Friday Scottsdale Republic Cover Article Features Ultimate Art & Cultural Tours!

Ultimate Art & Cultural Tours was recently featured in the Friday issue of the Scottsdale Republic, on the cover and with a 3-page spread! I am hoping that this article will inspire locals to explore Scottsdale and the valley and experience the richness of our arts and culture.

Santa Fe-The Finale

the ranch

Saturday, my last day in Santa Fe, (for this trip anyway!) My flight out of Albuquerque wasn’t until late afternoon so Leslie and I decided to take the “long way”. After running a few errands we left Santa Fe around 10 a.m. and headed to “the ranch”.  The ranch is the home of Schenck Southwest Publishing. It is the year-round home of Billy Schenk and the Santa Fe summer home of my friend from Scottsdale, Mark McDowell. The peaceful property is about 20 minutes south of town but feels much further. There are a couple of homes that were built on the property over 80 years ago that have been lovingly preserved and, in some cases, added on to creating wonderful, rambling haciendas. Leslie and I  were treated to a private tour of the ranch and the homes. The one-of-a-kind and antique furniture in the homes was amazing! There is also a newer building that is an office and Mark’s studio/home that is in the processes of being completed. The views of the valley are stunning. It was the kind of place that you are in no hurry to leave but we had more to do on the way to the airport.

We headed out to start our trip to Albuquerque via the Turquoise Trail. Our first stop was in the old mining town of Cerrillos. We stopped for the scenic overlook and could have spent an hour or so exploring the old museum and other sites but we wanted to get to Madrid for lunch. Madrid is a historic mining town turned funky art town. As we pass the city limits we saw a gypsy festival going on in a little valley with people dressed up and dancing. I say they were “dressed up” for all I know they could have been a band of real gypsies! The highway is lined with old buildings and homes most of which have been restored and are now little restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries and studios. We decided to have lunch at the  Mine Shaft Tavern known for their great burgers.  Fortunately we arrived with time to spare because it took about 45 minutes for us to be served. Our buffalo burgers were excellent although by the time we were served we were so hungry that buffalo jerky would probably have tasted like Kolbe beef! Side note, Madrid is where Wild Hogs was filmed and there are plenty of bikers around. It is a very colorful, fun town.

Albuquerque is only about 45 minutes from Madrid. The drive was very easy and we didn’t hit any traffic until we hit I40 which is only about 10 minutes from the airport.

Thanks to Leslie, my Santa Fe trip was unforgettable and I feel like I know Santa Fe a little more like a local! I can’t wait to go back and learn more. I have always wanted people who participate in my Scottsdale tours to feel like they have lived here for a short period of time. This trip has confirmed that and will help me continue to keep that as our primary focus.

Oh, yes I did finally get that map of Santa Fe on Wednesday!

Ace Bailey

Santa Fe IIII

mission cafe and sweet shop

Well Friday and my Santa Fe adventure wraps up when I head to the airport on Saturday morning. But it isn’t over yet! Once again the day started out working at home, blogging and such. It was such a beautiful day that Leslie and I walked downtown to the Mission Cafe and Sweet Shop, which is right down the alley from the oldest home in the country. They have free wi fi so we could continue to work and have lunch enjoying the great weather.

Friday evening is the Gallery Walk in downtown Santa Fe. Most galleries are open from 5-7 and you have the opportunity to meet gallery owners and exhibiting artists as well as very friendly Santa Feans. We strolled down Canyon Road to Meyer Gallery where they serve free wine, beer and margaritas to the art patrons. Just be sure not to leave the gallery with an unfinished drink. Security is very strict! After a great gallery walk we headed over to Corazón to meet up with Jack and his girlfriend Katie and celebrate her birthday. Corazon is a popular bar/restaurant for 20 somethings in Santa Fe but the “well over 20’s” crowd was very welcome as well. We walked in and Leslie was immediately greeted by the band that was warming up. Turns out they were friends from back in the day! Not knowing what to expect from the menu we were very pleasantly surprised with the delicious shrimp with lime/chili sauce, the seared tuna and the flash fried calamari! All of the dishes were delicious. The only drawback was the air-head service but the company, food and drinks made up for it.

