I can't for the life of me understand his reluctance. In various trips to the US, I've never taken so quickly to an American city than this sprawling Arizona conurbation 60 miles from the Mexican border.
Perhaps it was the weather – temperatures steady in the high 70s – or maybe it was the sheer magnificence of its setting, virtually surrounded on all sides by imposing mountain ranges in this spectacular but largely unsung state.
I have to confess that Arizona was not at the head of the queue when I came to look for a winter break. In terms of tourist perception, Arizona may seem to lack the wow-factor of Florida, the glamour of California or the elegance of New England – but trust me, it has them all. It provided a wonderful mix of lavish and welcoming accommodation, stunning scenery, unforgettable drives – and the ability to nip into neighbouring Nevada for a brief interlude of Las Vegas decadence.
It is steadily growing in UK popularity. On the British Airways flight from Heathrow to Phoenix, I got chatting to two couples who chose to buy holiday homes in Arizona rather than Florida.
As they said, for two additional hours of travel, you enjoy the heat but not the humidity of Florida and you savour vast stretches of the most awesome scenery, a scorched land which has not been left to the mercy of developers. It's a compelling mixture.
Tucson sits just under 100 miles south-east of Phoenix – an easy drive down the Interstate 10 across some rugged desert scenery. I'm normally not much of a city person but took to Tucson immediately. Perhaps location had a lot to do with it. We were staying in the Loews Ventana Canyon resort – elegantly perched at the northern edge of the city in the South Catalina Foothills. And I mean IN the foothills. The cactus-covered hills rose sharply from our balcony while the imposing front of the resort looked over the city towards the towering Santa Rita Mountains to the south.
As well as a comprehensive tennis academy, the resort boasts two golf courses. Although a large party of sun-starved Canadian golfers had arrived en masse for a tournament, I managed the first nine holes of the memorable Mountain course while my wife enjoyed some pampering in the luxury spa. I don't know who had the better time – but the golf course, moulded into the contours of the foothills was one of the most attractive I have seen.
We were also handily placed for a trip to the uniquely preserved western town of Tombstone, 70 miles south-east of Tucson.
In its silver-mining boom years of the 1880s, Tombstone was one of the wildest towns in the west and of course the scene of the gunfight at the OK Corral when the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday took on the Clanton and McLaury brothers – and finished 3-0 winners.
Its silver mine now long gone, the town has hauled itself back from the brink of oblivion by reinventing itself as a tourist stop based largely on the most famous gunfight in film history. Cars are banned from the wonderfully preserved centre of the town and visitors can take a stagecoach trip down the main street.
To reinforce the folklore, actors portraying the Earp brothers and their rivals meet on the street, square up and hurl insults as a build-up to the twice-a-day re-enactment of the shooting which takes place in a replica of that Corral.
The show is never going to win any Oscars, but the actors embellish the storyline with some off-beat humour and it's not the worst way to spend 40 minutes.
Back at Loews Ventana Canyon, the resort was self-contained, with a range of dining choices, but we manoeuvred our way round Tucson's wide boulevards, where quality Mexican cooking abounds. We also visited the elegant Arizona Inn. Lunch beside the Inn's plush croquet lawn seemed a million miles from rugged Tombstone – not just 70.
Then it was back up the I-10 to the north of the country and the beautiful town of Sedona – and a stay in the aptly-named Enchantment Resort. Sedona sits at the heart of Arizona's Red Rock Country. A geological freak of red mountain ranges and peaks surrounds the town and give each point of the compass its own special view.
It's a draw for hikers, hill climbers and those, like me, who fancy some bumpy off-road jeep adventures. The scenery has been the backdrop for dozens of westerns, with a host of Hollywood stars – from John Wayne to Elvis Presley – resting their spurs at night in the Cowboy Club. The bar still remains, and is hugely popular.
Established at the turn of the last century, the original settlers quickly realised what they had in Sedona – and subsequent expansion was strictly monitored. There are no tall buildings or anything that could interrupt the stunning views. Street lights and the poles holding traffic signals are painted a rustic red to merge with the scenery.
The Enchantment resort, nestling in the Boynton Canyon area, is similarly designed. Its meticulously laid-out lodges merge into the splendour of its surroundings. It must be one of the most relaxing places on the planet and three nights there were the ideal mixture of pampering and relaxation before heading off to one of the world's most frenetic places – Las Vegas.
Vegas is 300 miles away from Sedona, just across the Nevada/Arizona state line. The drive there was spectacular. Heading north towards Flagstaff, the road climbed steadily from Sedona's 4000 feet to the Flagstaff level of 7000. In crisp, clear sunshine and with little traffic we purred along the I-40, over ever-changing desert vistas, cutting through and over a succession of snowy ranges. After 150 breathtaking miles, it was time to head north on the US 93 and over the state line into Nevada.
That road used to straddle the top of the Hoover Dam but a new bridge has been opened to the west which speeds up the crossing and has parking and pedestrian access for views.
Vegas was, well, Vegas – big, brash and bustling. Three nights at the Palazzo-Venetian complex with its indoor gondola trip were an eye-popping reminder of how lavish Vegas has become.
It also gave us the opportunity to take in the Cirque du Soleil's incredible interpretation of The Beatles music. Their Love show has been running to packed houses twice a night for five years at The Mirage and is truly captivating. That memory alone was worth the 300-mile round trip.
We headed back to the US 93 and south into Arizona for a final stop at Wickenburg. A basic Google search prior to heading there unearthed the intriguing fact that it was the location of the clinic attended by golfing philander Tiger Woods in a bid to cure his "sex addiction".
Armed with that knowledge I was expecting pavements crowded with wild-eyed, sex-starved celebrities, mentally undressing passers-by, but quiet, rural Wickenburg had no such scenes.
Any such clinics are housed among the vast ranches which pepper the area and the town itself is charming and pristine. It has held on to many of its original western characteristics – although nothing like to the extent of Tombstone.
It did, however, provide one last memory – the best smoked ribs I have ever tasted in the States.
The Hog Trough Smokehouse in central Wickenburg has meats slow-smoked over different woods from four to 18 hours. The end result was fantastic – the perfect meal before heading home.
Driving back to Phoenix gave us time to reflect. We definitely got Arizona at the right time. Summer temperatures frequently hover on or above 100 degrees for weeks, and although elevated situations like Tombstone and Sedona enjoy some evening respite at those times, it is fairly unrelenting elsewhere. So pick your times carefully.
We did a lot of driving – over 1200 miles – but most of it was leisurely and very enjoyable and with petrol at just over £2 a gallon, easy on the pocket.
Unlike Jojo – when it comes to Arizona, I definitely intend to get back.
British Airways has return flights from Glasgow and Edinburgh to Phoenix via London Heathrow from £739.88. Visit www.ba.com or call 0844 493 0787.
WHERE TO STAY
Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson has suites from $259 per night but taking advantange of its various offers can save you money. Visit www.loews hotels.com/specials/promotions/llw.
Enchantment resort accommodation in Sedona starts from $225 per night. Visit www.enchantmentresort.com/specials-packages. In Las Vegas, Palazzo suites average at $199, but it offers packages that start at $169 per night. Visit www.palazzo.com/las-vegas-packages/las-vegas-suite-packages.