With spectacular views of the Sonoran Desert, surrounding mountains and stunning sunsets, Arizona is a beautiful destination for corporate meetings or incentive experiences. The stunning scenery of the Grand Canyon State helps set the stage for what is to come. And luckily Arizona offers a plethora of splendid entertaining locales — complete with wonderful accouterments that surprise and delight at every turn.
“Cocktail hours outside on picturesque patios offering sunset views, delicious southwest cuisine to taste, as well as local wine from some of the state’s wineries, are just some reasons why Arizona is a great option,” says Lisa Foster, event planner and owner of Stylish Events by Lisa in Phoenix, AZ. “Arizona offers something for everyone. We also have amazing five-star spa and golf experiences for attendees if they have any down time while in Phoenix for an event.”
Stylish Events by Lisa is a full-service event planning company, offering event planning, design and logistics for many corporate and social events. Foster and her team have coordinated an array of business events in Arizona and beyond — from company holiday parties, to nightly receptions at conferences, to even traveling with their corporate partners and providing destination services for them out of state.
Recently, Stylish Events by Lisa orchestrated a destination corporate event for a medical firm traveling to Arizona for a conference.
“They requested an off-site dinner event for 100 of their top executives at a unique venue. They wanted a full Arizona experience and that is what we delivered,” says Foster, who booked the group at the renowned Wrigley Mansion. The destination was originally built in 1932 by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr., while extensive renovations were completed in 2021.
The Wrigley Mansion has premier dining and special event venues, including the restaurant, Christoper’s, located in an adjacent all-glass building. James Beard award-winning Chef Christopher Gross and his team offer a unique dining experience in a spectacular setting.
“The mansion is perched on top of a hillside overlooking the valley and Camelback Mountain,” Foster says. “[Attendees] were shuttled in and enjoyed a welcome cocktail hour with signature jalapeño margaritas, while experiencing the stunning sunset views from the window-lined dining room. Dinner followed with an elegant and delicious chef-forward menu and afterward attendees were allowed to tour the almost 100-year-old mansion and take in all its unique charm and beauty.”
Ana Rodriguez, senior design & development manager, Arizona, at 360 Destination Group, says with over 300 sunny days in Arizona, things are different in the desert — the sky is bigger, the stars are brighter, the sunsets are surprising.
“Arizona still has real cowboys and rugged mountains and the kind of cactus most people see only in cartoons,” Rodriguez says. “There are cherished landscapes to explore and fun destinations to discover in every area of the state, from urban experiences in our downtown settings, to outdoor adventures in the vast Sonoran Desert. Not to mention, Arizona has the highest concentration of luxury, four- and five-star resorts in the country.”
360 Destination Group’s Director of Sales in Arizona Emily White says that Arizona has a strong sense of place due to its cultural heritage rooted in Spanish, Mexican and Western influences.
“We love to incorporate these themes into our events, whether that’s a relaxed desert retreat at a welcome reception, a cowboy cookout under the stars at an offsite dinner or a final night colorful fiesta,” White says.
360 Destination Group recently hosted an offsite dinner for 500 people last fall in Arizona, calling it a Harvest Fiesta.
“We immersed [attendees] in the Mexican heritage by incorporating rich wood tones, colorful papel picado banners and glowing candlelight,” Rodriguez says. “The attendees celebrated the night away with mariachi entertainers, a DJ, a cigar roller, a 360-degree photo booth and a Mexican hot chocolate station. The weather was perfect and the attendees were all smiles.”
For corporate meeting planners looking to host a meeting or incentive event, Foster recommends they focus on the unique aspects that Arizona regionally offers, especially its natural surroundings.
“Venues with a view, local Arizona wine tasting, cultural festivities … once [attendees] experience the full uniqueness of the Sonoran Desert, they will always want to come back for more,” Foster says.
Also, White advises that meeting planners shouldn’t be afraid to plan Arizona-based events and incentives that allow attendees to get outside, kick the dust up and have some fun.
“Your attendees want to come to Arizona to embrace the wonder of the desert — so take them to an offsite dinner location, and plan group activities such as hot air ballooning, hiking, biking and UTV rides [an off-road vehicle bigger than an ATV],” White says. “That’s when the memories are made.”
In addition, from border to border, Arizona offers golfers of all skill levels an array of challenging golf courses. From formidable courses that test their skill level at every hole to wide-open courses with fairways designed for high-handicap golfers, event attendees will find it in the Grand Canyon State.
Phoenix has outstanding weather, great outdoor venues and spaces, signature hotels and resort choices with sophisticated service, and a variety of entertainment and activities. Phoenix is one of a handful of cities that has a thriving downtown environment for both urban meetings and conventions, along with dozens of resort choices.
Of course, entertainment options are key to any corporate meeting or incentive event and Phoenix offers several concert venues, art galleries and live theatre options. With the majestic Sonoran Desert as the city’s backyard, hiking, biking, hot air ballooning and other desert-themed adventures are available for attendees to enjoy.
Phoenix’s hotels and resorts also offer ideal options for meetings and events of all sizes and the area is celebrating an influx of new development and renovations within the hotel and resorts inventory. According to Visit Phoenix, the region is boasting over 34 new properties that have been developed since 2020, which means meeting planners have an array of properties from which to choose.
The Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley, which is scheduled to open in the fall, offers more than 20 acres overlooking Camelback Mountain. Attendees will enjoy the spacious guest rooms, expansive spa and the enhanced health and fitness center.
Slated to open next year in Glendale, about 10 miles northwest of Phoenix, the VAI Resort will have more than 40,000 sf of flexible event and meeting spaces.
The Global Ambassador is also expected to make its entrance into the Phoenix market this year and will feature 141 guest rooms. The venue’s 18,000 sf rooftop restaurant is bound to be a venue for events, thanks in part to its views of Camelback Mountain.
