If you want to thaw out this winter, head to Arizona's Valley of the Sun, where you can still enjoy a great vacation without breaking the bank.
With more than 300 sunny days a year, the Phoenix-Scottsdale area has long been a favorite winter escape. And even though winter is considered high season, many of the top resorts, spas, golf courses and restaurants offer some great deals to entice travelers during difficult economic times.
Look for some money-saving specials at three of the area's newest resorts that are working to drum up business. Arizona's first W hotel opened in September, the impressive 1,000-room Sheraton Phoenix Downtown hotel opened in October and the Intercontinental Montelucia Resort & Spa opened in November. Other good bets include the newly renovated Camelback Inn, the JW Marriott Desert Ridge, Hyatt Gainey Ranch and the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa.
The Phoenician is a luxury resort, in Scottsdale.
Photo Courtesy: The Phoenician
If you're more of a meat-and-potatoes person looking for a thick juicy steak, head over to either Donovan's or Drinkwater's. Both of these restaurants have a traditional steakhouse feel and continue to find new ways to impress. A new hot-shot destination, just across from Fashion Square Mall, is Olive and Ivy Marketplace, which dish up a hip and trendy eclectic Mediterranean menu. Insider tip: Go early on weekends, as this place gets packed by 7 p.m.
Looking for something with a more authentic feel? The Mexican restaurant Barrio Cafe is a cozy favorite that the locals love. The mole sauce is to die for, and you'll find a great selection of Mexican wines. Barrio Cafe is tiny and popular but always worth the wait. The Sunday brunch here also brings in a crowd. For a splurge, try the Sunday brunch at the Phoenician. It's worth every penny.
The new Tournament Players Club Golf Course, in Scottsdale.
Photo Courtesy: TPC Golf Course