Arizona Offers Outdoor Adventure

Tucson and Scottsdale are making it easier than ever to bring groups to the Southwest

Arizona mountain and desert trail

Sunny Arizona is home to a wealth of natural beauty, from the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon to the frequently filmed buttes of Monument Valley. Arizona's rich tapestry of cultures, which include Spanish, Southwestern American, and Mexican, as well as 22 federally recognized Native American tribes, is immediately apparent in its diversity of food, architecture, and amenities.

Add to this mix a bevy of new or renovated properties, and Arizona cities like Tucson and Scottsdale are go-to locations for groups.

"We know that meeting attendees will be thrilled with Tucson," says Graeme Hughes, director of sales for the Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau. "There is the incredible beauty of the Sonoran Desert, our borderlands culture [the city lies 60 miles from the Mexican border] and our spectacular hotels and resorts."

To accommodate this uptick in visitors, renovations are flourishing. The Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch House, built in the historic Santa Fe style of architecture, recently doubled its room count with 30 new luxury rooms and suites. Loews Ventana Canyon Resort located in the Catalina Mountain range has benefitted from a multimillion-dollar makeover that is scheduled for completion in early 2016. And the 250-acre Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa has debuted a new art walk and garden. Guests can stroll the path surrounded by blooming cacti and succulents while admiring the sculptures (available for purchase) produced by Tucson's Metal Arts Village artists.

In 2017, Tucson will also gain two new venues from Marriott: an eight-story AC Hotel with 137 guest rooms and a 14-story Tucson Residence Inn with 213 rooms, located in Main Gate Square, a popular destination boasting 20 retailers and 30 restaurants.

"Your group shouldn't leave Tucson without experiencing our cuisine -- especially considering Tucson was recently named the first American UNESCO City of Gastronomy," says CVB Tucson spokesperson Dan Gibson. Try a sandwich or taco from the diverse array of food trucks, like Guero Loco's Bubba-Que or one of Tucson's upscale restaurants like The Grill at Hacienda Del Sol.

Gibson suggests holding a variation on the college pub crawl. "I've seen groups start out one place downtown for cocktails, then somewhere else for appetizers, and a main course, followed by dessert somewhere else," he says. "This is a great way to experience the variety of amazing food experiences in Tucson."
Scottsdale Attractions
Scottsdale is also having a renovation renaissance. "This year is very exciting because there are a lot of extensive renovations going on in our core properties," says Kelli Blubaum, Scottsdale CVB vice president of convention sales and services.

This summer, the popular Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort will gain an additional 102 guest rooms, including three luxury suites, plus an update to the Great Lawn and an all-new main swimming pool. The resort's Old West-themed event space, Copper Canyon, has also received a makeover. Visitors can step back in time to enjoy western-themed meeting facilities as well as dueling saloon bars and life-sized building facades, such as an old-time jail and blacksmith shop.

Another premier destination for groups, the Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch, is wrapping up a $10 million renovation to transform the 40-year-old independent property into a hacienda-style paradise. With 60,000 square feet of flexible (indoor or outdoor) event space, the resort can support both large-scale and intimate gatherings.

Group tours are also welcome just minutes away at the 40,000-square-foot Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West (opened in 2015), which celebrates all 19 states of the American West. Scottsdale is dedicated to its artists. Visitors only need to head downtown to experience ArtWalk -- a weekly tradition for 40 years -- when approximately 100 galleries stay open late on Thursday nights. Stroll along Main Street and Marshall Way or hop on Scottsdale's trolley line to enjoy a bevy of art in multiple mediums.



Questions or comments? Email [email protected]



This article appears in the April 2016 issue of Successful Meetings.

ESSENTIAL Tool Box
CONVENTION CENTERS & FACILITIES
Tucson Convention Center (205,000 sf);
Phoenix Convention Center (900,000 sf)

ROOM TAX 
Scottsdale: 12.27 percent
Tucson: 12.05 percent


READERS RECOMMEND

Pinnacle Awards Go To:

Visit successfulmeetings.com/Pinnacle for full list of Arizona-based Pinnacle Award winners

WHERE TO…
PLAY - Arizona Zipline Adventures
Located about 45 minutes north of Tucson, this new adventure experience is worth the drive. Group-book the Zipline Eco Tour, for a two-hour experience where riders are whisked above the Sonoran Desert flora and fauna on five zipline spans ranging in length from 400 to 1,400 feet.

EAT - Contigo Latin Kitchen at the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa
Debuted in February 2016: Foodies can enjoy pan-Latin favorites inspired by the flavors of countries like Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Cuba, and Spain. Dine al fresco on the patio or inside, and groups up to 30 can book the wine room.

STAY - Boulders Resort & Spa (Curio Collection by Hilton)
Voted one of the Best Hotels in 2015 by U.S. News & World Report, this luxury resort is nestled in the Sonoran Desert just outside of Scottsdale. Enjoy staying in one of its recently renovated adobe casitas and suites or play golf on one of two 18-hole Jay Morrish-designed courses.


Scottsdale Attractions
Scottsdale is also having a renovation renaissance. "This year is very exciting because there are a lot of extensive renovations going on in our core properties," says Kelli Blubaum, Scottsdale CVB vice president of convention sales and services.

This summer, the popular Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort will gain an additional 102 guest rooms, including three luxury suites, plus an update to the Great Lawn and an all-new main swimming pool. The resort's Old West-themed event space, Copper Canyon, has also received a makeover. Visitors can step back in time to enjoy western-themed meeting facilities as well as dueling saloon bars and life-sized building facades, such as an old-time jail and blacksmith shop.

Another premier destination for groups, the Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch, is wrapping up a $10 million renovation to transform the 40-year-old independent property into a hacienda-style paradise. With 60,000 square feet of flexible (indoor or outdoor) event space, the resort can support both large-scale and intimate gatherings.

Group tours are also welcome just minutes away at the 40,000-square-foot Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West (opened in 2015), which celebrates all 19 states of the American West. Scottsdale is dedicated to its artists. Visitors only need to head downtown to experience ArtWalk -- a weekly tradition for 40 years -- when approximately 100 galleries stay open late on Thursday nights. Stroll along Main Street and Marshall Way or hop on Scottsdale's trolley line to enjoy a bevy of art in multiple mediums.



Questions or comments? Email [email protected]



This article appears in the April 2016 issue of Successful Meetings.