Back from Southwest Splendors! - Final thoughts

carpenta

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 26, 2010
After all these years this trip still one of our favorites. Looking forward to your report and glad you had such a great time.
 

trevorsmom2002

Earning My Ears
Joined
Jun 8, 2015
This trip was a ton of fun! I will be posting a trip report soon but meanwhile, if there is anything a traveler needs to know-- just ask.
How was the weather? Did you need a pullover at night? Do we need “dressy” clothes for any night? Were you able to do laundry at any of the hotels? We leave Sunday for Phoenix! Thank you so much for your help!!!!
 
  • Chirple

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 30, 2009
    I can't wait to read about your experience. I loved this trip so much so I'm definitely interested to see how the one night in Monument Valley and the reduced time at Red Cliffs Lodge turned out.
     

    EllinK

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2012
    How was the weather? Did you need a pullover at night? Do we need “dressy” clothes for any night? Were you able to do laundry at any of the hotels? We leave Sunday for Phoenix! Thank you so much for your help!!!!
    We choose an early date specifically for the weather and it was great -- 80's and 90's. It did hit 100 on one day -- that might have been for the hike into the Grand Canyon : )

    Bring a sweatshirt or pullover, it is useful on the early morning hikes. There haven't been many recent trip reports and when I read the older ones, it looked like no one dressed in the evening so I brought a skirt that I could wear with tee shirts but otherwise would be in shorts. On our adventure, the women tended to spruce up for dinner -- beyond shorts. I wouldn't go so far as calling it dressy but when I reviewed my packing, I thought I did well but wish I had included a sundress or something similar. There were laundry facilities in Monument Valley but our accommodations are a ways from the restaurant. There definitely were laundry facilities at Red Cliffs Lodge.

    DizMagic suggested bringing hand cream and she is right. My hands were so dry they hurt so we had to spend our time in Williams looking for hand cream. Bring some instead!
     
  • carpenta

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 26, 2010
    We were so happy to do laundry at Red Rocks after we went horse back riding with the temps over 100 degrees. Talk about stinky horse sweat smell.
     

    trevorsmom2002

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jun 8, 2015
    We choose an early date specifically for the weather and it was great -- 80's and 90's. It did hit 100 on one day -- that might have been for the hike into the Grand Canyon : )

    Bring a sweatshirt or pullover, it is useful on the early morning hikes. There haven't been many recent trip reports and when I read the older ones, it looked like no one dressed in the evening so I brought a skirt that I could wear with tee shirts but otherwise would be in shorts. On our adventure, the women tended to spruce up for dinner -- beyond shorts. I wouldn't go so far as calling it dressy but when I reviewed my packing, I thought I did well but wish I had included a sundress or something similar. There were laundry facilities in Monument Valley but our accommodations are a ways from the restaurant. There definitely were laundry facilities at Red Cliffs Lodge.

    DizMagic suggested bringing hand cream and she is right. My hands were so dry they hurt so we had to spend our time in Williams looking for hand cream. Bring some instead!

    Last question!!! I forgot to ask you were there blow dryers at every hotel? Thank you so much for your help!!!
     

    EllinK

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2012
    I think so. I ended up bringing my own, just in case. But then it was hot and pretty casual (and zero humidity) so I ended up letting my hair dry au natural a few times.
     
  • EllinK

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2012
    We tried DCL a few years back and since that trip (which was supposed to be a one and done kind of thing) we have cruised at least 1x each year. Since we love DCL, I've been intrigued by ABD and have been reading this board for years. But, we have not quite been ready to pull the trigger because the cost of ABD is so much more than DCL.

    The trip that I most wanted to do was Southwest Splendor -- even though we live in the west, I loved the idea of staying on the rim at the Grand Cyn and not having to do all the driving (and parking) during the busy summer season. So, last year on a 2017 DCL coastal cruise, I called and booked the trip for myself, my husband and our teenager. We had never done group travel so I was a little apprehensive but figured I would worry about that next year.

