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Business TR: Flagstaff AZ 12/03-12/06

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Evanston, Wyoming
Destination Expert
for Page, Grand Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
4,298 posts
126 reviews
Business TR: Flagstaff AZ 12/03-12/06

Hi gang! So I was recently hired by a Flagstaff based company and came down for orientation last week. Having lived at the Grand Canyon (7 years) and Lake Powell (15 years), Flagstaff was kind of like a second home, so I was quite familiar with the town already. So as such this report probably won’t reflect anything like the epiphany a tourist would have, but just a few observations that sightseers and other travelers might find useful. Came out to be longer than I thought, so will post as replies. Here goes:

Evanston, Wyoming
Destination Expert
for Page, Grand Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
4,298 posts
126 reviews
1. Re: Business TR: Flagstaff AZ 12/03-12/06

GETTING THERE: I flew SOUTHWEST from Salt Lake City, Utah (SLC) to Phoenix/Sky Harbor, Arizona (PHX). Had a quesadilla at Qdoba before takeoff; expensive, but they gave you a lot. It was the first time I’d flown in over 15 years, sooo… first time going through the post 9/11 screening process. They ask you to take off your shoes, so I was glad I had my Danskos on. After an uneventful flight, upon landing in PHX, I took the Arizona Shuttle up to Flagstaff. Their vans depart every two hours from 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM. They pull trailers along with the vans, so if you have a lot of luggage, they can handle it.

My plane arrived early, and fortunately I was able to change my shuttle reservation to an earlier departure thanks to the City to City Shuttle counter staff. These counters are located at Terminals 2, 3 and 4 and can help you arrange transportation to outlying cities such as Flagstaff, Tucson, Yuma, etc., though advance reservations for these services is suggested. The shuttle drops off at the AMTRAK station right in the downtown area, and two stops at Northern Arizona University campus and takes 2.5 hours to get from Phoenix to Flagstaff with a restroom/snack stop at Camp Verde.

HOTEL: Stayed 3 nights at the Sonesta ES (Extended Stay) Suites. This is the former Marriott Residence Inn, which was taken over by Sonesta, an international hotel chain, about 3 months ago. I really enjoyed staying here because I had what was basically a studio apartment with full kitchen (and a fireplace!). Their complimentary breakfast was a real breakfast with eggs, cereals, breads, fruit, etc.; a refreshing change from the usual carb-and-sugarfest that passes for “breakfast” at a lot of hotels. They are located somewhat away from “where the action is,” but a local tour company, the Grand Canyon Store, offers free on-call shuttle service to the Historic Downtown area (seasonally, from spring through fall) so you can walk around and shop and not deal with the nightmare that is driving and parking in that area. Then when you’re done, just go back to the Grand Canyon Store (they’re right across from the AMTRAK) and they’ll take you back to your hotel – all free.

Evanston, Wyoming
Destination Expert
for Page, Grand Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
4,298 posts
126 reviews
2. Re: Business TR: Flagstaff AZ 12/03-12/06

RESTAURANTS: Ah, food, my favorite subject ;-) Restaurants patronized during my stay were as follows:

- STAGE LEFT DELI: We actually had lunch delivered to our office. They’re located in the Historic Downtown area of Flagstaff. They are a New York style deli serving generously sized hot and cold subs, on locally-made and very yummy bread rolls. The sandwiches have names like “the Jersey Girl” (hi SJG!) and “the Guido.” Many of their sandwiches are made with Buffalo-style mozzarella, y’know, the kind that makes you want to call it “mootsarell.” Their actual restaurant is small but cozy, but they have a nice little patio. With Flagstaff having an unseasonably warm winter so far, we could have sat out there. Most of us could only eat half our sandwiches, they’re so huge.

- FAT OLIVE’S: This restaurant is new, as in brand-spankin’; they’ve only been open for two weeks. Their specialty is wood-fired artisan pizza. They strive to be as authentically Italian as possible, using very fresh ingredients including sausage and mozzarella made on the premises, and locally grown produce. Their prices are quite reasonable considering. Fat Olive’s has a lot of potential and I think someday they will be great, but right now they have a few “growing pains” to sort out. More on that in my forthcoming review.

- PITA JUNGLE: Here again, we had our lunch delivered (many restaurants in Flagstaff deliver to hotels, offices, etc.). It was delicious, more of a Greek/Mediterranean style menu. We had 3 kinds of hummus, spinach salad and huge pita sandwiches, including falafel, hummus and taboule. Being half-Armenian, this tasted like my Grandma’s cooking back in Fresno – what a treat! Apparently they do Happy Hour & Tapas in the afternoon. Their actual store is located off Butler Ave. near the Little America, which I didn’t get to see, but pictures look nice.

