Romantic hot air balloon tour pairs flight with food, flowers

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- Valentine's Day is right around the corner. And if you're still trying to think of the perfect gift for that special someone, we have an idea for you.

Take your romance to a whole new level with a hot air balloon ride that also includes a gourmet meal.

Float Balloon Tours is based out of Deer Valley Airport. The company has reinvented the traditional balloon tour by combining customizable itineraries with top-level service, all the while delivering some of the best views and food our state has to offer.

"We want to share what makes our corner of the map so remarkable, not just by flying above it, but by inviting everything that is unique about the Southwest into our customers' experience," Cooley says. "We aim to engage all senses, because that's exactly what Arizona does," says Matt Cooley, owner and operator of Float Balloon Tours.

All tours begin with a pre-flight snack of biscotti and fresh-baked cookies and hot (or iced) coffee roasted by Cartel Coffee Lab. After the approximately hour-long flight, guests are treated to a gourmet breakfast with the best local and seasonal fare prepared by Chef Robbie Tutlewski of Pizzeria Bianco, paired with a glass or two of mimosas made with sparkling wine by Arizona Hops and Vines.

Menus change several times a season, but a sample bill of fare might include a Beet Galette (organic local beets, native Arizona i'itoi onion, goat cheese crema); Early Morning Tamales (AZ grass-fed pork machaca, stone ground polenta, local organic farm fresh egg); Arizona Lemon Sunshine Pie (Olivia's family recipe, prepared in-house with local lemons). Wash it all down with a sparkling cocktail such as a delightfully refreshing Honey Apple Cider Mimosa made with Arizona Hops & Vines sparkling wine and honeyed apple cider.

And we can't forget about the majestic scenery. The tours offer patrons breathtaking views of the Bradshaw Mountains, Lake Pleasant and the pristine Sonoran Desert. All tours are led by experienced, FAA-certified, fully licensed and insured accident-free operators.

Launched in 2013 by Olivia Laux and Matt Cooley, Float Balloon Tours grew out of their passion to reinvent the traditional hot air balloon ride.

"No matter if it's your first hot air balloon flight, or your 50th, we want it to be an unforgettable experience," Cooley says "And we can only guarantee it by staying creative with our offerings, and keeping things small and intimate."

Aside from offering a more intimate experience on its standard Sunset or Sunrise Balloon Tours, Float also offers customizable Private Tours or Group Events. Meantime, aspiring shutterbugs will like Float's unique airborne Photography Workshop, led by a professional photographer who will provide individualized instruction to best capture the views.

"You can go ballooning pretty much anywhere," Cooley says. "So we wanted to make it a uniquely Arizona experience."

For balloon fights on Feb. 14 or 15, each person will also go home with a gift basket that features a bouquet of flowers from Hoot & Holler, a bottle of sparkling wine from Arizona Vines & Wines, and a scented candle from Standard Wax.

Prices vary depending on the package. The Valentine special is $250 per person.

For more information: 
Visit Float Balloon Tours at www.floatballoontours.com