Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale Troon North: Cowboy Up

Wednesday November 26, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 0 Comments

Cowboys and luxury don’t always go hand in hand, or should I say from cowboy boots to leather gloves? Fortunately, cowboys and cowgirls fit right in at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale Troon North. Located away from downtown Scottsdale, Scottsdale Troon North takes its name from its relationship with well-heeled neighbor, Troon North Golf Club. That’s right, guests can wear cowboy boots, golf shoes, spa sandals, hiking boots or high heels in the lobby and no one will bat an eye. But you will be greeted with a warm Sonoran desert welcome.
 

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, Arizona, hotel

Hotel review: Four Seasons Scottsdale. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

Southwest suites

I had the opportunity to stay in one of 22 recently remodeled suites at the high desert luxury resort. The $750,000 enhancements included updated rugs, new upholstery, lamps and the all important “Signature Sleep” bed that is oh so necessary after a day in the saddle. Interchangeable bed toppers – firm to plush – may not be important to you, but anyone with sleep issues will appreciate this Four Seasons option.
 
 

 
 

Four Seasons Resort Socttsdale at Troon North, Arizona, hotel lobby

Warm Sonoran desert welcome. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
Extraordinary Experiences

New to many Four Seasons Resort properties is a collection of Extraordinary Experiences offered only at one particular resort. The Scottsdale at Troon North kicks off Cowboy for a Day in partnership with Arizona Cowboy College. This working ranch experience offers a home on the range, day long adventure steeped in cowboy history with plenty of hands on opportunities for city slickers to get their cowboy boots dusty.
 

Adobe casitas at base of Pinnacle Peak. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

Adobe casitas at base of Pinnacle Peak. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
Similar to conjuring up a genie in a bottle, guests are able to direct and star in their own Scottsdale spaghetti western reality show. You choose the hat and boots (additional fee), while wranglers at Arizona Cowboy College will match you with a horse based on your riding ability. You will learn to groom, bridle and saddle your horse, as well as ride next to giant Saguaro cactus in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest. The Cowboy for a Day pricing starts at $450, check the website for current prices.
 
casita, Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, Arizona

Southwest king casita. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
The day before my Cowboy College experience, I tried a “Yoga for Horseback Riders” class (additional fee). Yoga Instructor and LPGA Expert Dodie Mazzuca geared my morning toward gentle yoga. “For horseback riding, we want to make sure the hips are healthy and the core is strong,” noted Mazzuca.
 
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, pool, Arizona

One of three pools. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
After a full day of hanging with horses, I opted to return to the resort for an 80 minute “Back in the Saddle” massage. Relaxed in one of 14 treatment rooms, I selected the Turquoise Sage Mountain Arnica Body Oil, good for soothing sore muscles. I could have floated around in one of three swimming pools – children’s, family or adult-only pool with hot tub and 24 hour access, after my massage. Instead, I moseyed on over to Talavera restaurant to take in the Sonoran sunset by the foothills of Pinnacle Peak and sampled lobster and corn bisque, followed with diver scallops, butternut squash, agnolotti and merquez sausage. Good thing this culinary feast was after my horseback ride!
 
frittata, Proof restaurant, Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North

Egg white frittata at Proof. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
Insider Tips

While valet parking is expected at this luxury resort ($29), guests have the option for complimentary self parking. A golf cart will follow you upon parking and whisk you to your private casita. There is a $30 daily resort fee that covers high speed internet, breakfast items such as croissants, muffins and coffee, bottled water at the front desk, 24 hour health and fitness center, a 4.7 mile hiking trail that starts on the property and a Kids For All Seasons program open 365 days of the year.

The resort is pet-friendly (30 pound weight limit.)

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and follow @FSScottsdale on Twitter.

Check-In Time: 4:00pm

Check-Out Time: 12:00pm
 

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, patio, Arizona

Take in a Sonoran sunset. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
If You Go:

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North (480) 515-5700
10600 East Crescent Moon Drive
Scottsdale, Arizona 85262
 

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. Thanks to Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North for creating this experience. All opinions are my own.

Charlevoix, Canada: Things to Do

Friday November 21, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 0 Comments

Are you visiting Charlevoix for the first time? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in the Charlevoix region of Quebec, Canada. Situated within a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, the Charlevoix region is a unique nature area including parts of the north shore of the Saint Lawrence River and the Laurentian Mountains region of the Canadian Shield.
 

