We landed in Phoenix on time and disembarked the plane. It was a long walk to the immigration point which, as a returning visitor to the USA, channelled us into electronic vetting. This entailed answering a heap of questions on a computer, followed by a print out which we handed to an official. Next stop was another official who stamped the passport and waved us through.
We then had another walk to claim baggage, and to find our way to the car rental shuttle. This was easy enough, and the bus filled up quickly of passengers all collecting their hire cars. The drive to the car hire centre, a dedicated, modern building housing all the well known rental companies, was about 20 minutes. We checked in with Alamo, with the usual patter of “did we want to upgrade , take out extra insurance etc” which we declined! We were Alamo Gold which meant just about everything was covered and a free tank of fuel. We had booked GPS, which was invaluable throughout our trip.
It was all very simple. We were then directed down a few stairs to where the cars were, and got the choice of 2 rows of cars! We picked a Toyota Camry ( automatic). The staff were not bothered about a few marks on the bodywork – far cry from hiring a car in the UK where my camera would be out photographing every blemish! After a quick verbal lesson in how to operate the car, we were off.
As we left tt was growing dusk, I was driving a strange car on the ‘wrong ‘side of the road in a busy city. A tad nerve wracking to say the least! However, we negotiated the traffic and found our way to the Pointe Hilton Squaw Resort, our first night’s accommodation.
It’s a HUGE resort, where we were upgraded to a mini self-contained apartment. It was a bit dated and we didn’t get bang for our buck staying here, but that was my fault. I am a Hilton Honors member, but booked through Trailfinders, so got no points in the account.
On reflection, I should have followed MisterAirmiles advice* and checked in to a cheap Holiday Inn Express at the airport, and collected the car the following day, which was going to be our first taste of the amazing sights of the region.
*This is always my advice, and I did tell Mum more than once! I never like picking up a car straight away if I can help it as I means that I cannot have a drink on the plane! More importantly, however, is that I don’t want to get off the plane tired, at night, and in an unfamiliar environment and start driving. I also feel that if I am paying for a night’s accommodation and a car hire, I might as well have the night at the airport. It is often cheaper in terms of the hotel, but also might reduce the cost of the car hire as you are not paying for the privilege of picking it up and parking it in a hotel car park. If you are booking as part of a package, I have always had success (with Avis) of sending them a message on Twitter to say that I will pick the car up the next morning – never been a problem and staff are happy to oblige!