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best of scottsdale, day 5: glass, gardens and the hyatt regency at gainey ranch

Hotel Valley Ho sign

Look what happens when you add “me” to the end of that sign …

On our last day in Scottsdale, we woke up early so we could spend some time with my friends, Julie Lemerond and Priscilla Nelson, who I had met on my Oprah adventure. Priscilla is an amazing artist and Julie is a yoga teacher extraordinaire.

Dusk Over Camelback Mountain

“Dusk Over Camelback Mountain” by Priscilla Nelson

We tearfully checked out of the Hotel Valley Ho, which Michael will forever consider his own personal Hotel Valley Home, headed over to Priscilla’s new studio to see some of the beautiful paintings and scarves she’s working on, and then met up with her hilarious husband, Chuck, for scrambled eggs and Tater Tots. (I will seriously have to look into the popularity of Tater Tots in Scottsdale.)

After breakfast, Michael took Julie’s yoga class, which he loved and put him in the perfect mood for the Desert Botanical Garden, where we were looking forward to seeing the Chihuly exhibit.

Chihuly Michael and Lois

DBG is not your typical botanical garden, filled with lush plants and flowers. Instead, it offers beautiful trails lined with more varieties of cacti and succulents than we ever knew existed.

Chihuly green

Dale Chihuly’s stunning glass sculptures take your breath away as you suddenly catch sight of them in the desert landscape. They are so colorful and vibrant, and I got excited every time we spotted one.

Chihuly blue

I was so enamored by Chihuly’s art, I’m dying to see more of it now. It works so well at the DBG because the juxtaposition of raw, natural desert and smooth, shiny glass is such a surprise and is so powerful. This is a must-see exhibit.

Chihuly red

Thankfully, we’d be able to continue our sense of peace because it was time for my massage at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch. Despite all the times I’ve been to Scottsdale, I’ve never been there – and, now, I want to go back! It’s a beautiful property with a great spa.

For me, one of the signs of a good spa is a nice relaxation room with snacks. Spa Avania features comfy lounge chairs with soft throws – perfect for curling up with a good book post-treatment – and a yummy selection of nuts, dried fruit and yogurt-covered pretzels. It would be the perfect place to spend a rainy day. They also have a great little shop.

Spa Avania

My Blend Bar Avania Massage was totally rejuvenating, and I met Michael for lunch on the terrace afterwards. We sat by the outdoor fireplace and ate delicious Portobello sandwiches.

Before we left for the airport, I stopped at the Blend Bar, where I got to choose a custom product to take home as part of my treatment. I opted for a Sugar Scrub, which smells so good, just opening the beautiful jar brings me right back to my spa experience.

Spa Avania scrub

I hope to really come back to Scottsdale soon because we had such a fantastic time, and although we got to see and do so many different things, I’m already making my list for the next visit.


  1. Dale Chihuly had an exhibit on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston a few years back & I bought tickets to see it because I was curious. His work is AMAZING!! I was blown away!

  2. I would love to visit Arizona! Those glass sculptures are amazing!

  3. We’ve got a similar getaway planned for early April in Sedona. Just R&R. But now I’m thinking next year it should be Scottsdale. I haven’t been in 20 years! It looks like you two had a great time!

  4. I would LOVE to go to those gardens sometime. I could just imagine how much fun taking pictures of all the artwork is.

  5. I bet that glass art exhibit is amazing to see. I enjoyed looking at your pictures but I imagine it is even more breath-taking in person.

  6. Chihuly exhibits are extraordinary! And just reading about your experience at this hotel and spa relaxes me.
    I need a trip like this. Sounds fabulous!

  7. I LOVE Scottsdale! One of my favorite places to go off and relax, and your pictures really did it justice!

  8. WOW These Pictures Are Amazing Glad You Enjoyed Yourselves!!

  9. Oh my gosh, what a beautiful place to visit!

  10. Okay. Just added this to my list of things to see and do!

  11. The botanical garden sounds so interesting! The glass sculptures are gorgeous, you took some great shots!

  12. The glass sculptures are amazing!

  13. I have never been to Arizona but this is just beautiful… the glass sculptures are beautiful…wow, breathtaking

  14. Wow, I had no idea that the Chihuly exhibit was outdoors. Amazing!

  15. Oh wow 🙂 I would just love to visit those gardens, I am so intrigued by succulents!

  16. I haven’t been to Scottsdale but you’ve convinced me I need to go! It looks like an awesome place to visit.

  17. It looks awesome. I have a friend who lives in that area; you’ve inspired me to accept her invite and visit her.

  18. Wow! These photos show such a beautiful place! I would like to visit and see these things in person.

  19. The glass sculptures mixed in there are amazing!

  20. A massage sounds nice right about now! That place looks wonderful, I’m glad you had a good time.

  21. I so want to go back now – great job!

  22. Those glass sculptures are gorgeous. Really eye catching. I need a get away so badly, but it’s fun to read about yours for now!

  23. What an incredible sight to see Chilhuly’s work in such a fabulous landscape. I’ve seen his work several times at the Dallas Museum of Art, and his installation is breathtaking. Take a look: http://www.dm-art.org/search/chihuly
    Just recently found your blog and love it!

  24. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    I also am an admirer of Chuhuly. I once saw an exhibit of hs work in a greenhouse. It mst have been spectacular in a natural desert setting with beautiful varieties of cacti. You have completely sold me on this vacation!

  25. What a fun place to visit, the spa looks amazing! Those plants are beautiful.

  26. LOL the picture of your husband and you standing in front of the fiery sculpture!

  27. Completely agree about a spa. The second I walk into the relaxation room I judge the spa. If it resemble more of a doctor’s waiting room I am out.

    But then when I get one that looks like an oasis – I can be there all day.

  28. Chihuly’s art is so awesome! I would love to see it!

  29. Sounds like you had a great time! Those glass sculptures are amazing! Would love to see them one day.

  30. What a beautiful place. Looks like you had a fantastic time.

  31. Wow it looks amazing. Definitely on my list of must sees.

  32. Some Hyatt Regency hotels are surrounded by some of the coolest scenery around the U.S. Here’s another good one located somewhere cool. I’d like to know more about the amenities and actual hotel perks though.

  33. We visited a botanical garden in that area many many years ago while visiting my cousins but I haven’t a clue where exactly or what it was called. I’m CERTAIN it wasn’t anywhere with those amazing glass sculptures! Those are totally cool.

  34. What A Great Trip I Must Visit Some Day Soon!!

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