What better way to start a new year than on vacation – am I right?! If you’re in the industry, you’ve probably heard of the term “babymoon” – essentially an excuse to get in one more amazing trip before the arrival of a baby. You can bet I was all set to take advantage of any “excuse” to travel. Trouble was, we needed somewhere warm in January. Not hard, you say? You forgot about Zika. Sadly, this mama-to-be wasn’t heading anywhere south of Florida and Hawaii seemed like the most financially irresponsible decision one could make before swamped with all of the costs of a newborn. So where did we decide, might you be wondering? Sunny, dry and BEAUTIFUL Arizona. TJ’s first time to AZ and certainly not my last, we set out to make this a trip filled with grand accommodations, delicious food and luxury services. And Arizona, my friends, did not disappoint.
What a view! We stepped out of the car at the Royal Palms Resort & Spa and knew it was going to be a good day. This boutique style property recently joined the Hyatt family, introducing us to our very first Unbound Collection property. The Royal Palms is an historic hotel (my fave!) and has hosted many of the rich and famous throughout its years. The property itself is smaller than when it was first established as a residence in 1929.
We walked through the breezeway where we were greeted by a warm, sunny courtyard begging for us to kick back and order lunch. For the first time ever in my life, I was glad our room wasn’t ready. Oprah says there is no such thing as a coincidence and on this day, she was right. We settled into the courtyard to wait for our room and devour a delicious lunch, when suddenly a friendly, familiar face approached our table. Little did I know, one of my friends from college, a fellow U of Cinci Hospitality graduate, was now the Director of Engineering at this beautiful resort. You have to understand, despite Facebook, I had no idea this friend was working at The Royal Palms or even lived in Arizona! Needless to say, Jeremy made sure this was going to be one trip we wouldn’t forget.
We checked into our (now upgraded) room and I was blown away. From the sitting area, complete with sparkling apple cider and chocolate covered strawberries, to the enormous soaking tub – the room was immaculate. Jeremy informed us that the rooms recently underwent renovation and from my perspective, they did a fabulous job.
Even with all of the traveling I do, it’s rare I get to indulge in the luxuries a resort has to offer. But this is our babymoon, after all! The Royal Palms has a gorgeous pool (and hot tub, but I’m not allowed in those!), a poolside restaurant, a full service spa & salon, a famous, fine dining restaurant, T. Cook’s. Good news, I experienced it all! We spent every day poolside, soaking up the Arizona sun, eating fresh foods and sipping fresh squeezed juices. (One thing I love about Arizona – these people seem to appreciate high quality, natural food and healthy cooking. Everything was crisp and fresh. Even the french fries!)
When we weren’t by the pool, we’d alternate walks through the Jardin d’Amore (Garden of Love!), the Orange Grove and the Alegria Lawn. One of my favorite parts of this resort were the pathways that led to hidden seating areas, orange groves, and flowers teaming with hummingbirds. If you stepped out in the morning before other guests were awake, a stroll to this part of the resort was one of the most romantic places you could find.
Although we didn’t get a chance to enjoy them, the Royal Palms offers daily group fitness classes, a guided History & Art Tour, mixology classes, regular live music, and games. I totally did have my eye on those group fitness classes, but I was easily swayed into a walk to breakfast each morning!
And certainly, all that walking and sunning definitely leaves you hungry. Offsite, we found two fantastic breakfast spots within walking distance (2 miles is walking distance, right?) La Grande Orange – a super funky, local grocery and cafe serving up amazing pizza and delicious egg dishes, and one of our
new favorite breakfast spots, O.H.S.O. – a cyclist and dog friendly brewery conveniently located on a bike trail (!) and serving up some of the best breakfast I’ve had in a long time. We loved that nearly every diner on the outdoor patio brought a pooch. Each doggy guest received his/her own water bowl with their name. Too bad Mr. Zeus was back in Ohio! On property, you’ll find T. Cook’s, a famed Phoenix area restaurant. We enjoyed a fabulous dinner there on our very first night and our server, Sasha, was extraordinary. T. Cook’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner if you visit and at dinner I’d recommend reservations.
The Mix Up Bar ultimately ended up being TJ’s favorite hangout spot and where we spent our NYE. On this particular holiday occasion the place was glitzed up with NYE hats, beads, and decor; there was a great duo serenading us and lots of inspiring appetizers. We settled in at one of the last empty tables and enjoyed people watching and “noshing”. To ring in the new year on our last night at The Royal Palms, we eventually retired to the courtyard where it all began and watched the guests attending the blowout party hosted by the hotel on the opposite lawn… TJ with his cigar and bourbon and me with a mocktail.
If this is how 2018 starts, I can’t wait to see how it ends.
A sincere thank you to the staff of the Royal Palms Resort & Spa for treating us to one of our most memorable and top of the chart hotel experiences.
“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck