ArizonaJanuary 1, 2016

There's Something for Everyone in This Land of Natural Beauty By
January 1, 2016


There's Something for Everyone in This Land of Natural Beauty
Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain

The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain.

When Lisa Simmons, field administrative assistant-Arizona North, American Family Insurance, was evaluating where to hold their end-of-the-year sales meeting, she looked no further than We-Ko-Pa Resort & Conference Center near Scottsdale, Arizona.

“Our sales office is located in Phoenix, so choosing We-Ko-Pa made it close enough for everyone to travel to the conference center easily. We liked that it was located out of Phoenix, but close enough that it wasn’t an issue for everyone to drive there,” Simmons says. Whether traveling near or far, hosting a meeting or event in Arizona offers something for everyone.

One of the reasons Simmons chose the We-Ko-Pa Resort is because it is conveniently located 20 minutes from the airport. The 246-room resort was also appealing because of its features and amenities including Native American-style décor and traditions, bold Southwestern cuisine at the Ahnala Mesquite Room, luxurious spa treatments and salon services at the Amethyst Spa & Boutique, the spacious heated outdoor pool with two whirlpools, as well as the putting green and horseshoe area. The resort’s proximity to the award-winning golf courses at We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, gaming and entertainment at Fort McDowell Casino, and the numerous Wild West-inspired outdoor activities at Fort McDowell Adventures make it the ideal destination for a corporate function, special event or incentive program.

Another planner found just the right match for her program at The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. Liz Planz, CMP, CMM, senior meeting planner, meetings and events, for Raymond James Financial Inc. in St. Petersburg, Florida, brought 200 West Coast-based financial advisors to the resort in December for the Raymond James Private Client Group Education and Practice Management Regional Conference.

“I would say to not be afraid of booking off-peak times, such as summer. The values are tremendous, and…attendance is not negatively affected.”
— Liz Planz

A key reason the Raymond James group chose Arizona for its meeting locale is that the destination “has ample lift, is easy to navigate on the ground and has a large swath of venue choices to fit any budget and objective,” Planz says. “I have managed many different meetings in Arizona, and I would say to not be afraid of booking off-peak times, such as summer. The values are tremendous, and from my experience, attendance is not negatively affected.”

Options Aplenty

Also in Scottsdale, The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa offers insurance and financial planners a variety of contemporary indoor and outdoor meeting spaces totaling more than 200,000 sf among 41 meeting rooms, which also includes a wide range of breakout space options. Meeting guests enjoy not only state-of-the-art meeting facilities, but also revitalizing accommodations, 27 holes of onsite golf, a full-service spa and a choice of 10 dining venues as well as more shopping, dining and attractions located adjacent to the resort.

The resort boasts a wide variety of meeting rooms as well as unique indoor and outdoor spaces that complement the traditional meeting space. Another benefit is meeting space location within the resort. With four ballrooms and the majority of its meeting space located in a central location across two levels within the resort’s main building, meeting planners can create fully indoor programs ideal for hot summer days and inclement weather. Attendees in turn enjoy convenient, climate-controlled comfort at all times.

The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa has kicked off the new year with new guest room enhancements including larger flat-screen televisions, bedside charging stations for mobile devices and a new guest room door-locking technology that soon will allow guests to unlock their doors with their smartphones.

In addition to refreshing its guest rooms, the resort also added additional indoor/outdoor event space. Situated adjacent to The Westin Kierland Golf Club and overlooking a chipping green, Edie’s Range House is an ideal spot for a small board meeting with indoor space for up to 12 and also serves as an exclusive outdoor catering space with contemporary outdoor seating and fire pits.

Activities Aplenty

Arizona offers a wealth of unique teambuilding activities to make meetings and events memorable. At The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain an array of group activities and teambuilding experiences takes full advantage of the resort’s stunning location in the high Sonoran Desert in Marana, which is northwest of Tucson. Whether indoors or out, group programs at the property offer something for everyone, enhanced by seamless service and the attention to detail for which The Ritz-Carlton is famous.

From turning participants into chili chefs, margarita-mixing aficionados, astronomers and geocaching experts to engaging participants in cowboy-themed Old West activities, there’s something for everyone at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain.

When not at play, financial and insurance attendees can participate in meetings and events throughout the 20 indoor Tucson meeting rooms and three outdoor lawn locations at the resort. From its 9,000-sf ballroom to the 500-sf meeting rooms, The Ritz Carlton, Dove Mountain is the ideal location for groups of all sizes.

As part of the Ritz-Carlton’s ongoing effort to incorporate sustainability and social responsibility into their meeting and event programming, The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain offers a VolunTeaming program, which combines teambuilding activities with volunteer activities to help attendees make a meaningful contribution to the community during their stay.

