The Land of AZ

By Lain Ehmann

When winter sweeps across the land, thoughts turn to sunny days lounging by crystal-blue pools, the lush green of golf courses and the feel of warm rays on your back. So what better place to book your next meeting than in the land of AZ? Whether you’re an avid golfer, spa-goer, rock climber or sun worshipper, you’re going to like Arizona. Not a snowbird? Well, the Grand Canyon State doesn’t leave out the winter sports either. The southernmost ski area in the continental United States is right outside Tucson.

Learning about the state. Home to just over 5 million people, Arizona plays host to approximately 28 million domestic visitors per year. While most visit the state for purely leisure purposes, a large number – 6 million – are there on business, according to the Arizona Office of Tourism. The state’s two largest cities are Phoenix and Tucson, located about 100 miles apart.

Getting there. Arizona hosts two major airports – Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Tucson International Airport. Phoenix is served by 23 airlines; Tucson by 13. For drivers, some of Arizona’s less well-known cities, such as Kingman, Flagstaff and Winslow to name a few, are located on historic Route 66. The entire state is served by a network of federal highways, including 10, 17 and 40. By train, Amtrak’s Southwest Chief goes from Los Angeles, across northern Arizona, to Chicago.

Staying there. Whatever your budget, Arizona has accommodations to fit your needs. From Scottsdale’s high-end Phoenician, with room rates of $395 or more per night, to Tucson’s AmeriSuites at under $60 per night, there’s something for everyone.

Doing there. Arizona is home to world-renown golf courses, top-of-the-line spas, hiking, tennis and shopping for the most discriminating consumer. At mealtimes you can enjoy gourmet fine dining or a pork-and-beans cookout, just don’t forget to partake of the fabulous Mexican food! For sports fanatics, Arizona boasts the Arizona Cardinals (NFL), the Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB), the Phoenix Coyotes (NHL), the Phoenix Mercury (WNBA) and the Phoenix Suns (NBA), not to mention a host of top-ranked college sports teams.

Want to treat your attendees to an only-in-Arizona experience? Charter a bus to the Grand Canyon or the Hoover Dam, visit the Arizona-Senora Desert Museum, have your gala dinner at the Phoenix Zoo or visit the state’s authentic Rawhide Western Town in Scottsdale.

Being prepared. If you want to hold your next meeting in Arizona, book in advance. Because of its climate, the winter months tend to be high season in the south. You’ll find lower, value prices during the hotter summer months. If your schedule dictates that summer is your meeting time, you might want to look at the northern part of the state where temps run cooler during the summer.

For more information, click on www.arizonaguide.com or contact the Arizona Office of Tourism at www.azot.com.