Metro Phoenix/Scottsdale has 174 golf courses. … The Arizona State Bird is the Cactus Wren. … Tucson averages 350 sunny days per year. … The southernmost ski resort in the United States is Mount Lemmon, which is 45 minutes north of Tucson.
A Civil War battle was fought at Picacho Peak, which is located between Phoenix and Tucson. … Tucson means “spring at the foot of the black mountain.” … The Arizona state flower is the Saguaro cactus blossom. … The Arizona state gem is turquoise.
Arizona is one of only two states that does not adjust to Daylight Saving Time. … More than 12 million people visit Phoenix each year. … Wannabe cowboys should check out Arizona Cowboy College at www.cowboycollege.com. … 31percent of visitors to Scottsdale play golf.…The original name of Phoenix was Smith's Station
Arizona cities continue to enjoy an economic boom that shows no sign of losing its luster. Metropolitan Phoenix, including neighboring Scottsdale, is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, while Tucson leads Arizona in job growth. And Arizona's prosperity has translated into a bonanza of world-class hotels and resorts that cater to corporate groups.
Phoenix continues to polish its image as an exciting urban destination as it begins construction of a light-rail rapid transit system. A long-awaited third convention hotel for downtown, however, continues to be mired in controversy. Phoenix Civic Plaza, perhaps in an effort to reward planners for their patience, is offering a variety of discounts, upgrades, and rental fee waivers for meetings and events held at the downtown venue in 2003 and 2004.
Nearby, Scottsdale embraces a dual identity: as “The West's Most Western Town” and as a sophisticated destination with shops, restaurants, and nightclubs. Even Scottsdale's first freeway shows flair — an integrated artscape of southwestern colors and huge, textured images — as it whisks visitors to and from the ever-expanding Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport in record time.
Tucson, one of the Southwest's oldest cities, celebrated its 225th birthday last year and continues to gain popularity as a mecca for tourism, spas, and golf. The 20,000 respondents to the 2001 Zagat survey ranked Tucson the number one city in the United States for quality accommodations and traveler satisfaction.
I WAS THERE
Pat Wygant, travel manager for Trendway Corp., Holland, Mich., says she loves Arizona for the consistency of its weather and for its natural beauty. In February, her company's 100-person national sales meeting took place at the Sheraton El Conquistador Resort in Tucson. “I had taken a meeting there seven years earlier and knew that the geographic setting of the resort, right up against the mountains, would be a big hit with the attendees,” says Wygant.
Western hospitality was in abundance, starting with the group's first event, a welcome reception at nearby Rancho de Los Cerros. Old-time photos, a cowboy band, and dinner al aire libre made for a relaxing evening prior to the next day's general session. The agenda also included a cowboy cookout at the resort's Last Territory restaurant, a semi-formal awards ceremony, and free time for Jeep tours, on-site golf and spa treatments, and horseback riding. “The weather in Tucson was wonderful, and next time, if possible, I'd like to add another afternoon of free time to take advantage of it.”
MY FAVORITE EVENT
Susan Hale of PRA Destination Management in Phoenix thinks that Fort McDowell on the Yavapai Reservation, which is just east of Phoenix, offers an outstanding introduction to the Arizona experience. “La Puesta del Sol is a wonderful special event venue on a hilltop offering 360-degree views. People expect Arizona to be dry and don't realize the beauty of it until they are in a setting like this,” says Hale.
For a casual mixer, she enjoys setting the scene with a sunset cocktail hour of margaritas and long-necked beers, a country western band, the clanging of the dinner bell, and cowboy games. For a more ambitious event, Hale sometimes sets up an elegant Cattle Baron's Ball, at which costumed guests, fine cuisine, and twinkling chandeliers combine for an elegant Western experience.
Jackie Ludwig with Convention and Group Services in Tucson agrees that the state's natural wonders impress groups the most. Her favorite venue is 40 acres of pristine desert in the nearby Tortolita Mountains, accessible after 20 minutes of off-road driving. Jeeps make the ascent while guests enjoy an all-natural desert experience that may even include a sighting of the property's roaming mustangs. “The plateau has an elevation of 3,400 feet and is surrounded by mountains and saguaros. The play of shadow, light, and color in every direction is phenomenal. It's the Arizona of their dreams.”
Although the plateau's views of the setting sun make it ideal for dinner under the stars, Ludwig says a chuckwagon breakfast at sunrise is equally memorable. “It begins with a morning blessing by an American Indian flautist and storyteller, followed by a narrative talk about local wildlife. After breakfast, guests take a Jeep tour of the property. Watching the desert come alive in the early morning is unforgettable.”
Nowhere is the current boom in spas and wellness centers more evident than in Arizona, where dry, clear air and mild temperatures encourage the renewal of body, mind, and spirit. A sampling of what's new:
Tucson's Westin La Paloma unveiled a new Elizabeth Arden Spa in January, one of only 10 freestanding Red Door Spas in the world. The 9,300-square-foot spa offers 18 treatment rooms, including two out-of-doors, and a full array of Arden products.
In May, the Omni Tucson National Golf Resort and Spa announced the grand opening of The Spa: An Oasis of Wellness and Relaxation after a $1.2 million renovation of the 13,000-square-foot facility.
The Boulders Resort in Scottsdale is building a 33,000-square-foot Golden Door Spa that will include a “Couple's Suite” and a 700-square-foot “Ultimate Spa Suite” featuring private access, steam showers, patio, data port, and television. A meditative maze, 25 treatment areas, and a fitness center will also be offered. A September opening is planned.
