A Resort-Ready Meeting Experience

By Glen Turk | Photo courtesy of JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa

The finest way to elevate your next business meeting is to improve your next meeting venue. And a surefire plan to leave your coworkers wanting more is to host your event at one of Arizona’s spectacular golf resorts, many of which offer more than just hitting the links. The state’s top resorts are making stark overall improvements to enhance your meeting experience—outside of the course.

JW MARRIOTT CAMELBACK INN RESORT & SPA

Meetings and events have always been a top priority at this celebrated Marriott resort. So much so that a bold renovation project is currently underway that will have the Valley buzzing. In June 2018, the JW Marriott Camelback Inn will put the finishing touches on a state-of-the-art conference center. The space will be highlighted by the new 15,000-square-foot Paradise Ballroom, along with an additional 20,000 square feet of outdoor and pre-function spaces. The ballroom will be customizable, with adjustable walls that create up to eight distinctive meeting spaces. In total, the resort’s impressive event facilities will now be at 128,000 square feet.

Outside of the Paradise Ballroom are the venue’s brand-new Sonoran, Paradise and Outdoor Terraces that will overlook the resort’s vibrant gardens and Camelback Mountain and provide a surreal setting for both small and large-scale functions.

GOOD TO KNOW:

The guest rooms are Southwest chic and options range from standard double and king bed rooms, to one-bedroom casitas and bilevel suites, up to a deluxe pool suite, with a private pool and views of Camelback Mountain. camelbackinn.com

GREATER PHOENIX/SCOTTSDALE AREA

SHERATON GRAND AT WILD HORSE PASS

If a large portion of your meeting guests are flying into Phoenix, then the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass is the ideal locale. The idyllic property is located close to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, and is a short drive to downtown Phoenix. The resort offers 150,000 square feet of indoor conference space and event venues are named after Sonoran Desert animals and local mountain ranges such as Scorpion, Roadrunner and Akimel.

The resort was designed to be an authentic representation of the Gila River Indian Community’s heritage and culture. A simple walking tour of the property shows off the architecture, design, art and legends of the Pima and Maricopa tribes.

GOOD TO KNOW:

Even though the property’s Whirlwind Golf Club is only 15 miles from the airport, you’ll feel completely removed from society during a round on either the Cattail or Devil’s Claw courses. wildhorsepassresort.com

THE PHOENICIAN

The Phoenician’s new Camelback Ballroom is the architectural showpiece at the state’s premier AAA Five Diamond luxury resort. At a cost of $40 million dollars, the 45,000-square-foot, multipurpose indoor meeting space creates a destination of unmatched style and versatility. The ballroom can be divided into seven distinct meeting areas and is complemented by a veranda that’s ideal for breakout sessions and receptions. The room is nestled at the base of Camelback Mountain, which will lend an unforgettable, scenic edge to any conference or meeting.

GOOD TO KNOW:

In January 2018, The Phoenician began a 10-month redesign of its golf course, which will be transformed from 27 down to 18 holes under the direction of renowned architect Phil Smith. Preferred availability will be offered to Phoenician guests at other nearby partner courses. thephoenician.com

TPC SCOTTSDALE & THE FAIRMONT  SCOTTSDALE PRINCESS

Looking to meet in the shadows of the greatest party on the PGA Tour? Then your group needs to reserve a spot at The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess and the adjacent TPC Scottsdale. The resort offers many non-traditional golf events designed to appeal to meeting-goers of all ages. Guests can try their hand at glow-in-thedark target golf; try Sips and Tips, where golf pros run contests and give instruction with drinks and hors d’oeuvres included; and play the world-famous, par-three 16th hole, complete with grandstands and pumped-in crowd noise.

The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess also has six pools, four restaurants and a four-mile walking trail that surrounds the entire property, with stunning views of the golf course.

GOOD TO KNOW:

La Hacienda, chef Richard Sandoval’s culinary joy, is a must-dine experience after your meetings are concluded for the day. fairmontscottsdale.com

WE-KO-PA RESORT & CONFERENCE CENTER

We-Ko-Pa’s scenic location is only minutes north of downtown Phoenix. Meeting-goers will be surrounded by epic views of the Red Mountains and Sonoran Desert, and at the same time enjoy modern meeting amenities.

Their 25,000-square-foot Wassaja Conference Center offers a wide array of meeting spaces, and can host up to 2,000 guests at a time. And when the meetings are over, We-Ko-Pa truly shines, thanks to its first-class amenities such as desert Jeep rides, horseback riding, two championship golf courses and the adjacent Fort McDowell Casino.

GOOD TO KNOW:

Most golf aficionados name the courses at We-Ko-Pa as two of the nation’s best: both the Saguaro and Cholla courses have been honored on Golfweek’s Best Resort Course List several times. wekoparesortandconferencecenter.com

JW MARRIOTT PHOENIX DESERT RIDGE RESORT & SPA

As the second largest luxury resort in Arizona, the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa knows how to host a large meeting or event. 241,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space graces the property, which also includes seven dining experiences, four acres of exceptionally landscaped pools, five tennis courts and two championship golf courses. And, this AAA Four Diamond resort is ideally located where Phoenix meets Scottsdale, with easy access to the Loop 101 freeway.