"Baie Saint Paul", Quebec, Canada

Charming town of Baie-Saint-Paul. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

When I have a visitor from out of the region, the first place they want to see is the town of Baie-Saint-Paul, but I also take them to Isle-aux-Coudres – for a more local, authentic experience. With only 7,500 people, Baie-Saint-Paul is the cultural capital of Charlevoix.
 

When I want to escape the crowds and tourists, my favorite place to visit is the little village of Port-au-Persil.

If this is a romantic trip, I recommend the Bay of Baie-Saint-Paul for kissing with a view.
 

"Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu", Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

Take a walk along Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu’s trail. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown.


 

The best place to walk the dog is the solar system 3Km trail by the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu.

Museums are wonderful, but if you are traveling with kids, you’ll want to visit the Alpaga farm or the maritime museum where kids can climb on boats.
 

 
Charlevoix regional cuisine

If you are looking for typical Quebec cuisine in the region of Charlevoix, I recommend Le Mouton Noir. For an authentic farm to table experience, be sure to tour the Baie-Saint-Paul Flavor Trail. With over 40 local growers, producers and restaurateurs opening their doors to visitors, you will have your fill of breads, ciders, beers, cheeses, foie gras and chocolate!

The best place to go for coffee & a breakfast treat is Le Pain d’exclamation in La Malbaie.

Looking for affordable food in Baie-Saint-Paul? Go to the restaurant within the microbrewery, le Saint-Pub.

Les Labours in the hotel La Ferme (Baie-Saint-Paul) is the spot for late night dining.
 

veal "Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu"

Prosciutto wrapped veal, Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown.


 
For an expensive, yet quality meal, go to Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu. If you truly want a one-of-a-kind experience, try the Chef’s Table for a day with the Chef on the Flavor Trail and a private dinner in the Castle on the Cliff!

Seeing a lot of beluga whales? Baie-Sainte-Catherine is best known for whale watching.

When you come to Charlevoix, get your picture taken on a boat with AML or Dufour during a whale watching excursion.

The best vantage points are taken by walking to the top of Acropole des Draveurs in the National Park Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie.

Le Massif de Charlevoix offers great views and the “Chalet” at the summit of the ski hills is the best place to watch or experience music shows and competitions in the winter time.

In the Charlevoix region, outdoor lovers will want to hike the Acropole des Draveurs, bike on Isle-aux-Coudres (23 km island) or in the big hills of the region. Travelers may also horseback ride on the beach of Saint-Irénée or walk in Les Grands-Jardins.

Looking for a little exercise? Walk along the trails of the Les Palissades de Charlevoix.

After a day of adventure, Hôtel La Ferme is the best place to go for a spa treatment.
 

"Hotel La Ferme" spa

I could have spent my entire day in Baie-Saint-Paul here. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown.


 
If you are a museum lover, the best museums are Musée de Charlevoix or the Contemporary Art Museum in Baie-Saint-Paul.

Looking for exciting night life? Go dancing at l’hôtel La Ferme during the weekends for live music.

The Hebdo Charlevoisien will keep you posted on what’s happening in Charlevoix, but unless you read French you are out of luck!
 

"Le Train Massif de Charlevoix"

Le Train Massif de Charlevoix. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown.

 
Charlevoix seasonal activities

In the spring you should attend Les Grands prix cyclistes de Charlevoix  – bike competitions for the non-French speakers.

In the summer or fall, take a two hour trip with Le Massif train  – meals are served on board and it’s a great way to explore the scenery.

Did you know that Baie-Saint-Paul is known for the arts? Plan a visit to watch the painting Festival called Rêves d’automne (Dreams of Fall) in the fall.

Come to Le Massif in the winter for skiing or sledding.

 

"Jacques Boisvert ", "Baie Saint Paul"

Jacques Boisvert paints Baie Saint Paul. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown.


 
Insider Tip: Check out the often over-looked beach of Saint-Irénée.

Just outside of La Malbaie you can visit La Maison du Bootlegger and have lunch there, too.

Have you traveled to Quebec, Canada? What are your favorite things to do in the region of Charlevoix?

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown, follow @tourismQuebec on Twitter and if you speak French @gocharlevoix.

