Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Is Everyone Wintering in Phoenix?
This journey started with a sense of surprise at how many people we knew on our flight to Phoenix.
I fly a lot. It is not uncommon to run into a friend or associate at the airport or even on the flight from time to time.
But the numbers of people either I or Ron knew was usual. Even at the Loews Ventana Resort in Tucson Ron ran into someone he knew well.
Ron flew back to Winnipeg on the Sunday night Westjet flight while I checked into the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa to begin the second portion of this golf adventure.
On Sunday evening I went to a friends home for dinner. Like many he winters here from November to April, returning only for the holidays and special events.
In Winnipeg I golf every Wednesday with a group of about 20-30 guys usually in 4-6 foursomes per week.
We never have everyone out for any given Wednesday because of busy schedules etc.
Yesterday four of us from our Wednesday group golfed together at the Superstitious Springs Golf Club.
Another of our Wednesday group is in the area while two others were here a week ago and left back for home for the holidays.
Canadians own a lot of residential real estate in this area, and any number of subdivisions are loaded with Canucks.
It was great to see these guys who other than here in the Phoenix area I would not see but for this trip.
Back to my reason for being here in the first place.
I am one of two Canadians on a media familiarization trip that includes 2 Germans, 2 from France, 2 from China, 2 Brits, 1 Brazilian, 1 Mexican, and 2 American writers, all of us who write golf stories about destinations we have had the opportunity to travel to and experience some of their tracks.
Last night we gathered for a bit of a welcoming cocktail party and were treated to a spectacular light show that the Westin Kierland puts on for its guests every holiday season.
It is worth staying here for that alone, especially if you have children.
It is short, at only about 7 minutes, but it is quite spectacular. In 3D the graphics cover the entire back of the building. Elves wonder across the room windows, Santa flies in with his sleigh, presents float out towards you and glitter flies across the wall like a mega screen.
This morning we will golf at the Lookout Mountain course at Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs.
After that we have an afternoon of activities planned with an early dinner so everyone can get an early night so as to wake up refreshed for the morning balloon ride across the desert.
It has been hot and I have been wearing my Tilley hat each and every day and have been happy I have been. It is much warmer than I expected here during the days.
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posted by That Travel Guy @ 4:54 AM
Monday, December 2, 2013
Two more busy days of Tucson Golf!
Day two of weather here in Tucson was at least as hot as the day before and Sunday was only slightly cooler...still a near 100 shift from what we left in Winnipeg.
On day two we golfed the Mountain Course at Loews Resort Ventana Canyon.
The course was marginally less crowded than Friday so they let Delaronde and I golf by ourselves. Some of the views are majestic. Some of the optical illusion slopes on the greens were horrifying as we tried to figure out the amount of bread in the opposite fall we were seeing.
Knowing the greens always fall away from the mountain was helpful but not exacting...and around Tucson there are mountains everywhere. Which one is the tallest we would ask each other since that apparently is the number on clue.
All that being said we golfed pretty well except for the occasional 4 put green...not the first time in my golf life.
But this was indeed a beautiful course to golf and the service here was tremendous...as it was at the Loews Resort property as well.
The Ventana Canyon golf courses and Loews are not under the same management, nor ownership, from what I can surmise. They have an arrangement that allows for golf packages with the Resort bookings.
On Saturday evening we decided to venture into downtown Tucson.
While a fairly reasonably sized city at just over half a million, the core of the city is like an overgrown small town with a bit of a community feel to it.
As we were looking for direction to some of the better restaurants and bars the people were extremely friendly as they were inside the establishments we stepped in to.
Tucson is a college town and that was evident by the mix of people walking up and down 4th street, where much of the action seems to be centred.
Sunday would be the last day of golf for Delaronde who would be heading back to Winnipeg on the evening Westjet flight.
But our last game of golf would be memorable. We played Dove Mountain where the Accenture Championship will be held in February.
It will be a joy watching the pros tee up from the championship boxes trying to avoid the multitude of sand traps dotting every hole just about the area where their drives should land.
Pros know how to get out of sand easily but some of the deep pot bunker style traps will cause jitters among more than a few.
