Tag Archives: tourism

global

Phoenix eyes Mexico City Trade Office

The Phoenix City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to move forward with plans to partner with the Arizona Commerce Authority to open an Arizona Trade Office in Mexico City.

“Phoenix is taking the right steps to become a global city, and we’re ready to open our first trade office in Mexico City,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “This partnership with the Arizona Commerce Authority demonstrates that we’re all committed to increasing exports, and that we know we can be more effective if we work together.”

The City, ACA and other regional partners plan to collaborate in the same office space in Mexico City. The partnership will better leverage the City’s investment and lower overall costs.

The City Council also voted to authorize the firm Molera Alvarez to represent and advance the City of Phoenix’s efforts with Mexico, specifically in the areas of trade, promotion, foreign direct investment and tourism.

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AzLTA honors 'Stars of the Industry'

The shining stars of the hospitality and tourism industry were celebrated at the annual Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association’s (AzLTA) Stars of the Industry awards luncheon, held last week at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort.

The Stars of the Industry award was created more than 40 years ago by the American Hotel & Lodging Association to recognize outstanding accomplishments in the lodging industry. While the categories have evolved over the years, the concept is still the same: to honor lodging and tourism employees who best symbolize the quality service of the industry.

The 2013 Stars of the Industry Winners

Outstanding Employee of the Year: Jarrod Voeller, Door Captain, Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Outstanding Manager of the Year: Michael Cairns, Executive Chef and Director of F&B, Montelucia Resort & Spa

Front of the House Manager of the Year, Small Property: Kim Cole, Director of Public Relations, Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale

Front of the House Manager of the Year, Large Property: Thomas Williams, Director of Guest Services, Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Heart of the House Manager of the Year, Small Property: Robin Younger, Director of Housekeeping, Royal Palms Resort and Spa

Heart of the House Manager of the Year, Large Property: Eddie Zrimsek, Assistant Spa Director, Montelucia Resort & Spa

Food & Beverage Employee of the Year, Small Property: Dusty Cox, Server, The Hotel Congress

Food & Beverage Employee of the Year, Large Property: Peter Genovese, In-room Dining and Pool Server, The Phoenix Marriott Tempe at the Buttes

Guest Service Employee of the Year, Small Property: Jason Kennedy, Bellman, The Boulders

Guest Service Employee of the Year, Large Property; Otto Valdez, Guest Services Supervisor, Tempe Mission Palms

Housekeeping Employee of the Year, Small Property: Lucas Alonzo, Houseperson, Hilton Scottsdale Resort & Villas

Housekeeping Employee of the Year, Large Property: Nilda Staniscia, Uniform Attendant and Seamstress, Montelucia Resort & Spa

Property Achievement awards in five categories were also announced at the event. These awards highlight programs that showcase the involvement of multiple employees and departments which go above and beyond to build a better community internally and externally.

Community Service: Arizona Biltmore

Guest Relations, Lodging: The Boulders, “True Waldorf Committee”

Guest Relations, Tourism: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, “The Navigator Program”

Special Event, One Time: W Scottsdale, “CHILL”

Special Event, Ongoing: The Phoenician, “Discover the Phoenician with Phoe-Phoe and Friends”

Special Event Ongoing, Tourism: Phoenix Chapter of the Hotel Sales & Marketing Association, “Chinese Auction”

Good Earthkeeping Award: Loews Ventana Canyon Resort

Steve Moore, president and CEO of Visit Phoenix; Andrea Streat, director of meetings and events for the American Alliance of Museums; Alyssa Kolat, conference manager for the International Association of Fire Chiefs; and James Jessie, senior vice president of sales at Visit Phoenix.

Visit Phoenix spearheads sales blitz in D.C.

Commuters hailing a cab or waiting for public transit in Washington, D.C. this month are likely to get a glimpse of iconic Phoenix imagery before their trip commences.

Visit Phoenix (CVB) is blitzing the D.C. area with a transit-based advertising buy that includes mini-billboards atop taxis and digital posters in transit stations. The ads showcase Visit Phoenix’s “This is Phoenix” ad campaign, which is built around dramatic photography of Greater Phoenix outdoor activity in the Sonoran Desert.

The ad blitz coincides with a sales mission in the Washington D.C. area by Visit Phoenix, the Phoenix Convention Center, and nine of the city’s largest hotels and resorts. The convention sales mission delegation will meet with professional associations and national trade unions, hundreds of which are headquartered in and around the nation’s capital.

Visit Phoenix staff just completed its fiscal year with a 30% increase in Phoenix Convention Center future year bookings and a strong rebound in resort/hotel leads and bookings. Continuing this momentum, the Phoenix convention sales delegation will meet with more than 250 DC convention planners and association executives through sales appointments, reception-trade shows, and a meeting planner forum during its three-day sales mission.

“Washington is a hotbed for meetings and conventions, and our sales team maintains a strategic presence there with in-market offices and annual events,” said Melissa Gogel, vice president of marketing, communications and tourism for Visit Phoenix. “To support those sales efforts, we’re placing our new ‘This is Phoenix’ ads in some high-traffic transit locations. The goal is to increase the exposure of the Visit Phoenix brand in one of our most important markets, and to do it at a time when our sales team is saturating the market with face-to-face calls.”

The delegation of sales professionals from Phoenix will host four events during the next three days, with one event each in Washington, Alexandria, VA and Chevy Chase, MD.

Phoenix was ranked No. 10 in the list of the “Top 50 U.S. Cities for Conventions in 2013,” according to Cvent, a technology company that connects event planners with more than 200,000 venues in destinations across the United States. Phoenix earned its top-10 destination based on its weather, its air-travel accessibility, its spectrum of meeting-friendly hotels and resorts, and its newly expanded convention center.

