9 Meetings-Friendly Properties in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tucson
The Arizona Biltmore, Phoenix
From a historical property that celebrated its grand opening nearly a century ago and welcomed guests including past presidents and iconic celebrities to newly reimagined hotels offering a modern experience of luxury, here are nine meetings-friendly properties in three of Arizona’s sunny cities.
Taking up more than 500 square miles and housing more than 1.4 million residents, Arizona’s capital city is the fifth-largest city in the U.S. More than $5 billion in downtown investments has turned Phoenix into a premier, year-round destination boasting a walkable downtown with convention hotels, numerous dining options and a variety of cultural experiences.
One development for meeting and event planners to be aware of is the recent completion of JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa’s first phase of its $80 million renovation, a celebration of the property’s 20th anniversary in September 2022. The first phase of the resort’s renovation brought enhanced guest rooms, suites and a reimagined lobby, as well as the opening of a new restaurant, Tía Carmen, led by celebrity chef Angelo Sosa.
Last summer, JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa completed the installation of AquaRidge WaterPark, an $18 million, 140,000-square-foot pool experience offering renewed areas such as an enhanced lazy river, Wildfire Grove and Havasu Playground, with three new waterslides, including the only dual-person vertical wall tube slide at a resort west of the Mississippi.
Most recently, the resort introduced the new Sedona Springs and exclusive adults-only pool, Sky Island, as well as another restaurant concept by chef Sosa, Kembara, centered around Asian street-food culture and the tradition of time-honored recipes and stories passed down through generations.
The 950-room JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa boasts 44 meeting rooms and 255,000 square feet of meeting space, including Arizona’s largest banquet hall, The Grand Canyon Ballroom, which measures just under 33,300 square feet and has a capacity of 4,000 guests.
For nearly a century, Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, has welcomed guests to luxury in Phoenix. Upon the resort’s grand opening on February 23, 1929, more than 600 invitations were sent out, and the property anticipated only a few hundred attending, according to its website. Instead, according to the property, the Arizona Biltmore had to re-create its opening gala three days in a row to accommodate all 600 guests.
The Arizona Biltmore builds on the legacy of former legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his architectural style, specifically Wright’s famous block design, and upon opening, had over 250,000 blocks, 33,000 pounds of copper in the roof and the second largest gold-leaf ceiling in the world behind the Taj Mahal. For decades, the hotel hosted presidents, dignitaries and celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra. In the 1930s, the hotel’s master bartender, Gene Sulit, invented the iconic Tequila Sunrise at The Wright Bar.
During renovations in 1973, the historic property went up in flames, calling 35 firetrucks and 150 firefighters to the six-alarm fire, according to the Arizona Biltmore’s website, and crews worked 24 hours a day for 81 days to reopen before the holiday season.
Since then, the Arizona Biltmore has undergone multiple expansions and renovations, including a $100 million reinvention in March 2020. Today, the property features 705 guest rooms, 45 meeting spaces and 200,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, with room for up to 3,000 guests.
A third Phoenix-based, meetings-friendly property is the 1,003-room Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, a premier convention hotel in the heart of Arizona’s capital city and within walking distance of the Phoenix Convention Center.
Guests staying at Sheraton Phoenix Downtown have access to inviting community spaces, a terrace pool with year-round sunshine and a first-rate fitness facility, as well as onsite dining options. Carcara is the hotel’s distinctive, bold and inviting space curated to provide a dining experience emanating the heritage and history of the local Phoenix community. The restaurant grounds guests with a strong sense of place and celebrates local, Indigenous and seasonal ingredients through Native American- and Sonoran-inspired cuisine.
Sheraton Phoenix Downtown offers a total of 110,000 square feet of meeting and event space over two levels of the hotel and 26 event rooms. The 27,170-square-foot Phoenix Ballroom can accommodate 1,850 banquet-style or up to 2,500 for a reception.
