Arizona is a celebration of diversity, and Phoenix is its dynamic, sophisticated hub. The country's sixth-largest city, Phoenix offers top-notch golf at 190 courses, supreme accommodations at five-star/five-diamond resorts and spas, fabulous shopping and restaurants, and fulfilling cultural experiences. Professional sports events abound: The Arizona Diamondbacks National League baseball team, the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes, the NBA's Phoenix Suns, and the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL make Phoenix one of only eight cities to have top professional teams in all four major sports. As the city continues its exuberant growth pattern, building on its strong infrastructure, new hotels continue to open, entertainment venues come on line, and a renewal and refurbishment process continues.
Within the Phoenix metropolitan area, Scottsdale glitters with the glitz and glamour of a resort city. Tempe invites visitors to newly opened Town Lake, and Mesa offers interesting tours at the Mormon Temple, museums, and golf.
Tucson is updating its downtown area with extensive renovations to an art deco movie theater that will be used for screenings of classic films as well as live performances. Still on the drawing board, the city's Rio Nuevo project calls for a Sonoran aquarium, IMAX theater, a Southwest visitors center, new Arizona Historical Society headquarters and museum, and a planetarium.
PHOENIX Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport continues to grow, with $619 million being invested in 78 projects. America West Airlines has a dozen new gates in Terminal 4, and more shops and restaurants are set to open. A new runway opened in September, and the north runway will be extended to accommodate larger, heavier jets. The Phoenix Civic Plaza had a major $1 million spruce-up.
HOTEL NEWS - Phoenix's Pointe Hilton on South Mountain has a newly renovated 42,000-square-foot Sports Club, offering a full-service spa, tennis, aerobics, mountain biking, sand volleyball, and weight machines. The resort has 638 suites and 60 meeting rooms, with a total of 85,000 square feet of meeting space. There are two championship golf courses on the resort's 700 acres.
- With a $12 million addition less than a year old, the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix has 60,000 square feet of meeting space. The new Arizona Wing adds two meeting rooms, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and 120 deluxe guest rooms, bringing the guest room total to 730.
- The Hyatt Regency Phoenix has completed a $7.2 million renovation of its 712 rooms and suites.
- In Carefree, north of Phoenix, the Carefree Conference Resort is expanding its 249-room capacity to roughly 270 guest rooms and suites in 2000, 320 in 2001, and more than 350 in 2002. The expansion will also add 10,000 square feet of meeting space.
IMPORTANT INFO Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau % (602) 254-6500; (877) MEET-PHX Fax: (602) 253-4415 www.phoenixcvb.com Phoenix Civic Plaza Convention Center % (602) 262-6225 Fax: (602) 495-3642; www.ci.phoenix.az.us
The center has 375,000 square feet of meeting space with up to 43 meeting rooms. Exhibit space totals 221,000 square feet and includes five exhibit halls. There is a 28,000-square-foot ballroom. Symphony Hall seats 2,587 and has a fully equipped stage.
Tempe Convention and Visitors Bureau % (480) 894-8158; (800) 283-6734 Fax: (480) 968-8004; www.tempecvb.com
SCOTTSDALE - The Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa, located in Scottsdale near the northeast border of Phoenix, is a 54-acre resort within a 5,700-acre master-planned community. The resort and spa will open in December 2002 with 950 rooms, including 85 suites. Its 170,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space will include the 33,000-square-foot Grand Canyon Ballroom and the 26,000-square-foot Sonoran Ballroom. There will be two 18-hole championship golf courses, a 28,000-square-foot spa, a gym, swimming pools, and eight tennis courts (including grass- and clay-surfaced courts).
- Chaparral Suites Hotel, formerly the Embassy Suites in Scottsdale, has unveiled its new grand ballroom, with more than 11,200 square feet of meeting space, bringing total meeting space to 20,000 square feet. The ballroom accommodates 1,400 theater-style.
- The Four Seasons Resort in Scottsdale at Troon North has opened with 188 guest rooms arranged in one-, two-, and three-story territorial-style buildings, plus 22 suites. It offers 24,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space on a single level.
- The new 270-suite Scottsdale Marriott at McDowell Mountain offers meeting rooms with a view. It has 15,000 square feet of versatile meeting space.
- The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess has undergone $10 million in upgrades.
- A full renovation of all 493 guest rooms at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort at Gainey Ranch will be completed this fall, and the new 12,000-square-foot Arizona Ballroom will open in January.
- The Ranch on Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale will reopen on December 1 with its 82 guest rooms and casitas completely redesigned. Also included in the renovation: an "edgeless" swimming pool, a redesigned fine dining restaurant and lounge, seven new tennis courts, and landscape redesign. In 2001, the resort will add 24 new multi-level guest casitas and a 12,000-square-foot outdoor spa.
