When I go to charity events and there is a silent auction I always try to bid. Months ago Stu saw a package to a resort in Phoenix, AZ, JetBlue tickets and a limo drive to and from the airport. Lucky for me he won. The prize was put away and I had forgotten about it. But life has a way of turning us around.
Two weeks ago dear friend Harold Snyder invited us to go on his private jet on a quick getaway to Israel. He had to attend a board meeting, and we were thrilled to have the opportunity to go there for six days. Stu's cousin, whom we hadn't seen in years, lives in Tel Aviv. Well here was a great opportunity and we accepted instantly! But sadly, Harold got seriously ill and had to be hospitalized. I had already cleared my calendar so Stu took out the Arizona prize and called to reserve. They had room on the plane and the hotel, so here I am telling you about my adventure in the dry, warm climate only five hours away!
Our package was for the Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix (480-293-3700). I admit, I'm a lover of spas and go locally - as often as time allows - to Pouran's spa in the North Shore Towers, the closest get-away spa at home.
As we drove from the airport and I watched the cactus-filled desert landscape roll by, I felt the tension of the flight melt. The handsome hotel is approached from a long winding landscape of beautifully-designed gardens of all varieties of cacti, some I had never seen before. The hotel is designed in a horseshoe shape with four pools, eight restaurants and drinking spots, two golf courses, eight tennis courts and a camp for kids. And of course there is a 28,000-square-foot, two-story spa.
On our first afternoon there, we went to the pool, one of the four surrounding the rear of the rooms. Each pool had different waterfalls, and luckily the hotel was nearly empty and the pool had few people filling the hundreds of chaise lounges.
Although we had rented a car, we decided to stay close to “home” and eat at the hotel. That evening we had Stu's favorite food as we dined at the Meritage Steakhouse, which did not disappoint. We sat outside with heat lamps to warm us, but how could I resist the opportunity to eat under the stars in November!
The quality of the food was only exceeded by the attentive staff. So our first day ended on a fulfilling note, setting the tone of our four-night getaway.
The next day I indulged in my favorite activity - spa pampering. Although I had booked services for Stu and myself, the aptly-named Revive Spa had a surprising bonus, a spectacular pool surrounded by soaring royal palm trees, padded lounge chairs, and soft, soothing music - they all added to the feeling of having escaped to a sanctuary. I loved their philosophy of “letting the healing power of the desert soothe your mind and revive your spirit.” Mission accomplished.
Since I was in Arizona I decided to try a new spa service. Revive calls it a “Turquoise Package.” It's described as an opportunity to experience what the Native American people have known for centuries about the healing power of turquoise. It included a Turquoise facial, cocoon, and massage services, each one using turquoise gemstones, a turquoise desert sage body mask and oils using the energy of turquoise.
They were all a unique treat and best of all, Stu was having his services as I had mine, and we met by the inviting pool after we had completed our day's treatments.
Revive became our daily “charge,” but we also took advantage of what the desert towns of Scottsdale and Phoenix offered. Our first afternoon was at the Frank Lloyd Wright house named Taliesin West.
What a treat to visit the house designed by the greatest architect of the 20th century. The site comprising 600 hillside desert acres and six buildings has become the national headquarters of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. The house is preserved just as he designed it with interior furnishings just as he left them. His concept of organic architecture, designing to the site and using materials that enhance it is as fresh today as it was during his 70-year career.
An unexpected bonus to the visit was to discover the extraordinary sculptress, Heloise Crista. At age 82 she has been a part of the Frank Lloyd Wright world since l949. One of her works stopped me in my tracks. It's titled “Being in the Moment.” That thought has been my mantra since my daughter Elizabeth first shared it with me. It's not easy to wipe out all thoughts except what is happening at the moment and give 100 percent of yourself. It's a continuing challenge but more and more I realize how critical it is. How amazing to find an artist who embodies that idea in her sculptures. I loved how she created an image in bronze that brought to life “being in the moment.” I wish I could own it, but at the price of $7,000 I think I'll have to keep the photo close to me instead of the object.
On our next sun-filled day we got directions to the Desert Botanical Garden to see their historic exhibition of the world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly, whose medium is brilliantly-colored glass. His sculptures were displayed for the first time in a desert garden. What I loved about the works is how he makes the brilliant colors seemingly fly through the glass in tones and streaks and textures. I just stopped in my tracks as I came upon the works strategically placed around the desert plants. I love his creative mind and skill to create such technically amazing works. We must get him to New York again -he was displayed at the New York Botanical Garden in 2006. His work excites the scenes and the senses. What an amazing bonus on our trip to Phoenix.
It was also my first JetBlue flight through the new terminal at JFK. It's a starkly modern, handsome, well laid out facility. I wish I had more time to explore the many stores that circle the main terminal space. The flight was great - very smooth. We paid $15 extra and got seats with extra leg room - well worth the price! Thanks also to Deluxe Limousine (516-883-1900) for donating our rides to and from the airport.