GOOD TO KNOW:

After your meetings are over for the day, relax at Marriott’s first Revive Spa, with 41 treatment rooms designed to refresh and rejuvenate guests. marriott.com

BOULDERS RESORT & SPA

This Sonoran Desert-inspired resort is known for its innovative team-building activities. Take their Dine & Dash endeavor, which begins with the resort’s signature cocktails to start the festivities. Then, each meeting participant is paired up and assigned a golf cart and are given a cryptic clue which leads them on a discovery hunt throughout the property.

The adventure takes meeting guests to various scenic spots that include elevated tee boxes with extraordinary rock formations, cascading waterfalls and the unique Promise Rock, offering panoramic vistas of the valley below. Each stop showcases a bevy of tasty appetizers, foraged-fresh salads from the resort’s Organic Garden and mouthwatering entrees prepared by the resort’s traveling culinary team. Then, as the sun sets on the horizon, desserts and after-dinner drinks are served on the 19th green with live entertainment.

GOOD TO KNOW:

The Boulders is home to two championship courses that are open to resort guests. Both courses are built into the desert foothills and offer breathtaking panoramas of nearby Black Mountain. theboulders.com

SEDONA AREA

THE LODGE AT VENTANA CANYON

It’s been said that Sedona has the power to inspire the mind and exhilarate the spirit. With that in mind, where else would you rather go to have your next meeting? Just 90 minutes north of Phoenix and two-and-a-half hours from the Grand Canyon, The Lodge at Ventana Canyon features over 7,000 square feet of flexible, indoor meeting space that can accommodate groups of 10 up to 120. The resort is a semi-private retreat, with only 50 suites and 36 holes of championship golf. The property itself is expansive, with over 600 acres of desert preserve at your group’s disposal.

GOOD TO KNOW:

The third hole at the resort’s Mountain Course is one of the most photographed holes west of the Mississippi. The scenic par-three is tucked into the Santa Catalina Mountains and plays across a canyon of cacti. Even if you don’t play the game, it’s well worth the time to view its splendor. thelodgeatventanacanyon.com

HILTON SEDONA RESORT AT BELL ROCK

For on-point meetings, the Hilton features over 20,000 square feet of meeting space, two ballrooms and four new state-ofthe-art executive meeting rooms. And during breaks or after hours, there’s never a lack of team-building activities to do here: shopping, dining, hiking, mountain bike trails, championship golf—even drifting through turquoise skies on a hot air balloon ride. Group adventure planning and hiking advice are available on-site at The Hike House or in the main lobby. The resort is also home to the Sedona Athletic Club & Eforea Spa.

GOOD TO KNOW:

Looking for a cool experience while on their golf course? The Hilton is one of a few resorts that rent out GolfBoards, an easy-to-ride electric vehicle that will make your round memorable. Golfers of all ages can now “Surf the Earth” from shot-to-shot in a way that feels like snowboarding or surfing. hiltonsedonaresort.com

TUCSON AREA

CASINO DEL SOL

If you’d like to host your meeting at a casino for after hours fun, then Casino Del Sol is calling your name. Besides the immaculate gaming setting, their conference center is ideal. The 19,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom can accommodate corporate events from 30 to 1,800 guests, and their 8,000-square-foot pre-function space is the perfect location for receptions and breaks. The resort also has more than 100,000 square feet of flexible indoor/outdoor space that includes a conference center terrace, pool deck and gazebo.

GOOD TO KNOW:

The championship golf course is named Sewailo, which means “land where flowers grow.” The course was designed by Notah Begay III, a Navajo who has made his name both as a player on the PGA Tour and as a commentator on NBC and the Golf Channel. casinodelsol.com

JW MARRIOTT TUCSON STARR PASS RESORT & SPA

The goal of any great meeting experience is to engage the participants through unique activities. When those activities are authentic to the region and educational at the same time, you’ve struck meeting nirvana. And the JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa shines in this arena, with their imaginative hands-on cooking class and “libation education” tequila gatherings.

Guests and attendees can select and prepare their own infusion ingredients in the classes, which vary seasonally and are sourced from the onproperty Primo organic garden or from local farms. The resort’s tequila master can work with class sizes of 40 people up to 500. Event planners can even have a tequila education station set up at a reception for one-on-one conversations with the tequila master and tastings.

GOOD TO KNOW:

The site for the Starr Pass Golf Club was personally selected by then-PGA tour commissioner Dean Beaman. In 1991, Phil Mickelson became only the fourth amateur golfer to win a PGA Tour event, claiming the Tucson Open title at Starr Pass. marriott.com


Glen Turk has been the senior writer and editor of Midwest Golfing Magazine since 2005 and has been fortunate enough to play golf in 33 different states, including Arizona.