Fresh from a five-year, $60 million renovation, The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Scottsdale, Ariz., is custom-tailored for group business. During a recent visit, I experienced the singular charm of this 649-room, world-class resort—and learned about some exciting new concepts to spice up meetings and incentive programs.

With a second $20 million, 52,331-square-foot conference center opened last November, the resort now boasts 156,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, including 21 outdoor venues, two 23,000-square-foot ballrooms, and 47 meeting rooms. Overall, the design vibe is warm and contemporary, with Southwest accents. Much of the indoor meeting space is oriented to the outdoors, with features such as bi-fold glass doors that lead to charming patios.

Active groups appreciate the resorts' five pools, two adjacent championship golf courses, and Tennis Center. Shown here is the South Pool.

With 60 percent to 70 percent group business, the hotel is well equipped to accommodate all types of meetings, from golf retreats to executive board meetings and from incentive programs to training conferences. There are many exceptional venues for theme parties, including a stand-alone, 26,000-square-foot Western “town” that accommodates up to 800 people. “Our average group size is about 300 people,” says Director of Group Sales Michelle Zwirek, “with many choices of venues for meetings and events.” Property buyouts are a popular choice for large meetings and incentive programs, she says, with two coming up in 2013.

Many groups like to “tap into the location with theme parties,” adds Zwirek, noting that she’s also seeing a greater group demand for the resort’s in-house celebrity-chef restaurants. Other trends: financial and insurance incentives that include meeting components and companies that are combining their annual conference with an incentive program.

Aerial Yoga is one of the hot new fitness offerings at the Well & Being at Willow Stream Spa that can be customized for a group class.

Among the other big news at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is a renovation and rebranding of its 44,000-square-foot spa, now called Well & Being at Willow Stream Spa. The gorgeous, free-standing facility has expanded into a comprehensive wellness facility, staffed with such professionals as an integrative medicine physician, a certified nutritionist, and “intentional living coaches.” New spaces include a demonstration kitchen with two 50-inch flat-screen televisions and an aerial yoga studio. What the healthy lifestyle concept means for meetings is the availability of a wide selection of custom-designed classes, workshops, treatments, and demonstrations, from “Discover Your Inner Foodie” nutrition workshops to sessions on how to manage stress.

And, when an off-site excursion to one of the area’s many attractions is in order, the excellent Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau can help. I enjoyed an easy, guided hike of Scottsdale’s beautiful Sonoran Desert and a thrilling hot-air balloon ride followed by a pop-up gourmet breakfast.