“The Phoenix Convention Center was expanded with big association groups in mind,” Gogel said. “It has the space and sophistication to host the biggest of them, or to host smaller ones concurrently. Our focus is to keep the convention center, the hotels and resorts, and the destination as a whole at the top of mind for meeting planners in D.C. and beyond.”

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Sky Train Project Recognized with Environmental Award

The PHX Sky Train™ has been selected for a top honor in the prestigious Arizona Forward Environmental Excellence Awards, receiving the first-place Crescordia award in the Multi-modal Transportation & Connectivity category. In addition, a public art project featured on one of the PHX Sky Train™ pedestrian bridges received special recognition.

Arizona Forward, in partnership with SRP, presented the 33rd Annual Valley Forward Environmental Excellence Awards on Saturday September 14. Considered the “Academy Awards” of the environmental community, the event is the oldest competition of its kind in Arizona. This year, there were more than 100 entries.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport’s PHX Sky Train™ provides a connection between Valley Metro light rail, East Economy Parking and Terminal 4, which serves 80 percent of the Airport’s passengers. The project was recognized for providing a vital transit link to the Phoenix area, alleviating roadway congestion and enhancing customer service. The PHX Sky Train™ project reduces vehicular traffic and emissions, energy consumption and water use. It attained LEED Gold certification from the US Green Building Council.

“The PHX Sky Train™ is a shining example of what we can accomplish when we work to improve our transportation system in a way that improves the air we breathe and reduces the water we use,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “Phoenix will continue to reduce our energy consumption through green construction and energy efficient facilities.”

The stunning glass mural project incorporated into the walls of the walkways between Terminal 4 and the PHX Sky Train station™ was also recognized. Artist Daniel Mayer, glass fabricator Franz Mayer, glass installers Walters and Wolf and the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture were honored with an Award of Merit in the Art in Public Places category.

“We are humbled by this recognition,” said Phoenix Aviation Director, Danny Murphy. “We owe the success of this project to our employees city-wide and to our business partners who put in countless hours of work to ensure a world-class experience for our customers on the PHX Sky Train.™”

Mr. Murphy thanked the Phoenix Aviation Department’s many partners in the project, including: Bombardier Transportation, Gannett Fleming, HOK, Fore Dimensions, Hensel Phelps, Kimley Horn & Associates, MEP Engineer, Dinter Engineering and Advance Terrazzo.

Mill Ave. Bridge in Tempe, AZ. Photo Credit: Flickr, twak

Residence Inn Hotel To Open In Downtown Tempe

The 173-suite Residence Inn by Marriott in Tempe, Arizona is scheduled to open later this month. Located at 510 South Forest Avenue, the Residence Inn Downtown Tempe is owned by Miami based Finvarb Group and managed by Marriott International, Inc.

Located in the Mill Avenue District in the heart of downtown Tempe and five miles from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, the Residence Inn Downtown Tempe offers its guests convenient access to Arizona State University, Sun Devil Stadium, Gammage Auditorium and Tempe Town Lake & Beach Park. Rates vary depending on length of stay.

“We are pleased to introduce Residence Inn hotels to the downtown Tempe area,” said Diane Mayer, vice president and global brand manager, Residence Inn. “When on the road for an extended period, our guests need space to spread out, maintain their life’s pace and restore their energy to help them maintain a healthy balance and routine while traveling. This new hotel offers them a seamless blend of modern style and functionality that allows them to settle in and thrive.”

Residence Inn properties are designed as all-suite hotels that offer studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom suites. Guests looking for a revitalizing sleep experience will enjoy the hotel’s plush mattresses and crisp linens, while guests focused on being productive will value their suite’s large, well-lit work desk, ergonomic chair and complimentary high-speed Internet access. Each suite also has a fully-equipped kitchen with a coffeemaker, microwave oven and residential-sized appliances.

The Residence Inn Downtown Tempe’s complimentary breakfast has a variety of great options, including specially made featured items. Guests can start their day off right with healthy food choices and, with a convenient to-go offering, can make sure they do not miss the most important meal of the day.

Extending the feeling of comfortable living on the road, the Residence Inn Downtown Tempe offers guests inviting and functional public spaces to relax or collaborate. Road warriors and families alike enjoy the hotel’s complimentary airport shuttle, grocery delivery service, complimentary Wi-Fi, 24-hour onsite food and beverage market, dry cleaning services, and onsite guest laundry room. The hotel’s weeknight evening gatherings offer a casual, relaxing environment where guests can be as social as they want, while enjoying light fare and complimentary beer and wine. The hotel also maintains a business library where guests can fax, copy and print materials, and provides guests with 3,600 square feet of meeting space, a fitness center, an outdoor fire pit and a rooftop swimming pool overlooking downtown Tempe and the surrounding lake.

With more than 600 properties in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Central America, Residence Inn by Marriott is a leader in the extended-stay lodging segment. Designed for long stays, the brand offers spacious suites with separate living and sleeping areas. Fully functional kitchens, grocery delivery, 24-hour markets and complimentary breakfast help guests maintain a healthy balance while on the road. Complimentary Wi-Fi allows guests to stay connected to the home and office, while health and fitness options and inviting lobby spaces provide comfortable places to work and relax.

Residence Inn participates in the company’s award-winning Marriott Rewards® frequent travel program that allows members to earn hotel points or airline miles for every dollar spent during each stay. For more information or reservations, contact the Residence Inn Downtown Tempe directly at 480-967-2300, call the Residence Inn toll-free number at 800-331-3131 or visit www.residenceinn.com. For travel tips, the latest on the brand or to connect with other travelers, “like” Residence Inn on Facebook: www.facebook.com/residenceinn and follow Residence Inn on Twitter: twitter.com/residenceinn.

