I was happy to be interviewed recently for an article about taking groups to Phoenix and Scottsdale for Insurance and Financial Meetings Management Magazine. Read my portion below, or the whole article here.
Kevin Dern of St. Louis-based Kevin Dern Travel has also met with success in Arizona for his insurance clients. “Phoenix/Scottsdale is an excellent option for incentive and corporate groups because you can get a resort-like experience and warm weather without having to go too far south or west,” he explains. “Scottsdale has great golf, restaurants and outdoor activities…plus the fantastic Taliesin West (Frank Lloyd Wright’s school and studio). Scottsdale offers great shopping on Camelback Road and dozens of galleries on Fifth Avenue. Phoenix has the Desert Botanical Garden and Heard Museum (Native American art and history).
“Two hotels I’ve used extensively have been The Westin Kierland and The Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix. The Westin is a huge property with experience handling large incentive groups. It’s also directly adjacent to an outdoor shopping area with a variety of dining options. They have large pools and waterparks that make it a great family incentive destination. I operated a large incentive program (2,000 attendees) from a large insurance company there a few years ago and it was a favorite location for both the attendees and management.”
The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa features 732 guest rooms, including 55 suites, and more than 50,000 sf of meeting space. It also offers a variety of recreational activities including 27 holes of golf, Agave, The Arizona Spa, and the Adventure Water Park, which contains a 110-foot water slide, a 900-foot lazy river and the Kierland FlowRider boardsport simulator.
“For a smaller or more business-oriented group I like The Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix, located on Camelback Road,” Dern adds. “It’s right across the street from the large Biltmore Fashion Park shopping center.” Containing 281 rooms and more than 20,000 sf of indoor and outdoor event space, The Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix offers convenient access to dining and entertainment options. Golfers in the group also can take advantage of “preferred partner rates” The Ritz-Carlton has arranged at the Arizona Biltmore and JW Marriott Camelback Inn golf courses.
“Both The Westin Kierland and The Ritz-Carlton allow attendees to reach shopping and restaurants without needing a car or taxi, which makes VIP dine-arounds easy as well,” Dern notes. “Both hotels are experienced with handling groups, which makes it easier for the planning team.”