If You Go:

Charlevoix Tourism

495, de Comporté Boulevard
La Malbaie (Québec) Canada G5A 3G3
 

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of Quebec Tourism. All opinions from my visit to Charlevoix are my own.

Movie Review: Wildlike

Thursday November 20, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 2 Comments

I am drawn to Alaska. I have visited this wild frontier in the winter, spring, summer and fall. Perhaps it’s the gorgeous scenery that pulls me in like a magnet or the wide open spaces that it offers up to active adventure travelers such as myself. Whatever the case, I jump at the chance to introduce others to Alaska – this time via the movie, Wildlike, filmed on location in beautiful Alaska.
 
I asked my friend Karla Hart to review Wildlike, as she is a resident of Juneau, Alaska and will see this movie from a different perspective. I also watched the movie, and while disturbing, it tackles a sensitive topic in a splendid setting.
 

Alaska, Wildlike, movie

Scenes in Alaska from Wildlike


 

Wildlike Trailer 1 from Frank Hall Green on Vimeo.

 
Wildlike is a movie set in Alaska that deserves recognition. The story is raw, real and compelling and all of the cast bring depth and believability to their characters.

Ella Purnell, as Mackenzie, showed me clearly the vulnerabilities of being young, alone and homeless – in my own town, Juneau. I kept repeating in my head the resources available to her. AWARE, Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies has caring professional staff. She was a mile away when seeking shelter in the hotel. Juneau Youth Services offers a drop in shelter for runaways and any youth needing a place to land for a bit.

Sadly, there are too many “uncles” in Alaska and the world, there to pray on the vulnerable. Happily, there are even more decent folks to lend a hand. I think including a National Runaway Safeline phone number and URL (http://www.1800runaway.org) prominently before the movie credits would be a great service.
 
Denali, Alaska, Wildlike, movie
 
I liked that Wildlike uses Alaska as a realistic backdrop, featuring scenic highlights and more subtle elements, without going overboard. Small details that many might miss gave it an authentic sense of place (though, as to be expected, they took some geographic liberties in getting around Juneau and the state).

A couple of points of the movie didn’t add up to my experience. These don’t detract from the story but would be discussed among friends.

1) The bear pepper spray. Rene would have only been carrying one pepper spray. It makes no sense he would pass it off to Mackenzie. They were hiking through brush that could result in close bear encounters at any moment. My eye went instantly to the zip tie still securing the trigger guard. Rookie mistake to not remove that before you go in the field, otherwise you won’t be able to use the pepper spray. Finally, anyone I know who spends time in bear country would have had the pepper spray in hand with trigger guard off with the grizzly encounter they had. Pepper spray is kept ready for just that reason.

2) The Park Road in Denali is a continuous parade of buses during the entire season it is open. There would have been buses coming that would stop at the same rest area Mackenzie and Rene were at within an hour, if not minutes. Clearly that reality would alter the course of the story too much.
 

Denali, Alaska, Wildlike

Exploring Alaska


 
And, as an aside, the Alaska Marine Highway System recently announced a new policy prohibiting unaccompanied minors and require a notarized permission form for minors traveling with an adult other than parent or legal guardian.
(http://www.adn.com/article/20141106/dot-changes-policy-minors-traveling-alaska-ferries
In response to public feedback they have pulled back this policy for now. http://www.adn.com/article/20141115/dot-delays-changes-unaccompanied-minors-policy-alaska-ferries)

I had been wondering what triggered the new policy. Now I suspect it may have been this movie.
And, as a personal treat out of the movie — Mackenzie is seated at a fish wildlife table top when she looks at the map on her southbound ferry ride. That table top is part of a bigger interpretive project that I dreamed up and saw implemented when I worked at Fish and Game. There are perhaps three other people in the world who would also make note of this. I’m glad I got to see it.

The feature film Wildlike offers up beautiful Alaskan photography from the wild frontier. Click on the Alaska category on the right side of the blog to read more about Alaska.

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and follow @WildLikeFilm on Twitter.
 
Wildlike, movie, poster
 
Where to See: Wildlike

This movie review is a guest post by Juneau, Alaska resident Karla Hart. She was supplied with a screener link for review purposes, as well as photos. All opinions are her own.

You might also like the movie Maidentrip.