Arrival at Cibola Vista Resort and Spa was the end to a pleasant flight and trip in from the airport. Sometimes the flights can be bumpy or eventful, but this was a straight shot in with no issues. Seamless and easy.
Day One Arrival
My first impression of the resort was that it was in a class of its own. It fit so well in the setting it seemed like a timeless work of art. Take the virtual tour at this link to see what I am talking about.
This resort is named for the Seven Cities of Cibola, which were believed to hold vast fortunes of gold and wealth. The Western look and feel of the resort felt a little dreamlike. I felt as though at times I was in an ideal resort, and at other times I was on a movie set. The design of the landscaping and the layout of the pools and larger resort lend themselves to the imagination.
The resort itself sits between Lake Pleasant and Phoenix. I had flown into a small local airport, which is thought to be the oldest family-owned airport in the United States. That is kind of neat bragging rights. It is small but just big enough for the plane that brought me in. The resort itself was just minutes away.
I guess if you are looking at this location on the map, you might feel it is in a suburb of Phoenix. It is that close to Phoenix, which makes it very convenient.
After settling into my Villa I was happy to see the great level of accommodation I have come to expect from any Bluegreen Resort. The room was large my room had a full nice sized kitchen, jetted bath, and a very nice shower.
The bedroom was linked to the bathroom via a see-through hot tub area, which I thought was unique. My villa also had a balcony overlooking a courtyard and a nice living room area. I could see the ending or starting my day in either location.
After checking in, it was time for my resort tour. I now do this everywhere I go to get a lay of the land for the resort. I want to know where everything is and find what I want to make sure I do not miss while I am here.
The resort amenities are abundant:
- Cable TV
- Coffee Maker
- Ice Maker
- Iron/Ironing Board
Then the resort itself offers all of these options.
- BBQ Grills
- Horseback Riding
- Hot Tub
- Internet Access
- Poolside Bar
- Outdoor Heated Pool
- Wheelchair Accessible
- Fitness Room
I am not used to having the washer and dryer in the unit that was a nice touch in case you did not pack enough for your trip. Or in the heat, go through more fresh clothing than you counted on when packing.
The outside pool area was very large and had many nice options. I saw covered areas, ping pong tables, tons of seating, and tennis was just steps away. There were also spots for nighttime campfires and the outdoor bar.
Once I saw the bar, I thought instantly that I needed a top-shelf margarita to get myself adjusted to the space. They had a modest top shelf, but I was able to partner with the bartender and make a solid top-shelf margarita.
If you want to make a great top-shelf rita at home, here are the ingredients.
½ Ounce Cointreau
½ Ounce Grand Marnier
1 ½ Ounce Tequila
3 Ounces of Sweet & Sour Mix
1 Ounce of Lime Juice
Shake all ingredients in a chilled shaker with ice. Shake for at least 1 minute.
Then pour into a large glass with a salted rim.
The tequila of choice today was one of my favorite Cabo Wabo, an agave tequila that comes from Mexico and has a crisp finish to it. They did not have the gold on hand, so we used the silver. Which is still a great tequila.
Two of those will deal with any jet lag, or stiff neck you may have.
After a few of those, I discovered time had passed and I was starving. Time to check out a local spot for food. I talked to my new friend the bartender, and she recommended a few local spots.
A few of those killer margaritas in and I wanted some Mexican food. I chose Abuelos, and I caught a fast and cheap uber over.
I ordered one of their small-batch tequila margaritas (hey I was not driving) and then ordered the LOS MEJORES DE LA CASA. This was USDA Choice tenderloin medallions* wrapped in bacon and fire-grilled to perfection with shrimp stuffed with jalapeño and cheeses, wrapped in bacon. Served with Papas con Chile™ and charro beans. It was amazing! The meat melted in your mouth and the shrimp with that jalapeno and cheese was something new. It reminded me of some shrimp I had a few years ago that was glazed with a tequila jalapeno sauce. But the cheese took it to another level.
I know it is silly, but I still hope that every Mexican restaurant will have fried ice cream. It is a flashback to my youth thing; I guess. Going to Chi Chis when that was a thing.
Back when that chain of restaurants was popular, I had a friend that would go into one of the three in our area and introduce himself as Dave Chi. Joking but also flirting with the waitress or bartender as he did it. You had to be there,, but it was hilarious if you were.
After dinner, I went back to the resort to hit the hot tub in the room and then get some rest.
Day Two at Cibola Vista Resort and Spa
Waking up here in what to me as an East Coaster feels like the desert is bright. It reminds me of the sun’s wake-up call when you are right on a beach. If you do not close every way for the sun to get in your room be ready for an early rise here.
They do have great black-out style curtains in the bedrooms, I just did not think to pull them last night.
