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 Arizona for Your Next Meeting or Event?

This Southwestern state is prized for its climate, classic resorts and glorious desert landscapes. It’s also a mecca of wellness, sports, unique cuisine (Tucson has been named a gastronomic capital by UNESCO), and outdoor settings and venues, all in high demand by groups today.

Recent Updates for Phoenix

The Omni Tempe Hotel at ASU opened on Arizona State University's campus at the beginning of May. Among its amenities are several retail outlets and four dining options, including a pool bar and a rooftop restaurant. The 330-room property offers 36,000 square feet of meeting space, making it the largest venue in the city.

The JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa has unveiled an $80 million renovation. The property’s 950 guest rooms have been upgraded; all now have private patios or balconies with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors, while firepits have been added to the patios of some first-level rooms. The property’s lobby has been redesigned, as well, and a new signature restaurant, Tía Carmen, has been added. In 2023, the resort will update its pool areas and open Pan-Asian restaurant Kembali. 

A dual-branded Fairfield Inn and TownePlace Suites by Marriott is coming to Tempe. California-based EKN Development secured a $24.5 million loan to begin construction last summer and expects to welcome guests in the first quarter of 2024. The four-story, 148-room combined property will share a lobby, restaurant, a bar, an outdoor pool and more than 2,000 square feet of event space.

Game On
The Phoenix area hosts a number of major sporting events every year, including college football’s Fiesta Bowl and Cactus Bowl; the PGA Tour’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, and NASCAR events each spring and fall. Next year, the destination will host the biggest U.S. sporting event of all, Super Bowl LVII. The game takes place Feb. 12 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale. 

Set to open in the Central Business District in 2025, the 225-room Fairmont Phoenix will feature four bars and restaurants, a rooftop pool, a spa, a wellness center and 23,000 square feet of meeting space.

The 266-room Caesars Republic Scottsdale is scheduled to open in February 2024 — with nary a slot machine in sight. The resort’s meeting space will include a 7,000-square-foot ballroom. The property has the distinction of being Caesars’ first nongaming U.S. hotel.

Developer Catellus Development Corp. has plans for a 257,000-square-foot shopping, dining and entertainment district in Tempe. Part of the Novus Innovation Corridor, Novus Place has announced three restaurants that will open in the second half of 2024: North Italia, Flower Child, and Blanco Taco Cocina and Cantina.

The 215-room Ritz-Carlton, Paradise Valley, is set to open in fall 2023. The 20-acre resort will feature about 20,000 square feet of indoor event space and seven outdoor event lawns. 

Arizona's first Black-owned wine bar, Chic Chef 77, debuted in Tempe in February 2023. Owned by celebrity chef Nik Fields, the bar pours from a rotating list of 200 bottles, and serves craft cocktails, appetizers and charcuterie boards.

BWH Hotel Group has partnered with hotel management company Midas Hospitality to run the Vib Hotel in Tempe. The 102-room boutique property opened in March 2022.

The 119-room Royal Palms Resort and Spa renovated its meeting spaces, including the Estrella and Palmera Salons, the Cervantes Room and Lounge, and the Vernadero Room. The property, part of Hyatt’s Unbound Collection, has 20,000 square feet of event space.

After opening its first location in Surprise, Ariz., back in 2020, Bonfire Craft Kitchen and Tap House entered the Tempe dining scene in September 2022. The American restaurant offers burgers, pizzas, sandwiches and more.

The Boulders Resort & Spa in Carefree, a Curio Collection by Hilton property, completed upgrades to its two championship golf courses designed by Jay Morrish. The 219-room resort offers 50,000 square feet of meeting space, a 33,000-square-foot spa, five dining outlets and a learning center.

The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch, currently undergoing a major renovation, will join Hilton’s Curio Collection in 2023, at which time the property’s room count will drop to 276.

Group Venues

Culinary Dropout is a former warehouse that has been converted into a restaurant and bar. Nine areas are available for off-site events, such as the grand dining room, as well as a covered patio with lawn games and fire pits. The venue accommodates up to 275 guests for full buyouts, and the showcase room hosts up to 200.

Built in 1888, the Hackett House is an historic venue just a few blocks from Arizona State University with a maximum capacity of 200 people (150 outdoors and 50 indoors). All proceeds from events go to the Tempe Sister Cities organization, which runs the house, and to the city's educational programs.