The Centre for Well-Being at The Phoenician has introduced a “Planning a Spa Event” packet that helps meeting executives incorporate spa activities into the program agenda. Planners also meet with spa sales managers to create group events that are educational and stress relieving.
In October, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess will open a $14 million, 33,000-square-foot spa on three levels encompassing 26 treatment rooms, fitness facility, salon and rooftop swimming pool.
STOP THE BUS
It's no secret that Arizona, with its vast array of championship and award-winning courses, is a golfer's paradise. What meeting executives may not know, however, is that some resorts are pushing the envelope with innovative programs that are changing the way the game is played.
The Phoenician offers Golf Power, a combination golf and spa program aimed at helping players improve their game. The two-part program includes the Automated Sports Training and Research digital golf analysis to evaluate a player's form and a training session with an exercise therapist to target postural imbalances affecting stance and swing.
The Boulders Resort helps women break through the “grass” ceiling by offering Women To The Fore, a program designed to help new female golfers learn the game and advanced golfers to improve.
Golf balls aren't the only things flying around Scottsdale — now golfers are also lifting off, thanks to Heli-Golf Adventures, a service offered by Resort Suites. A chartered chopper picks up guests at Scottsdale Airport and delivers foursomes to tees in Sedona, Gold Canyon, or Tucson. The adventure includes breakfast, green fees, a camera, and breathtaking views of Arizona scenery.
WHERE TO GO
“The weather in Tucson was wonderful … I'd like to add another afternoon of free time to take advantage of it.”
— Pat Wygant, Trendway Corp., Holland, Mich.
Take it outside
With its blue skies, dry air, and desert vistas, Phoenix/Scottsdale offers a spectacular setting for outdoor recreation. For a first-hand experience with the region's flora and fauna, take a trail ride or desert Jeep tour accompanied by Western garbed guides who provide colorful commentary about the land, its people and their legends. The terrain is also ideal for hiking and mountain biking.
PHOENIX/SCOTTSDALE — New
Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in northeast Phoenix will be Arizona's largest resort hotel when it opens in November 2002 with 950 guest rooms, 200,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, 10 restaurants, a 28,000-square-foot spa, an eight-court tennis pavilion, and two 18-hole golf courses.
Starwood Hotels and Resorts has broken ground on the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa. The 500-room resort and golf course is slated for a late 2002 opening and will be just south of Phoenix.
Construction of the $180 million, 750-room Westin Kierland Resort has begun in northeast Phoenix; the resort is expected to open in early 2003. It will feature 60,000 square feet of indoor function space and a spa, and will be encircled by the 27-hole Kierland Golf Club.
The Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park west of Phoenix has refurbished its meeting rooms. The pool patio area has also been redecorated.
The 493 renovated guest rooms at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale have been upgraded and now have two-line telephones with data ports. The resort's new 12,000-square-foot Arizona Ballroom was completed in January and offers three registration desks and high-speed Internet access.
Scottsdale's Chaparral Suites Resort is renovating its East and West ballrooms; completion is scheduled for this fall.
The Pointe South Mountain Resort, newly managed by Destination Hotels & Resorts, has begun an $8 million redesign of its 640 guest suites; project completion is scheduled for September.
The Phoenician Resort is renovating guest rooms in the main building and casitas. The new furnishings will be installed by September.
Changes at the Regal McCormick Ranch Resort in Scottsdale include a new owner, Millennium Hotels & Resorts; a new name, Millennium McCormick Ranch Resort; and extensive interior and exterior renovations to be completed by late summer.
In downtown Phoenix, the 712-room Hyatt Regency has completed a $7.8 million renovation of all guest rooms and corridors.
The Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa has opened the Arizona Wing offering 120 guest rooms, two meeting rooms, and an Olympic-size swimming pool.
TUCSON — New
A new Ritz-Carlton property is scheduled to open in 2003.
Two projected new properties are the Hyatt Dove Mountain and Marriott at Starr Pass, with completion dates to be announced.
A 25,000-square-foot conference center addition completed last March at the Sheraton El Conquistador includes an 11,400-square-foot ballroom, three 500-square-foot conference rooms, and indoor and outdoor pre-function areas, bringing total meeting space to 55,000 square feet. In July and November, the resort's 428 guest rooms will undergo an extensive refurbishment. The resort's 43 suites were refurbished in 2000. In 2000 the second part of a two-phase, $2.1 million renovation of two golf courses was completed.
The 487-room Westin La Paloma offers 248 deluxe category guest rooms after a $6 million enhancement program; the remaining 249 rooms will be renovated by late summer. The expanded deluxe rooms measure 475 square feet and offer city, golf course, or mountain views.
Westward Look Resort remains open while undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation program including the remodeling of all 244 guest rooms, the addition of a second ballroom and outdoor pavilion, and expansion of the spa. Completion is scheduled for late this year.
A $4.2 million redesign has updated Loews Ventana Canyon Resort's 398 guest rooms and suites; the grand ballroom and breakout rooms were also refurbished. Four new “All Adventure” packages incorporate outdoor activities and resort amenities into the meeting agenda.
CONTACT THE CVB
Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau
(602) 254-6500, (877) 225-5749
• Fax: (602) 253-4415
Total Hotel Tax: 11.07%
Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau
(480) 945-8481, (800) 805-0471
• Fax: (480) 947-4523
Total Hotel Tax: 10.67%
Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau
(520) 624-1817, (800) 638-8350
• Fax: (520) 884-7804
Total Hotel Tax: 9.5% city; 7.5% in Pima County, where most resorts are located.