The nature of travel is changing. And just like cyberspace, the workplace and just about every other place, it's Millennials who are instigating it. So I thought I'd put together a brief series of blog posts to illuminate some of the latest trends in the travel biz. My journey of discovery begins in Scottsdale, Arizona, a resort destination for Angelenos seeking a little fun in the desert sun. Here's what I discovered.
Short and sweet
"They [Millennials] don't want to stay a whole week," Erin Stewart, a public relations specialist for the Fairmont Princess, told me. "They'll come for a weekend," she said.
Whether it is because they get restless or because they simply can't get time off work, this new generation of travelers is in a hurry. Resorts like the Fairmont Princess are learning to adapt in this new climate by providing all-inclusive experiences so that guests needn't spend time negotiating traffic off-site. A shuttle constantly runs the roughly three-minute trip to and from the TPC Scottsdale courses, golfer's paradise and home to the Phoenix Open.
Hip and cool
The PGA understands that the game of golf will fall out of fashion if it can't attract younger crowds. To that end, it has advocated speedier play, established a presence on mobile devices and, as Stewart acknowledged, begun showcasing its promising young talent -- players like Ricky Fowler and Jordan Spieth.
The Kierland Westin has also received the memo and is attempting to entice a younger demographic by spicing things up. Instead of traditional golf carts, players can opt for a golf board -- essentially an electric skateboard that allows for landsurfing and is likely to appeal to those who have no fear of breaking a hip.
Wine and dine
Millennials have grown up in a world where food is regarded as high art. Denny's won't do, nor will a traditional continental breakfast. Deseo, at the Kierland, features modern South American cuisine alongside craft cocktails and a well-curated wine selection. Must tries on the menu include the millionaire tacos, mediterranean seabass and the kobe beef tenderloin on casabe flatbread. And if you're in the mood for an after-dinner drink, the hotel's Library Bar has a vast Scotch collection.
The Fairmont Princess relies on celebrity chefs such as Michael Mina and Richard Sandoval to bring in the big-spending youngsters. While Scottsdale is roasting during the day, outdoor dining at night is perfect. Sondoval's La Hacienda pairs warm summer nights with cool margaritas and ceviche. Both the guacamole and the dessert drinks are prepared with some tableside theatrics worthy of pulling out your phone for a pic.
The featured libation, meanwhile, at Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar, is -- you guessed it -- rum. Whether as a Mai Tai component or on its own, the more-than-150 varieties will keep your taste buds from getting bored. "Rum princesa" Melissa will guide newbies into the spirit world. She had me taste three distinctive labels, none of which I would have associated with rum. One herbal and grassy, one oaky and whisky-esque, the other brandy-like, aged a dozen years in cherry wood. The grub is also noteworthy, with everything from sushi hand rolls to a tasty Cubano sandwich.
At FnB, in Scottsdale's historic Craftsman Courtyard, Chef Charleen Badman has earned a James Beard nomination as the best chef in the region. Her Mediterranean-style dishes are locally sourced and are reminiscent of the finest fare in Los Angeles. The restaurant/bodega celebrates Arizona's wines, as well, offering an impressive array of the local grape.
Millennials have developed a taste for wine in a way that previous American generations haven't. Tasting rooms have sprouted up to cater to their distinguished palates -- even in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. Lawrence Dunham Vineyards offers oenophiles estate-grown wines from its mountainous vineyards in Southern Arizona. The cozy downtown tasting room/wine shop is a little taste of home for wine-swilling Californians.
Instagram and other social media
As has been well-documented, Millennials enjoy sharing their experiences with their online friends. Posting photos of novel experiences carries a certain currency among young people, especially while on vacation.
Capt. Craig Kennedy of Hot Air Expeditions uses mobile technology -- from GPS-tracking to cell-phone picture-taking -- as part of the hot-air balloon experience. A trip lasts only a few hours and riders get stunning shots of the desert from above Greater Phoenix. Afterward, a Champagne toast is an equally Instagrammable moment sure to make its way from Twitter to Facebook to Snapchat and so forth, making friends and family envious along the way.
Dog and pony show
Continuing the trend, the new generation is getting married later and putting off kids while they advance in their careers. To fill the void, they rescue dogs and/or cats (ponies, not so much), providing them with more TLC than any latch-key kid ever got. Increasingly, they bring their dogs to work and take them to brunch. So rather than lock Poochie back up in a kennel for a three-day weekend, they naturally want to bring their furry friend along for the ride.
Resorts that seek to woo this modern traveler have begun catering to their pets' needs, rolling out the red carpet for four-legged guests. The Fairmont Princess keeps a doggie ambassador -- Bixby, a yellow Labrador retriever -- in its lobby to welcome other pooches.
My little pal, Auggie, was treated like royalty there, dining on patios and receiving treats like chopped hard-boiled eggs by Marty in the Fairmont's exclusive Gold Room. The Westin brought him dog dishes and a plush bed, making his stay a little more reminiscent of home.
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