    Fast forward to 2018 and we are on a 7 AM flight to Arizona. For DCL, we always fly in the night before but given that we are talking about a 1 hour flight, we decided we could travel the day of but wanted to be on the 1st flight -- just in case anything went wrong. Luckily, nothing did. Except, the skies over Phoenix were a little crowded for my taste.

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    Exiting the plane, I remembered something about an ABD rep meeting Adventurers when they arrived. My husband said that was probably for people who arrived at a normal time but we were hours early so had no expectation that anyone would meet us. When we deplaned, it was a complete pleasure to spot Peyton with her ABD paddle, waiting for us. Then when she took our luggage and sent us off, unencumbered, to get lunch -- I was hooked.

    Since we had so much time, I wanted to find a place to eat where we would not feel hurried and would be out of the swirl of busy/anxious travelers. We happened into Chelsea's Kitchen, where I had an excellent burger. (Had I known how many burgers were in my future, I may have chosen differently...)

    A few hours later, our group of 39 Adventurers assembled and I remembered my apprehension about group travel. This was a big group. We also met the other guide, Diana, and our driver Shannon. Both of these ladies (and Peyton) were completely delightful. We loaded into the bus and were off!

    The bus was spotless and comfortable and the guides were entertaining and informative -- and they handed out snacks. If you are apprehensive about the bus, don't be. We stopped in the desert for photo ops and the guides took family pictures. Another perk of group travel -- I am never in any of our travel photos. Could I travel without it? Yes. Did I really appreciate it? Yes.

    A few hours later we arrived at the Enchantment Resort. It's in Boynton Cyn, an especially scenic part of Sedona. The resort was beautiful -- closely surrounded by the red rocks this area is famous for. We were given our keys and a golf cart whisked us to our casita. Stepping inside, I realized that this is not the class of room we typically book -- it might have been the best room on the property with a patio and an amazing panoramic view. Sigh. Could I return to traveling without ABD?

    A few hours later was dinner -- tasty appetizers served outside followed by an equally tasty buffet. After dinner, my husband and son headed to the 24 hr pool and I headed to bed. The night sky was spectacular.

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    Jess_S

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 14, 2015
    Thanks for doing a trip report. We are leaving for our first ABD on Thursday and I have the same apprehension about group travel that you mentioned. It's funny because I picked ABD and now I'm questioning it and my husband (who did not select the trip), keeps having to tell me that he is sure it will be good. I am glad to read that you wound up enjoying the experience. Your Sedona photo is gorgeous and the Phoenix airport photo brings back nail-biting memories of flying in and out of that airport when I lived out West.
     

    EllinK

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2012
    Day 2
    We were up at 4:30 AM (gasp!) for a dawn hike with Diana and Peyton and whoever else wanted to attend. Ended up, about half of our group decided to get up and out. If you are considering it, it's not a very ambitious hike -- 20 min up the red rock, 20 mins watching the sun (and taking pictures) and 20 minutes down -- but it was a very pleasant way to start the day.

    sedona dawn.jpg

    Then we headed to the onsite restaurant when it opened at 6:30. Be sure to try their amazing local coffee called Rattle and Hum.

    We were meeting for our jeep excursion at 9:45, so my husband and son made the most of that time by taking the resort mountain bikes our for a spin. They made it back to the room at 9:40 (eek!) and each took a 2 min shower before we all headed over to the meeting spot.

    The jeeps ran a few minutes late so we managed to arrive in plenty of time. We loaded in -- one or two families to each jeep, and headed off on the Pink Jeep Dry Gulch tour. We had the great good fortune to share our jeep with a family who had done 18 ABD! It was so much fun to hear about all their adventures (and great food for thought for me...).

    The ride was long, dusty and bouncy. I had taken a Pink Jeep Tour 2 years ago -- having read about it right here on DisBoards! Not knowing which tour ABD did, I opted for the most popular -- the Broken Arrow tour -- which was amazing. Not sure why Disney doesn't do that one... It is more 'technical' and thrilling.


    jeeps.jpg

    After the tour, we were dropped at a restaurant near the Hyatt for lunch that we had pre-ordered. It wasn't very good. I think I had a burger.