We left Corazon and drove downtown to Matador in hopes of meeting up with Austin (Leslie’s other son). Matador is a subterranean “alternative” bar. First we were carded before being allowed to descend into the bar. At 50+ it was pretty funny. Upon entering the bar memories of the 60-70’s came rushing back with the smell of incense, cozy little seating areas and muted conversations. Be sure to bring cash because they do not accept credit cards or checks.

Walking back to the car we met Peter Weiss who was on his way to play at Milagro. Milago is a restaurant, bar that is tucked away at the end of a walkway off of San Francisco Street. At 10:00 the bar was very busy as was the restaurant. The two story restaurant is a huge atrium, lovely to look at but it makes the acoustics deplorable.  It was virtually impossible to hear the 3 piece band. Since that was the primary reason for being there we didn’t stay long.

Ace Bailey

Santa Fe III

balloon man!

Thursday, Leslie’s birthday and it was the most beautiful day in Santa Fe so far! Warm and no rain. We started the birthday celebrations with lunch at Coyote Cantina the adjunct establishment to the popular Coyote Café. The Cantina serves light Latino/Cuban fare and cocktails on a festively painted terrace. After a leisurely lunch with our mutual friend Peter Weiss, Leslie took me to her favorite resale shop,  Double Take. It is a huge selection that includes a combination of new and used clothing (children-adult), jewelry,  furniture, dishes…you name it. Beautifully displayed in a large open space, it is very easy to stroll through and see all the wonderful things for sale.

From there we walked around the corner to Cowgirl BBQ where we met Leslie’s friend Betsy and her husband Wolfgang for excellent margaritas and were hilariously entertained by the Balloon Man. Leslie’s 2 sons met us there and we walked downtown to the Pink Adobe which is adjacent to the Inn of the Five Graces. The hostess overheard Leslie mention in passing that it would be fun to see the Inn. She personally took us over and introduced us to the Inn keeper Steve who proceeded to give us an hour long tour complete with fascinating history of the property and obscure facts of early Santa Fe.

I should add that Leslie is only in Santa Fe for a few days trying to rent her fabulous 1920’s adobe home which is within walking distance of town. She will be returning to Scottsdale in a week or so. When she gets back I get to go back to acquainting her with the local finds in her “new” home town.

Sante Fe part II

santa fe

Wednesday in Santa Fe started off sunny and cool, by the standards of a desert dweller, but a beautiful day! By now we have internet access at the house so decide to have coffee there and start our explorations at lunch time. I still need a map! Leslie takes me on a driving tour around the newly renovated train station where we stopped for lunch at the Railyard restaurant. It turned into another cool, rainy afternoon. From what I’m told this time of year the weather can be in the mid 90s so I guess we’re pretty lucky. By early evening the rain had cleared and we headed to Amavi a beautiful restaurant tucked away on a little side street. Just so happens that Leslie’s son works there! We had a wonderful Yukon gold and leek soup and shared the shrimp appetizer. That, with the basket of assorted fresh breads was a perfect dinner and on Wednesdays bottles of wine are half price! After dinner there was time for a brisk walk around the plaza where Leslie pointed out more great restaurants, shops and historic buildings:

Origins — original clothing on San Francisco Street,

The Sleeping Dog Tavern – another Gerald Peter’s spot,

American Country Collection — great looking outdoor furniture, but always new stuff

Collected Works Bookstore – expanding and moving into the old location of Foreign Traders

The Plaza Cafe -  great old fashioned diner on the plaza

We made our way over to La Fonda for music and dancing. On Wednesday and Thursday nights the Bill Hearne band plays and it is theplace for 2-steppin’. I’m not much of a dancer but my friend is and she was pointing out the finer points of 2-steppin and the ones that were particularly good, which it turns out was most of them as long as I was not on the floor! Just to give you an idea of how kind and tolerant Santa Feans are I was actually asked to dance a few times!

Santa Fe

Took off from Scottsdale on Monday with my friend Leslie for a road trip to Santa Fe. As an experienced art and cultural tour designer and guide in Arizona I am looking forward to getting to know the nuances of Santa Fe. Fortunately, I’m with an expert! Having lived here for  21 years, Leslie knows Santa Fe.

