While the East Coast faces some of the coldest temperatures in history, Phoenix, Arizona is enjoying weather in the 70s with clear skies. And that’s just part of the city’s appeal as a mega-event magnet. The hip destination for meetings is getting even more attractive after a slew of new resort openings and renovations.
“The improvement and growth of Greater Phoenix’s resort offerings help draw meetings to the area,” Lorne Edwards, vice president of sales and services at Visit Phoenix, told PCMA. “Additionally, the exceptional amenities provided by these properties greatly enhance the attendee experience. Hopefully, they will return to one of our resorts for their next vacation.”
Here’s how the city’s meeting venues have transformed in the past few years:
JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in North Phoenix has completed a $3.6-million renovation to its poolside bar and seating area, creating another outdoor event option for planners. The resort added a 26-seat U-shaped bar to its pool area (photo featured above), along with three fire pits and seating areas, eight televisions, and a “grab & go” bar, where attendees can enjoy smoked meat platters and brisket sandwiches, in addition to traditional poolside fare like chicken fingers, pizza, and burgers.
The Royal Palms Resort and Spa completed a multimillion-dollar renovation this past fall. The destination resort — originally built in 1929 as the winter estate for a New York industrialist and financier — completely renovated all 119 rooms, including the Presidential Suite, as well as select meeting and event spaces. “Royal Palms is one of the most celebrated and cherished resorts in the country, and we intend to keep the resort’s distinct character intact, while curating an elevated guest experience,” Geoff Gray, general manager of the Royal Palms Resort and Spa, said in a statement. “As stewards of this estate, we understand the importance of preserving its history and legacy, while providing elegant and sophisticated accommodations.”
Upgrades to the property include adding more natural light to indoor and outdoor event spaces, in addition to improved landscaping throughout the grounds. The Royal Palms offers 20,000 square feet of meeting space that includes boardrooms, private salons, outdoor courtyards, and the acclaimed T. Cook’s restaurant, serving handcrafted cocktails and seasonal, farm-fresh dishes.
Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort also completed a total facelift in 2016. The property underwent multimillion-dollar guest-room renovations, upgrading 544 of the resort’s 584 rooms. Pointe Hilton offers planners more than 65,000 square feet of versatile conference space, in addition to 36 professionally appointed board rooms and function space. The venue also affords easy access to Central Phoenix, Scottsdale, and the Biltmore Corridor.
Completely rebuilt in 2017, Mountain Shadows provides unique event spaces for more memorable meetings. In the shadow of Camelback Mountain, the property’s meeting rooms provide stunning desert views, in addition to 75-inch TVs, roll-down projection screens, and plug-in house sound, Wi-Fi, and iPad reader boards. Staff at the property will work with event organizers to craft unique events for each individual client.
Nestled in the beautiful South Mountain Preserve, Arizona Grand Resort completed a $13-million renovation this past fall. The property offers 120,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor meeting and event venues. There are 16 unique outdoor private event spaces that can accommodate 60 to 2,000 attendees, and an on-site, full-service destination-management company dedicated to providing a “single-point planning solution.”
And then there are brand-new properties coming to Phoenix’s vibrant meetings scene. The new Ritz Carlton is opening in March 2019. Set on 20 acres overlooking Camelback Mountain, the Ritz-Carlton, Paradise Valley will offer a luxury experience inspired by its natural surroundings. The on-site restaurants will feature produce sourced from the resort’s citrus orchard and garden, and the spa will offer desert-inspired treatments. With 20,000 square feet of event space in a breathtaking and natural setting, the resort will be ideal for unique meetings.
Other new resorts in the city include Andaz Scottsdale, which opened in January 2017 and offers 46,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor event space, and a backdrop of Camelback Mountain. Tucked away in Paradise Valley, Andaz Scottsdale is a short drive away from attractions like the Desert Botanical Garden, and activities such as wine tasting and hiking.
Guest rooms on the $75-million property have a Spanish-style layout, allowing guests to stroll through the desert and soak in the natural beauty of the Arizona landscape. What’s more, Phoenix is more affordable and easier to get to than ever before. And the recent Terminal 3 renovation at Phoenix Sky Harbor created a new consolidated security checkpoint and additional airline ticket counters that significantly cut down the time it takes for passengers to get to their gates.