Arizona, where visitors can swim or play tennis in the morning, then go skiing in the White Mountains or hiking in the pines near Flagstaff in the afternoon (and in the spring and summer watch the Arizona Diamondbacks play ball in the evening), is adding more facilities to attract meetings and conventions. With Phoenix a lightning rod for conventions and meetings in the area, voters there have approved a $300 million renovation and expansion of the 30-year-old Phoenix Civic Plaza convention center. When complete, the center will have more than doubled in size (to 500,000 square feet of exhibit space and 210,000 square feet of meeting space). The expansion is set for completion in two years. Also up for development is a convention center hotel that will be located adjacent to the Phoenix Civic Plaza.
At Marriott's famed Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, a completely redesigned, $16 million golf club is now open, complete with a totally redesigned championship course, representing Marriott's single largest investment in a golf facility.
And in the Palm Springs, Calif., area (which includes Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Indian Wells, Indio, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, La Quinta, and Desert Hot Springs), hotels and resorts are upgrading and expanding. At Marriott's Desert Springs Resort & Spa, each of the 884 guest rooms were renovated in October. Westin Mission Hills Rancho Mirage added a 13,861-square-foot conference center and a 13,000-square-foot spa in a $6 million expansion.
I WAS THERE
Convention planner Melissa Houston was in Phoenix during the October 2001 annual meeting of the American Bone and Mineral Research Association, which is based in Washington, D.C. With 4,000 registrants, the group used more than 2,400 rooms. Houston was impressed with how little she needed to communicate with the staff of the Phoenix Civic Plaza convention center, where the meeting was held.
“Everything went as planned the first time — and that's a rarity,” she said. “Their staff listened to us and stayed on top of things. The center's layout is convenient, and I think their plan to expand is an excellent idea. We enjoyed the fact we got outside to walk and were able to hold outside sessions, thanks to the great weather.”
WHERE TO GO
Palm Springs area
“Everything went as planned the first time — and that's a rarity.”
— Melissa Houston, American Bone and Mineral Research Association
The world-renowned Heard Museum, two miles from downtown Phoenix, focuses on the art and culture of American Indians and the Southwest. Its artifacts and historical arts trace American Indian heritage back 1,500 years. The museum can host 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.
ARIZONA — New
The Marriott Desert Ridge Resort, part of a 5,700-acre master-planned community, will open in November with 950 rooms, a 28,000-square-foot spa, an eight-court tennis pavilion, and two 18-hole golf courses. The resort will feature 200,000 feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, and will offer nine dining facilities.
The $180 million, 750 room Westin Kierland Resort will open in early 2003 in northeast Phoenix. On a 33 acre site surrounded by a golf course, the resort will feature 60 suites and a full-service spa and fitness center.
Just south of Phoenix, the 500-room Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa is scheduled to open in late 2002.
In Tucson, a Marriott and a Hyatt are scheduled to break ground this year. The Marriott, close to downtown in the Tucson Mountain foothills, will offer 575 rooms, more than 66,000 square feet of meeting space. The Hyatt plans to open a 500-room, full-service resort northwest of the city. Both properties plan championship golf courses.
The Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain in Paradise Valley has been redesigned as a deluxe property featuring suites and casita rooms. Included are 24 new luxury spa villas and 9,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space.
The Boulders in Carefree, north of Scottsdale, recently underwent a $16 million renovation. The 33,000-square-foot Golden Door Spa opened in October.
CALIFORNIA — Renovation
The Hyatt Regency Suites Palm Springs recently completed a multimillion-dollar renovation.
CONTACT THE CVB
Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau
(602) 254-6500 • Fax: (602) 253-4415
Metropolitan Tucson CVB
(800) 638-8350, (520) 624-1817
• Fax: (520) 884-7804
(480) 945-8481 • Fax: (480) 947-4523
Palm Springs Desert Resorts Convention & Visitors Authority
(760) 770-9000 • Fax: (760) 770-9001
CENTERS OF THE ACTION
PHOENIX Civic Plaza convention center is on schedule for a $300 million renovation that will double the facility's meeting space, which now stands at 375,000 square feet. The renovation will be complete in late 2003 or early 2004. (602) 254-6500; www.phoenix.gov/CIVICPLAZA/plazaidx.html
TUCSON Convention Center has 124,000 feet of floor space and features the Galleria, which is a connector to all areas; the exhibition hall; the grand ballroom; and the arena. There is a music hall seating 2,100 and the Leo Rich Theater, which seats 500. (520) 791-4101; www.visittucson.org
PALM SPRINGS Convention Center is a 40-acre complex with 145,000-plus square feet of under-roof meeting space and 66,000 square feet of unobstructed carpeted space that can be expanded to 77,000 square feet. Outdoor facilities offer another 50,000 square feet of event space. The facility also offers its own caterer who can prepare a sit-down meal for 5,000 or a breakfast buffet for five. www.palmspringscc.com