Desert Deals in Arizona

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.


Stay


The Phoenix-Scottsdale area has dozens of top-rated hotels and resorts to choose from, and this economy can benefit savvy travelers searching for deals because hotels are scrambling to stay competitive.

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


Eat


For a land-locked state smack in the middle of the desert, it's amazing how many top-rated seafood and sushi restaurants you'll find around Phoenix and Scottsdale. One new kid on the block worth checking out is Pearl Sushi and Raw Bar in Old Town Scottsdale. Pearl is run by the same people who created another hip local sushi hot spot called Blue Wasabi, in D.C. Ranch, in North Scottsdale. Next door to Blue Wasabi is the swanky Eddie V's. This is a favorite happy-hour spot, where you can find all kinds of great deals. Don't miss trying the crab cakes and oysters on the half shell.

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


Play


Besides having wonderful winter weather and amazing resorts and restaurants, the Phoenix-Scottsdale area is known as a golf and spa mecca. This powerful combination brings thousands of visitors here every year, and some decide to never go home! With more than 200 golf courses in the metro area, you can always find a tee time, even during the busiest months. But to play some of the top courses during the winter, try to cash in on some last-minute specials and look into the latest stay-and-play hotel packages, where a round of golf is included in your price.

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