Camelback Mountain is the highest point in the Phoenix Mountains. It’s popular due to its hiking trails and panoramic city views, as well as partially famous because of its name and resemblance to a camel hump.
Situated within the Sonoran Desert, Scottsdale is about 10 miles or less from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The city offers attendees inspiring outdoor recreation options amidst the region’s wide-open spaces, diverse vegetation and stunning sunsets. Mix in an outstanding array of world-class resorts and lodgings, complete with golf courses, luxurious spaces and sophisticated meeting venues and attendees will be eager to come back for more.
Set high above Paradise Valley — Phoenix’s wealthiest city and suburb — Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa can be an ideal indoor/outdoor meeting and event venue. The resort is an elegant and secluded option for intimate meetings, events and corporate retreats.
Another favorite locale for many corporate meeting planners is the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia. Nestled at the base of Camelback Mountain, the hotel features 102,000 sf of meeting and event space. Attendees can also take part in team-building events, food drives and other unique community-focused experiences that can add new meaning to a traditional meeting or incentive event.
The Phoenician is also an idyllic location for meetings and events. This Scottsdale masterpiece is complete with over 160,000 sf of indoor and outdoor event space. In addition to large-scale ballrooms and smaller meeting rooms, The Phoenician offers other unique indoor venues, such the Praying Monk, a working wine cellar for dining. When not gathering in groups, attendees can enjoy the resort’s modern athletic center, pool, golf course and others.
Now imagine hosting an event amongst ancient boulder formations nestled in the Sonoran Desert. That’s just what attendees will experience at the Boulders Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, which offers one of the most unique landscapes in the Scottsdale area. There’s also space for indoor/outdoor events.
Many corporations set their sights on wellness benefits for their employees, so the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale features an idyllic respite. Truly a wellness retreat, the Westin Kierland is located in North Scottsdale’s masterplanned Kierland community, which is complete with shopping, eateries, golf, dining and spa. When it is time to get down to business, the Westin Kierland boasts 41 event rooms with more than 172,000 sf of event space and pre-event function space.
In addition to well-established resorts in Scottsdale, there are ample new entrants to the venue landscape. Recently, the Hilton North Scottsdale at Cavasson opened and features rooftop executive lounges and a 15,000 sf event center. Attendees can sip and socialize, while admiring the McDowell Mountains in the hotel bar.
Caesars Entertainment is also making its mark on the Scottsdale meeting and event space with its new Caesars Republic Scottsdale. Set to open later this year, this is the first non-gaming Caesars branded hotel in the U.S. The column-free, 7,000-sf ballroom will offer towering sliding glass doors, which open out to outdoor event spaces so that attendees enjoy the beauty of Scottsdale’s surroundings.
It also was recently announced that next year Hyatt Hotels Corp. will be rebranding Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch to Grand Hyatt Scottsdale Resort & Spa. It will invest about $110 million in renovations across the destination to reflect the Grand Hyatt brand.
Set to open soon, Omni Tempe Hotel at ASU will amplify the city’s revitalized downtown area, and bring some of the largest conference and meeting space to the city. The hotel features 330 guest rooms, including 11 suites, four dining outlets, a spacious pool deck, retail, and about 36,000 sf of flexible indoor and outdoor meeting space — with expansive views of the Arizona State University campus and the cityscape.
Just 10 miles from Phoenix, Tempe is a wonderful option for smaller scale meeting and incentive events. With the Sonoran Desert as a backdrop, Tempe offers several unique venue options, as well as a wealth of annual events, festivals, shops and restaurants. When not enjoying resort amenities or indoor experiences, attendees at events in Tempe can head to the hills and enjoy a day of climbing on the area’s buttes.
Recently named the Top 50 Meeting Destinations in the U.S., Tucson features a topnotch combination of natural beauty, urban amenities, and exceptional meeting and event venues. In addition, the Tucson Convention Center is in the heart of Tucson’s hip downtown, where attendees can enjoy great entertainment, arts, nightlight and eateries.
As far as the resorts and venues available for corporate and incentive events, Tucson has many options from which to choose.
Located on 100 acres, Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson features 398 guest rooms, including 27 suites overlooking the beauty of the Sonoran Desert. In addition to over 37,000 sf of indoor meeting space, the resort offers many outdoor event venues to take advantage of the paradise on which the resort resides. When not at scheduled meetings or events, attendees can enjoy the resort’s two championship golf courses, full-service spa or go hiking on the nearby Ventana Canyon Trail.
The Westin La Paloma also doesn’t disappoint planners and attendees, thanks to its ideal location in the heart of Tucson and the Sonoran Desert, where attendees can work, play and relax. The resort features beautiful outdoor spaces including five pools, as well as more than 92,000 sf of event space.
Also recently completed are the multimillion dollar renovations at Omni Tucson National Resort. Located at the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Omni Tucson National Resort’s transformation included updates to meetings spaces, restaurants, the lobby, fitness center and others. The resort’s two new meeting rooms provide an additional 25,000 sf of indoor and outdoor meeting space.
The Tucson landscape of meeting and event venues is continuously being expanded and revitalized. Leo Kent is set to open soon. It is a new boutique hotel that is resulting from the conversion of Tucson’s tallest downtown skyscraper. Owned by Marriott, Leo Kent will span nine of the skyscraper’s 23 floors and offer flexible event spaces in the heart of downtown Tucson.
Another boutique hotel, The Eddy Hotel Tucson, part of the Tapestry Collection by Hilton, opened recently in Tucson’s Catalina Foothills. Ideal for smaller events, the hotel features 3,000 sf of meeting space with stunning mountain views. C&IT