Many of the qualities that make Phoenix a perfect destination for adventure — amazing weather year-round, proximity to nature, and endless possibilities for outdoor recreation and dining — also make it an ideal location for meetings and events, whether for an intimate group or a larger delegation.
The Sonoran Desert city and Arizona capital reopened for meetings in October, making every effort to ensure safe spaces for planners and their attendees to convene smaller meetings at its hotels and resorts.
One Phoenix venue that has hosted 79 events since October is the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa. The resort, like many of Phoenix’s more than 500 hotels and other resorts, boasts sophisticated meeting facilities and flexible spaces for social distancing. It has played host to events of all sizes since Phoenix resumed private meetings — 12 of those had more than 100 attendees, and one had slightly more than 500 in attendance. For one of its most recent events, it hosted 25 attendees for a PCMA Convening Leaders 2021 hybrid hub experience.
“They were able to experience the PCMA content virtually for one full day,” said James Anderson, director of sales & marketing at the resort. Organizers created safely distanced soft seating in two sections of the resort’s Wildfire Ballroom, he said, and had a “robust AV setup to create an engaging experience.” Additionally, he explained that the resort’s culinary and banquet team served seasonally fresh offerings from action stations to provide a contactless experience.
Other steps the resort takes to keep meetings safe include appropriate distancing, signage throughout the space indicating that masks are required, floor clings around F&B stations to keep guests distanced while standing in line, and enhanced cleaning throughout the resort. “All of these safety measures are in accordance with Marriott’s Commitment to Clean protocol,” Anderson said.
JW Marriott Desert Ridge, like other venues in the Phoenix, follows guidelines set by the Arizona Department of Health Services in the COVID-19 Recommendations for Private Events, including social distancing, proper mask wearing, occupancy requirements, and enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocol.
The Phoenix Convention Center (PCC), in the city’s walkable downtown core, has made safety its top priority with new cleanliness and capacity guidelines. The state-of-the-art, GBAC Star-accredited facility offers 900,000 square feet of flexible space throughout a three-building campus — as well as Canyon on Third, an 80,000-square-foot, open-air event space — allowing for physically distanced settings.
Beyond its rigorous safety measures, the PCC offers event producers looking to create hybrid meetings an expansive and adaptable technology infrastructure. The center’s 81 meeting rooms, two ballrooms, and more than 502,000 square feet of exhibit space are part of an integrated technology infrastructure that can transform any of those spaces into a broadcast studio.
Because the large-scale network is designed for redundancy, event producers will never experience a network outage, and the center’s on-site technical support team offers 24/7 monitoring to ensure optimal system performance.
While accommodations, hospitality, and outdoor recreation remain the top draws for the country’s fifth-largest city, the efforts Visit Phoenix is making to prioritize the health and safety of groups that have chosen to meet here has been “above and beyond,” Anderson said.
“Visit Phoenix leadership has been involved in calls, site visits, and planning meetings with customers,” he said, “to assist in ensuring that the group, destination, and resort are working together to provide for a safe meeting experience for attendees.”