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Phoenix & Scottsdale: Circle of Life
The phoenix is a mythical bird said to rise from the ashes, symbolizing immortality and resurrection. The name was chosen for Arizona’s capital city because it was built on top of the ruins of an ancient civilization that vanished into history.
The area also has deep roots in Native-American culture. Thus, it’s easy to breathe new life into meetings by tapping into this vibrant heritage. One example: a team-building Hoop Dance led by 2009 World Champion Brian Hammill, a Phoenix resident available for bookings. The hoop represents five principles: self, family, work, friendship, and hobbies or beliefs. With Brian’s guidance, all participants make individual hoops about their own life stories and then combine hoops with those of their peers to weave together life’s intricate details.
Many other exciting possibilities await, not only in Phoenix but also in nearby communities. A multitude of venues in Scottsdale, Chandler and Glendale can touch any gathering with a deep, grounded vibe that will be remembered long after guests return to their offices.
Every October, the City of Chandler proudly puts its Native-American ancestry on full display at the annual Chandler Indian Art Market. The festival features art, jewelry, ceramics, sculptures, carving, photography, food, arts and crafts, and entertainment. Year-round, guests can pay a visit to The Zelma Basha Salmeri Gallery of Western American and American Indian Art to soak in history and view artifacts. The gallery, which is the largest private collection of its kind in the United States, is available to rent for catered events.
Another way to immerse yourself in Native-American culture is to visit nearby Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass (pictured above), which is owned by the Gila River Indian Community.
Architecture, design, art and more from the Akimel O’otham and Pee Posh tribes can be found around every bend of this 2,400-acre property located on the 372,000-acre reservation. Guests can dine at Kai, the only AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star restaurant in Arizona, unwind at award-winning Aji Spa, tee off on the 36-hole golf course or go for a horseback ride at the equestrian center. The resort features 100,000 sq. ft. of indoor/outdoor event space named after Sonoran Desert animals and mountain ranges.
Showcasing the largest collection of Native American petroglyphs (rock carvings) in the Phoenix area, Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve is set to reopen this fall after undergoing renovations. Spanning 47-acres across the Sonoran Desert, this archaeology museum is a key piece of Glendale history.
The 115,085 sq. ft. of meeting space at The Renaissance Phoenix Glendale Hotel & Spa (pictured above) makes it the premier conference resort destination in Glendale. Conveniently located in the heart of the city, guests can easily explore the town by foot. It’s within walking distance to NHL Arizona Coyotes’ Gila River Arena, NFL Arizona Cardinals’ University of Phoenix Stadium as well as Westgate Entertainment District, with plenty of dining, shopping and entertainment options.
Phoenix and Scottsdale
Twenty-two Native American tribes call Arizona home. The Hohokams were the first people to live in Scottsdale year-round. Today, the Yavapai Nation and Pima-Maricopa Indian Community are central to the Native-American culture of Phoenix and Scottsdale. Each spring, Scottsdale plays host to Native Trails at Civic Center Plaza. The annual festival showcases customs, arts and entertainment.
Visitors can learn about the culture through team-building activities, including a teepee building contest that taps into your group’s competitive spirit. Event Team Inc.’s “head chief” leads participants as they come up with a tribal name and chant.
Fort McDowell Adventures (pictured above) offers a variety of venues and excursions to give visitors a taste of the Yavapai. Gail Manginelli of public relations firm GM & Associates suggests channeling your inner cowboy or cowgirl by heading to the wild, wild west to herd cattle across the Verde River or by saddling up for a trail ride through the desert.
La Puesta Del Sol is the perfect setting to witness stunning sunsets. The space features retractable walls, a saloon, a photo parlor, fire pits, a stage, barbecues and more. Over at the Rosa’s Ranch event space, board the Tequila Bus and da Rum Bus for a spirited time. Fire up the barbecue, sip a prickly-pear margarita and do some boot-tappin’ to mariachis.
Guests can stay nearby in the 246 guest rooms at We-Ko-Pa Resort & Conference Center, where you’ll see Yavapai touches at every turn. The expansive property offers 25,000 sq. ft. of meeting space across its 19 venues. But the real landmark is outside—breathtaking views of Four Peaks mountain crest, known as We-Ko-Pa. Visitors can also enjoy a round of golf, spa treatments and gambling.
In the Cultural Center of Talking Stick Resort & Casino, guests will find an actual talking stick, which is passed from hand to hand to symbolize a right to speak. Learn, too, about the calendar stick used by tribal leaders to mark major events in nature, such as floods and eclipses. Situated in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, the resort combines a history lesson with the modern-day luxuries offered by 496 well-appointed guest rooms and 113,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
For a dramatic mixture of stunning Sonoran desert views, Native-American artistic inspiration and luxurious meeting spaces, The Phoenician Scottsdale is home to a 45,000-square-foot Camelback Ballroom Complex in addition to 64,000 sq. ft. of indoor meeting space and outdoor patios. Sculptures by Chiricahua Apache artist Allan Houser celebrate everything from the desert harvest to the future.
Phoenix itself is a hotel mecca, with more than 3,000 guest rooms near the 900,000-square-foot Phoenix Convention Center & Venues. The main exhibit hall offers 312,500 sq. ft. of space, in addition to 99 meeting rooms and a 46,000-square-foot ballroom.
Spooky and Sweet
Bring your sweet tooth to Glendale, where “Life is Sweeter” at Cerreta Candy Company (pictured above). This family-owned candy factory has hand-made chocolate, roasted nuts and more for almost 50 years. It offers guided tours and private chocolate pizza-building events.
World-renowned psychic medium and astrologer Dave Campbell hosts monthly group medium nights at The Astrology Store in historic downtown Glendale. He’s said to tap into clairvoyant spirits to communicate with the “other side.”
Phoenix Ghost Tours and Phoenix Rising Tour Company offer a walking ghost tour for groups through downtown Phoenix. The tour begins at the former Professional Building (now Hilton Garden Inn) and gives you the scoop about reported paranormal activity.