Spacious Suites on Historic WWII Air Base in the Heart of Scottsdale
Between 1942 and 1945, close to 6,000 young WWII pilots took off and landed more than 600,000 times on the runways of the Thunderbird II Air Base, situated in the desert outside of Phoenix. Today, the historic base is frequented by a different brand of jetsetter, as the area has been repurposed as the Scottsdale Municipal Airport. The base also contains the Scottsdale Thunderbird Suites, a four-story, tawny stucco hotel. Soaring ceilings, thick oriental rugs, and a massive candelabra make up the grand entrance area, and there are nods to the property's aviation history throughout the hotel.
Considering its proximity to the runway, each of the hotel's standard suites are rather quiet; that's because each room has been soundproofed with thick concrete walls to reduce the whirring sound of engines and the cries of babies that want to hear the planes but can't. All of the spacious suites are split up with a living room and separate bedroom, and new, cushy couches and chairs lend a homey feel to the ambiance.
Before heading off to bed, it's worth it to stop by the lounge next to the Silver Wings Restaurant to grab a nightcap and scope out the hotel’s aviation memorabilia from WWII. Among the relics: photographs of pilots, more than 50 model airplanes, and a table crafted from an aircraft rotary-cylinder-engine top. In the morning, guests can load up on eggs, bacon, pastries, and steaming coffee at the complimentary hot breakfast buffet.
Scottsdale, Arizona: Upscale Desert Oasis with High-End Shopping
The city of Scottsdale is situated slightly northwest of Phoenix in the Sonoran Desert. Though it was once a vast tract of ranch land lined with citrus farms and cowboy settlements, Scottsdale today is a lush desert oasis studded with glittering outdoor fountains, a vast manmade lake, emerald-green golf courses, and an active nightlife scene. Many of the city's neighborhoods are flooded with construction workers, putting the finishing touches on red-tile-roofed mansions.
For many vacationers, "sightseeing" in Scottsdale translates to "window-shopping." A few steps from the hotel, you can wander past palm trees to find designer stores such as Cartier and Anthropologie. A few minutes away is the charmingly quaint Old Town Scottsdale, its winding streets dotted with art galleries, a mammoth used bookstore, and public sculptures on nearly every corner.
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