I am now in Phoenix at the Westin Kierland, and getting ready for one more day of golf with friends from who winter here.
I will talk more about that in my next post.
If you have travel questions or travel comments contact me at email@example.com If you are looking for great products for travel check out www.journeystravelgear.com
Safe Journeys Always
posted by That Travel Guy @ 9:05 AM
Friday, November 29, 2013
Tucson Golf...The Beginning
Wednesday November 27...A huge storm hits the city of Winnipeg and wind chill temperatures dip to crazy winter levels.
I need to get out. I have comfort in knowing that in one day I will be leaving for a week plus of Arizona golf in Tucson and Phoenix.
We, my Free Press buddy Ron Delaronde and I, meet at the airport a couple of hours ahead of time.
Once past customs we are in the holding lounge with an unbelievable number of people we both know together or individually.
They are not going for just an in and out holiday. They have homes and condos in the area and are going back for a short or long pre-holiday stay.
Am I the only person who has never been to Arizona. From the conversations I am beginning to believe that might be a possibility.
We land uneventfully in Phoenix, pick up our automobile rental, and begin the journey to Tucson for our three night stay at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort complex.
It is connected to two of the finer golf tracks in the area the Ventana Canyon and Ventana Mountain courses.
We arrive at the resort about 10:30, both of us famished.
It is U.S. Thanksgiving and as we drive everything seems to be closed. Even McDonalds are closed...I thought they never took a day off.
After we check in we go to find the hotel restaurant...closed a half hour ago.
We get some input on some restaurants that may be open. They were not. So our meal consisted of what was available at a gasoline service station a few kilometres away.
I thought I did just fine. It was Thanksgiving so I chose the frozen turkey dinner, which after zapped up at the service station, tasted just fine. As hungry as we were sawdust would likely have tasted fine.
But golf starts today the 29th. And our first game is scheduled for 11AM on the Canyon Course.
This was really fun. It is an excellent golf course with loads of views and interesting holes.
They tell you not to trust your eyes as no matter what all greens flow away from the nearby mountains. That takes some time to get used to but it tends to be true and after a few catastrophes we are making a few good putts.
A highlight was the Lynx that watched us from the sidelines on one of the holes.
On the course there are not many water hole challenges but there is sand and cactus everywhere.
All in all it was a great day highlighted by a few brews and excellent tasting fish and chips at a nearby restaurant called Risky Business.
Tomorrow we really look forward to the mountain course.
For this trip I have a neck safe from Eagle Creek where I keep my passport and extra cash. I use a PacSafe RFID protection wallet and wear a Tilley Hat for sun protection.
Believe me today it was needed. While we expected warm weather the 100 degree shift in temperatures was dramatic.
I was even warmer than usual today with the highest temperature reaching over 75 F. The forecast was for 72 and the rest of the week is forecast for about 68-70F
This is a fine resort here at Loews Ventana Canyon. Our room is large with two Queen Size beds, a balcony with an excellent mountain view, and with just about every facility you would expect at a quality resort.
If you are interested in coming here contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org Use the same email if you have other travel questions.
I will answer them and you can read them after that in my weekly column that runs in the Winnipeg Free Press on Saturdays.
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Safe Journeys always,
posted by That Travel Guy @ 8:31 PM
Sunday, November 3, 2013
Vancouver is a Great City...If they Only Had Sun!
My favorite line that I believe is a Vancouverites mantra is 'You should have been here yesterday"
Yesterday of course is the never ending day when they had sunshine as opposed to deep fog, cloud, or downright flood-like bursts of rainfall.
So went the few days I spent there a couple of weeks ago.
But then on my last day something strange happened. It happened today, so to speak.
The sun broke through and I had a good part of the day, with my meetings over and a later flight, to wonder around and enjoy the real Vancouver.
Joking aside, it really is a fine city...One of Canada's best.
We went across the bay on one evening to enjoy a meal on the south shore. It is worth doing next time you are there.
The ferries run regularly and they are inexpensive.
The restaurants are plentiful and different and well worth the trip and time.