Hundred Mile Brewing began pouring craft beer in December. The name refers to the fact that all brews are made within 100 miles of the Tempe taproom. In addition to its 12 options on draft, the brewery also offers dishes such as coffee-rubbed short ribs, chimichurri nachos and sesame-crusted ahi. The 10,000-square-foot space has two bars, an event area and an outdoor patio.

Discover 50,000 desert plants at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. Several areas are available for events; the largest, the Dorrance Center, holds up to 400 people.

The stunning Wrigley Mansion, built in 1932 by chewing-gum tycoon William Wrigley Jr., provides gorgeous vistas of Phoenix and its surroundings. The full venue accommodates up to 1,500 people for receptions; smaller group events can be held in any of the mansion’s 15 individual spaces.

The Arizona Science Center in Phoenix offers guests more than 300 hands-on displays, as well as the Dorrance Planetarium. Private events for up to 300 attendees are accommodated.

Sedona News
Ambiente, a Landscape Hotel, will debut in Sedona in late 2022. The property’s 40 distinctive atrium “cubes” will offer rooftop firepits and panoramic views of the area’s red rocks. 


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.

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

Airport transit: Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, about 5 miles from downtown Phoenix; transfer by taxi, about $23; transfer by taxi to downtown Scottsdale, about $32

Taxes: Hotel tax, 5.3%; local tax, 3%; state tax, 5.6%; total tax on hotel rooms, 13.9%
Convention Center: Phoenix Convention Center; exhibit space, more than 900,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 99
CVB: Visit Phoenix

2022 Stella Award Winners


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.

Sustainable Soirées
Cloth & Flame arranges unique dinners in memorable natural settings all around Arizona. The event firm leases lands from owners to help protect the acres from development.

Recent Updates

Occupying Tucson's tallest downtown skyscraper, the Leo Kent Hotel, part of the Marriott Tribute portfolio, is scheduled to open in May. The boutique property will have 145 rooms, 1,300 square feet of event space and a signature restaurant serving Southwestern cuisine and local beer, wine and liquor.

The Omni Tucson National Resort, home of the PGA Tour Champions Cologuard Classic, completed a multimillion-dollar renovation in December. The project revamped the 130 guest rooms, the lobby, and the hotel's more than 25,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space; four new dining options were added.

The Eddy Hotel, a Tapestry by Hilton property, began welcoming guests in February. The 106-room hotel features an outdoor pool and firepit, plus 3,000 square feet of event space.

The 10-room Citizen Hotel, which has a 5,000-square-foot wine bar and tasting room, has opened downtown. The boutique hotel is housed in the building that once was headquarters of the city’s oldest newspaper.

One of the newer properties is the 165-room Graduate Tucson at the University of Arizona. The hotel features two bars, a café, a rooftop pool and 2,700 square feet of event space.

Barrio Viejo, a downtown neighborhood that is home to the Tucson Convention Center, is expected to be designated a National Historic Landmark this year, thanks to a small Catholic shrine called El Tiradito. Recent decades have seen a focus on the area, such as the restoration of Carmen Teatro, a 300-seat theater, which is underway. The facade has already been refurbished, and a renewed interior will be revealed in 2025.

Sonora Moonshine Company will open in May. The restaurant will have an outdoor patio and speakeasyesque basement bar that only will be open on weekends and for private events.

Old Tucson Studios, the city’s iconic movie location that’s been shuttered since 2020, has new owners. The attraction reopened with a Halloween-themed series of events for the public. Stay tuned for updated information on private events.

Group Venues

Head out to the foothills for a nature-filled event. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum provides various indoor and outdoor venues with desert and mountain views that can host up to 265 attendees. Add local flare by brining in animals (and their handlers) from the zoo, such as an owl or a snake. 

Exhibits at the Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium range from the Wild World of Bugs and Puzzling the Past to Destination: Mars. The venue hosts private events of up to 225 people.

Whistle Stop Depot provides an industrial-chic setting for events of up to 300 guests. The former warehouse was rebuilt using recycled, repurposed and reclaimed materials. (520) 882-4969

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%, %, plus a $4 per night room fee

CVB:Visit Tucson