museum’s need to buy the best of new artworks. Paintings, katsina dolls, ceramics, basketry and jewelry are all gifts the Heard has recently received. A subset of the ongoing exhibit will showcase recent gifts of paintings by three extraordinary women—Santa Clara Pueblo artists Pablita Velarde, her daughter Helen Hardin and her granddaughter Margarete Bagshaw.

It’s festival season! Some shows and festivals to look forward to in the coming months are The McDowell Mountain Music Festival on March 11 at Margaret T. Hance Park, which will feature The Avett Brothers, Beck, Porter Robinson and Kid Cudi, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will be at Talking Stick Resort Arena on March 10, and Ellie Goulding at Comerica Theater on April 16. Celebrate St. Patty’s Day at The Pot of Gold Music Festival at Rawhide, which will include headliners like Big Sean and Future.

Reptile mogul exotics’ Serpentarium re-opens for tours. Zoned and classified as a zoo, and first unveiled two years ago, the Serpentarium is home to approximately 100 fascinating and rarely seen reptiles, many of which are native to Arizona.  Included in the venomous collection – the largest in the Phoenix/Tempe area, and second largest in the state – are rattlesnakes, anacondas, iguanas, false water cobras, bearded dragons, Gila monsters and monitor lizards. Approximately 75 percent of the Serpentarium’s inhabitants are venomous – including the seldom-seen ridge-nosed rattlesnake that was recognized as the official state reptile of Arizona in 1986, and is indigenous to the canyons of the Santa Rita and Huachuca Mountains.  Other interesting residents include a 10-foot anaconda and a 12-year-old rattlesnake raised domestically since birth.All reptiles are housed in spacious glass-enclosed aquariums with viewing-only privileges for the general public, fostering a safe, yet up-close learning environment.  The Serpentarium is open for private tours ($5 per person) on Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.  

SPA

Revive your romance: Agave, The Arizona Spa at The Westin Kierland Resort invites couples to celebrate their special Valentine any time during the month of February with a romantic spa escape for two or with the decadent treat of a roses and chocolate facial. With the Romance Revival Package, couples can escape to the spa to enjoy a relaxing side-by-side massage surrounded by soft lighting, soothing music and glowing candles. Each can choose a 50-minute Agave Master Massage, Rollersage or a customized Therapeutic Massage. Following their massages, couples are treated to a glass of champagne served in their very own poolside cabana at Agave Spa’s Aguamiel Pool. The Romance Revival Package, which includes a half-day cabana rental, is priced at $298 excluding tax and gratuity, is available from Feb. 1-29, 2016.

Imagine being pampered for an entire week! Well, the Alvadora Spa at the Royal Palms Resort makes it a little easier with their daily specials. Mimosa Mondays include 20% off spa and salon treatments, and a complimentary mimosa. Two on Tuesdays allows you to select two services for $250. Un-Wind Wednesdays offers 20% off spa and salon treatments, as well as a glass of house wine. Three on Thursdays offers three services for just $352. On Fridays, there is Beer and a Buzz, which is a men’s haircut and a beer for $35. Or women can take advantage of the Bubbles and a Blowout deal, which is champagne and a blowout for $45. Skip to Sunday where the Soleful Sundays deal is offered, which is the Mediterranean Manicure and Pedicure for $99.

DINING


Sample some of the best local food offerings at this year’s Devoured Culinary Classic. This year’s festival features four distinct areas to explore for complete culinary immersion. Presented in partnership with Local First Arizona, Devour Phoenix, Phoenix Art Museum and the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance, the Devoured week of events featuring the seventh annual Devoured Culinary Classic will run from February 28 through March 6. The week-long celebration of food and drink returns with an all-star lineup of local chefs, culinarians, winemakers, brewmasters, and mixologists. The main event, the award-winning Devoured Culinary Classic, will be held on Saturday, March 5, and Sunday, March 6, at Phoenix Art Museum, and will feature a new format, new restaurants and chefs, an intimate VIP experience, and more.

In Phoenix, you’ll be spoiled with the best of the best. AAA  announced their annual list of Five Diamond Restaurant and Resort award winners and  Kai Restaurant at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa received their highest rating and maintained its coveted position as the solitary Five-Diamond restaurant in the state of Arizona.  Kai is joined by The Phoenician, Fairmont Scottsdale Princess and Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North on AAA’s list.

The demand for local craft brews is rapidly growing, and Phoenix is on top of the trend. With local breweries like Four Peaks Brewing Co., Papago Brewing and O.H.S.O Brewery, Phoenix has been put on the map as a beer destination. Arizona Beer Week 2016 will celebrate this status from Feb. 11-20 with tons of fun events that will appeal to men, women, sweets lovers, couples and foodies. The main event is the Strong Beer Festival at Steele Indian School Park on Feb. 13, but the Valentine’s Brunch, Sun Up Brewing Co Beer & Cupcake Pairing, Arizona Beer Tap Takeover, and “Evolution of IPA” Beer Series will also be happening that week.

SPORTS/GOLF

The College Football Playoff (CFP) announces events that will take place in Arizona the weekend of the national championship game, including an interactive event for fans, concert series, pregame festivities at University of Phoenix Stadium and philanthropic events. Playoff Fan Central, a festival that will give fans the opportunity to be a part of the championship experience, will be at the Phoenix Convention Center. The event will include interactive games, sponsor activities, special guest appearances and exhibits celebrating college football. Playoff Fan Central will also feature appearances by the participating institutions’ bands, cheerleaders and mascots and mini pep rallies for each participating team. On Saturday, attendees will have the opportunity to watch media day live, as student-athletes and coaches from both teams participate in interviews on the special 50-yard football field.

The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) is opening a permanent office in Greater Phoenix to run the JTBC Founders Cup and promote women’s golf in one of the sports premiere US locations. The new office will allow the team to be more involved in the Scottsdale/Phoenix golfing and business community year round and prepare for the 6th annual JTBC Founders Cup, which is slated for March 14-20, 2016 at Wildfire Golf Club at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge. The event features a $1.5 million purse and was created to honor the 13 original founders of the LPGA. It has also raised more than $3 million for the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf Program.

The Rock ‘N’ Roll Arizona Marathon and ½ Marathon is back for its 18th year! The Kids Rock and 5k races will happen on Jan. 16, and the ½ and Full Marathons will be on Jan. 17. The Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon isn’t just for runners, however. There is live music, entertainment, a Health & Fitness Expo at the Phoenix Convention Center on Jan. 15, plus plenty of room for supporters on the race sidelines.

As Arizonans get the first signs of spring in early February, there is no better way to spend a day than in the warm sun at one of Greater Phoenix’s biggest events of the year: the Waste Management Phoenix Open. It is Feb. 1-7 at TPC Scottsdale, and unlike any other golf tournament! There will be performances from Tiesto, Rascal Flatts, Dierks Bentley and Robin Thicke, as well as other fundraising events surrounding the Open. Last year brought over 500,000 people, so should be just as big this year.