Royal Palms exterior

Royal Palms Debuts Brand New T. Cook's

On September 9th, Royal Palms Resort and Spa re-opened the highly acclaimed T. Cook’s restaurant. Highlighting Executive Chef Paul McCabe’s creative interpretation of New American cooking, the Mediterranean-inspired design and architecture; the restaurant is introducing a new culinary and overall guest experience while remaining loyal to the treasured, timeless atmosphere guests have come to know and love.

The refreshed T. Cook’s design, led by Haley Balzano, founder and architect of Phoenix-based creative design team Bar Napkin Productions, emphasizes a more vibrant color scheme, authentic design elements, an interactive kitchen, the remodeled private dining room “Delos” and a glass-enclosed wine and tequila tasting room. New boldly-colored chairs surround rustic wooden tables adding depth and diversity to the new dining room, while iron chandeliers create a sense of intimacy and stimulate an experience of romance. Al fresco dining can also be discovered at T. Cook’s with intimate patios and nooks, including a new private dining element found within the property’s historic Orange Grove.

Simple yet polished, the new dining menus, created by Executive Chef Paul McCabe, honor classical techniques while utilizing locally-grown and sustainably raised foods whenever possible. Chef McCabe has established relationships with a wide range of local purveyors, farmers and artisans, including McClendon’s Select, Singh Farms, Noble Bread and Hayden Flour Mills.

“The menu is designed to be more social and approachable, while incorporating cooking techniques that reflect the evolving culinary scene in Phoenix and beyond,” says McCabe. “Our dishes are inspired by seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients, with some of the freshest growing right in our backyard. T. Cook’s new edible gardens have been an ongoing project this summer that will have come to fruition in September. We’ll be handpicking everything from vegetables and citrus, to herbs and select seasonings.

Referencing the seasonal spirit of the Mediterranean, Chef McCabe also meticulously sources the richest of ingredients for fresh fish from the bountiful Basque Coast and Spanish ports, to sardines from the heart of Sicily. T. Cook’s culinary philosophy of magnifying the purity of fresh, seasonal ingredients is a celebration of its own treasured legacy. This respected tradition lives on at T. Cook’s with Chef McCabe at the helm.

Offering breakfast, lunch and dinner and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, T. Cook’s new menus aim to be both approachable and intriguing. Breakfast and brunch offer a range of healthful dishes to more indulgent items.

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Airport Parking Becomes Easier with New Feature

Parking at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has become more efficient thanks to a new service called Credit Card Express.   To use the service, travelers simply insert their credit or debit card into the machine upon entry. Then, when exiting, reinsert the same card.  There is no longer a need to take and hold onto a parking ticket.  The system will issue you a receipt and bill the card based upon the time at the facility.

“We are very excited about the launch of this new service,” said Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Parking Manager Lynda Dodd.  “Travelers will find it even more convenient to park right at the Airport and enjoy their trip.”

The service accepts American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa.  It is available in all terminal garages as well as economy parking facilities.   This service is in addition to the many amenities already offered at Sky Harbor’s on-site parking facilities.  These amenities include an up-to-the-minute parking status tool at skyharbor.com/FindASpot or on Sky Harbor’s mobile website; Early Bag Check at East Economy for those flying Southwest Airlines or US Airways; Family-Friendly Parking at East Economy; Economy Garage parking on both the East and West sides of the Airport; and terminal garage parking which offers covered parking only a short walk to the Airport terminals.

For more information on Credit Card Express, visit www.skyharbor.com/creditcardexpress.

Tourism Industry - AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012

CVB's campaign highlights Scottsdale’s warm fall weather

Scottsdale residents can keep their summer shorts, flip flops and bikinis out for another three months. With the launch of the new fall marketing campaign, the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau is encouraging visitors to do the same.

The bureau’s “Break the Rules” campaign, which runs from Aug. 16 through Oct. 15, plays on Scottsdale’s unique fall offerings and promotes an extended summer to visitors who may be feeling the chill of autumn at home. Six rules – that are meant to be broken on a Scottsdale vacation – are featured on ScottsdaleRules.com with a list of packages and coupons, as well as events during the fall season.

This promotion is the first of six seasonal marketing campaigns planned this year to push messaging around key time periods in order to strengthen destination awareness and exposure in Scottsdale’s primary feeder markets of Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Canada.

“Our seasonal campaigns will supplement our ‘Richly Sonoran’ brand campaign, giving us the opportunity to hook visitors with more specific and timely messages,” said Caroline Stoeckel, vice president of marketing at the bureau. “The fall campaign also will help us drive visitation around a need period for our tourism industry.”

The “Break the Rules” campaign is being promoted through email marketing, pay-per-click advertising, paid and organic social media promotion, and direct mail to Scottsdale’s U.S. feeder markets.

The Rules:

You Can Wear White After Labor Day: When it’s sunny and 80 degrees in the fall, the standard laws of fashion just don’t apply – so don’t put away that white bikini just yet.

Celebrate Happy Hour, Any Hour: It’s always 5 o’clock when you’re on vacation!
Play in The Mud: We desert dwellers aren’t afraid of a little dirt – especially when it’s in the form of a purifying mud mask.

Push the Speed Limit: No trip to the Wild West is complete without some serious adventure.

Sleep ‘til Noon: Let’s be honest; all that shopping, spa and nightlife can wear out even the most expert vacationers. So go ahead, turn off that alarm clock. We won’t judge.

It’s OK to Play More than 18 Holes: In case you didn’t know, Scottsdale is kind of a big deal in the golf world. And, hey, with more than 1,700 holes on 200+ area golf courses, we’ve earned our bragging rights.

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Sheraton Phoenix Downtown 1st to use Urban Cultivator

Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel recently installed Arizona’s first commercial-use Urban Cultivator™ to grow, sprout and harvest a wide selection of fresh and aromatic micro greens and herbs. Now guests of the hotel and its restaurant, District American Kitchen and Wine Bar, can experience a wide array of delicious and hard-to-find greens all year round.

