The 640-room Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Arizona is a rejuvenating destination for groups with purple Sonoran desert skies and the vibrant McDowell Mountain Preserve in its backyard. It’s easy to chill out at the pristine 65-acre property with warm desert temperatures, world-class golf, celeb chef restaurants and a one-of-a-kind spa.
The Fairmont unveiled its new $20 million Palomino Conference center in late 2012, increasing total indoor/outdoor meeting space to 156,000 sf. Following the addition, the hotel is now the largest meetings hotel in the Fairmont portfolio.
“With the double ballroom space, we try to make it feel as if you are off property and in a totally different environment,” says Valerie Lee, director of public relations, who told us about an annual client that recently used both ballrooms. “They suspended the dance floor so you can see below it. Cee Lo Green performed and all three of our restaurants contributed to the menu.”
Our favorite event venue is the Wild West-themed town called Crown P. Corral. The venue seats 800 pax for dinner and 1,000 for standing receptions. This sandy meeting space is ideal for thematic events including horse rides, country music, gunfighter stage shows, trick ropers and a photo booth for attendees dressed in traditional frontier costumes.
Groups can sit back on rocking chairs and sip jalapeño spiced lemonade with the mountains as the perfect backsplash, while a blacksmith makes leather luggage tags for the whole group. We recommend you bring your cowboy hat and boots.
“Crown P. Corral is a replica of an 1880s Western town,” says Lee. “You feel the immediate shift in setting, even though it’s steps away from your hotel room.”
The Willow Stream Spa is hidden above the beautiful Hacienda Plaza on the resort’s expansive grounds. Be sure to try the Willow Stream hot tub experience, a water pressure massage that focuses on all tension points.
The oasis features a luxurious rooftop pool, private cabanas, a eucalyptus inhalation room and lush gardens. Fairmont debuted the “Well & Being” program this year, which is a medically guided wellness experience that combines health, nutrition, integrative medicine, fitness, skincare treatments and spa services.
“The spa is not just about over indulgence,” says Brennan Evans, spa coordinator. “It’s a spa that will help groups be proactive about their health.”
Another big selling point for the Fairmont Scottsdale is the direct access to the TPC Scottsdale golf courses. Groups up to 200 can enjoy customized golf events throughout the two golf courses and clubhouse at the 18th hole. The Champions Course and Stadium course feature upscale amenities that let everyday golfers play like the professionals.
“When groups come here, they can experience a day-in-the-life of a PGA player,” says Eric Walker, tournament manager. The course has a new 20,000-seat coliseum structure at the 16th hole, making it the largest spectator golf venue in the country. “It’s not your average golf game.”
Celebrity Chef Michael Mina is showcasing contemporary American steakhouse cuisine for group dinners at his Bourbon Steak restaurant. Dry aged beef is prepared in butter, poached and then grilled slowly over Mina’s specially designed wood flame cooking stations. Bourbon Steak makes it easy for planners with a 5-course group menu served in any of the five semi-private rooms.
To end our trip we headed 8,000 feet in the air inside a 250,000-cubic-foot balloon. Based in Phoenix, Hot Air Expeditions operates a dozen balloons for groups that can each hold up to 12 pax. The best part may have been the al fresco meal at the end. To learn more about our balloon flight, check out the full story.