    After lunch, we were given the option of 1 hr in Sedona to check out the town, or to return to the resort. A few of us decided to head back and enjoy the Enchantment. Back at the resort, my son headed to the pool, my husband stayed in the room to work (!) and I went out to explore -- and had my first up-close and personal look at javelinas.
     

    EllinK

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2012
    [GALLERY=][/GALLERY]
    I have the same apprehension about group travel that you mentioned. It's funny because I picked ABD and now I'm questioning it and my husband (who did not select the trip), keeps having to tell me that he is sure it will be good. I am glad to read that you wound up enjoying the experience.
    Don't worry! You are in for a treat. People seem to do group travel in various ways -- some are more social than others -- but it all works. Some engage with the group more than others but everyone was in good spirits, friendly and on time! I've stopped taking DCL port adventures because there is always someone you need to wait for at every stop -- that never happened on the ABD.
     

    Chirple

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 30, 2009
    Thanks for doing a trip report. We are leaving for our first ABD on Thursday and I have the same apprehension about group travel that you mentioned. It's funny because I picked ABD and now I'm questioning it and my husband (who did not select the trip), keeps having to tell me that he is sure it will be good. I am glad to read that you wound up enjoying the experience. Your Sedona photo is gorgeous and the Phoenix airport photo brings back nail-biting memories of flying in and out of that airport when I lived out West.
    [GALLERY=][/GALLERY]

    Don't worry! You are in for a treat. People seem to do group travel in various ways -- some are more social than others -- but it all works. Some engage with the group more than others but everyone was in good spirits, friendly and on time! I've stopped taking DCL port adventures because there is always someone you need to wait for at every stop -- that never happened on the ABD.
    I'm with @EllinK! As the sole vacation planner for two adults (hey, how did THAT happen?!!?), I was happy to turn over all of the planning to someone else and just sit back and enjoy the adventure. While we had a small group on ours two years ago, I think a large group would be fine. If you end up with drama queens or some seriously entitled people on your trip, let it roll off of your back. Those people probably wouldn't mix well with everyone else, anyway.
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    Thanks for doing a trip report. We are leaving for our first ABD on Thursday and I have the same apprehension about group travel that you mentioned. It's funny because I picked ABD and now I'm questioning it and my husband (who did not select the trip), keeps having to tell me that he is sure it will be good. I am glad to read that you wound up enjoying the experience. Your Sedona photo is gorgeous and the Phoenix airport photo brings back nail-biting memories of flying in and out of that airport when I lived out West.
    Scotland is a amazing country!! You're going to love it!

    Sayhello
     

    EllinK

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2012
    Day 3
    We started with breakfast at the Enchantment and more of that excellent Rattle and Hum coffee. I liked that we could opt for either the al a carte or buffet breakfast. I did one of each and they were both good. We were on the bus at 8:30 and headed to Bearizona!

    I was really looking forward to Bearizona. We are animal people and love zoos. Bearizona did not disappoint. Here, I really appreciated what traveling with Disney could offer over what you could do on an OYO trip. When we arrived, we were taken to a small outdoor theatre where their bird show is held. But instead of the usual bird show, we saw an owl being trained so she could be part of the show. It was great! The animal keeper was very informative and it was a real insight into how this kind of training is done. Terrific!

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    Next we went on the tour. Typically, people drive through open animal areas in their own cars with their windows up. That would not be very immersive or exciting. But, we were taken through the animal areas in an old school bus-type vehicle that had no windows, so we had a much different experience. It was really enjoyable. Naturally, we saw bears. We also saw tons of other animals and learned a lot about the facility and how the animals ended up in Bearizona (they're all rescues).

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    Then we hand fed river otters, had a chance to pet baby otters (adorable!), saw a black panther and then had lunch. A not so good buffet. I think I had a hamburger.

    After lunch we walked through the rest of the more typical zoo and the petting zoo. Turkeys, peacocks, goats, etc. Everyone had fun.

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    Next stop: Williams, AZ! Very reminiscent of Carsland. The teenager wanted Starbucks and I went in search of hand cream. (Did I mention how incredibly dry it was?) After some time to walk around and take a few photos, we loaded into the bus and headed for the place everyone was waiting for -- the Grand Canyon!
     
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