The decision to install a six-and-a-half-foot tall commercial-use Urban Cultivator was not just to provide hotel and restaurant guests with the freshest ingredients, but also to align with the company’s sustainable commitment to consume less and care more for the planet. The Urban Cultivator is a fully-automated indoor growing appliance that resembles a refrigerator with double glass doors and a series of growing shelves, lighting and water spouts. It is climate controlled and uses a method similar to hydroponic growing to grow herbs and micro greens. By growing right on property, the hotel is conserving time, water and energy, thus minimizing waste and emissions.

“With much success from our rooftop herb garden that currently yields everything from organic French lavender to thyme to chocolate mint and much more, we decided to install a commercial-use Urban Cultivator to supplement what the garden might not be able to produce,” said General Manager Mike Ehmann, Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel. “This environmentally conscious effort is much more than simply growing and serving the freshest ingredients. As the largest hotel in Arizona with 1,000 guestrooms and a vast amount of meeting space, Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel caterers to thousands of guests – it is important that we provide the best quality while reducing food and energy costs.”

The culinary team at Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel and District American Kitchen and Wine Bar take pride and ownership in growing and harvesting the freshest herbs and micro greens. Some of the many greens the team grows include: arugula, basil, dill, endive, lettuces, radishes, and a plethora of others. The herbs and micro greens are added to a variety of dishes, used in catered functions and infused in many mixed beverages.

To learn more about Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, visit www.sheratonphoenixdowntown.com.

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Navajo Nation focuses on first casino in Arizona

Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort, the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise’s first casino in Arizona, is expected to be a major economic engine for the Flagstaff area.

“Twin Arrows will create a new benchmark in gaming entertainment while improving the economic health and prosperity of the Navajo Nation,” said Derrick Watchman, chief executive officer of the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise. “As northern Arizona’s premier destination casino resort, Twin Arrows will create approximately 800 full-time jobs with an annual payroll of $34 million, including salaries and benefits.”

Az Business caught up with Watchmen before the 267,000-square-foot facility opened over Memorial Day weekend to get his thoughts about Northern Arizona’s hottest new spot.

Az Business: What has been your biggest challenge opening the casino?
Derrick Watchman: This project has been going on for five years, from ideas and concepts to financing and securing land, but there really hasn’t been any one big obstacle. We’re shorthanded on employees. Each employee has to be licensed. With three other casinos, there is a lot of turnover, as there is with all restaurants and in retail. We had challenges securing money. I was hired to secure financing, but about that time (2008 and 2009), the market crashed. But, we convinced the tribe that we were a really good investment. Other challenges? We hit rock-bottom — literally. At groundbreaking. It was limestone. There are only a few big rock [demolishing companies] in the country so we had to secure them. The rock you see around here, around the lobby and hotel, is part of the land.

AB: How does Twin Arrows reflect the Navajo Nation?
DW: When we started development, we identified a cultural committee. They worked with the architects and decided how to incorporate Navajo elements. The chandelier in the rotunda is actually representational of the four levels of worlds we believe in. Each hotel depicts the four worlds of the Navajo. We commissioned 33 different, very well-known Navajo artists. They put in their vision. You’ll see depictions of Navajo beliefs, creatures, animals, plant life and different directions. Our nation is known for mutton stew and fry bread, too, which is served in the casino food court.

AB: What can visitors expect?
DW: Our goal is to be a four-diamond resort. The amenities in the rooms are all geared to four-star ratings. When someone comes to Twin Arrows, we want them to say, “Wow.” We want to be a great food venue. We have the latest and greatest slot machines. Our poker room has 12 tables. We plan on having tournaments. We want folks to stay here, have meetings here, and have fun. I’ve heard the term “oasis in the desert.” We want to be that.

AB: Why did you pick that particular location for its first Arizona casino?
DW: We’re next to Flagstaff and the Indian Reservation – right where it stops. We’re also on Route 66, a historic route, and on the way out or into Flagstaff and Winslow. It’s an ideal location.

PicMonkey Collage

Scottsdale-based Company MistAMERICA Makes Texas Cooler

Although it’s summer in Texas and the temperature is high, patrons continue to pack outdoor patios of restaurants like Del Frisco’s, Kona Grill and Mellow Mushroom week after week, with a little help from Scottsdale-based MistAMERICA. The multi-award-winning innovator in outdoor cooling, shade and heating solutions is transforming outdoor restaurant patios in Texas into cool and comfortable summer dining destinations with the Mist360™, a new and innovative Outdoor Cooling System that is revolutionizing the way outdoor patios are cooled.

161574_MistAMERICALogoblueThe Mist360™ puts a new and innovative twist on mist that has captured the attention of many businesses and homeowners worldwide. The cutting edge mist system combines ultra-fine misting into a fan that disperses cool (dry) mist in a 360 degree pattern. It cools larger spaces (a 15 foot radius per fan) and does not have the excessive moisture problems associated with traditional mist systems. It can also be customized with a company logo or decorative art deco design. The Mist360™ was introduced into the Texas market earlier this summer.

MistAMERICA CEO Jon Marsh says, “We couldn’t be happier with how well the Mist360™ has been received in the Texas market! We installed the first Mist360™ system in Texas a few months ago and now our systems can be found on restaurant patios in Houston, Dallas, Frisco and Arlington…and we are just getting started! If you live in Texas, the Mist360™ system may be cooling a patio near you. We look forward to packing patios across Texas all summer long!”

The new cooling system successfully transforms outdoor areas that typically remain unused during summer months into cool summer retreats and revenue-generating destinations, even in extreme heat environments. Unlike traditional mist systems, the Mist360™ is still effective even when the humidity is high – a game-changer for businesses with outdoor dining and lounge areas.

