Guide to Meeting & Event Planning in


Updates and group ideas for event planners looking to host a gathering in Phoenix or Tucson.

The Phoenix Skyline from South Mountain Park
The Phoenix Skyline from South Mountain Park Photo Credit: Visit Phoenix

Why Phoenix for Your Next Meeting or Event?

In recent years, more than $5 billion has been pumped into a 1.7-square-mile zone in the heart of the city, contributing to a downtown growth spurt that has seen the development of office space, shops, restaurants, hotels, and convention and academic facilities. Heading outdoors or indoors, Arizona has all that groups need. Top properties like the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown have been revamping and renewing in order to be ready for the influx of events coming in 2021.

Recent Updates

The Arizona Biltmore, a 701-room Waldorf Astoria Resort, has reopened following a propertywide renovation. The meeting rooms, such as the Frank Lloyd Wright Ballroom (named for the hotel's designer), have been upgraded. A new eatery, Renata's Hearth, and an adults-only pool were added.

A 199-room AC Hotel by Marriott Phoenix Downtown, the fourth AC Hotel in the greater Phoenix area, opened in February. The property — which features a contemporary, minimalist European design — has 3,400 square feet of meeting space.

Ground was broken on the 238-room Hyatt Place Downtown Phoenix last summer. The property is scheduled to open in December with 4,000 square feet of meeting space.

The 1,003-room Sheraton Phoenix Downtown is scheduled to reopen in June. The property recently renovated its guest rooms and lobby, and upgraded its 110,000 square feet of meeting space. The hotel will feature communal workspaces and the Coffee Bar Bar that will be a combination of a place to grab a cup of joe, a marketplace and a cocktail bar.

Adero, a 177-room Autograph Collection property, has opened with eight meeting rooms and a rooftop lounge.

Caesars Entertainment will debut the 266-room Caesars Republic Scottsdale next year, its first nongaming property in the United States. The hotel will offer a 7,000-square-foot ballroom that opens onto an adjacent lawn.

The Ritz Carlton, Paradise Valley — a 215-room, 20-acre resort — will debut in 2022.

Group Venues

Go Western out at Desert Foothills, which hosts groups of up to 1,500 people at its outdoor cookout area, 10,000-square-foot barn and 2,500-square-foot patio.

The 140-acre Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix showcases more than 50,000 local plants along its five trails. The venue has a number of spaces for conferences and events for groups of up to 110 people.

Scottsdale is home to one of the world’s best hotel bars, according to Forbes: The Thirsty Camel at the Phoenician. The rooftop bar, which was renovated along with the resort in 2019, features modern décor and panoramic views. The menu pairs Sonoran Desert-inspired cocktails with sharing plates and to-die-for desserts.

Travel Essentials

Taxes: Hotel tax, 3.0%; city tax, 2.3%; county tax, 1.77%; state tax, 5.5%
Convention Center: Phoenix Convention Center; exhibit space, more than 900,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 99
CVB: Visit Phoenix

2021 Stella Award Winners
2020 Stella Award Winners
Tucson Mountain Park
Tucson Mountain Park Photo Credit: Digital Masters for Adobe Stock

Why Tucson for Your Next Meeting or Event?

The always-warm climate in Arizona's second-largest city is slightly cooler than its northern counterpart, partly because Tucson is about 1,300 feet higher in altitude than Phoenix. One of the southern city's main resorts, the El Conquistador, has been revamping and renewing, getting ready to welcome back more and more meetings as the months roll on.

Recent Updates

The long-awaited 170-room DoubleTree by Hilton Tucson Convention Center debuted in March. The property, which is adjacent to the Tucson Convention Center, offers 4,000 square feet of meeting space, a mesquite-themed restaurant and two bars.

This summer, the luxurious Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort will unveil 40 new rooms for a total of 97. The hotel also added a 40-foot lap pool, an infinity-edge wading pool, a large sun deck and a new fitness facility.

The Graduate Tucson has opened on the University of Arizona's campus. The boutique hotel has 165 rooms, a ground-floor bar and cafe, a rooftop bar and pool, and 2,700 square feet of meeting space.

The 112-room Tuxon, which opened last July, is the first Design Hotel in Arizona. The property has a pool bar where private events can be held; a small meeting room hosts up to 20 attendees.

The Citizen Hotel and its tasting room are scheduled to debut in the fall in a historic downtown building. The boutique property will have 10 guest rooms and a 5,000-square-foot wine-barrel and tasting room. 

The 575-room JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa has spent $3.5 million enhancing and renovating its Hashani Spa, lobby and gift shop.

Last fall, El Conquistador Tucson, a Hilton Resort, debuted the multi­million-dollar SpaWell. The adults-only facility features a salt therapy room, a pool deck with mountain views and eight treatment rooms. The property has more than 100,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space.

The 149-room Courtyard by Marriott Tucson Airport has completed renovations to its guest rooms, lobby, fire-pit area, fitness facilities and more. The hotel’s event space — an outdoor courtyard and two indoor venues offering a combined 1,298 square feet of space — has also been upgraded.

Group Venues

Guests can stroll through the zoo, aquarium, botanical garden and more at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The venue hosts groups of up to 700.

Get a taste of the town visiting restaurants with Tucson Food Tours, which welcomes private groups of 12 to 100 people.

Barrio Charro is the brainchild of two local James Beard–nominated powerhouses — baker Don Guerra and chef Carlotta Flores. The eatery joined the Tucson food scene this year serving staples like avocado toast and tamales, but what really sets Charro apart is the signature “tortamano” sandwiches. Guerra’s house-baked azteca bread made with heritage Sonoran white wheat holds the various fillings.

Up to 60 passengers can hop on an emission-free electric shuttle for a tour of Tucson’s Sabino Canyon. Learn how it was formed, what kind of plants and wildlife are native to the area, and other historical and cultural facts.

Travel Essentials

Convention Center: Tucson Convention Center, exhibit space, 148,000 square feet; meeting space, 205,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 24.

Airport Transit: Tucson International Airport, about nine miles south of downtown. Transfer cost by taxi, approximately $35

Taxes: Hotel tax, 6%; regional taxes, 6.05%; total tax on hotel rooms, 12.05%

CVB:Visit Tucson