Monday, August 27, 2012

CLASSIC TRIP - Phoenix, Arizona 2001

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia

In 1990, we took our first vacation with a wheelchair. Our son, Tim, was three at the time and had just graduated to a chair from a stroller. This was also a time of very limited budgets so we stuck close to home and visited Arizona.

What really stuck in our mind from that trip was the Pointe hotel. For an unbelievable $59 per night we got a beautiful 2 room suite, full breakfast, evening cocktails, and full run of the resorts many amenities. There were many swimming pools to chill out the extreme desert heat, a fantastic golf course, and even stables to go on a desert horseback ride.

Ten years later, the Pointe is again on sale. AAA members can receive a rate of $84 a night from May to September. We decide to take them up on it and see if a weekend at the Pointe is still as magical as we remember.

Friday morning: we load up the van and head out on a 6 hour drive from L.A. to Phoenix. Mostly high-speed desert freeway along the way. At 3:00, we pull into the Pointe at Squaw Peak (note: last time we stayed at the Pointe at Tapatio Cliffs...there are three Pointe resorts in the Phoenix area).

First we stand in line for 15 minutes to check in and am presented with a paper to initial saying I’ll accept a rate that is $10 more than what I had reserved. When I question this, the desk clerk tells me that is an add-on fee for local phone calls, unlimited in-room coffee, miniature golf fees, fax service, and other business office services. I tell him I’m not interested in that stuff and he crosses off the extra charge. I’m glad of that but was not happy that the bill was just presented to me as if it was already a done deal. An explanation first as to what I was initialing would be helpful...this seemed a little underhanded to me.

At this point I should also let you know that the last time we were here, the Pointes were under independent ownership. Now they are a part of Hilton Hotels.

Next...that delicious breakfast and cocktail hour? Gone. OK, the worst part’s over. Now on to our room. Before we left for it, the desk clerk apologized because of our accessible room saying it was all he had left. I directed his attention down below the counter where he could see Tim in the wheelchair and let him know it was OK...we really did want the accessible digs.

Now we drive over to our room and yes, for the most part, it is accessible with wide doors and no steps. The bathroom is huge with plenty of room to roll. There is no roll in shower but the showerhead is on a hose and there are grab bars a plenty. After unpacking, we head over to tonight’s destination, the BOB (now known as Chase Field- Ed).
A view of the BOB Chase Field

Our local Angels are in town tonight playing the Diamondbacks. We called ahead for tickets and are looking forward to the game. Our seats are in section 105 in right field. We get to the top of the section and are about to take our seats when the usher tells us we’re in the wrong place...actually, we’re in the first row. Down we go to seats that are separated from Tim Salmon standing in right field only by a chain link fence. Another chain link fence on our left is all that keeps us from going into the Angels’ bull pen. I like these seats a lot.
Front row seats at the BOB...the umbrellas in the background is where the pool is

The stadium is practically brand new. It’s also unique in that it can be used in indoor mode or, with the retractable roof engaged, outdoor. When we take our seats, the roof is closed. Then, with serious sounding chanting music (think 2001 or a religious horror movie like the Omen) the roof parts revealing the desert stars and moon.

To our right is another unique feature of the stadium. The BOB (Bank One Ballpark) Chase Field is the only major league stadium with a swimming pool and spa. For only $4800 (in 2001) per game, you and up to 34 of your friends can splash in your own pool party while watching the game. The pool even has a lift to help disabled swimmers into the drink. And, if you’re a little sneaky, you can use the pool’s locker room’s roll-in shower since the hotel doesn’t have one! (The pool locker rooms double as the accessible restrooms for regular spectators)

The Angels lose even though we cheer our hearts out (and feeling very lonely in the midst of over 40,000 Diamondback fans) but we have a great time. The staff and the fans are very friendly here.

The next morning we have breakfast at a nearby diner. Then it’s on to highlight number 2 of our trip, the Hole in the Wall River Ranch. This is the Pointe’s very own water park right across the parking lot from our room. After slathering on a generous portion of SPF 30 sunscreen, we head on in.

There are several pools and spas here but for kids and the young-at-heart, there are also a big waterslide, a miniature golf course, and our favorite, the Lazy River.
Enjoying the lazy river at the Pointe

The Lazy River, where we would spend the next several hours, is a half-mile man-made river you float around on in an inner tube. It’s fun, wet, and very relaxing. The rest of the afternoon is spent with Tim swimming around the regular pool.
Another view of the lazy river

Dinner tonight is a decent t-bone steak at the Hole in the Wall restaurant, adjacent to the River Ranch. The next morning we return for breakfast and another couple of hours of tubin’ the Lazy River before checking out and going home.

Copyright 2001 - Darryl Musick