According to Kim Slawson, owner of Mellow Mushroom in Arlington, Texas, “Prior to installing the Mist360™ system on our outdoor patio, most patrons avoided dining outside during the summer months because of the heat. Business typically slowed down. With the Mist360™ our outdoor patio stays cool and comfortable and is busy all summer long. It has been great for business and more importantly, our bottom line!”

With its ability to cool large outdoor areas well with 100% evaporation and 360˚ dispersion, it is no surprise that the Mist360™ is being used in some of the most-buzzed about dining and vacation destinations in the U.S. and abroad. From Del Frisco’s in Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, and Washington, DC to top resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean, the Mist360™ is transforming outdoor patios across the nation into ‘cool’ destinations.

For over two decades MistAMERICA has pioneered groundbreaking and cost-effective cooling, shade and heating products, creating the perfect year-round outdoor atmosphere for businesses and homes worldwide. Earlier this year, the organization opened the World’s First Outdoor Comfort Showroom in Scottsdale to give customers a place to see and experience cutting edge cooling, shade and heating products in a true open-air setting.

For information on MistAMERICA and their full line of mist, shade and heating products, click here.

About MistAMERICA:
An innovator in outdoor comfort, MistAMERICA’s outdoor cooling systems lead the field in quality and effectiveness and are always on the cutting edge of emerging technologies. For over two decades, MistAMERICA has pioneered groundbreaking and cost-effective mist, shade and heat products to create the perfect year-round outdoor atmosphere for businesses and homes worldwide. From 5-star luxury resorts and restaurants to residential homes, MistAMERICA designs custom projects that transform the outdoors into comfortable, livable spaces all year long. The Arizona-based organization is also home to the industry’s first (and ONLY) Outdoor Comfort Showroom – where customers can actually experience the effects of top-of-the-line outdoor cooling, shade and heating products.

CreeksideChairs

Magical Relaxation, 4-Diamond Fare at L'Auberge Sedona

From my 10th floor office window in Downtown Phoenix, I can literally see the summer heat. It’s there in the yellowing grass wrapping the building below; it’s eye level as it snakes over and swallows the Estrella Mountains in the western distance. I may be wrapped up below a vent of ridiculously icy air-conditioning, but out that window, I imagine the beach breeze scarved around my neck, streaming through my hair. I smell Flagstaff’s Ponderosa Pines and crisp mountain atmosphere. I think about rain. Obviously: I want to get out.

And it was in one of those moments when what you desire the most just happens that L’Auberge de Sedona came to mind. I love when whirlwind decisions emerge more beautiful than anything planned could have – like an impulse lipstick that leads to a lifetime of love – and here I was, on a random summer day, heading up to a place at least ten degrees cooler (it does make a difference!) and a million degrees more vacation-y than, well, my office.

I am welcomed by a smiling staff that ushers me into a homey lobby with fresh lemon/mint/blackberry ice water and a cool, intimate bar. Unlike many resort destinations, L’Auberge is about luxury AND intimacy – but though it’s mostly about luxury, the intimacy of every facet, from the pathways between each cabin that are lined with ivy arbors and white jasmine to the steamy outdoor vista suite showers, is never sacrificed. On my tour, where I spot apple trees reminiscent of the days the location was an apple orchard, I see cozy creek side cottages with wood-burning fireplaces, spa cottages with dual-jet showers and stately four-poster beds; deluxe vista suites and quaint residences with gas fireplaces, modern sitting rooms with LCD TVs and private cedar showers under the sky. I couldn’t see them, but pet-friendly garden cottages hide amongst the trees. The hotel’s original lodge (the lobby of which holds courtly wooden chandeliers over grand fireplaces) offers more family-friendly rooms and a front lawn with a southern view of those heavenly red rocks that plays scene to what I’m sure are the most devastatingly romantic weddings. After my jaunt, I’m almost late for a very important date: I am led to a small cabin with a single door that is labeled “Spa at L’Auberge de Sedona.”

L’Auberge Stretch massage time. Having been out of yoga for a couple of months, I chose this service specifically, but the spa offers an array of award-winning services, including but not limited to the following:

• Advanced Skin Renewal Facial
• Gentlemen’s Facial
• Desert Sage Sugar Scrub
• L’Auberge Stretch
• Deep Tissue Massage
• Reiki

There isn’t much to say about a massage at L’Auberge that I’m sure you haven’t already imagined (some words circle like relaxing, mind-blowing, etc.) After the delightful experience, I discovered my room, a generous Vista Suite at the top of the hill above the lobby.

A shower outdoors and a robe-enveloped porch nap later, it’s meal time by the bustling creek. Chef Rochelle Daniel greeted us warmly – she’s little, kind and packs a celebrated culinary prowess that precedes our introduction. Known among the hotel for unexpectedly changing the menu, the woman works ingeniously, serving us one course after another (7!) with fresh delicacies like watermelon with tuna and jalapenos, halibut with local vegetables and an Earl Grey chocolate torte. The resort’s resident blue heron lands on a rock in the creek for a photo opportunity, fluttering his slate-blue back feathers. He hops from one perch to another down the waterway until he’s satisfactorily impressed every creek side diner.

After the stars emerge, we trudge up the hill to see the night sky through a telescope; the resort organizes star-gazing a few times a week with a local astronomer. Saturn is visible tonight, and the Milky Way casts her cloudy light upon us. It is late, and I’m impatient for that fluffy bed. Up the stairs to my private suite, I’m almost tempted to sleep on the porch under Saturn, but that bed is too tempting. After a magical day and an equally otherworldly meal to keep in the books, I’m pleasantly tired. Slipping into a bed softer than I could have expected, I’m asleep immediately, spoiled rotten and excited for the homemade scones that await us in the morning. A place to keep in mind? That goes without saying.

I cannot wait to alight at L’Auberge again.

