Scottsdale has my ❤️ (Even when it’s cold and rainy)

Earlier this winter (or was it fall?) my boarding pass took me to Scottsdale. A favorite city of mine: laid back vibe, sunshine, desert landscape, no humidity, and sunsets only God could create.

I’ve only been to Scottsdale in July or August (don’t knock it to you try it. I’ve been summering in Scottsdale the last six years). On top of that, I’ve only stayed at one hotel, the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale. Why mess with a good thing?

Well, business called, and I ended up at The Phoenician.

Phoenician Front

What I liked about the resort: service and location. Everyone was going out of their way to be helpful and welcoming. I was even upgrade to a decent view and was able to check in at 11am, no problem. Did it help that I was a Starwood Preferred Guest member? I’m sure it did. Either way, I really have to commend Mora at the front desk and Jacque the concierge.  Instead of looking at a parking lot. I had a view of the hotel’s cactus garden 🌵

Phoenician Balcony

Other highlights of the property include its art collection. They even have a piece purchased from the Vatican. There is an audio tour that you can take … maybe I’ll do that next time.


And yeah, I got a “selfie” with a hawk. She was quite beautiful and kind. (They use the hawk on the restaurant patio to deter birds from eating your lunch.)


Location:  I’m used to staying out in North Troon, which is about a 30 minute ride to some of my favorite restaurants. It was a pleasant surprise that this property was a less than a $10 Uber ride to Old Town Scottsdale. I spent my free afternoon wandering around—and met this super friendly horse named Charlie and the Charros cowboys.

Downtown Scottsdale

Lunch was had an old Favorite, “FnB” (James Beard Foundation Best Chef of the Southwest Nominee). I discovered this place just last August with my husband and couldn’t wait to go back. Devoured Peruvian spring rolls & permission salad. Wish my conference was caterer by Chef Badman. But it wasn’t meant to be.


FNB Food

A few things I wasn’t thrilled about:

Being indoors. The hotel is a corridor hotel with long connecting hallways and escalators that take you down to the restaurant/ballroom/pool level, making you feel that you are in the land of endless conventioneers. (In fairness, I was a conventioneer—name badge and all.)

The weather. It was warmer in Washington, DC in November than it was in Scottsdale. The first day was decent but after that…. it was rainy and 55 degrees. And I mean pouring rain. Then it was cold. When the sun did come out many of my colleagues planned on hitting the golf course. Spent a few pennies in the pro shop–as shorts were not going to cut it. (I know it’s not fair to complain about the weather, but this is why I love going there in August. If it rains it for 20-30 minutes, and then it’s sunny and 100 degrees again. Perfect pool weather.)

Phoencian Morning

Grumbling aside, I did have that one sunny somewhat warm day.  I headed to Camelback Mountain. Views that are nothing like back east.

CambelBack View

On my last day, I hosted an early morning work reception back at The Phoenician. I will say again that service was great. And what fun chandeliers.

Event Room

Then I left and returned to DC where it was warmer in November than Scottsdale. 🙃

The Only Street in Paris: Conversation with Elaine Sciolino

So what did I think of ‘The Only Street in Paris’? After reading Elaine Sciolino’s new book, I exclaimed to my husband: “I want to be Elaine when I grow up!” Not only has she written this gem of book — but she was once New York Times Paris bureau, an expert on Middle East issues, and has been interviewed by Terry Gross, to boot.

Yes, her book lets you know that she’s mastered the art of living in Paris. The city of lights is not just about what is seen on Avenue George V (though I’ve stayed at the Four Seasons of the same name and enjoyed every moment), it’s also about the community values that still thrive on streets like the Rue de Martyrs.

You can listen to the interview here.

Community is a priority and in our family — and I so enjoyed Elaine’s focus on this important aspect of Parisian life. Hopefully, I be able to be able to visit Yves, Gillery — and many others that make up the fraternity of Rue de Martyrs.

