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The picturesque view from our balcony.

If you have the means ...

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- My friend, Oscar and I have a saying that we repeat way too much. It's from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off'," regarding a red Ferrari. "If you have the means, I highly recommend it."

Oscar, who's on this trip with me, dropped that line when we checked into the Tempe Travelodge in 1998. Of course, he was kidding. He wasn't kidding when we checked into the brand new Intercontinental Montelucia Resort and Spa yesterday afternoon. This is, quite literally, the nicest hotel I've ever visited.

It's quite an upgrade from our rookie trip 12 years ago. And, after spending an hour in the spa, I'm almost too relaxed to type right now.

First, I'll back up to where I left off yesterday. The car we left overnight at the bar was thankfully still there and without a ticket. After a lot of driving back and forth, we made it to Maryvale just as Bud Selig arrived in the car behind us.

Saturday's game vs. the Cubs was a completely different affair than the sparsely attended exhibition game Thursday against Australia. Cubs fans, as we all know, travel for their team, and the stadium was jam-packed. Fortunately, there were tons of Brewers fans at the game, and I noticed something different from the old days: the Brewers fans were much younger. Back in the day, the Brewers fans at Spring Training were snowbirds -- retirees who emigrated southwest. Now, the fans are 20-somethings and families. It's a great trend, and I'm happy to see it.

On the field, the Crew delivered a solid defensive outing, shutting out the Cubs and winning 2-0. Corey Hart blasted a double off the batter's eye, and the game zipped by.

We checked into the Montelucia at about 4 p.m., and let me tell you - the place is stunning. Barack Obama stayed here recently, and I can see why. The expansive property is decorated in a Spanish/Moroccan style, with pools, a spa and restaurants throughout. Our room overlooks our pool, and beyond that, red foothill mountains. The room, itself, is beautiful and so well appointed, with a gorgeous bathroom and luxurious shower.

Again, the hotel is hosting our group, but I told them in advance that they're not buying positive editorial coverage. I now see that they didn't have anything to worry about. This property is amazing.

It's so amazing, in fact, that we called an audible on the evening's plans. We intended to go to Phoenix and eat at Karl Kopp's new Hanny's, but it seemed wasteful to leave this hotel so quickly.

Instead, our Phoenix friend, James, and his wife, Tiffany, came to us and we had dinner at Prado, the resort's tapas bar and restaurant. We each dropped about $65 on dinner, which was steep, but well worth it.

After dinner, Tiffany dropped us off at The Vig, an eclectic lounge with a patio and a toasty fireplace (it gets a little chilly here at night in March). But the best part about The Vig was the Vig Rig. This is a free taxi service they offer to pick you up and drop you off wherever you need to go. Literally. The driver, George, works for tips. I would love to see this implemented in Milwaukee.

This morning, I checked out the hotel's Joya spa. To use the facilities costs an extra $25, but it was well worth it. I can only describe the motif as a Turkish bathhouse, but in a really good way. I spent a good 90 minutes alternating between the steam room, the whirlpool and the cold deluge shower - a crazy device that dumps five gallons of icy water on your head when you pull the cord.

I would've stayed in the spa all day if I didn't have to file this blog then head northwest to Surprise, Ariz., for the Brewers-Royals match up. This is the game we've been waiting for, since Oscar is a die-hard Royals fan, and I, obviously, am a Brewers fanatic. Meanwhile, Bill and Jerry are golfing, and we plan on meeting up with them later.

Tonight, we will get to Hanny's and probably hang out in Tempe. We might have a drink with blogger and MLB Network reporter Trenni Kusnierek, who is getting to town today.

Tomorrow morning, we head home. It's been another whirlwind trip, and it's not over yet. I don't really have the means to be here, but believe me, I highly recommend it.


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