Phoenix is in the midst of a wave of development, with more than 24 projects currently under construction totaling over 5,100 rooms. This will include the new 1,200-room VAI Resort, the 141-room Global Ambassador and the 215-room Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley. Within the next 12 months, 53 more projects will commence, totaling over 5,800 rooms.
“Our market is seeing an uptick in MICE business,” says Lorne Edwards, chief sales officer, Visit Phoenix. “Aside from having an impressive and extensive collection of resorts that each tell a unique story, the destination lends itself to extraordinary experiences that elevate and rejuvenate mind, body and spirit. The Sonoran Desert is the oasis that springs forth a host of wellness experiences and the ability to connect with self and those around you, that is highly sought-after today. Our resorts have embraced these attributes and have expertly curated unique experiences that MICE can tap into.”
Immersive experiences in Phoenix can include desert-inspired spa treatments at locations such as Aji Spa at Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass, the Spa at CIVANA, Desert Botanical Gardens and Mount Sunny Wellness Studio. Other options include a visit to Taliesin, the home of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the Musical Instrument Museum and the Heard Museum celebrating Arizona’s rich Native American culture
“Now more than ever, smart companies are invested in retaining and rewarding their most valuable assets—their people,” says Edwards. “As we evolve further away from the pandemic, employers are seeking new and innovative opportunities to show appreciation for the resilience of their team members. There’s an increased need for blending transformative experiences with value-centric educational elements as it relates to purposeful sustainable living and inclusivity—I think that’s a business imperative opportunity of the MICE ecosystem, and we’re ahead of the curve here in Phoenix.”
“Just five miles from Washington, D.C. on the Potomac River waterfront, Alexandria is an ideal location for small to mid-size meetings,” says Carla Bascope-Hebble, VP of sales, Visit Alexandria. “The city hums with a cosmopolitan feel and a walkable lifestyle, boasting more than 200 independent restaurants and boutiques alongside intimate historic museums and new happenings at the waterfront, including new riverside restaurants such as BARCA Pier and Wine Bar, opened in 2021 and offering a unique reception experience with waterfront views.”
When it comes to new openings in Alexandria, Hotel AKA Alexandria is slated to open early this year. This high-end property is custom-designed by architect Piero Lissoni and located in Old Town Alexandria, just 20 minutes from Washington, D.C. Planned for late 2023 is a new upscale hotel from Aparium Hotel Group that will open in the heart of Old Town Alexandria.
“So many organizations are continuing to work in a hybrid environment so when folks are meeting, organizations have to emphasize customized, unique activities for their teams to enjoy,” says Bascope-Hebble. “Places like the newly opened ALX Atrium provide that indoor/outdoor setting and local hotels are partnering with nearby businesses to embellish their offerings. Small to mid-size meetings have always trended in Alexandria and we continue to see the demand for venues that can accommodate one group at a time.”
The Leadership Collection at Alexandria, which offers a range of teambuilding programs for groups, continues to evolve. Most recently, Building Momentum updated its Innovation Elevated Academy with hands-on offerings including building an electric car, iron gondolas or customized offerings for half- or full-day programming. Other popular teambuilding activities include pizza making at Mia’s Italian Kitchen or sustainable activities like taking a bike ride into D.C. or Mount Vernon from Pedego Bikes. —Steve Grasso