The Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass has a tradition for winning, as every NFL team that has stayed at the hotel for the Phoenix Super Bowl has triumphed. A group of 33 planners and 36 suppliers experienced that spirit of victory from October 29-31 during Northstar Meeting Group's Destination Arizona event in Phoenix.
Owned by the Gila River Indian Community, the Sheraton Grand is located on a 372,000-acre reservation. Guests can enjoy horseback riding through the 1,000-acre Koli Equestrian Center that is home to 1,500 wild horses, choose from 500 culturally-themed rooms, relax in the 17,500-square-foot Native American Aji Spa, take in 36 holes of Troon-managed golf, or try their luck at the Gila River Casino. Those dining at the AAA Five Diamond award winning Kai restaurant can expect to be greeted by staff speaking the traditional Pima language and to select Native American cuisine offerings from one-of-a-kind menus featuring watercolor paintings by Tribal artists.
Suffice to say, a taste of Native American culture was abundant at the event. Photographs, textiles, and paintings to baskets and jewelry were found throughout the resort showcasing the heritage, culture, art, and legends of the Pima and Maricopa tribe.
The opening night reception at Destination Arizona was all about football with a tailgate party like no other. Primetime Grill, a specially designed tractor trailer, was brought in fitted with grills, cooktops, and big screen TVs. A chalk artist, calligraphist, photos taken in a vintage VW van, and S'more-making over a roaring fire added to the experience.
Another surprise awaited the group during the next morning's breakfast meeting: a complimentary pair of designer blue jeans thanks to Aspen, CO-based Blue Jeans Events, an on-site incentive gift experience company. Planners chatted with each other as they perused denims of different colors and styles, and then tried them on in popup fitting rooms.
The morning education session was high energy and inspirational. Jerome Wade, a keynote speaker based in Albuquerque, NM, shared his story and insights into what makes successful leaders in his presentation titled, "Unleash Your Heroic Leadership."
One-one-one meetings followed and then attendees were off to an interactive lunch at Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa, set on 23 acres and boasting stunning views of Camelback Mountain. Spin art and nitro coffee added a unique flair to the meal.
The resort's design draws inspiration from mid-century desert art and architecture, incorporating elements of the colorful landscape and weaving an eclectic mix of folk art, cultural patterns, and bright colors into the interiors. The resort features 201 bungalow-style guestrooms and suites, a full-service spa, and more than 46,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor meeting and event space. Unique to the resort is its relationship with the Cattle Track Arts Compound, a local community of established and emerging artists, musicians, and craftsmen who share their talents and stories with guests.
Downtown Phoenix's lively vibe and burgeoning music scene was highlighted the second evening, which started with a lovely dinner at The Arrogant Butcher. After a short informative walking tour, the group was entertained by a talented singer and guitar player at the Copper Blues Rock Pub & Kitchen.
Lisa Sommer Devlin, who has practiced hospitality industry law since the early 1990s and opened her boutique law firm representing hotel clients regarding convention and group related matters, was well received the next morning. Her presentation focused on understanding contract issues and negotiation strategies. More one-on-one appointments followed Devlin's talk and an impressive lunch at Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass concluded Destination Arizona 2017.
Members of the group commented on not only the impressive connections they made, but also of the uniqueness of the topography: Saguaro cacti dotting the landscape with awe-inspiring mountains towering in the distance. The Arizona air seemed a bit clearer and the sun a bit brighter as planners left with a better understanding of this popular meeting destination.