Go order the book at your local book or Amazon (or, better yet, go to a local books store).

Elaine Sciolino

The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs

twitter @elainesciolino




Day at The Peninsula Paris

The Peninsula lobby.

The Peninsula lobby.


The chandelier gives the formal lobby a whimsical feel.

The chandelier gives the formal lobby a whimsical feel.

Beautiful Pari.  My first time in this glorious city.  Arriving early on the overnight from AirFrance, I dropped my luggauge where I was staying, and headed to The Peninsula Paris.

The flight was a rough — even in premuim economy. So the first order of business was to hit the spa and put an end to my exhaustion.

From the moment the car dropped us at entrance, the service was excellent. The Spa is located in the lower level of the hotel and a staff member escorted us to spa reception.

I chose the 60 minute massage (wish I booked the 90 minute!). Except for the occasional staff member, I had the locker and relaxation rooms to myself. All the facilities were well stocked and the service was fantastic.

Regretfully, I had not planned enough time to enjoy the pool. A reason to return.

Tea Presentation at The Peninsula Spa

Tea Presentation at The Peninsula Spa

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Refreshments in the relaxation room.

Refreshments in the relaxation room.

Re-energized, I was ready for lunch: a table at one of Paris’ most coveted restaurants, L’Oiseau Blanc, awaited. How did I grab such a great table without staying at the hotel? I’m sure it helped that I booked a spa appointment — and I chose lunch over dinner.

This was the view from my table — on the stunning roof terrace. It was my first time seeing the Eiffel Tour!

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The lunch was leisurely — time spent soaking in the sun and Parisian spirit. It’s a three-course menu with two options for each course. My husband and I were delighted with the meal. l especially liked the dessert. Pineapple poached in vanilla syrup with hazelnut cream.

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2015-06-12 14.19.092015-06-12 14.34.40After lunch, Chef Sidney Redel greeted us. Merci Chef! I had a great experience at The Peninsula Paris and hope to stay at the hotel on our next visit.


19 Avenue Kleber, Paris, France
Telephone: +33 1 5812 2888

The Weekly Favorites: Sicily, luxury train rides, and cheesecake (7/27–8/3)

Photo of the Week: The amazing tomato salad at Restaurant Eve

tomato salad

There was a ton of great content to share this week, but we managed to narrow it down for you!


4 Seasons Sydney Review (Travelling King)
The Four Seasons hotels never fail to impress, and this Sydney hotel is no exception. Check out that stunning view!

Faith of Ages in Taormina, Sicily (Hole in the Donut)
Barbara over at Hole in the Donut consistently posts some of the most beautiful pictures of her travels. Here, she describes a Good Friday procession in Sicily coupled with some photos that you just have to see.

5 Dutch Cities that are not Amsterdam (Go! Girl Guides)
Amsterdam looks beautiful and like it would be a lot of fun, but these smaller cities definitely have a more charming appeal that I’m dying to see in person.

‘The Dinner’ onboard the Belmond British Pullman (Mrs. O Around the World)
Train rides just aren’t what they used to be, but Mrs. O shows us her experience having dinner on a luxury train which she describes as a “5 hour fine dining experience.” Sign me up!


Mini Mascarpone Cheesecakes with Strawberry Balsamic Topping (Boulder Locavore)
Even though these are mini, I still don’t think I could be trusted around an entire batch of these…

Caramelized Peach Pancakes (Food 52)
The sweets continue with these gorgeous pancakes. I’ve never heard of peach pancakes before, let alone caramelized peach pancakes, but it looks phenomenal.


Five Things (Cupcakes and Cashmere)
Just a simple post with some colorful pictures. What really caught my eye, though, was the photo of the iconic wallpaper at the Beverly Hills Hotel. We’ll have a post up about the hotel soon and this just got us even more excited to visit!

Lately (Atlantic-Pacific)
I’m obsessed with the Kate Spade sun hat in the first photo.