Destination: Arizona Meeting & Event Planning City Guide
4343 N. Scottsdale Rd., Suite #170, Scottsdale, Arizona, 85251
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In Scottsdale, we know that climate, room availability, golf, recreational opportunities and the infrastructure to create a unique experience are the foundation for successful meetings.
By David Vranicar
October 28, 2013
James Gelfand knows a thing or two about hot weather. For nearly three decades, he lived in Florida, land of 10,000 beaches, before moving last year to Arizona, where the professional basketball team is the Suns and the universities have nicknames such as Sun Devils.
Indeed, Gelfand, now residing in Tucson, is an expert on temperature, just as someone who moved from Bordeaux to Napa Valley would be an expert on wine. He knows how to wax eloquently about different kinds of heat, and Arizona, he says, has its own distinguishable flavor.
“It’s hot here, but there’s no humidity, and that’s the kicker,” says Gelfand, director of sales and marketing at Tucson’s Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa. “I’ve never had a bad-hair day here.”
Besides its lack of humidity, Tucson has perfected the art of pools. Water features are event destinations unto themselves—gathering spots as well as places to break the ice while trying not to break a sweat.
The Westin, for instance, has five pool areas. Pools are also key amenities at other event venues throughout the Tucson area, from The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, which has three pools, a 235-foot waterslide and in-the-water bar service for the adults, to Loews Ventana Canyon and its cozy pool oasis with fire pits.
“At all the larger resorts, the focal point of the property is the pool area,” says Graeme Hughes, Visit Tucson (visittucson.org) director of convention sales. “By day, guests lounge, dine and take in the sun, and by night it’s a different story altogether. Clear away the deck chairs and umbrellas and transform the pool deck into a unique venue for a themed event or reception. Most people gravitate to water, especially in the desert, so pools and pool parties are a welcome departure from a ballroom.”
Arizona, and especially the state capital of Tucson, appreciates a good pool. And event planners would do well to dive right in.
It is instructive that we’re talking Tucson in November: It’s not necessarily the place to be in the summer. It’s manageable—just ask Gelfand—but venues and hotels unanimously confirm that the best times to visit are the incubator-perfect fall, winter and spring months.
“Our peak season is when everyone else is sipping cocoa—our guests are by the pool,” says Christina VerHeul, director of public relations for Loews Ventana Canyon. “We don’t see a lot of activity in July and August. Usually that’s when a lot of locals are here, people from Arizona and New Mexico, people who are used to the heat, used to it being 110 degrees.”
Not surprisingly, most people don’t object to a little summer reprieve in the dead of winter. And in Tucson, there are more than enough places to make December, January and February melt into summer.
Here’s a look at Tucson’s top meeting hotels and their extraordinary pools and water features:
Main image: The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain
By Dan Johnson
September 18, 2013
Outstanding facilities and accommodations, warm weather, stunning landscapes and rich cultural traditions have lured meeting groups to Phoenix and Scottsdale for decades, but arguably the hottest current attraction is the lively, highly diverse nightlife scene in these cities just 12 miles apart.
By Dan Johnson
June 26, 2013
Stunningly gorgeous landscapes, a plethora of attractive wellness and spiritual options, a lively music scene and a rich Native American heritage all have drawn plenty of meetings groups to Sedona, Ariz., but another feature—the city's annual festivals and events—also has played a major role.
By Nikki Gloudeman
March 05, 2013
The typical Meeting agenda is densely packed with offsites, education sessions, breakouts, keynotes, receptions and group dinners, a schedule frequently consuming more than 10, or even 12, hours a day. Often lost in this dizzying shuffle is time for rejuvenation and invigoration; there’s seldom time to breathe between sessions, let alone relax.
By Steve Winston
October 24, 2012
Looking for something out of the ordinary? Try a desert jewel. Tucson, Ariz., sits in the Sonoran Desert surrounded by five mountain ranges that turn from deep earth tones to yellow, orange, pink and then flaming-red as the sun sets. The Sonoran has an amazing diversity of flora and fauna. The landscape is awash in a multitude of colors and textures that enliven the senses. It's filled with geological features including Sabino Canyon and 9,157-foot Mount Lemmon. Yet, this desert city is surprisingly cosmopolitan, with a dynamic cultural life, first-rate dining, two world-class destination spas (Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa and Canyon Ranch) and a major university. These aspects blend seamlessly with a tri-ethnic heritage and an Old West legacy.
By Jessie Fetterling
September 25, 2012
Refreshing. Rejuvenating. Relaxing. All of these things come to mind when describing a trip to the pool. While unfortunately it may be difficult to plan a meeting in a pool—though watching a presentation from a flotation device does sound enticing—planners can easily set an event poolside in the Greater Phoenix Area, using its cactus-speckled setting as the backdrop. With an average annual temperature of 73 degrees, the cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe and Mesa have a slew of inviting pools to try out year-round, and they’re not just for kids.
Learn about Arizona for Event Venues, Services & Meeting Destinations
Arizona has long held an allure for newcomers. The state promises warm weather, vast unexplored terrain, stunning scenery and a desert life.
Just take Jamie O’Neil’s country song “There is No Arizona,” which opens with “He promised her a new and better life, out in Arizona. Underneath the blue never-ending sky…” O’Neil goes on to sing about painted deserts, Sedona and the Grand Canyon, all of which she hoped to discover.
She isn’t the only one who feels that way. According to the 2010 census, Arizona’s population has increased by 24.6% in the last decade, the second-largest increase in the nation after Nevada.
And Arizona doesn’t just attract residents, but meetings too. Not only will the state boost attendance and excitement surrounding a program, but its colorful deserts and endless blue sky will inspire your attendees and breathe new life into your event.
Outside of the scenery, weather and extra meeting offerings, the state is also known for its world-class resorts and top-rate meeting venues. These range from modern convention centers to resorts set against the backdrop of Camelback Mountain.
Plus, if you are looking for great value, Arizona should be at the top of your list. For even better rates, summer is the time to come. Contrary to what George Strait cheekily croons in his song “Oceanfront Property”—“I got some oceanfront property in Arizona. From my front porch you can see the sea”—you won’t find ocean views here, but you will find a productive meeting underneath the blue never-ending sky.