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Wright earns new title from Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix

The Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix has announced the promotion of Carla-Risha Wright to senior sales manager, group at the luxury hotel in time for its upcoming 25th anniversary. In her new position, Wright will be responsible for managing large group business for the property in the Western and Southern regions of the United States.

Joseph Wronski, Director of Sales and Marketing for The Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix, praises Wright on her promotion. “Carla-Risha has been an outstanding member of the sales team here at The Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix, and it is with great pleasure that we congratulate her on her much deserved promotion. We have the utmost confidence that she will continue to excel in her new role.”

Wright began her career with The Ritz-Carlton in April 2007 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort, Rose Hall, Jamaica where she led the wedding sales team to record results. She joined The Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix team in January 2010 as a catering sales manager and was promoted to Senior Sales Manager, Catering in July 2012. Wright has been recognized within the sales and marketing department of The Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix for her outstanding work ethic and dedication to growing the hotel’s social catering revenue.

“I’m delighted to accept this promotion and take on the new challenges that will face me in group sales,” said Wright. “My purpose is to make the impossible possible.”

Born in Jamaica, Carla-Risha Wright is a 2004 graduate of the University of the West Indies with a degree in tourism management. She is deeply involved within the community, as she sits on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Foundation for Women and the Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation. She is also a member of the Black Board of Directors Project and volunteers for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Wright currently resides in Scottsdale with her husband Andre and their two daughters. She is an avid reader and loves to travel in her spare time.

Deliver on Your ROI, Business Meetings

AzMPI Announces 2013-14 Board

The Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International (AzMPI) recently installed their 2013-2014 slate of Officers for the chapter.

Officers include incoming President Jill Longfellow,  Enterprise Holdings Inc.; President-Elect Cristin Barr, The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain; Vice President of Finance Penny Allphin, Hassayampa Inn Prescott; Vice President of Communications Chip Headman, Williams & Associates; Vice President of Membership Julia-Isabel Davenport, Maximize Your Publicity; Vice President of Education Susie Molinich, American Express Meeting & Events, and Immediate Past President Donna Masiulewicz, Timeline Meetings & Events.  The Chapter Directors are: Director of Leadership Development Lynne Wellish, Triage Meetings & Events; Director of Fundraising & Special Events Tiffany Higgins, The Tiffany Event; Director of Strategic Alliances Dave Rosenbaum, Carefree Resort & Conference Center; Director of Monthly Programs Lee Smith, Hotel Valley Ho; Director of Recruitment Dave Borsheim, Hotel Palomar Phoenix; Director of Retention Jacqi Marth, Destination and Details; Director of Information Technology Danielle Adams, KCA; and Director of Public Relations and Marketing James Eggimann, The Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix

“We strive to promote excellence within the meeting industry through education, certification, advocacy and business-to-business networking opportunities for our members,” said incoming 2013-2014 AZMPI President Jill Longfellow.  “Anyone who plans or supports meetings in any capacity, whether an administrative assistant or a caterer, can benefit from what AZMPI offers.”

The 375-member Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International was established in 1979.  Meeting Professionals International is the meeting and event industry’s largest association for the $102.3 billion meetings and events industry.  AZMPI offers monthly events providing education, and networking opportunities.  MPI membership is comprised of more than 24,000 members belonging to 80 chapters and clubs worldwide.  To learn more about AzMPI visit www.AzMPI.org or call 602-277-1494.

Westgate Entertainment District

Glendale CVB Launches a New Blog

The Glendale Convention & Visitors Bureau is offering a new tool to attract travelers to Glendale and the West Valley and help people keep up with events and tourism-related activities. The Glendale CVB is now blogging about the best places, deals and events to check out.

The Glendale CVB is launching this new blog to accompany the full lineup of interactive tools designed to help connect the traveler with the various sights and experiences available in Glendale and the surrounding West Valley cities.

“Visitors will still find great information on our full website, but now we are adding a new layer of connectivity that we encourage people to explore and share with others,” said Lorraine Pino, Glendale CVB manager. “The new tool will also allow us to engage CVB members to tell stories about their hidden gems as guest bloggers.”

Regular posts, featuring pictures and videos will be compiled from staff and guest bloggers. The blog can be accessed through www.visitglendale.com.

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Navajo officials may expand casino alcohol use

Navajo gaming officials want to make it possible for people at the tribe’s Arizona casino to drink alcohol while they’re gambling.

Tribal law permits alcohol sales and consumption only in casino restaurants.

A bill moving through the Navajo Nation Council would allow drinks to be taken onto the casino floor.

Derrick Watchman is the chief executive of the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise. He says expanding areas where alcohol can be consumed would make the Twin Arrows casino near Flagstaff more competitive with other Arizona casinos.

The expansion wouldn’t carry over to the Navajo Nation’s casinos in New Mexico.

Alcohol is a touchy subject on the Navajo Nation, where the sale and consumption largely is banned.

Watchman expects the discussion over the bill to include the pervasive social ills of alcoholism.

Phoenix Convention Center

More than 4,500 Mennonites will gather in Phoenix

More than 4,500 Mennonites of all ages will attend Phoenix 2013, the biennial convention of Mennonite Church USA, to be held July 1–6 in the Phoenix Convention Center. The convention’s theme, “Citizens of God’s Kingdom: Healed in Hope” (“Ciudadanos del Reino de Dios: Sanados por la Esperanza”), is inspired by Psalm 24:1, Philippians 3:20-21, Romans 5:1-5 and Ephesians 2:14-22. The theme points toward an allegiance to God that goes beyond national borders and racial divides. The last convention was held in July 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pa.

The total number of convention participants represents approximately 1,600 adults, 2,750 youth and youth sponsors, 80 junior youth and sponsors, and 100 children.

