Tucson’s Downtown Hotel Boom Is A New Oasis for Meetings
A downtown boom adds to Tucson’s rich culture and natural landscape. Pair that with its legacy of stunning and spacious resort properties and Tucson is ideal for all types of meetings.
The renowned saguaro cacti reach for the sky, standing up to 60 feet high in the Arizona desert. A mere 2-inches tall when they are 10 years old, the plants that live up to 250 years are testament to the region’s regenerative and nurturing properties.
Like its most famous flora, Tucson shines brightly in the more than 300 days of sun it enjoys per year. With a mix of natural beauty and modern-day amenities, planners will experience a destination that provides their attendees with unique cultural experiences. Named by UNESCO as the First City In The US For Gastronomy, Tucson is known for its food scene. Many chefs cook with indigenous ingredients that have been used in the Sonoran Desert for hundreds of years.
Tucson is the go-to destination for events. Many of the current demands and expectations—vast outdoor spaces, wellness-minded venues, unrivaled cuisine, etc.—have been a part of Tucson’s daily life for years. Including a thriving revitalized downtown with 800 new hotel rooms near the convention center that’s become a business hub for all kinds of meetings.
Home to Saguaro National Parks (East and West) that border the city on two sides, this desert city has built upon the sheer beauty of the Sonoran Desert. Many of Tucson’s traditional meeting spaces include stunning outdoor or flexible indoor-outdoor spaces which allow a new perspective and a change of scenery.
DestinDIY Tucson is a destination-branded tool that assists in creating, sourcing, and managing meeting needs. Any activity that you create can be shared for guests' online sign-up needs. Planners and Guests can even securely pay directly online.
Big Upside Downtown
Tucson’s beautiful mountains and deserts are impressive, however, its charming downtown offers an intimate setting to enjoy great food & drink, and entertainment day or night. Giving meeting attendees the best of both worlds. Indeed, downtown Tucson is a vibrant hub with myriad properties and new options available for medical conferences, business gatherings, board meetings, government training seminars, and other events.
Tucson Convention Center, complete with 250,000 square feet of meeting space, has received $45 million worth of upgrades. Matching that is a plethora of lodging options adding 800 new rooms:
DoubleTree by Hilton recently opened at the center’s south parking lot in February 2021. The 170-hotel is six stories and has direct access to the convention center.
The dual-branded Home2Suites/Hampton Inn added 200 combined rooms minutes from the convention center in July 2021.
The Graduate Tucson, a boutique 165-room property ideal for retreats and small meetings, opened in October 2020 is adjacent to the University of Arizona.
The Tuxon, a 112-room hotel near Sentinel Peak, is the state’s first property to be part of Marriott’s Design Hotels brand. Its scenic décor is almost as breathtaking as Tucson’s natural landmarks.
Several other properties are in the final stages of construction and will add even more downtown lodging choices.
Many meetings, conventions, and trade shows are going to start with the Tucson Convention Center—for good reason. But gatherings don’t and should not end there. Why waste all that glorious sunshine?
With a greater emphasis being placed on outdoor venues, Tucson provides the ideal climate for groups wanting to rejuvenate in the great outdoors.
Saguaro National Park is a must-see and is accessible on the eastern and western sides of the city. Planners can schedule guided hiking tour excursions to allow attendees to marvel at cacti that tower over the desert landscape. Considering some of these cacti live for centuries, what better setting to encourage your attendees to contemplate the vast Sonoran Desert.
If a planner wants to make a day of it near the National Park, he or she can utilize the nearby Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. This popular venue is the second most visited attraction in Arizona. Second only to the Grand Canyon. The museum has a conference center with a theater that can hold 265. There’s also the stunning Green Room with floor-to-ceiling glass view views of the Tucson Mountains and desert landscape. It holds 220 for an indoor/outdoor seated dinner and 300 for an indoor/outdoor standing reception. Outdoor plazas, terraces, gardens and even an on-site aquarium all provide additional spaces throughout the property to get creative with your meeting or event plans and learn more about this remarkable desert from educators on property.
