Just before Independence Day, I saw a press release about a 4th of July Freedom Festival at the Scottsdale Fairmont Princess. I called the resort, reserved a room and took the family for an in-state getaway – and I’m proud to say our trip confirmed that Arizona really does have a remarkable tourism landscape any time of year.
My wife and I took our 3½-year-old son Drake and 1½-year-old daughter Olivia for a weekend getaway and learned a few things about how adaptable our young vacation voyagers can be. We packed like we were going on a month-long journey. Our son felt it was essential to fill his Cars-themed suitcase with, yes, you guessed it…toy cars. My wife packed our daughter with enough pairs of shoes to make Imelda Marcos jealous. We packed up the family truckster and made our way to the resort.
OK, let me set the scene: sprawling resort…four sparkling pools, nighttime concerts, including Three Dog Night and Zowie Bowie, with snow cones and cooling tents, nightly fireworks which were incredible and a room large enough for games of tag and hide and seek. The resort even had an Apache and a Blackhawk helicopter land on the property for guests to get a close-up glimpse of modern military technology in honor of Independence Day.
The hotel and activities were awesome, but the real fun was meeting other guests and watching our kids embrace the staycation concept on our weekend getaway.
Throughout the weekend we ran into old friends who had the same weekend getaway idea, creating an improvised reunion of sorts. In addition, we met other guests from around the state and visitors from Pennsylvania, Chicago and Canada. All of their reviews on this summer staycation were top rated.
The kids had a great time. They took quite readily to the concept of poolside lounging and fluffy bathrobes (in their size) in the hotel room. They are ideal tourists-in-training. Despite their ages, they related easily to the concept of room service and mini-bar snacks. They found great amusement in seeing golf carts scurrying throughout the property, occasionally convincing a bellman to give us all a ride to their destination of choice.
Within a day, our son began to refer to the resort as “home,” as did we. And Olivia graced the resort grounds as any princess would – she truly was the Princess at The Princess!
It seemed as if we had just arrived when we realized it was time to pack up Lightning McQueen, Mater and the Princess to complete our long weekend getaway. That was the hardest part of our staycation because we just wanted to STAY.
The most amazing thing...we were only 15 minutes from home.
Summer deals like the one we experienced are available throughout the entire state. Take some time and look for deals online and in the newspaper to see what’s available. AOT has a website, www.valueaz.com, that aggregates deals on hotels, attractions and other statewide summer deals.
One another note, as most of you know, the recent Haboob (or giant dust storm) received a great deal of attention in national media and on Twitter. You might think that would be bad for tourism, but I have received two phone calls from people who want to know when Haboobs occur and how long they last as they would like to visit Arizona to experience one…so while us locals might have had enough of the dust, turns out there really is something for everyone in Arizona!
Mark Stanton serves as the Deputy Director of the Arizona Office of Tourism and is responsible for the marketing, advertising, public relations and community outreach on behalf of the state’s tourism initiatives.