Sitting at the foot of the McDowell Mountains in the Sonoran Desert and less than 30 minutes east of Phoenix, Scottsdale is another Arizona city offering year-round sunshine and an exotic natural setting. The city is bordered by the Tonto National Forest to the north and the Salt River to the south, surrounding it in some of the region’s stunning natural landscapes.
Scottsdale, which earned 10th place on WalletHub’s 2023 ranking of the 182 safest cities in America, offers more than 70 meetings-friendly properties from boutique hotels to luxury resorts with individual meeting rooms up to 24,500 square feet.
One such property is the AAA Five-Diamond Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, set against the backdrop of the McDowell Mountains and reflecting its Southwestern setting with Spanish colonial-style architecture, expansive plazas and flower-filled gardens.
The 750-room resort features large guest rooms, including 66 Fairmont Gold rooms and 223 suites, as well as six heated swimming pools and a new white-sand beach. Guests can also take advantage of the resort’s 44,000-square-foot luxury Well & Being Spa and play a round of championship golf at the adjacent TPC Scottsdale.
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess’ dining options include BOURBON STEAK, a AAA Four-Diamond steakhouse by the acclaimed Michael Mina, modern Mexican cuisine at La Hacienda, Ironwood American Kitchen and the new Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar at TPC Scottsdale, featuring Pan-Latin fare and views overlooking the 18th green.
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess offers 316,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor meeting space, including the 22,500-square-foot Princess Ballroom, with a capacity of up to 2,400 for a reception, and the 22,394-square-foot Palomino Ballroom, which can host 1,940 in rounds or 2,350 for a reception. The resort’s 20,880-square-foot Copper Canyon provides a setting of an authentic country-western town and cowboy-ready hangout with picnic tables, campfire pits and grill stations for up to 1,500 guests.
Not even 10 minutes south of Fairmont Scottsdale Princess and set on 250 acres is The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, offering contemporary amenities and design paired with an ever-changing collection of distinctive experiences bringing to life the “Essence of Arizona.”
The resort’s Agave, The Arizona Spa & Salon, offers desert-inspired treatments and traditional therapies, while The Westin Kierland Golf Club, recognized by Golf Digest in 2015 as one of America’s 9 Most Cheerful Golf Courses, features 27 holes and the AGM Top 100 award-winning Golf Shop.
The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa serves as a “revitalizing desert oasis” and features a collection of multiple dining venues serving an eclectic mix of the area’s flavors. The property’s new restaurant, Faro & Brag, opened in December 2023, is helmed by Executive Chef Chris Masco and offers guests a dining experience focused on modern cuisine.
The 735-room resort offers 41 event rooms and more than 200,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, the largest of which is the 24,395-square-foot Kierland Grand Ballroom, with a capacity of 1,900 banquet-style or just over 2,300 for a reception. The resort’s 4,500-square-foot Northern Sky Terrace can accommodate up to 400 guests while the 4,000-square-square-foot Vista Morada Patio can host 575 for a reception.
Rising from Camelback Mountain and surrounded by lush Sonoran Desert landscapes, The Phoenician, a AAA Five-Diamond property, offers 585 guest rooms and an approachable and contemporary luxury experience less than 10 minutes away from Old Town Scottsdale.
After guests enjoy The Phoenician’s Forbes Five Star spa, 18-hole golf course and state-of-the-art athletic club, they can spend their time browsing Old Town Scottsdale’s Fifth Avenue shops, offering everything from Native American jewelry to the latest trends taking over Scottsdale Fashion Square, the Southwest’s largest retail destination.
The Phoenician offers 72,000 square feet of indoor meeting space and 88,000 square feet outdoors, with the largest space, Grand Ballroom, measuring 20,533 square feet. The resort offers a total of 24 breakout rooms ranging in size from 365 to 1,037 square feet, as well as the 5,525-square-foot Estrella Theatre, a multi-media center for up to 600.
In the heart of the Sonoran Desert and surrounded by the Santa Catalinas, the Rincons, the Santa Ritas and the Tucson mountains, Tucson provides a rustic and relaxing escape complete with hundreds of thousands of saguaros and more than 300 days of sunshine annually.