Also worthwhile if you want to keep receptions and gatherings outdoors, is the one-of-a-kind MSA Annex at Mercado San Agustin in Menlo Park. A hip retail and dining village made of modified shipping container boxes, it’s one of the most unique spots for special events in Tucson. Tucson-based architect Paul Weiner designed MSA Annex so that the containers can be rented out by small businesses (many are women- and minority-owned) that your attendees can shop and peruse with a large courtyard for gatherings and a band shell for live music or speeches for opening or closing receptions.
Planners could stage events for years at Tanque Verde Ranch and not duplicate the agenda. Schedule a least one day at this dude ranch in the Rincon Mountains between both national parks. The meeting spaces are impressive, but the teambuilding activities can hardly be matched. Attendees can saddle up for a breakfast trail ride or herd cattle. Jeep rallies, dancing lessons, margarita/salsa-making classes, stargazing, and fishing are among the other options. Large groups will enjoy a campfire BBQ cookout, a Wild, Wild West show, or casino night. And if your looking for a showstopper for your offsite event, consider their venue The Barn.
The surrounding mountains make Tucson Botanical Gardens a bit of a secret gem. If a trip to the outskirts of town isn’t possible, the midtown gardens are the next-best thing with their dazzling array of cacti and wildflowers, to say nothing of the butterfly and rotating art exhibits. The 5.5-acre site is 15 minutes from the convention center, making it an ideal location for an off-site reception that can be held indoors or alfresco.
With so many natural draws outside, wellness isn’t a new phenomenon in Tucson. It is built into the community’s DNA, which then translates to its offerings for visitors. Walking, hiking, biking, and more are part of everyday life for citizens, just as it's custom for chefs to create culinary masterpieces from ingredients unique to the region—no wonder Tucson is a UNESCO city of gastronomy.
Recognizing Tucson’s way of life matched its brand, Miraval launched its flagship location here in 1995. A stay in this resort and spa is centered on finding balance. The venue cuts through modern trends to the essence of wellness. Teambuilding activities include crossing a desert tightrope and Challenge Course. Wellness-centric events can make their base at the resort. Larger conferences can visit the property to provide attendees inspiration for ways to take care of themselves.
Canyon Ranch Tucson is an all-exclusive resort that regularly hosts corporate retreats, incentives, teambuilding, executive training, and other exclusive small meetings. The staff will customize experiences, highlighting stress reduction techniques, cooking classes, yoga exercises, and more. The 80,000-sq.-ft. spa and fitness complex and indoor and outdoor pools, ropes course and golf opportunities make this a true desert oasis.
Also of note: Loews Ventana Canyon has 18 exercise stations on a 1.1-mile path along its golf course; Omni Tucson National Resort is a renowned golf destination; Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa has five swimming pools, a 27-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course, Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa, five restaurants and a tennis and health center; and, not to be outdone, El Conquistador Tucson, A Hilton Resort provides a “Window to Wellness” program highlighting Tucson’s culture and brilliant natural surroundings. By the numbers, JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa is looking good as well. To go along with its 88,000 square feet of event space, the property boasts a 27-hole Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course, award-winning Hashani Spa, and complimentary guided hikes and mountain biking for all guests. Westward Look Wyndham Tucson is known for its Sonoran Spa, as well as arranging attendee experiences to explore the Sonoran Desert on horseback.
Tucson Makes It Worth It
As if the desert surroundings and new meeting facilities are not worth a trip to Tucson, Visit Tucson has installed several incentives for planners to bring their meetings here.
Visit Tucson is known for its Master Account Credit Program. Tiered financial incentives are available from any gathering of 25-50 people to more than 200 attendees.
In partnership with Tucson Convention Center, Visit Tucson has also launched its Destination Downtown Meeting Incentive for events booked in 2022, 2023, 2024, or 2025 and actualizing in 2022, 2023, 2024, or 2025.
And knowing there is no better way to experience Tucson than in-person, Visit Tucson offers the “You Fly, We Buy” program in which they pay for airfare, transportation, and accommodations for a customized site inspection.
Meetings are back, better than ever! With Tucson's vast array of options, you'll be sure to have the best meeting yet. Your attendees will leave better than when they arrived: Relaxed, Rejuvenated, and Ready To Take On The World.
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