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Stay & Play in Tempe Arizona

You would think that, as the race director for Ironman Arizona, I'd be staying at our host hotel, the Tempe Mission Palms, every time I was in town. While I'd very much like it if that was the case, it's not.

The Tempe Mission Palms Hotel is THE place to stay if you have business in Tempe. It's directly across the street from City Hall, three blocks from our event's transition area at Tempe Town Lake, a half mile from the Gentle Strength Food Co-op at University and Ash, and, perhaps most importantly, it's approximately 150-meters from Starbucks. That, and the fact that it has the best rooms, beds, and lobby area, make it my first choice-and obviously everyone else's too, because it's nearly always booked long before I make my reservation call.

When this happens, I immediately think of the Tempe Twin Palms.

"Tempe Twin Palms?" you say. Yes, get the name straight because it's definitely NOT the Tempe Mission Palms - different place entirely. Located on the southwest side of the ASU campus, the Twin Palms is a vision of old time Las Vegas. Ok, well maybe it isn't, but that's what my co-director and good friend, Roch Frey, and I think when it comes into view. We call it the Pink Flamingo because of its color and logo (which features parrots, not flamingos). I can't quite put my finger on why exactly we like staying here so much. The lobby is non-descript with a rather kitschy bar; which we really like. Maybe it's, somehow, retro cool?

The rooms aren't fancy either, but they do offer all the features we need - refrigerator (make sure you turn it on), coffee maker (though it's one of those that only does a cup at a time with little pre-measured sealed packets that they provide, so you can't use your own brew and filters), free high speed wireless (don't get fooled by the local "wazalliance" that you'll also see as a possible wireless network), and it's always clean (though I always do wonder about those darkish, busy-print comforters).

If I haven't won you over to the Twin experience yet, consider this, staying here gets you FREE access to ASU's student recreation center; by far the best athletic facility in the area. That's a $7 value!

Make sure you stop by the hotel front desk for your laminated pass. It's your only free way in. Count on first-rate strength training and cardio equipment, as well as a genuine lap pool! In fact, there's really two pools here with a bulkhead in between. Both lappers are 8 lanes, 25 yards, heated, and outdoors. While we've hit prime time at the gym a time or two, we've never been shut down for our own half a lane at the pool - heaven!

This ASU fitness perk and our taste for the kitschy have made the Pink Flamingo the perfect host. But in case you find yourself in need of a third option, we have one for you. Actually we were forced to find one and are now glad of it.

After the successful Ironman event, we headed to the airport for our quick 1 hour hop back to utopia, uh, I mean San Diego-At least that is what we thought. What could possibly go wrong on a 1-hour flight to San Diego from Phoenix? Weather? Please, this isn't Chicago or Boston with the possibility of winter snow and ice, right? Right. Well, upon arrival at the airport we discovered that our home was under a blanket of fog and that the airport there was shut down. This is after we relinquished the rental car. Of course.

So back to the Twin Palms? Not so fast. With the P.F. Chang's Rock-n-Roll Marathon in town, rooms were scarce. After a number of failed attempts to secure a bed, we rang the Holiday Inn Tempe/ASU - just a half mile east of the Tempe Twin Palms--and lo and behold they had a room for us. Have you ever moved from one hotel to another with no break in between? It's a fantastic way to compare facilities.

While we don't like the location of the Holiday Inn as well as the other two hotels (it's farther from Starbucks, City Hall, and our transition area - now about 2-miles away), the rooms are noticeably nicer than Twin's (better beds, sheets, pillows), the wireless is also free, and the coffee maker is one of those that you can actually use your own filters and brew. Ok, small things but, since we're on the road A LOT, it is enough to sway us for our future trips. And we can still sweat and swim at ASU for free! Yep, the Holiday Inn will reimburse you for the $7 guest fee. Get a receipt!

For future trips (of which there will be many) our order of choice will be Tempe Mission Palms, Holiday Inn Tempe/ASU, and then the Tempe Twin Palms (aka Pink Flamingo). Of course, price is a concern and, on this score, the Twin Palms usually wins, but if it's going to be a difference of $10, we'll probably pick the Holiday Inn...and we haven't even mentioned the Tempe Courtyard by Marriott - we'll save that for another day-

Oh yeah, we did finally make it home-16-hours later than we'd hoped

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