I had spent virtually no time in the Phoenix area of Arizona and I was excited about this trip for a number of reasons.
Susan Campbell and I met by email two years ago when we were both trying to get money from a publisher who hadn’t paid us. We struck up a cyber-friendship and always talked about going on a trip together. Our available dates never seemed to coincide. Finally, she received an invitation to The Boulders and I to the Arizona Biltmore and Sanctuary at Camelback. With the help of the Phoenix area tourism board, we were able to put together this trip.
Susan had Frank’s Fizz (Appleton VX Rum, Canton Ginger, Cointreau, fresh lime juice and Angostora Bitters). It was a bit dry for my taste, but she loved it.
The first stay on the itinerary was at the Arizona Biltmore. While the weather (record cold) was not exactly what we desired, the resort made up for it. The grounds were beautiful and we checked in quickly and headed down to our rooms in the new Ocatilla wing. This section provides more personalized service and extra amenities even above what you’d expect at this Waldorf Astoria property.
My room was great and had a well-equipped bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub. There was a pool with cabanas just in front of the building. I was just getting over a bad cold so I rested a bit before meeting Susan for drinks. The executive lounge at the Arizona Biltmore (available to all guests staying at Ocatilla) was one of the best I’ve ever seen. There was a big selection of non-alcoholic drinks, as well as beer and wine.
We had a few light hors d'oeuvre before taking a golf cart over (it was cold and rainy) to Wright’s for dinner. We sat down and looked at the cocktail menu and had quite a hard time choosing from the many options. I settled on a Wrights View with Stoli Vodka, St. Germain, fresh Raspberry, lime and sparkling wine. It was a perfect fit for me – slightly sweet with lots of fruit.
I started with a roasted beet salad with hazelnuts, olive oil and feta cheese that was very flavorful. For a main course, Susan had the beef wellington and said it was the best she ever had. I can’t say I was thrilled with the Coq au vin. It was an unusual preparation with a mole sauce and though the sauce itself was fantastic, there wasn’t enough of it in the dish and the chicken was a little dry.