I start the day off slowly with an omelet I make for myself. Then some toast with butter and jelly. I do not know if the store I went to was out of Jam or if I was just too far west to find jam. But jelly was fine. Also, if I am on vacation, it makes no sense for me to buy a jar of something for just me. So, I look for packets of things like jelly or jam. Sometimes even just a packet or a very small thing of butter as well. I hate to waste food and I know if I leave it the staff would have to throw out an open jar of something before the next guest would arrive.
I decide it is time to do something more active after breakfast. I am in “hiking country” but not much of a hiker, but I made my mind up to try. This means I am headed to Camel Back Mountain to climb up the easier of two approaches (I hope) to 1,400 ft. The climb for me sucked,, but the reward was great. The views were awesome. The only reason the climb was bad was that I never do it, and I am carrying some extra weight these days. Just imagine the same climb if you do it, with your spouse on your back. You will understand my experience.
But that is the thing, isn’t it about fitness and health? You have to push yourself and take care of yourself if you want to be fit and healthy. I give myself 10 points for trying and 10 more for making it. After I hydrated for 30 minutes, I even made it down. When I did, however, I was done. Like poof, all of my energy went by.
It was time to get back to the resort and lay in the pool for a while to escape the heat, and to rest every muscle just floating for a while. That while turned into about the rest of the day. See, I told you I was out of shape.
Now it was dinner time (in my mind I earned it early) and I was hungry. I wanted some meat after that workout slash hike. Following up on the earlier bartender’s advice, I want to Haymaker this was a nice local spot that had a corporate feel but a local fresh food menu. They had a comfort food menu that caught my attention, and I chose Mama’s Meatloaf. It was a good meatloaf. Sometimes you buy a meatloaf out and you are like wah wah, or meh. But this had great texture,, and the mashed potatoes were very good.
It also did not hurt that they had a house drink that they called a Georgia Peach with peach whiskey, agave, and lemonade. That made for a very refreshing drink. They came served in large pint canning gars and went down like lemonade. A full belly and tired from the hike, along with two of those, and I was ready to go to sleep. This meant a return to the resort, a poolside shaded lounger, and a few nice nodding-off sessions by the pool.
At one point I was interrupted by staff asking if I wanted something to drink (likely I was snoring) so as the ultimate revenge I ordered another top-shelf margarita. Ah hah, I know how to get em.
Once I finished the drink, it was back to the pool before my body locked up as one tight muscle to watch the sunset from the pool’s surface.
Oh yeah, if you were wondering, I felt the hike still. At 50 I felt it more than I did yesterday. If you are younger, laugh at the old guy all you want, mother nature humbles us all in time, my friend.
I choose a hot shower to start my day since I feel if I get in the tub, I might not get out of it again. After the shower I hit the ground, moving slowly but at least moving towards something fun.
Today I wanted to go to the Phoenix Zoo I have heard great things in the past and I used to go to the National Zoo in DC once a year for several years in my youth. My father would take me when I was young, so since then, I have always enjoyed zoos. They are a fun walk down a memory lane that I care a great deal about.
You may qualify for a substantial discount if you are already a member of another zoo or aquarium. The discount is 50% so it is worth checking since the ticket price per person is $25. So for a family of 4 that are all members of a local zoo or aquarium already near you that may save you $100, so it is worth checking.
If you do not qualify, it is worth the money for the visit and ultimately you are supporting the staff and animals in the zoo, which is a great thing to do.
The Zoo has some amazing animals, exhibits, and experiences you can enjoy on your visit. I saw a really engaged and caring staff at this zoo. It was something I was pleased to see and experience and encourage others to visit as well if you have an animal lover in the family.
After the Zoo, I wanted a brew. Not just because that was fun to write, but really it was hot, and I knew beer would hit the spot.
Next, I went to the Social on 83rd. I did not plan it, but I arrived just in time for the last hour of brunch. That sun had gotten me again today, and I had gotten up with the sun, so it was only 1 PM and the Brunch went until 2 PM. I thought hey when in Rome, and I had the brunch. The pancakes looked great, and so did several other items as I walked to my table. But the waitress mentioned country-fried NY Strip, and I was off to the races. I love country-fried steak. But to do that with a good NY Strip, that was something I had to try. Normally country friend steak is with cheaper cuts of meat you pound like you do veal, bread then put a good gravy on. This was the same flavors but with a better piece of meat. Yes, you guessed it, that was a killer combo.
It comes with two eggs your way and my way was scrambled soft with cheese. The waitress did not seem to get it, but I could see the chef and he smiled when he heard the order. Looked like he knew a killer combination when he heard it. When the food arrived, I knew he had bought into the idea because he sent it with 3 kinds of cheese. A sharp cheddar, goat cheese, and a little hint of blue cheese. I like it when the chef or cook shows off a little.
After walking at the Zoo, still being sore from my hike (I know I am a wimp these days) I picked the pool for the rest of the day. It was a very nice pool and the resort staff was on their “A” game with service. I felt I could not lose. Another afternoon in the pool and sunset from the water was on order. Arizona delivered.