Back in 1916, when the folks from Goodyear Tire built a small retreat near the company's Arizona cotton fields, this stretch of mountain-ringed valley outside of Phoenix was dominated by giant Saguaro cactuses and howling coyotes. After 1929, when the expanded 13-room lodge was opened to the public, The Wigwam became a favorite Western watering hole for Hollywood stars, who were drawn in part by perks that included their own horse at check-in.
Today, guests at the Wigwam Resort are more likely to cruise around in golf carts, although trail riding in nearby Estrella Mountain National Park is still popular. Also popular is trap and skeet shooting, biking, tennis, swimming in either of two heated pools, and working out in the well-equipped fitness center. But with three world-class golf courses, it's not surprising that this manicured getaway has become a mecca for former President Gerald Ford and other golf-bag-toting chief executives.
Located 25 minutes from the Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, The Wigwam has 331 cozy casitas and 70 luxury suites, all with enormous bathrooms. There are three distinctly different restaurants, supervised by former Reagan White House chef Jon Hill. There's also a roster of ready-made theme dinners, including A Night on the Santa Fe Trail, complete with its own Grand Pueblo.
For a truly unusual special event, ask The Wigwam's in-house prop shop about Sunset Point, an imitation ghost town five minutes from the resort's porticoed entrance. Ideal for barbecues and hoe-downs, it's also been the setting for one insurance firm's extraterrestrial event: Attendees discovered their Old West get-together was taken over by aliens hovering overhead in a huge spacecraft.
For More Information Mesa Convention and Visitors Bureau Bob Crouse, director of sales and marketing (800) 283-MESA; Fax (602) 827-0727 www.arizonaguide.com/mesa
Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau Peggy Whitman, manager, national convention sales (800) 535-8898; Fax (602) 235-4415 www.arizonaguide.com/phoenix
Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce Kathy McCarthy, convention sales manager (800) 877-1117; Fax (602) 947-4523 www.arizonaguide.com/scottsdale
Sedona-Oak Creek Canyon Chamber of Commerce Frank Miller, President (800) 288-7336; Fax: (520) 204-1064 www.arizonaguide.com/sedona
Tempe Convention and Visitors Bureau M.J. Carmody, director of sales and marketing (800) 283-6734; Fax (602) 968-8004 www.arizonaguide.com/tempe
Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau Susan Skinner, director of sales (800) 638-8350; Fax (520) 884-7804 www.arizonaguide.com/visittucson