Phoenix!

On a recent business trip to Phoenix (first time in Arizona) I experienced one of the worst hotels I have ever stayed in – the housekeeping staff did not much but the most minimal of wiping down and straightening of beds. This hotel was chosen by our Company so we were stuck there. The Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel in Phoenix is not one I would recommend to anyone. The only advantage was the proximity of the rail transportation across the street. You could ride this very inexpensively to downtown Phoenix and beyond. You’ll want to take care and ride in the car behind the driver and I wouldn’t recommend going alone at night. They also did not have a gift shop and there was nothing close by to purchase inexpensive souvenirs. As a mom, whenever I travel on business my kids love receiving a postcard from where I’m staying. This hotel had nothing. You can check out additional reviews of the hotel at http://www.tripadvisor.com. Nasty hotel aside the best part of the trip was being able to take in the fabulous nature views. The glorious sunrise every morning with hues of blue, pink and then a burst of yellow against the back drop of the mountains helped to start the day off right. We were fortunate to be one of the first events to experience a newly renovated Phoenix Convention Center. The beauty of the desert was brought inside with large windows overlooking small, desert garden displays of cactus and palos verdes trees. This center also had the best restrooms I’ve ever seen in a convention center with mosiac tiles and a modern spa-like atmosphere. Many of us felt we could stay there rather than go back to that hotel. Although most of my time was taken up with business activities I did manage to take a few photos of the area – a small park across the street next to St. Mary’s Basilica made for an idyllic escape.
A couple of dining places we managed to visit – PF Chang (www.pfchangs.com), a chinese eatery which I believe is common to most large cities. Our waiter was fabulous and tended us well despite being at the end of a double shift! The night we ate there they had a great special – 2 for $40. This included an appetizer, soup, entree and a mini desert. As usual the food was fabulous and the atmosphere wonderful. Maria Maria restaurant (www.mariamariarestaurant.com) – A joint venture between musician Carlos Santana and Chef Roberto Santibañez, this place was not your usual Mexican fare but definitely very good. Be forewarned the food is spicy so if you have a very low tolerance you may want to ask for the spices/sauce on the side. The menu consisted of the usual favorites – chicken enchiladas suizas, carnitas, chile relleno, fajitas, nachos and a very interesting and delicious chicken and mole tortilla casserole. This mexican food has a definite southwestern kick, but not so much so that it isn’t recognizable from say mexican food you might have had in Texas or Mexico. On weekends you can enjoy live music. The atmosphere is modern and tasteful, a couple of big screen plasma TVs will feature either the big game or pleasant landscapes depending on the crowd. As you can see in the photo below, the food has great presentation and is as good as it looks.
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