- The Scottsdale Conference Resort has completed a $2 million refurbishment to all guest rooms and public spaces. The property has 326 guest rooms, suites, and casitas, and features more than 50,000 square feet of conference space in 50 meeting rooms, all with T1 Internet connections and videoconferencing capabilities. The property recently opened the 10,000-square-foot Coronado Ballroom, which will accommodate 1,000 attendees theater-style. The resort has 80,000 square feet of exhibit space, and two 18-hole championship courses.
IMPORTANT INFO Scottsdale CVB % (602) 945-8481 (800) 877-1117 Fax: (602) 947-4523 www.scottsdalecvb.com
TUCSON The Tucson International Airport completed the first step in a major, $50 million terminal expansion.
HOTEL NEWS - The Sheraton El Conquistador's new conference center added 25,000 square feet, for more than 50,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor function space. All 132 casitas, part of the resort's 428 total room count, were completely refurbished in September. Also completed in September was a $2.1 million improvement to the golf course.
- The Lazy K Bar Ranch has renovated its 27 guest rooms and added 2,500 square feet of meeting and banquet space.
- A $4.2 million renovation of all 398 guest rooms at Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson is complete. The resort offers 37,000 square feet of flexible function space and can accommodate up to 1,350 people.
IMPORTANT INFO Tucson Convention Center % (520) 791-4101 Fax (520) 791-5572 www.ci.tucson.az.us/tcc
The center has 205,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, including 120,000 square feet for exhibits, a 22,500-square-foot ballroom, a 2,277-seat music hall, a 9,700-seat arena, and a 511-seat theater.
Metropolitan Tucson CVB % (800) 638-8350 Fax: (520) 884-7804 www.visittucson.org
SEDONA HOTEL NEWS - The Enchantment Resort will open a destination spa in mid-November. Seven times larger than the existing spa, it will have 16 exclusive spa guest rooms and its own restaurants, which also may be used by hotel guests. Enchantment has 222 guest accommodations, a new 10,000-square-foot meeting village, and the 5,000-square-foot Pow Wow Pavilion, all set amid the area's spectacular red rocks in Boynton Canyon.
IMPORTANT INFO Sedona-Oak Creek Chamber of Commerce % (800) 288-7336; Fax: (520) 204-1064 www.arizonaguide.com/sedona
When it comes to having fun outdoors, the natural diversity of Arizona provides almost limitless possibilities.
During February and March, attendees can challenge the rapids of the Salt River. A few months later, tubing on the Salt and rafting on the mellow Gila River provide good fun.
How many destinations let you ski in the morning and play golf in shirt sleeves in the afternoon? In Arizona it's not only possible, but frequently done. The lofty heights of Mount Lemmon, near Tucson, are ideal for whooshing and schussing during winter months, while Tucson's dozens of golf courses are at their greenest.
To get close to all that's fun and fascinating in the Sonoran Desert, hook up with Desert Storm Hummer tours or other companies that do fabulous forays into hidden off-road crannies. What may seem like lifeless land comes alive when you learn about its animals and plants with the help of a knowledgeable guide.
Arizona is the only state in which the "giants with arms," those mainstays of Western sunsets called saguaro cacti, grow naturally. Saguaro National Park in Tucson has hiking and cycling trails that wind among these flourishing "prickly pickles." Or your group can see them, along with hundreds of other desert species, at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.
Trail rides follow pathways in South Mountain Park, which borders Phoenix's southern edge. At 17,000 acres, it's the largest municipal park in the world, with trails that lead to a number of petroglyph sites. For something different, consider providing binoculars for a visit to a bird-watching preserve. Ramsey Canyon south of Tucson, Hassayampa near Wickenburg, and the Patagonia-Sonoita preserve near the Mexican border all are prime birding venues.
Anne Cookson, director of meetings for the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association, Alexandria, Va., says that her group had such a good annual convention in Phoenix in February that they've booked another for 2004. About 3,500 attendees gathered in downtown Phoenix, using the Phoenix Convention Center and headquartering at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix, across from the Phoenix Civic Plaza. Other downtown hotels used by the group were the Crowne Plaza, Ramada Inn Downtown, and the Best Western Executive Park. "We felt that the convention center was just the right size - and that we were the right size for the city," says Cookson. "It was a great fit."
Because the meeting is always held in February, a warm climate and reliably good weather were important considerations. The foundation golfwas held at the Arizona Biltmore the Friday before the convention, and outdoor tours and activities were offered for spouses.