Mennonite Church USA is the largest Anabaptist denomination in North America, with more than 100,000 adult members in about 900 congregations in 44 states. The denomination has national offices in Newton, Kan.; Elkhart, Ind.; and Harrisonburg, Va.

Arizona is home to seven congregations that are part of Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference, one of 21 regional conferences of Mennonite Church USA. Phoenix-area Mennonite congregations include Christ Life Chapel, First Mennonite Church of Phoenix, Sunnyslope Mennonite Church, Koinonia Mennonite Church (Chandler), Life House Community (Surprise) and Trinity Mennonite Church (Glendale).

The convention will include time for worship, fellowship, seminars, concerts, performances, workshops and meetings of the Mennonite Church USA Delegate Assembly, the denomination’s primary decision-making body. Delegates plan to discuss two resolutions: one focusing on creation care and environmental degradation, and one addressing child abuse and neglect and encouraging the adoption of policies and practices to protect children and youth.

Kimpton's Hotel Palomar

Palomar offers superb Staycation options

I’ve been a downtown dweller for a decade now. I’ve lived in the historic district of Phoenix since before First Friday brought in the cool kids, long before there were bars in the Roosevelt district to attract the hipsters, and well before CityScape made downtown Phoenix a destination for something other than a sporting event or employment.

So I’ve never viewed downtown Phoenix as a place to go to get away from it all. Boy, was I wrong.

I took advantage of one of the summer “Staycation options” offered by the Hotel Palomar Phoenix at CityScape. The deals run through September 8 and there are three options:

$102 and a Round of Brew: Deal includes beautifully appointed deluxe accommodations, a round of four beers at Palomar’s Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails. Rates start from $102 (Rate code: BREW).

Laugh Like a Local: Life just seems a bit better when you’re laughing. Beautifully appointed deluxe accommodations, two tickets to Stand Up Live. Rate starting from $129 (Rate code: LOCAL).

Downtown Discovery Family Package: Beautifully appointed deluxe accommodations, choose your own adventure with two children’s tickets to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix or the Arizona Science Center, two welcome kids packs. Rates starting from $124 (Rate code: PFAM).

I’m not a big drinker, so the $102 and a Round of Brew was out. And getting away from the kids is sometimes the reason you NEED a Staycation, so the Downtown Discovery Family Package was out. Since the laughter is the best medicine, the Laugh Like a Local was the perfect pick.

We arrived at the Palomar at around 5 p.m., just in time for the evening wine hour for all guests from 5-6 p.m. It was the pefect way to start our getaway. Immediately, we were on vacation. The Hotel Palomar is as cool as it comes. It is contemporary, connected and cosmopolitan, yet comfortable and welcoming all at once.

After we checked in and put our things in our amazing room with breathtaking views of the city and South Mountain, we went to the pool and its adjacent Lustre Rooftop Garden, which has sweeping views of the city’s stunning skyline and recently underwent several upgrades in addition to launching a new menu. The new menu highlights fresh bites, juice-infused cocktails and a fun and vibrant environment where guests can play table tennis. Local, seasonal ingredients are staples of the new menu, which features leafy green salads, veggies, local and grass-fed beef, a variety of flatbreads, kombucha on tap, fresh-squeezed juices and cocktails.

We had a couple cocktails — I highly recommend the Vida Del Oro: Square One Vodka, lemon juice, carrot juice, ginger juice — and had perhaps the most amazing burger I’ve ever consumed. The Lustre burger comes with avocado, jalapeño, pepper jack cheese and cool ranch aioli. That drip you’re hearing is the drool streaming from the corners of my mouth as call upon the memory.

Lustre is the perfect escape — great food, great drinks, great service, great views, amazing music and the people watching is phenomenal. Lustre was so perfect, we almost missed the 9:45 p.m. comedy show because we didn’t want to leave.

The great thing about the Laugh Like a Local package was the the Palomar has reserved tables for guests at Stand Up Live, so there was no waiting in lines and our seats were great. As it does every weekend, Stand Up Live delivered so many laughs that our abs were sore the next day.

What would a Staycation be without sleeping in, so we stayed in bed until a little after 9 a.m. I was able to get a workout in thanks to the complimentary use of Gold’s Gym, which is adjacent to the Palomar in CityScape. After the workout, I went for a quick swim in the Palomar pool, then soaked in the enormous tub in the room.

We ended our Staycation with a highlight that has the drool flowing again. It was fitting that our brunch at the Palomar’s Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails was on Sunday morning, because it was a religious experience. The Blue Hound is a brilliant blend of modern industrial with a touch of rustic. Friends have been raving about Executive Chef Stephen Jones’ food, but it was my first visit … the first of many. Here is what we chose:
* Eggs Benny with dungeness crab, swiss chard and hollandaise on an english muffin
* Fried Chicken and Waffles with Brown family farms maple syrup

The eggs were poached perfectly, the waffles were heaven-sent (keeping with the religious theme), and the bottomless mimosas were exquisite.

Our Staycation lasted about 18 hours, but eveything the Hotel Palomar Phoenix offers —  its proximity to downtown’s shopping, dining and entertainment; the wine hour; the Blue Hound and Lustre Rooftop Garden; the third-floor outdoor pool with views of the city skyline — made it the perfect quick getaway where we were able to let everything go.

As soon as we got into the car, we both looked at each other and said at the same time, “I want to go back.”

That’s when you know a Staycation has become the perfect vacation.

Booking: www.hotelpalomar-phoenix.com or 602-253-6633

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Kimpton expands into Northern Arizona

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants today announced that it has purchased Amara Resort and Spa, one of the leading resorts in Sedona, Ariz. The property was acquired through the company’s proprietary KHP-III fund, which closed in first quarter this year. The 100-room boutique resort overlooking Sedona’s beautiful Oak Creek, will be the third Kimpton hotel in Arizona and will join Kimpton’s portfolio of 59 hotels and 68 restaurants, bars and lounges in 25 cities nationwide.