I also enjoy the ever entice shops of Robson and connecting streets.
for the first time, because time was not my enemy I decided to take the 'Canada Train' from the airport to the downtown waterfront.
It is fast, inexpensive, and so satisfactory that I decided to take it from downtown to the airport again.
It is faster than a taxi and so much cheaper.
It is a city where I have spent many weeks and will always look forward to returning to any time I have the chance.
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posted by That Travel Guy @ 3:28 PM
Saskatoon...Not the Place I Once Knew!
I live in the Province of Saskatchewan for a number of years in what seems to be a century ago now. Some days I feel that way too.
But I had a chance to go to a conference awhile back as a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada.
As hosts of the conference the city wanted to show off their best side and make sure, that we as travel writers, were impressed with what they had to brag about.
During my stint in Saskatchewan while handling the advertising account for the province, I had many opportunities to spend time in the city.
I always viewed it as a nice river city that was made more exuberant than Regina, where we lived, because of the youthful energy exuding from the University of Saskatchewan.
As a tourist city is was alright with the river and all, but it was a typical growing up prairie town in most ways.
But that was before the new Saskatchewan emerged with its economic wealth bursting at its seams.
It is not the city I knew. And from humble beginnings around the time I was there, has emerged a superb tourist destination in what they term the longest indoor street in Canada.
when I was there there really were no serious riverboat cruises to be taken. Today there is an excellent option for tourists with an excellent guided tour of the history, past and present of the area.
The buildings, as one incompetent Canadian Government travel writer once wrote, the three story buildings snaked their way to the sky.
Umm....a visit might have found at least a few more cogent things to say.
However that phrase might have more meaning to day as a building boom seems to be overcoming the little as big emerges, for better or worse.
The restaurants we dined in were excellent...and the tours many others took received excellent reports on their return.
Clearly there is a new Canadian city that is worth exploring and I hope I get a chance to go back again before too long.
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posted by That Travel Guy @ 2:56 PM
Friday, September 13, 2013
Expert Interview with Ron Pradinuk for HotelsCheap
Preparing for any trip — whether it’s a weekend getaway or a month-long stay in Bali — can be overwhelming (especially if you’re not a seasoned traveler). For advice on the essentials and the coolest new travel gear, we turned to Ron Pradinuk, the guy behind the That Travel Guy blog. Pradinuk is also the owner of Journeys Travel & Leisure Supercentre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and the former president of the Association of Canadian Travel Agents (so he knows his stuff). Here’s what the international traveler had to say about his business, his favorite destinations and what he takes along for the ride. - Read more at: Hotels Cheap
posted by That Travel Guy @ 1:01 PM
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Chicago....Much More Than A Hockey Team!
Every time I go back to Chicago I like it better.
On my most recent occasion it was all business as I was there for the Internet Retailer conference, a gathering of about 10,000 who want to learn more and be more effective in their ecommerce efforts.
Trying to book a room late, not a really sound plan for an experienced travel agent, I found I was not only unable to take advantage of the rates of the conference hotels, I was not even able to book into their already sold out properties.
So on the search I was able to find a room at the Holiday Express on North Wabash. It's now become a boutique hotel of sorts after converting and upgrading the somewhat famous Cass Hotel.
It proved to be a great find with an excellent free breakfast, small but well appointed rooms, and really in the heart of some great restaurants.
The only thing wrong with the hotel was that the TV could not access the channels where their own Chicago Blackhawks were on their way to winning the Stanley Cup.
I am sure the sports bars I visited to watch the game appreciated the few extra dollars in beer sales they got from this visiting Canuck.
Notwithstanding the noise of the rapid transit rail that surely is the loudest in North America there is a decided inescapable energy to the city.
It is still the Pizza capital and the every restaurant I visited from Thai to Mexican provided excellent service and great food...all of them in a short walk from the hotel.
As I was by myself I never took in any of the entertainment but the last time we went to a play, Navy Pier, Second City and the best of steak houses.
I look forward to going back and staying awhile, more as a tourist then as strictly a business guest.
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posted by That Travel Guy @ 4:45 PM