It’s “only”  been about 4 1/2 years since I’ve been to Santa Fe as a tour coordinator. Driving up Route 25 I realized just how much Santa Fe had expanded, however once we got into old Santa Fe I assumed that I would be able to orient myself without too much difficulty. Ummm, not exactly. While old Santa Fe has not changed much, seeing it as the tourist is much different than “seeing  it ” while taking care of a tour group. Thank goodness for Leslie but I need a map to help me get my bearings.

When you travel how do you go about finding the great local eateries, shops, galleries that are the real soul of a city or town, especially if you don’t know someone who lives there? When groups go to Scottsdale they can arrange with my company, Ultimate Art & Cultural Tours for in-depth tours and workshops but, to the best of my knowledge, most towns don’t have anything like that. Fortunately I’ve got my own personal guide.

So here are some great local finds for the next time you travel to the lovely town of Santa Fe.

We got into town late Monday and opted for dinner at the Shed with Leslie’s son. Very good Mexican food and margaritas! They were also very accommodating when I told them I was a sissy and didn’t want it very spicy.

For good free wi fi and inexpensive, good casual breakfast, our first morning we went to the Santa Fe Baking Company. You can sit there as long as you’d like doing computer stuff. Due to multiple technological traumas of our own doing we were there for breakfast and by the time we left the lunch crowd was thinning out! Later that day I was given a private drive around town while we ran errands and such, best way in the world to really experience a town! Then we walked around the historic plaza, in the rain, checking out the best local clothing, shoe and antique shops. Leslie also showed me the  historic La Fonda  Hotel, where the “Santa Fe Trail Ends”. This was a Harvey House was designed by Mary Coulter  the same architect who designed the El Tovar at the Grand Canyon as well as other Harvey Houses.  Downtown Santa Fe is very walker friendly. We walked from the square down to Del Charro at the historic Inn of the Governors where we “found” (Leslie knew about this) nicely priced, ok cheap, appetizers and drinks that were plenty for dinner. From there Leslie took me to another one of her favorite spots, Rio Chama Steakhouse for a night cap. This is definitely one place that unless you know about it, you’re not going to easily find it. It is right on the Old Santa Fe Trail. There is a little sign over an arched opening which you walk through back to this restaurant and beautiful bar where it seems everyone knows the bartender, Rob. End day one.

Ace Bailey

Chihuly at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix AZ

Chihuly at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix AZ

This once-in-a-lifetime installation will only be at the Desert Botanical Garden until the end of May. My recommendation is to see it in the early morning. The garden opens at 8:00 a.m. and you can find informaiton for reservations by visiting

Go and be amazed!


Phoenix Business Journal article

Ultimate made it to the Phoenix Biz Journal!! Check out Friday September 12 edition page 15! Woo Hoo!!


Scottsdale Ranks High In Business, Lifestyle

Fortune Magazine canvassed the country to find cities with the best mix of business advantages and lifestyle appeal. Scottsdale came in at No. 25 – the top Arizona city – as among the perfect places to build your dream. Among the reasons for Scottsdale’s high ranking were the city’s great resorts and spas and its revitalized downtown. Other Arizona cities featured were Oro Valley at No. 44 and Prescott at No. 92. Visit for more information on the rankings.


Scottsdale Ranks High In Business, Lifestyle And Arts

Scottsdale placed No. 2 among all U.S. mid-sized cities in AmericanStyle magazine’s annual poll determining the nation’s Top 25 Arts Destinations for 2008.

“Scottsdale has the most beautiful art galleries in the country,” wrote AmericanStyle reader Linda Homonoff, of Barrington R.I., in casting her vote. It’s a “great art community and shows great contemporary art in a traditionally Western town,” wrote another reader.

Buffalo, N.Y., came in first among mid-sized cities. Santa Fe, N.M., held the No. 1 spot in the small cities category and New York City was tops among large cities.

Complete results of the annual readers’ poll and profiles of the top three cities in each category are featured on

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