Arizona continues to be a destination of choice among meeting executives — and the hospitality community is aiming to keep it that way with renewed efforts to cater to the meeting industry and the addition of new venues.
Steve Moore, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, says the city is accommodating more short-term bookings with as little as 30 days lead time. With 51,000 hotel rooms in the Valley of the Sun, the destination certainly has the available inventory.
Phoenix will add 2,200 rooms to that total by year's end, when the JW Marriott Desert Ridge adds 950 rooms; the Westin Kierland, 750 rooms; and the Sheraton Wildhorse Resort & Spa, 500.
In Tucson, Rick Vaughn, vice president, sales and marketing for the Metro Tucson CVB, reports slower bookings. He says that in an effort to attract business, the area is making value-added offers to groups. He hopes this will help to boost hotel occupancy, which is down 7 percent over last year.
In Scottsdale, three new resort spas have opened recently: The Golden Door Spa at The Boulders, The Spa at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain, and Willow Stream — The Spa at Fairmont at The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. In December 2001, We-Ko-Pa Golf Club opened, and it has been named one of the top 10 new courses in the world by Sports Illustrated. Also in Scottsdale, the Desert Botanical Garden has completed a recent $17 million expansion, including Dorrance Hall, a 400-seat reception hall and gallery.
I WAS THERE
Pearl Watson, member services coordinator of Reinsurance Association of America, Washington, D.C., recently brought a board of directors meeting to the Four Seasons Resort — Scottsdale at Troon North. Watson says her group visited Taliesin West, a Frank Lloyd Wright Museum and his former studio, a 30-minute bus ride from the hotel.
“It was a fabulous evening for everyone,” says Watson. “Many in our group had not known all that much about Wright until that evening. The museum was filled with his work.”
“The architecture there was different from what we have today and, I would imagine different from Wright's era also,” Watson says. “Everyone got a little lesson in architecture they had never had before.”
“The tour guides we used were very well versed,” says Watson. “They dropped little personal things about Wright that few people would know about.”
MY FAVORITE EVENT
Meeting planners may find that the only problem they have with Phoenix is deciding where they had the most fun. But for the 183 attendees of RCB Dain Rauscher Investment Services Inc., who stayed at The Four Seasons Resort at Troon North in May, the most-liked item was the food.
Sydney Zech, CMP, senior meeting planner for the Minneapolis-based company, said the Dinner in the Desert stood out in the minds of most attendees.
“The Four Seasons catered it and did a wonderful job,” she says. “We had barbecued chicken, steaks cooked to order, and baby back ribs,” says Zech. “We held it at a ranch about 10 minutes from the property.” On arrival, Zech and her group were met by five horse-drawn hay wagons and a singing cowboy. After a sunset ride, they were treated to a cowboy band, after which attendees could gaze at the stars through telescopes.
The group also enjoyed golf at Troon North, flat-water floating trips, and a trip to Sedona. “It's a magical property,” she says.
WHERE TO GO
“Everyone got a little lesson in architecture they had never had before.”
— Pearl Watson, member services coordinator, Reinsurance Association of America
The world-renowned Heard Museum, two miles from downtown Phoenix, focuses on the art and culture of American Indians and the Southwest region. Its artifacts and historical arts trace American Indian heritage back 1,500 years. The museum is capable of hosting more than 2,000 people for a meeting. It has catering facilities, a theater, reception areas, and breakout rooms.
Call (602) 252-8848 for more information.
PHOENIX — New
The Marriott Desert Ridge Resort, located on a 5,700-acre master-planned community, is set to open in November. The resort will have 950 rooms and state-of-the-art amenities, including 10 restaurants, a 28,000-square-foot spa, a tennis pavilion, and two Nick Faldo — designed 18-hole golf courses. The resort will have 200,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space.
The $180 million, 750-room Westin Kierland resort is on schedule for an early 2003 opening. On 33 acres surrounded by a golf course, the resort will feature 60 suites, a full-service spa, and a fitness center.
The Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa, a 500-room property, is scheduled to open late this year.
SCOTTSDALE — Expansion
The Royal Palms Hotel and Casitas will open a luxury, 9,000-square-foot spa at the end of December. Alvadora, Spa at Royal Palms, will have a complete fitness center and full-service salon, and will offer signature treatments and products. The locker rooms will open onto the garden with Jacuzzis and cold plunge pools.
TUCSON — Expansion
The Westward Look Resort has expanded its meeting facilities with a new rooftop terrace and a 4,500-square-foot ballroom, which can accommodate 300 banquet-style.
CENTERS OF THE ACTION
PHOENIX Civic Plaza convention center is on schedule for late 2003 or early 2004 completion of a $300 million renovation that will double its meeting space, which is now 375,000 square feet. (602) 254-6500; www.phoenix.gov/CIVICPLAZA/plazaidx.html
TUCSON Convention Center has 124,000 square feet of floor space and features the Galleria, which is a connector to all areas; the exhibition hall; the grand ballroom; and the arena. A music hall seats 2,100, and the Leo Rich Theater seats 500. (520) 792-4101; www.visittucson.org
CONTACT THE CVB
Greater Phoenix CVB
• Fax: (602) 253-4415
Metro Tucson CVB
(800) 638-8350; (520) 624-1817
• Fax: (520) 884-7804
• Fax: (480) 947-4523
Sedona Chamber of Commerce
(800) 288-7336; (928) 204-1123
• Fax: (928) 204-1064