The preservation and enhancement of cultural attractions is one important goal in New Mexico, where Albuquerque and Santa Fe are expanding the infrastructure to make the destinations more accessible to groups. The mission for Santa Fe's new convention center is to build and operate it in as “green” a manner as possible. Measures taken to reduce the environmental impact of the 72,000-square-foot facility for events of up to 2,000 attendees included using the same building site as the old center and recycling 88 percent of demolished materials.
Having celebrated its tricentennial in 2006, Albuquerque is embracing its future with the completion of a $6 million enhancement of the city's 600,000-square-foot convention center; a group-friendly new zoning ordinance for events held in Old Town; and easy access to Santa Fe via a modern light-rail system.
In Arizona, December in Phoenix will mark the debut of the new Phoenix Convention Center after a $600 million expansion of the former Phoenix Civic Plaza. When the center welcomes its first groups in January 2009, it will feature nearly 900,000 square feet of exhibition and meeting space, and ecologically friendly features such as solar paneling and a water-harvesting garden. Making their concurrent debuts in the heart of the city will be a light-rail system, the 175-room W Hotel, and the 1,000-room Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, with 80,000 square feet of meeting space.
Downtown Scottsdale is creating a buzz of its own with more than $3 billion of development under way in the form of new hotels, restaurants, retail, and entertainment venues. New properties opening in 2008 include the 224-room W Scottsdale and the 293-room InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa, offering 27,000 square feet of meeting space and a 31,000-square-foot spa at the base of Camelback Mountain.
Meanwhile, the neon lights of Las Vegas are beckoning groups to Megacenter, a complex of meeting space, eateries, and hotels that includes the new 3,025-room Palazzo.
An expansion completed in April at the 950-room JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix added a $21 million, 24,420-square-foot ballroom and a 14,000-square-foot pre-function area.
The Wigwam Golf Resort & Spa in Phoenix recently unveiled a new 6,200-square-foot ballroom.
North of Phoenix in Arizona's spectacular red rock country, the 220-room Enchantment Resort offers 12,000 square feet of indoor meeting space and 8,000 square feet of outdoor event space. Measuring 5,100 square feet, the resort's largest meeting room accommodates 600 theater-style. Other facilities include a 24,000-square-foot destination spa, two restaurants, tennis courts, and Native American cultural programs.
A $50 million expansion and renovation of the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch should be complete late this year.
The 649-room Fairmont Scottsdale Princess has completed a $20 million makeover and been renamed Fairmont Scottsdale. New facilities include 69 new guest rooms, a 3,700-square-foot two-story suite, and a restaurant. The resort offers a 22,000-square-foot ballroom, two 18-hole championship golf courses, and a 44,000-square-foot spa.
At Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale, a $17 million project saw the renovation of all 210 guest rooms and the addition of a private wine-tasting room.
A $70 million transformation at Scottdale's The Phoenician encompasses the recently completed refurbishment of all 647 guest rooms and the construction of a new $40 million conference facility, scheduled to debut in late 2009.
Casino Arizona Resort & Spa, on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community adjacent to Scottsdale, is scheduled to open in early 2010 with 497 guest rooms, 21 meeting rooms, a 24,000-square-foot ballroom, a spa, and a casino.
Hermosa Inn in Paradise Valley will undergo a $44 million renovation, remodeling 35 suites and adding two meeting rooms, 14 new guest accommodations, and a spa. Completion is set for fall 2009.
In Scottsdale, Camelback Inn, A JW Marriott Resort & Spa, has completed a $45 million project that includes upgraded guest rooms and a new 20,000-square-foot ballroom.
The 219-room all-suite Hilton Sedona Resort and Spa has completed a $4.2 million renovation of guest rooms, spa, and fitness center.
When completed in late 2009, the 250-room Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain, in northwest Tucson, will be the hotel company's largest golf and spa resort. It will feature two Jack Nicklaus Signature golf courses, with a clubhouse and 27 holes slated for completion in late 2008 and an additional nine holes planned for 2010.
The historic 35-room Lodge on the Desert is undergoing a multimillion-dollar expansion. When complete in early 2009, the boutique resort will occupy nearly five acres in the city's midcentral district and feature 100 guest rooms and suites; a new lobby, swimming pool, and spa; plus expanded conference facilities and outdoor event space.
A $3 million renovation of Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa's Jack Nicklaus golf course began in May. Each summer for the next three years, nine of the course's 27 holes will undergo improvements. The 487-room resort has seven restaurants, a 9,300-square-foot spa, five swimming pools, and 59,000 square feet of meeting space.
A $2 million water-themed venue debuted in March at the 575-room JW Marriott Starr Pass. The one-acre oasis includes a river with island patios accommodating receptions of up to 500. Southern Arizona's largest resort offers 88,000 square feet of meeting space, five restaurants, a 20,000-square-foot spa, four swimming pools, and a 27-hole Arnold Palmer Signature golf complex.
Encore Suites, the new luxury resort at Wynn Las Vegas, is now booking meeting space for dates beginning January 2009. The 2,034-room resort will offer 60,000 square feet of meeting space, five restaurants, and a spa.
Slated for completion in early 2009, a $1 billion expansion of Caesars Palace includes 110,000 square feet of meeting space and a 665-room hotel tower, bringing total guest rooms to 4,512.
The Platinum, a new nongaming, nonsmoking boutique hotel just off the Strip, offers 255 suites and 10,000 square feet of meeting space.