Corporate groups are invited to work with Habitat for Humanity, helping with new construction, home preservation and neighborhood cleanup. To capture meeting attendees’ creative spirit, The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain also offers a “Masterpiece Experience” whereby groups can create “masterpiece” paintings that are donated to a local children’s group home in Tucson or auctioned off to raise money for nonprofit organizations helping children in need.

What’s Old is New Again

With 200,000 sf of pristine indoor and outdoor meeting spaces, the Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, in Phoenix is a premier destination for meetings and events. For more than 85 years, the Grand Dame has provided an extraordinary setting for legendary gatherings and memorable occasions. Boasting a professional event planning team, plus banquet and catering staff, the Arizona Biltmore is an all-around elegant venue for conferences, galas, business meetings and unique special events.

The Arizona Biltmore is in the process of unveiling a $30 million renovation with even more upgrades on the horizon for 2016. The property is continuing to evolve and has invested $30 million on upgrades that pay tribute to its classic style with chic, modern interpretations. The renovation includes a significant redesign to the majority of its guest rooms and meeting spaces, new poolside cabanas and reimagined state-of-the-art guest communication systems. Also, the Mystery Room, the Prohibition-era “speakeasy” that is now used as a pop-up bar and event space, has been re-mastered with a sophisticated new look that recalls the seductive style of the resort’s early years. The renovations will continue to roll out in 2016 with a redesigned lobby space and revamp of its 64 luxury villas. The final phase includes a refresh of its Ocatilla at the Biltmore suites that make up the exclusive hotel within a hotel, offering a secluded sanctuary in the heart of the Arizona Biltmore with a private concierge, pool and lounge.

Located in Litchfield Park, about 20 miles from Phoenix, The Wigwam, which officially opened its doors in 1929, is full of history and charm, legendary service and outstanding cuisine. It’s the only resort in Arizona that offers three on-property championship golf courses, two of which were designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. In the past year, noted golfer and architect Tom Lehman has restored the luster of the Gold Course with an inspiring $600,000 renovation.

Memorable meetings can be held in almost 45,000 sf of function space — all on one level. Lush green lawns with palm trees, lighting, bocce ball courts and fire pits add an additional 55,000 sf available for outdoor receptions and dinner events.

Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort in Phoenix hosted the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America National Board of Directors Meeting, orchestrated by Jeff Etzkin, CMP, former vice president of Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America and owner of Etzkin Events in Austin, Texas. “We had great weather and a beautiful location, with great services and amenities at the resort and surrounding area,” Etzkin says. “Arizona is easy to fly into and offers great weather most of the time, excellent restaurants and tourist activities, and great nightlife.”

Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort, boasts 48,000 sf of flexible event space and 46 well-appointed boardrooms and conference centers. Because many financial and insurance events require high-tech options, Pointe Hilton offers state-of-the-art technologies, including DS3 high-speed Internet access and the Hilton Connectivity Station. They partnered with PSAV to bring event guests cutting-edge production technologies and a highly skilled team of audio-visual professionals.

Getting Away From It All

Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock is located in one of the most unique and inspiring destinations in the world, and offers meeting planners an opportunity to create a memorable event with truly authentic experiences, from adventures in red rock country to stargazing with professional astronomers.

Hilton Sedona also is a truly relaxing destination for high performers and top clients, with three pools, a full-service spa and golf onsite as well as dozens of trails for hiking, biking and sunset gazing just moments away. Located in Arizona’s high country, Sedona offers mild weather year-round with bright sunny days and cool starry nights.

Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock recently completed a multimillion-dollar renovation to its lobby, social spaces and guest rooms — all designed to bring the essence of Sedona through the doors of the resort. As part of the renovation and rebranding, the resort has partnered with Pink Adventure Group to provide onsite adventure guides who can help groups and guests plan adventures of all types from land, air and water tours of all types to the best spots to photograph the sunset and restaurants that are popular with locals. The adventure guides provide all concierge services for the resort, with an emphasis on getting outdoors in Sedona.

With more than 20,000 sf of state-of-the-art conference facilities, including two covered outdoor patios, Hilton Sedona Resort also offers onsite group golf options that can help bring the meeting outdoors. In addition, meeting attendees can experience magnificent sunsets, hike the canyons and ride horseback on numerous trails, take jeep tours deep into the backcountry or stroll through more than 45 art galleries and shop in eclectic boutiques featuring handcrafted items from local artists.

