If it's true that beauty excites creativity, then Arizona’s high desert is sure to inspire. There are so many state and national parks, monuments and forests that you can blindly pick a direction and find something that will astonish. From Sedona, Flagstaff or Prescott, you can plan memorable getaways to Grand Canyon National Park and other monuments that preserve prehistoric pueblos, petrified forests and petroglyphs. There are also sporting activities and opportunities to understand indigenous cultures.
Surrounded by dramatic red rock formations and Coconino National Forest, Sedona offers luxury with a side of adventure. And since it’s populated with New Age hipsters who believe it’s the center of psychic power, attendees will find plenty of opportunities to get in touch with their inner selves—add-ons can include yoga sessions or psychic fairs offering aura photography and readings from local healers.
Lodge at Sedona, a luxury bed-andbreakfast, has flexible spaces such as two lounges and a covered Celebration Porch. The property also schedules in-room massages, biplane tours or “vortex” visits. Larger groups can luxuriate at L’Auberge de Sedona, situated on the banks of Oak Creek with 61 cottages, 26 guest rooms, a spa and a restaurant with a Frenchinspired menu. The property features 4,480 square feet of indoor meeting space and 13,000 outdoors.
Another option is Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, with more than 20,000 combined square feet of indoor and outdoor, state-of-the-art conference space. Outdoor sites include two covered patios, while indoors there are four conference suites. The Hilton also specializes in team-building and group activities.
Mary Haley, executive director and meeting planner for Sonitrol National Dealers Association, says, “A Jeep tour into the red rocks is a must—you can’t see the majesty of the area without it. You will definitely want to add an event such as a hot air balloon or helicopter ride to really make it special.”
Sedona By the Numbers
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX 116 MILES
ELEVATION 4,326 FEET
NICKNAME ARIZONA’S LITTLE HOLLYWOOD
Jackson Browne wrote the Eagles song Take it Easy as he stood on a corner in Flagstaff. Before hitting the airwaves, the lyrics were changed to Winslow, Arizona, since they flowed better. Flagstaff is located on historic Route 66, smack in the middle of the world’s largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest. Few who visit the mountain community actually “take it easy” since Flagstaff offers small-town charm coupled with grand outdoor adventures.
These team-building adventures include the Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course’s treetop circuit with more than 70 aerial obstacles. There’s also the Northern Arizona University Challenge Course, with adventure-based learning activities. After breaking a sweat, groups might want to book the Alpine Pedaler, a 14-passenger, human-powered party bike that “crawls” to local pubs.
Full-service properties include Little America Hotel with a ballroom and four breakout rooms. DoubleTree by Hilton Flagstaff also features a grand ballroom with flexible space, as well as other meeting rooms. The High Country Conference Center has two ballrooms, a boardroom, two breakout rooms, 1899 Bar & Grill and outdoor spaces, as well as the added benefit of the nearby Drury Inn & Suites – Flagstaff with five meeting rooms. The town also offers many unique venues including the Arboretum at Flagstaff, Lowell Observatory and Historic Colton House.
Yvonne Chavez-Osorio, owner of Northern Arizona Weddings and Events, says the proximity of Sedona to reservations means, “We can bring Native American arts right to meetings in the form of dances, exhibits and musicians.” Her favorite venue is the Flagstaff Nordic Center. “It’s right in the middle of nature in the heart of the ponderosas. You don’t need man-made décor since everything is natural.”
Flagstaff By the Numbers
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX 144 MILES
ELEVATION 6,910 FEET
NICKNAME CITY OF SEVEN WONDERS
When it comes to numbers, Prescott is in the middle of Sedona and Flagstaff for both elevation and population, but there’s nothing middling about it. Michelle Fulcher, owner of Organized Affair, LLC and Discovery Treks, LLC, says, “Prescott’s got something for everyone.” For one conference, Fulcher helped set up a scavenger hunt so attendees could get a broad view of the region’s many amenities. Finds included posing for vintage photos, getting a treat at a famous ice cream shop, browsing antiques, sipping drinks at a bar and visiting a golf course.
Known for hosting the world’s oldest rodeo, Prescott also offers adventures such as mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing and horseback riding. Set among huge granite boulders stubbed and smoothed by time, the burg’s premier meeting space is Prescott Resort and Conference Center, where 160 guest rooms reflect the culture of the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe. The center also features a large ballroom for up to 500 and Icha Maajoh restaurant, serving contemporary American cuisine.
The lovely and historic red brick Hotel St. Michael sits on the corner of the old Whiskey Row. Its Chrystal Ballroom accommodates 150 for dinner or 225 with theater-style seating. Another historic property, Hassayampa Inn is a 1920s boutique hotel in downtown Prescott with 67 guest rooms, the Art Deco Marina Ballroom, a rooftop terrace and a courtyard.
For unique meeting space, there are loads of options including the Elks Opera House, which has undergone a $2 million renovation and accommodates up to 490 guests. Or try the Plaza View Ballroom on the third floor of the 1929 Old Capital Market Burmister Building. It opened last fall and has fabulous views of downtown.
Prescott also boasts three very different museums with meeting/event space. The Phippen Museum is dedicated to Western art and holds up to 100 guests. The Sharlot Hall Museum focuses on Arizona culture that dates back to the Ice Age and boasts indoor space for 80 and outdoor space for 400. The Smoki Museum has a venue for up to 125 people and houses a large collection of Native American art from six local tribes.
Prescott By the Numbers
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX 100 MILES
ELEVATION 5,368 FEET
NICKNAME EVERYBODY’S HOMETOWN
Want luxury, spirituality or nature? Or even just straight-up adventure? You’ll find it all in Arizona’s highlands. The trick is narrowing your choices.