Arizona is a celebration of diversity, and Phoenix is its dynamic hub. The country's sixth-largest city, Phoenix offers top-notch golf at 190 courses, accommodations at five star/five diamond resorts and spas, and fabulous shopping and restaurants. 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 eight cities to have professional teams in all four major sports. The city continues to build on its strong infrastructure.
Within the Phoenix metropolitan area, Scottsdale glitters with the glamour of a resort city. Tempe invites visitors to newly opened Town Lake, and Mesa offers tours at the Mormon Temple, museums, and golf.
Tucson is renovating a downtown art deco movie theater that will host live performances as well as classic films. Still on the drawing board, the city's Rio Nuevo project calls for an IMAX theater, a Southwest visitors center, new Arizona Historical Society headquarters and museum, and a planetarium.
GREATER 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 will open in September, and the north runway will be extended to accommodate larger, heavier jets. The Phoenix Civic Plaza has had a major $1 million spruce-up.
hotel news * 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 has four tennis courts, a 6,000-square-foot pool, and a 12,000-square-foot, full-service fitness center and spa. It offers 24,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space on a single level, including a 6,000-square-foot ballroom, a 2,000-square-foot meeting room, an 800-square-foot conference room, three 600-square-foot conference rooms, and a 5,000-square-foot outdoor function area .
* 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, including a choice of banquet rooms, a grand ballroom that accommodates 530, and meeting rooms for 170 to 180 people.
* The 270-suite Embassy Suites Paradise Valley at Stonecreek Golf Club opened in March, blocks from Paradise Valley Mall. The 14,000 square feet of space in the meeting wing includes the 6,100-square-foot Painted Mountain Ballroom.
* The AAA Five Diamond Fairmont Scottsdale Princess has undergone a $10 million series of upgrades. The 650-room resort, with golf course, spa, fitness center, and top restaurants, is set against the dramatic McDowell Mountains.
* With a $12 million addition less than a year old, the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix has 60,000 square feet of meeting space that can accommodate larger groups. The new Arizona Wing adds two meeting rooms, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and 120 deluxe guest rooms with views of Squaw Peak, bringing the guest room total to 730.
* 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 and can be divided into eight rooms that open onto an additional 6,600 square feet of foyer space.
* The Scottsdale Plaza Resort offers high-speed Internet access to guests and meeting attendees. The 404-room property has more than 30,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and 14 meeting rooms that can accommodate up to 1,000.
* The 353-room Wyndham Buttes Resort in Tempe has completed a $7.8 million renovation of guest rooms and public areas on its 25 acres. Its 40,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, ballroom, and amphitheater can accommodate up to 900 guests for receptions.
* The Hyatt Regency Phoenix has completed a $7.2 million renovation of its 712 rooms and suites. It offers 42,000 square feet of meeting space that includes a 10,150-square-foot ballroom and 15 meeting rooms.
* In Carefree, the Carefree Conference Resort is expanding its 249-room capacity to roughly 270 guest rooms and suites in 2000, 320 in 2001, and over 350 in 2002. The expansion will also add 10,000 square feet of meeting space.
* A full renovation of all 493 guest rooms at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort at Gainey Ranch will be completed by September. The new, 12,000-square-foot Arizona Ballroom will open in January 2001, adding to the resorts' 44,370 square feet of meeting space.
* CopperWynd, a European-style luxury inn in Fountain Hills with 40 oversized guest bedrooms, will open a 2,100-square-foot meeting facility called The Retreat in Spring 2001.
* The Sheraton Mesa Hotel and ConventionCenter completed a $6 million renovation of all 183 guest rooms and meeting space, now totaling 52,000 square feet.
* Up to 500 can be accommodated at the 329-room Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites in Mesa. The expanded ballroom brings total meeting space to 11,000 square feet.
* The new 117-room all-suite Residence Inn by Marriott in Mesa has four meeting rooms that accommodate up to 150 guests.
* The Ranch on Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale closed on May 8 and will re-open on December 1 with its 82 guest rooms and casitas completely redesigned. The renovation also includes an "edgeless" swimming pool, a redesigned fine dining restuarant and lounge, seven new tennis courts, and extensive lanscape design that melds the indigenous desert to the mountainside setting. In 2001, the resort will be adding 24 new multi-level guest casitas and a 12,000-square-foot outdoor spa.
important info Greater Phoenix CVB * (602) 254-6500; (877) MEET-PHX Fax: (602) 253-4415 www.phoenixcvb.com
Scottsdale CVB * (602) 945-8481; (800) 877-1117 Fax: (602) 947-4523 www.scottsdalecvb.com
Tempe Convention & Visitors Bureau * (480) 894-8158; (800)283-6734 Fax: (480) 968-8004 www.tempecvb.com
TUCSON The Tucson International Airport completed the first step in a $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, will be completely refurbished by September. Also due for completion in September is a $2.1 million golf course improvement.
* 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 a group capacity of 1,350.
important info Metropolitan Tucson CVB (800) 638-8350; Fax: (520) 884-7804 www.visittucson.org
VenueMenu * Bank One Ballpark--Phoenix is home to one of the major league's most impressive baseball facilities, known as BOB, complete with retractable roof and swimming pool. Guided tours are offered on nongame days. (602) 462-6799
* Ullman Learning Center at the Heard Museum --The recently expanded Heard Museum in Phoenix, one of the most respected repositories of artifacts documenting the history of native cultures, has opened a new permanent gallery. The center's interactive displays showcase the past and present cultures of Arizona's native peoples. (602) 252-8840
* Rio Lago Cruise--In Tempe, attendees can skipper their own electric-powered boat, pedal boat, rowboat, kayak, or canoe on Tempe Town Lake, or hop aboard a pontoon boat for a 35-minute guided tour. Party cruises, cocktail charters and catered dining charters also are available for groups. (480) 517-4050
* Museum of the Horse Soldier--At this new museum in Tucson, among Trail Dust Town's Old West shops and restaurants, visitors relive the days of the Wild West when the cavalry ruled. Collections cover the horse's part in conflicts from the Civil War to WWII. (520) 296-4551
Liz Cougot, Corporate Meeting Planner for Hilb, Rogal and Hamilton Co., a commercial insurance brokerage firm outside Richmond, Va., brought the company's yearly sales incentives meeting to the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in February 1999. Climate had a lot to do with the choice of venues, she says. "We wanted a place where we could rely on good weather, with so many people coming from the East Coast where the weather is dreadful that time of year. It was important for our group to have optimal weather for golfing, which is awesome in Scottsdale." The program included a total of 130 attendees.
Cougot contracted with a local destination management company, Southwest Adventures, for hot-air ballooning and desert Jeep tours. "Drivers were in cowboy gear, and really got into their roles. At the end, those who wanted to could get on a horse, and those that didn't hijacked their Jeeps and went to a bar," she laughs. Cougot credits the staffs of all her suppliers with the smooth-running event. "All around, the level of service was terrific."