Surrounded by soaring mountain ranges with Saguaro cacti dotting the landscape, Tucson commands a dramatic Sonoran Desert setting. Guests and groups also can find all the restaurants, music venues and other cultural offerings you would expect to find in Arizona's second-largest city.
Good to Know
Convention Center: Tucson Convention Center
; exhibit space, 148,000 square feet; meeting space, more than 205,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 24. tucsonconventioncenter.comGetting Here and There: Tucson International Airport
, about nine miles south of downtown. Transfer cost by taxi, approximately $25Taxes
: Hotels within Tucson city limits: room tax, 12.05%; sales tax, 8.1%; total tax on hotel rooms, 12.05% plus a $4 per night surcharge. Hotels outside Tucson city limits, but within Pima County: room tax, 12.05%; total tax on hotel rooms, 12.05%CVB:Visit Tucson
• In downtown, the sizzling Rio Nuevo neighborhood has been designated a Tax Increment Finance District, funded by a share of state sales-tax dollars. In partnership with developers, real estate investment firms and other entities, the area is helping fund new shops, offices, restaurants and entertainment venues. This effort already has helped attract professional hockey to the Tucson Arena, home of the AHL's Western Conference champions, the Tucson Roadrunners. In addition, five hotel projects now in the works will add more than 600 guest rooms to downtown, helping to draw larger conventions to the city.
• One of Tucson’s newest properties is the eight-story AC Hotel Tucson Downtown on the Sun Link Streetcar route, the first hotel to be built in the center of the city in more than 40 years. The 136-room property has a rooftop pool with a poolside bar.
• Fayth Hospitality Group, a Hilton Hotels developer, plans to build a dual-branded property — a 75-room Hampton Inn and a 123-room Home2 Suites — across the street from the landmark St. Augustine Cathedral. Fayth managing partner Greg Fay said his group hopes to begin construction on the project this coming June, with a grand opening set for the end of 2020.
• The Rio Nuevo board of directors has voted to solicit bids to finance up to $50 million in capital-improvement projects for the Tucson Convention Center. Plans call for the remodeling of the ballroom, exhibit halls and meeting rooms; adding a separate conference room, and updating the lighting and sound systems. Also getting a refresh is the facility’s on-site Tucson Music Hall. According to Rio Nuevo board chair Fletcher McCusker, “If we want the center to be our Lincoln Center, we have to do this work.”
• In other convention center news, a fifth hotel, the 170-room Caliber, is being developed at the facility. The property will be attached to the center and offer its own 4,000 square feet of meeting space, a coffee shop and bar, and a rooftop pool. The center itself includes 205,000 square feet of meeting and event space spread among 24 meeting rooms, along with an 8,962-seat arena.
• The Casino Del Sol is building a new 151-room hotel to open by the end of the year. The property will feature a pool complete with a water slide and a pool bar, an arcade, a lounge and a fitness center. The casino’s 100,000 square feet of flexible indoor/outdoor meeting space will be expanded by 9,600 square feet, adding extra break-out rooms. Also in the works is a new 11,000-square-foot event center at Del Sol’s nearby sister property, Casino of the Sun.
• The El Conquistador Tucson, a Hilton Resort, has completed a renovation of its 428 guest rooms. Coming soon is a new free-standing spa featuring eight treatment rooms and a private pool with views of Pusch Ridge. The hotel has 100,000 square feet of flexible function space.
The Ten 55 Brewing and Sausage House
, in the heart of Tucson’s downtown on Congress Street, is a Bavarian-style beer hall with its own event space. Smaller groups can enjoy a wide variety of locally made sausages, including delicious vegetarian and vegan options, not to mention a selection of local beers.
• The DoubleTree by Hilton Tucson–Reid Park, which recently was acquired by NOR Hotel Properties, is in the midst of an $18 million renovation. Getting facelifts are the lobby, the bar and two restaurants. The hotel’s courtyards and 25,000 square feet of meeting space will be remodeled next summer, and a refresh of all 287 guest rooms will be completed this coming fall.
• Overlooking the Saguaro National Forest’s East District, Tanque Verde Ranch, owned by Cote Family Destinations, plans to construct a new Event Barn. The space will span 20,000 square feet, with completion scheduled for later this year.
• The Hilton Tucson East in midtown celebrated its 30th anniversary last year with an $8 million makeover unveiled last April. All 232 guest rooms were renovated, and the meeting rooms, ballrooms and the pool area were upgraded. Added were a new restaurant and bar, the Alloro D.O.C. Italian Trattoria & Chophouse and the D.O.C. Lounge.
• A dual-branded 109-room Moxy and a 140-room Element will be housed in a new 16-story tower set to rise over the historic Rialto Theater, which opened in 1920. The venue will close for two years while work proceeds, during which time its shows will be relocated to the nearby Corbett Building. Teaming up on this $88 million project are locals Rudy Dabdoub and Scott Stiteler, who developed the 136-room AC Hotel Tucson Downtown.