- SAKURA: The highlight of my visit, gastronomically speaking anyway. Here in Wyoming, sushi is better known as “fish bait,” so I was definitely looking forward to this! We sat at a teppan-yaki table. Half of our party did the hot stuff, the other half the “cool” stuff (they let you order sushi even if you’re sitting at the hot tables). Our chef, Reuben, was very good at his job and obviously enjoyed it. He put on quite the show with the fire oil, juggling his utensils and such. He was fun and very friendly. The meal was great and a wonderful finale to my visit. Sakura is located inside the Radisson Woodlands Plaza hotel.

Evanston, Wyoming
Destination Expert
for Page, Grand Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
4,298 posts
126 reviews
3. Re: Business TR: Flagstaff AZ 12/03-12/06

TRAFFIC: As has been the case for years, it’s still crazy on that main drag (Route 66, Milton, etc.). The Mountain Line bus system covers a large part of Flagstaff, so this is certainly a viable alternative to those who prefer not to drive, as is the shuttle service mentioned above. There are a couple of taxi services as well. It’s not that bad driving around most of the town, but again, the Historic Downtown area is best avoided by those not used to the environment. Also: Flagstaff is a very bike friendly town, and a lot of folks ride their bikes, including at night. Do watch out for them.

GETTING BACK: Again, took Arizona shuttle from AMTRAK station down to PHX. Shuttles depart from FLG as early as 2.30 AM, with the last shuttle at 8.00 PM. Very convenient service, which I won’t hesitate to use again. The driver on the FLG-PHX run, Ron, was great – he let me use his cell phone to make a couple of calls upon my discovering that I’d lost mine! Had a sandwich at La Grande Orange Grocery prior to take-off (overpriced and undersized, but tasty). Flight out of PHX to SLC was slightly late, but we had a tailwind so arrived at SLC on time.

PHX vs. SLC: If pressed about which airport I like better, I still have to say Sky Harbor. Architecturally it’s more interesting and seems to invite you to want to walk around in; SLC is a bit… I dunno, “sterile” I guess is the word. But, then again SLC airport food tends to give you better bang for the buck. SLC’s parking is quite easy to navigate, and their gate areas have more data ports, even some between the seats. But Sky Harbor definitely had more shops, restaurants, etc. Sky Harbor also has folks called “Airport Volunteers” stationed in little kiosks throughout the concourses. I stopped and talked to one of them and they mostly field questions about who goes out of where, how to get to outlying cities, etc. Sounds like a fun job.

There ya have it, gang! Hope at least some of it is helpful to someone.

Mesa, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Tempe
Level Contributor
1,868 posts
82 reviews
4. Re: Business TR: Flagstaff AZ 12/03-12/06

Glad to hear you are headed back to Arizona! And a very interesting trip report.

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
60,943 posts
42 reviews
5. Re: Business TR: Flagstaff AZ 12/03-12/06

Thanks for posting A. Learned again....

Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
Level Contributor
7,531 posts
425 reviews
6. Re: Business TR: Flagstaff AZ 12/03-12/06

Nice report. Lots of useful info.

I would fit in well in WY, as I have the same opinion of sushi. ;-)

Good luck with the new job.

Evanston, Wyoming
Destination Expert
for Page, Grand Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
4,298 posts
126 reviews
7. Re: Business TR: Flagstaff AZ 12/03-12/06

@MarianReader - thanks for the compliment! I'm actually not moving to Flagstaff, I will be telecommuting from Wyoming, but expect to travel to FLG 4-5x a year.

@OhioHick - <<I would fit in well in WY, as I have the same opinion of sushi. ;-)>> That you would!

West Yellowstone...
Destination Expert
for Flagstaff, West Yellowstone
Level Contributor
2,208 posts
57 reviews
8. Re: Business TR: Flagstaff AZ 12/03-12/06

Thanks for your very detailed report. I hope you will continue to lend your perspective to the Flagstaff forum as often as you can!

Evanston, Wyoming
Destination Expert
for Page, Grand Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
4,298 posts
126 reviews
9. Re: Business TR: Flagstaff AZ 12/03-12/06

Oh hey, forgot one other thing:

TRAIN HORN NOISE: So the main drag of Flagstaff parallels a train route. Used to be that this area was NOTORIOUS for obnoxious train noise. If you were staying at any of the motels on Route 66, Historic Downtown Area, Milton Avenue, etc., you'd get blasted out of a deep sleep every 5 minutes. I mean, these suckers were LOUD!!! Thankfully, the city has made VAST improvements in this area. The hotel I was at (Sonesta ES Suites, review forthcoming) was a bit removed from the train tracks, so no problem there, but my company's office is right in the downtown area and I hardly heard a peep out of the choo-choo's. Yay!!!

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
60,943 posts
42 reviews
10. Re: Business TR: Flagstaff AZ 12/03-12/06

We have stayed at hotels close to the trains and they never bothered us but if you are a light sleeper it wasn't all that fun I guess. We love trains! We once were at La Posada in Winslow and a train came along at full speed. For some reason it has to stop and that takes some time. When that train came to a standstill it had not fully passed La Posada. Huge trains to say the least.