For many financial and insurance gatherings, convenience and flow of space is paramount, especially when working with large numbers of attendees. Enchantment Resort’s Meeting Village was designed with flow of space in mind.  The Village Terrace is the centerpiece, situated perfectly for al fresco dining. Spanning 5,100 sf, the grand Anasazi Ballroom with adjacent foyer, boardroom and business services center is ideal for general sessions. And the Juniper House, a separate space replete with fireplace and exposed beam ceilings is a comfortable “war room” for event planners seeking both privacy and proximity. Ample breakout space is available opposite the terrace in the Agave and Ocotillo Ballrooms, along with the exquisitely designed Manzanita Executive Boardroom.

Enchantment Resort is a full-service resort set in a retreat-style destination of unparalleled natural beauty. Its setting embodies the reasons financial and insurance meetings happen outside of the corporate office — an inspiring setting to promote creativity and togetherness with all necessary business services. Enchantment Resort is located within its own canyon but accessible, being a mere two hours from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Enchantment Resort features more than 13,000 sf of beautifully designed indoor event space with floor-to-ceiling windows to show off the impressive views, perfect for meetings of up to 200 participants. Additional outdoor space takes advantage of Sedona’s year-round warm temperatures. In addition to the award-winning spa and golf offerings, there is a wealth of activities groups may partake in, including rugged jeep tours, horseback riding, hot air ballooning, air tours of Sedona and the Grand Canyon, private train excursions, hiking and mountain biking, archeological site tours, Native American culture, wine and craft beer tastings, and more.

New and Noteworthy

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company will develop a new resort and residences in Paradise Valley near Scottsdale. The affluent community known as Paradise Valley spreads from north of the Phoenix mountains to Cave Creek & Carefree and the McDowell Mountains to the east in greater metropolitan Phoenix. Spread over 20 acres, The Ritz-Carlton, Paradise Valley resort will consist of 200 casita-style guest rooms and 20,000 sf of function space to host luxury meetings for corporate meeting and incentive clients. The resort, with stunning views of iconic Camelback Mountain, also will have a large destination spa with a health and wellness program featuring both an indoor and outdoor desert-inspired treatment menu. A citrus orchard and garden will grow seasonal produce harvested for the onsite restaurants.

The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Paradise Valley will be developed by Five Star Development Resort Communities in several phases adjacent to the hotel with residence owners having access to services from and privileges at the hotel including a dedicated concierge, priority access to hotel guest accommodations and amenities, in-residence dining and housekeeping. The multiphased residential community will include 45 single-family homes and 94 villa residences. Construction is expected to begin this summer, and the resort opening is scheduled for late 2018.

L’Auberge de Sedona, the creekside retreat surrounded by Sedona’s enchanting red rocks, will unveil three new restaurants, as well as a new partnership with nearby Page Springs Cellars to premiere three custom wine blends and an in-room wine program.

The result of a multimillion-dollar summer renewal, L’Auberge de Sedona recently finished a complete renovation of the resort’s two creekside dining destinations to introduce brand-new culinary concepts. New restaurants Cress on Oak Creek and Etch Kitchen & Bar have been designed to showcase their creekside location.

Located outdoors, just steps above the banks of Oak Creek, Cress is a fine-dining experience featuring a constantly changing prix fixe dinner menu with seasonal cuisine and year-round favorites infused with locally grown ingredients, such as watercress, rosemary and mesquite.

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Etch Kitchen & Bar offers cuisine served in an artistically designed setting aimed at bringing the beauty of the outdoors, indoors. In conjunction with the resort’s new Artist in Residency program, L’Auberge de Sedona commissioned a 25-foot custom bar top for Etch that incorporates many striking natural elements native to Arizona: Trammel wood from a more than 1,200-year-old native alligator juniper tree was used for the bar top, which features intricate grain patterns and has more than 75 inlays of copper, azurite and stunning turquoise. The indoor-outdoor space overlooks Oak Creek with floor-to-ceiling windows.

In addition to the two new creekside concepts, L’Auberge de Sedona recently introduced 89Agave Cantina, located just above the resort, along Highway 89A in Uptown Sedona, adding a casual and vibrant alternative to the property’s other newly elevated dining offerings. The new restaurant offers Sonoran-style Mexican food and intriguing Tequila cocktails, in a fun and colorful environment.

Final Thoughts

To make the most of an Arizona meeting and event experience, Etzkin recommends financial and insurance meeting planners use a destination management company to help plan the perfect event.

“There are so many options on activities, décor and restaurants, it’s easier to have a local partner helping out,” Etzkin says. “Also remember that Tucson is fairly laid back compared to Phoenix. Look at the type of event you have in terms of keeping the group together or letting them go do their own thing. Tucson is good for the bonding experience, and Phoenix for the party-time experience.”

Simmons at American Family Insurance agrees. “There are lots of great options in Arizona for all types of event planning,” Simmons says. “Do your homework when searching for a location for your meeting or event. The two major things we look for are: Does the location provide a good experience for business meeting setting? And does the location provide a good value?” I&FMM

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