The destination is the definition of Southwestern desert charm, with natural landscapes that can’t be found anywhere else, and when Tucson’s natural wonders are paired with its luxury accommodations, the destination makes for a picture-perfect setting for groups.
Described as a “desert oasis” cradled in the Tucson Mountain Park and near downtown Tucson is JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa, offering a relaxing respite near some of the city’s top attractions. The 540-room hotel offers a multi-level pool and lazy river, 27 holes of championship desert golf across three Arnold Palmer-designed true-desert courses and majestic vistas of the Catalina Mountains.
Guests staying at JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa can take advantage of hiking and biking trails throughout the city, explore Mountain Park, visit Kino Sports complex and Old Tucson Studios, and enjoy some of the city’s cultural culinary highlights. Plus, those looking to tap into the hotel’s wellness offerings can enjoy a number of treatments combining the latest beauty and health technology with the ancient healing techniques and traditions inspired by the Indigenous people of the region at Hashani Spa.
JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa also offers a number of complimentary resort activities and daily rituals for guests such as morning hikes, morning yoga, a daily traditional Native American ritual called Mitakuye Oyasin exploring the wonders of the Sonoran Desert, and a daily sunset tequila toast on the hotel’s outdoor dining venue Salud.
JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa offers nearly 84,000 square feet of event space across 14 event rooms, including the 19,836-square-foot Arizona Ballroom, the largest ballroom in Southern Arizona, with a capacity of up to 2,000 people.
Forty-five minutes away from JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa and directly north of downtown Tucson is El Conquistador Tucson, A Hilton Resort, spanning 500 acres in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains and nearby Saguaro National Park. The AAA Four-Diamond hotel offers 428 guest rooms and suites with modern amenities, restaurants and Sonoran Desert views.
The property, which was named “Best Experiential Hotel” by Hotel Interactive Lodging Industry Elite Awards and recognized as a Top 52 Hilton Hotel by Forbes, surrounds guests in all things true to the Southwest, from mountains and wildflowers to Indigenous cultures and authentic flavors. The resort also offers a group wellness menu with opportunities to organize group yoga, a private wellness lounge in a meeting area or experiences at SpaWell like massages, facials and body treatments.
El Conquistador Tucson, A Hilton Resort offers more than 100,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meetings and events space and 32 meeting rooms of different sizes and types, including the Coronado Ballroom, with 12-foot wood beam ceilings and space for 210 banquet-style or 330 for a reception. The three-tiered outdoor space Sunset Point boasts stunning city and mountain views and can seat 400 banquet-style or accommodate up to 600 for a reception.
El Conquistador Tucson, A Hilton Resort also features a space called Last Territory, the resort’s Western-style mini-town ideal for barbecue-centered teambuilding events and receptions.
The luxury Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, which was named by USA Today as one of the 10 Best Luxury Hotels in Tucson, is another group-friendly option for those looking to gather near the mountains. The 398-room property has two award-winning Tom Fazio-designed PGA golf courses, four lighted tennis courts with mountain views and Lakeside Spa, an Architectural Digest choice for the 8 Most Beautiful Desert Spa Destinations in America in 2018.
The AAA Four-Diamond resort was designed by architect John Hill to blend into its surrounding Southwestern landscape and invites guests to appreciate the “serenity of the outdoors” through miles of hiking trails, including the Window Walk Nature Trail that leads to a waterfall and butterfly garden and a 1.1-mile guided walk or run exploring the natural desert environment.
Loews Ventana Canyon Resort offers 83,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space and can accommodate groups of up to 1,500 people. The 8,000-square-foot Kiva Patio can seat 620 in banquet rounds or host 1,000 in cocktail rounds, while the 1,200-square-foot Cascade Terrace provides a more-intimate setting with firepits and a mountain backdrop for groups of up to 175 guests. The resort’s 22,000-square-foot Coyote Corral is a themed Western village space located on property with a maximum capacity of 900.
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