Red Rock Casino Resort Spa added 400 guest rooms in 2007, for a total of 814 guest rooms and suites. The resort has 70,000 square feet of meeting and event space that includes four ballrooms and 10 breakout rooms.
In April, Bellagio completed a $60 million refurbishment of the resort's 512 suites. Located in the Bellagio Tower, the seven suite types offer high-speed Internet access, multiline phones, fax machines, laptop safes, and flat-screen, high-definition televisions.
Green Valley Ranch Resort, Spa, Casino in Las Vegas has completed a $110 million expansion that includes 15,000 square feet of meeting space, bringing total space to 65,000 square feet.
A $750 million expansion and renovation of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas includes updating 650 guest rooms and the addition of 950 rooms and 60,000 square feet of meeting space. It is scheduled for completion by summer 2009.
The Mirage in Las Vegas is undergoing a multiphase, $110 million renovation of 2,765 guest rooms and suites that includes new furnishings, soft goods, and dedicated meeting hubs, allowing computers, video iPod/MP3 players, and games to be displayed on new flat-screen televisions. Completion of the project is slated for late this year.
Vegas' 5,034-room MGM Grand has a new pillarless, 92,000-square-foot ballroom adjacent to MGM Grand Conference Center. The multipurpose building can host up to 6,000 guests for trade shows, general sessions, and catered events. Total meeting and convention space is 602,000 square feet. The Signature at MGM Grand, a new all-suite hotel, offers three 576-room towers.
A $150 million makeover in Las Vegas of Mandalay Bay's 2,791 guest rooms is complete.
Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, formerly Aladdin Resort and Casino, now offers 2,518 guest rooms and suites and 75,000 square feet of meeting and pre-function facilities.
A $100 million guest-room renovation was completed in 2007 at The Venetian in Las Vegas.
A $95 million expansion encompassing 830 guest rooms and suites, two restaurants, and 10,000 square feet of meeting space was completed in July at South Point Hotel and Casino. The resort now offers 2,150 rooms and suites and 160,000 square feet of meeting and convention space.
After a $30 million renovation, La Posada de Albuquerque Hotel will reopen in late 2008 as Andaluz. One block from the convention center, the 107-room hotel will offer more than 7,000 square feet of meeting space.
In a secluded setting near the foothills of the Sandia Mountains, the 228-room Sandia Resort & Casino offers 50,000 square feet of meeting space, an 18-hole championship golf course, and a spa.
The Radisson Hotel Albuquerque recently completed a $20 million renovation of 312 guest rooms and 26,000 square feet of meeting space.
Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown is undergoing a multiphase $20 million renovation program, scheduled for completion this fall, that includes the hotel's 295 guest rooms and suites and 17,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
The Albuquerque Marriott offers 411 recently renovated guest rooms and 20,000 square feet of meeting space.
Hyatt Regency Albuquerque completed a multimillion-dollar guest room renovation this spring.
La Posada de Santa Fe Resort & Spa will complete a $6.2 million renovation this May of 157 guest rooms.
In late 2007, Eldorado Hotel & Spa in Santa Fe completed a $10.5 million renovation of 219 guest rooms and 20,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
Santa Fe's 167-room La Fonda on the Plaza recently unveiled a landscaped rooftop garden offering 14 new guest rooms and event space for up to 180 guests.
Santa Fe's Inn and Spa at Loretto has completed a $7.5 million renovation of all 134 guest rooms and 10,000 square feet of meeting space.
Scottsdale is 31 miles in length and offers dramatically different experiences at each end of the city. Resorts in the northern area have tranquil desert views, golf courses, and cooler temps than the city's vibrant downtown, where boutique hotels, chic nightclubs, trendy restaurants, and shopping attract lively crowds.
The difference is in the desert. A visit to Tucson (elevation: 2,389 feet) reveals a valley offering spectacular mountain views, lush vegetation, and temperatures that are as much as 10 degrees cooler than in Phoenix (elevation: 1,086 feet).
According to the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, on average, attendance increases 18 percent when conventions rotate into the city of neon lights.
Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau
Total Hotel Tax: 12.07%
Total Hotel Tax: 11.92%
Metropolitan Tucson CVB
Total Hotel Tax: 12.05% to 14.05%
Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority
Total Hotel Tax: 9%
Total Hotel Tax: 12.87%
Santa Fe CVB
Total Hotel Tax: 14.93%
Santa Fe's Museum Hill is a treasure trove of four world-class museums showcasing the art, history, and culture of the region's Native American heritage as well as folk traditions from around the world. Facilities include exhibition galleries, indoor and outdoor private event venues, meeting space, generous patios, a sculpture garden, and a café offering mountain vistas. (505) 476-1203 www.museumhill.org
Constructed in 1932 atop a knoll in Phoenix, Wrigley Mansion originated as a 50th wedding anniversary gift from the chewing gum magnate. Today, the estate offers commanding views and is a prized venue for private events. Thirteen rooms accommodate up to 1,500 guests, with catering provided on-site. (602) 955-4079; www.wrigleymansionclub.com
For an evening reception, the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History in Old Town will make a lasting impression. The museum, which recently added an 8,000-square-foot gallery, a large multi-function event space, and an outdoor amphitheater, offers tremendous mountain views from a new balcony. (505) 243-7255 www.cabq.gov/museum
In Las Vegas, a new Cirque du Soleil production featuring illusionist Criss Angel will premier in September at a custom-designed theater at Luxor.