We had a fantastic holiday. My 2 boys are convinced this was our "best holiday ever". The itinerary was great, the hotels were great, and the whole thing was largely trouble free.
I set out my detailed review below.
FLIGHTS: fantastic. I can heartily recommend the lie-flat beds in BA Club World - didn't hear a peep from the kids all the way home. Well worth the extra money for the upgrade.
CAR Pretty awful. There was no Dollar reception desk in the terminal and so we took the Dollar shuttle out to the off-airport site. The queue was long. I think we had expected a more luxurious vehicle than we got - it was seriously underpowered and strained to carry the 4 of us and our luggage up any kind of hill. I think we also expected it to have satnav, but it didn't and Dollar wanted $330 to rent us one. We ended up buying one in LA for $99, but if I had known about this before leaving home I could have updated my UK one with US maps - maybe worth a mention in future? Or maybe including detailed road maps in the document package?
Fairmont Miramar LA. Great. Cuddly toys for kids on arrival, comfortable interconnecting rooms, good location.
Del Coronado San Diego. Great room - swimming pool out of the front door, fabulous beach just outside the back door. Only gripe was they tried to charge us an extra $50 for interconnecting rooms but soon took it off the bill when we complained.
La Quinta Palm Springs. Worked well. Small shared pool directly outside door. Palm Springs was a bit too hot for us to take advantage of the golf facilities but we enjoyed the cable car. My husband thinks we could have left this bit out of our itinerary but I enjoyed it.
Tanque Verde Ranch, Tucson. Fab and really friendly. Really nice interconnecting rooms. Kids enjoyed organised activities, husband and I enjoyed bar and pools and riding/hiking. Fishing was a surprise hit for all of us. Husband was disappointed at short notice cancellation of mountain biking.
Hilton Scottsdale. I know we challenged you by saying we wanted a few nights self-catering, and you came up with this, which worked well for us. It was probably less "attractive" and less quirky than the other hotels, but it was convenient for a host of restaurants and we managed to do a great deal in terms of exploring the area. By the way, I have to recommend Desert Wolf Tours - we took their Tomcar self-drive ATV tour of the desert, and had a ball!
Little America Hotel, Flagstaff. Lower grade but probably the best in the area. The boys liked the nature walk outside the back door, and the pool.
Gouldings, Monument Valley. OK. Our rooms were separated by a walkway, so we had to switch and share 1 adult/1 child in each room, but we figured that would happen at some point in the holiday anyway, and this was the only time. The food was dreadful. We didn't sign up for the (seriously expensive) Gouldings Monument Valley tours, but opted to drive ourselves, which was a much better option. There is a hotel called the View actually inside Monument Valley, which does indeed have a view to die for (rather than that from Gouldings which is much more distant) but I have no idea what the rooms are like - however, it would be worth staying here just for the view.
Cliffrose Lodge, Zion. This place was gorgeous. I didn't really know about Zion beforehand but I would definitely recommend the national park and this lodge. It was really friendly. We hiked The Narrows, and it was probably one of the best experiences of our holiday.
Vdara, Las Vegas. Great. An oasis in the midst of the madness. This was about the only hotel we found which didn't reek of cigarette smoke or have cheesy decor or have that deafening sound of slot machines. One slight problem: they gave us 2 double rooms in our suite rather than a double and a twin and couldn't change the configuration or move us anywhere else so we had to convert the sofa bed in the sitting room to a third bed, which cut down on the "penthouse suite" experience somewhat.
So overall - 5 stars!