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 The Phoenix Civic Plaza has had a major $1 million spruce-up, while 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.

HOTEL NEWS The Four Seasons Resort in Scottsdale at Troon North has opened with 188 guest rooms arranged in one-, two-, and three-story buildings, plus 22 suites. The resort has tennis courts, a pool, and a full-service fitness center and spa. Meetings are accommodated in 24,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space.

Scheduled to debut late in 2002, Marriott's Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in North Phoenix will have more than 200,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor meeting space, including three ballrooms with 33,000, 26,000, and 5,300 square feet. A 10,000-square-foot island, surrounded by a small lake and a network of waterways, will be used for themed events. The 950-room resort will have a spa and two 18-hole golf courses.

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 banquet rooms, a grand ballroom, and meeting rooms for 170 to 180 people.

The 270-suite Embassy Suites Paradise Valley at Stonecreek Golf Club opened in March, a few 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 650-room Fairmont Scottsdale Princess has undergone a $10 million series of upgrades. The resort has a golf course, spa, and fitness center.

Phoenix's Pointe Hilton on South Mountain has a newly renovated 42,000-square-foot Sports Club, offering a full-service spa, tennis, aerobics, mountain biking, sand volleyball, and weight machines. The resort has 638 suites and 60 meeting rooms, with a total of 85,000 square feet of meeting space. There are two championship golf courses on the resort's 700 acres.

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 large 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 holds 1,400 guests theater-style and can be divided into eight rooms that open onto an additional 6,600 square feet of foyer space.

The Scottsdale Conference Resort has completed a $2 million refurbishment to all guest rooms and public spaces. The property has 326 guest rooms, suites, and casitas, and features more than 50,000 square feet of conference space in 50 meeting rooms, all with T1 Internet connections and videoconferencing capabilities. The property recently opened the 10,000-square-foot Coronado Ballroom, which will accommodate 1,000 attendees theater-style. The resort has 80,000 square feet of exhibit space, and two 18-hole championship courses.

The 353-room Wyndham Buttes Resort in Tempe has completed an $8 million renovation of guest rooms and public areas. Its 40,000 square feet of meeting space can accommodate 900 people.

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.

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 more than 350 in 2002. The expansion will add 10,000 square feet of meeting space as well.

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 resort's 44,370 square feet of meeting space.

The 329-room Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites in Mesa recently expanded its ballroom, bringing total meeting space to 11,000 square feet.

The new 117-room all-suite Residence Inn by Marriott in Mesa has four meeting rooms to accommodate up to 150 people.

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.

IMPORTANT INFO Greater Phoenix CVB % (602) 254-6500; (877) MEET-PHX Fax: (602) 253-4415

Scottsdale CVB % (602) 945-8481; (800) 877-1117 Fax: (602) 947-4523

Tempe CVB % (480) 894-8158; (800)283-6734 Fax: (480) 968-8004

TUCSON The Tucson International Airport has completed the first phase 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 rooms at Loews Ventana Canyon is complete. The resort offers 37,000 square feet of flexible function space that accommodates groups of up to 1,350 attendees.

The Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa will open early next year at the 455-room Westin La Paloma. The 9,300-square-foot spa will have 18 treatment rooms and two outdoor treatment areas.

IMPORTANT INFO Metropolitan Tucson CVB % (800) 638-8350; Fax: (520) 884-7804

SEDONA HOTEL NEWS The Enchantment Resort will open a destination spa in mid-November. Seven times larger than the existing spa, it will have 16 exclusive spa guest rooms and its own restaurants, which also may be used by hotel guests. Enchantment has 222 guest accommodations, a new 10,000-square-foot meeting village, and a 5,000-square-foot Pow Wow Pavilion, all set amid the area's spectacular red rocks in Boynton Canyon.

IMPORTANT INFO Sedona-Oak Creek Chamber of Commerce % (800) 288-7336; Fax: (520) 204-1064

Conference Executives Say Debra Kaufman, CMP, director of meetings and administration for Professional Insurance Marketing Association in Bethesda, Md., chose the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess for the company's annual conference in January 2000. "Our members like resort destinations," says Kaufman. "Golf is key to the networking and business deals they do, and there are so many courses in the Phoenix area."

Because many conference participants are from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois, Kaufman always picks a warm-weather meeting site. She applauded the ability of the Princess to keep everything running smoothly, even though the Phoenix Open was headquartered at the hotel at that time.

She says the group found Phoenix easy to get in and out of, and attendees were delighted with available activities. Hot-air ballooning, horseback riding, desert jeep trips, and shopping were important to spouses. PIMA attendees include CEOs and chief staff executives of insurance companies, a group that has high expectations regarding levels of service, explains Kaufman. "Pleasing the entire crowd is difficult, but Phoenix always does," she says.

When it comes to having fun outdoors, the natural diversity of Arizona provides almost limitless possibilities. During February and March, attendees can challenge the rapids of the Salt River. Just a few months later, tubing on the Salt and rafting on the mellow Gila River provide good fun.

How many destinations let you ski in the morning and play golf in shirt sleeves in the afternoon? In Arizona it's not only possible, but frequently done. The lofty heights of Mount Lemmon near Tucson are ideal for winter skiing while Tucson's dozens of golf courses are at their greenest.

To get close to all that's fun and fascinating in the Sonoran Desert, hook up with Desert Storm Hummer tours or other companies that make forays into off-road crannies. What may seem like a barren and lifeless land comes alive when its animals and plants are described by a knowledgeable guide.

Arizona is the only state in which the "giants with arms," those mainstays of Western sunsets called saguaro cactuses, grow naturally. Saguaro National Park in Tucson has hiking and cycling trails that wind among these flourishing "prickly pickles." Or, your group can see them, along with hundreds of other desert species, at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.

Trail rides follow paths in South Mountain Park, which borders Phoenix's southern edge. At 17,000 acres, it's the largest municipal park in the world, with trails that lead to a number of petroglyph sites. For something different, provide attendees with binoculars for a visit to a birding preserve. Ramsey Canyon south of Tucson, Hassayampa near Wickenburg, and the Patagonia-Sonoita preserves near the Mexican border all are prime birding venues.