ARS_LBY1_0992Amara Resort and Spa is located in the heart of Uptown Sedona and is just a two-minute walk from Sedona’s popular shops, galleries, wine tasting and restaurants. As a luxurious boutique hotel immersed in Sedona’s iconic red rocks, Amara Resort and Spa combines the tranquility of Sedona with Kimpton’s hallmark customer care and stylish ambience, providing a top-rated Northern Arizona destination for both business and leisure travelers.

Kimpton has experienced strong growth in urban metropolitan areas across the nation for the last decade, and lately has come to focus on more opportunities in high leisure resort destinations.

“We’re proud to add the Amara Resort and Spa to our collection,” said Mike Depatie, chief executive officer, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. “We saw an opportunity to expand to Sedona, an area that’s a very desirable resort destination for travelers for its ideal weather, stunning views and serene environment. It’s a perfect addition to our growing roster of hotels because it further expands our presence in popular leisure markets  adding to hotels we already have open or in development in Scottsdale, Vero Beach, South Beach, Miami, Aspen and Palm Springs.”

As one of the leading resorts in Sedona, Amara Resort and Spa completed a $2 million renovation in September 2012. The renovations included the addition of a 26,000-gallon infinity edge saltwater pool that directly overlooks the serene Oak Creek and Sedona’s red rocks, along with upgrades to the resort’s restaurant, outdoor event space, fitness center and lobby. Many of the resort’s 100 guest rooms also overlook Oak Creek and offer stunning red rock views.

Kimpton plans further renovations to align the property with its high standards in the area of design and comfort. The details and the timing of the renovations have not yet been announced. Amara Resort and Spa has already begun to incorporate and offer Kimpton’s popular complimentary perks and amenities, such as the Kimpton InTouch loyalty program, hosted evening wine hour from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., coffee and tea service in the living room lobby daily, in-room yoga mats, loaner bikes, the company’s pet friendly policies and more.

Amara Resort and Spa guests can also experience the beauty of Sedona at its popular restaurant Hundred Rox, with indoor/outdoor seating. Hundred Rox’s al fresco dining was recently updated with soothing water features and romantic fire pits – all overlooking the infinity pool and natural landscape. The outdoor area capitalizes on the stunning view and can also function as an outdoor event space for intimate weddings or corporate events.

Flagstaff_NAU_Skydome

Flagstaff CVB Launches New Marketing Campaign

Visitors planning a trip to Flagstaff this summer will see a brand new look when they research the destination online. The Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau launched a new marketing campaign that drives potential visitors to the redesigned flagstaffarizona.org website, which went live on Tuesday, June 18.

“We are excited to provide visitors with a newly designed website that is easy to navigate and use to find up-to-date information about Flagstaff and the surrounding region,” said Heather Ainardi, marketing and public relations manager at the Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau. “With the new campaign and website being launched at the same time we are able to provide a consistent message to consumers and travel professionals seeking information.”

Based on research and focus group recommendations the Flagstaff CVB designed the new campaign and website to capture the “Flagstaff vibe,” explain the seasonality of the destination and feature a wide variety of activities found in the area. Highlights of the new campaign include an updated logo with a stamp effect, a distinct color palette to represent each season of the year and photo rich advertisements featuring engaging headlines.

The new advertisement headlines and message is flexible for all markets and will be adjusted based on placement. For example in the Phoenix metropolitan market the new Flagstaff ads will read, “If you were an egg, you’d fear no sidewalk” or “Out of this world, but not out of the way.” In southern California consumers might see a broader reaching message of, “If you were a dog, you’d wag your tail off.” For certain international markets where Route 66 is a popular attraction, the ad will read, “If you were a kid again, you’d need your mother road.”

Since the website is the primary call to action in the campaign’s advertisements the website received a fresh look and increased functionality so it can serve as the premier resource on visiting Flagstaff. The redesigned website is more interactive and features increased content including a destination blog, frequently changing homepage highlights and four unique pages that explain the visitor experience in each of the four seasons.

“Flagstaffarizona.org has been designed to not only provide current travel information, but also be a future planning resource. Links to collateral requests and e-newsletter sign ups are prevalent throughout the site,” said Ainardi. “In addition to general travel information for visitors, the site also provides details for travel professionals, meeting planners, media and filming companies.”

The new campaign debuted with advertisement placements in Flagstaff’s target markets of Arizona, Southern California and Las Vegas; and uses a variety of mediums including traditional print, online, outdoor and television commercials. On Wednesday, June 5, the campaign literally rolled out around Phoenix in the form of light rail train and city bus wraps.

For more information on Flagstaff, visit www.flagstaffarizona.org or call 800-842-7293. Located in the historic train depot at One E. Route 66, the Flagstaff Visitor Center is open Mon – Sat 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day.

sanctuarypool

Sanctuary Receives 2013 'Stars of the Industry' Award

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain, the country’s premier luxury resort, was recognized by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) with a 2013 “Stars of the Industry” award during its Summer Summit in Denver, Colo. Sanctuary’s 2012 “Escape for GOOD” fundraiser, which raised $10 million benefiting Athletes for Hope and UGIVE, two nonprofits dedicated to inspiring and enabling voluntary service nationwide, was honored in the “Special Events, One-Time Only, Small-Property” category.

The invitation-only weekend event at Sanctuary, limited to 75 couples at a minimum donation of $50,000 each, offered once-in-a-lifetime experiences with sports industry celebrities such as Andre Agassi, Muhammad Ali, Cris Collinsworth, Mia Hamm, Tony Hawk, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Alonzo Mourning, Anthony Muñoz, Paul O’Neill and Annika Sorenstam. Activities included tennis with Andre Agassi on Sanctuary’s championship tennis courts, a morning run through Paradise Valley with track and field star Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and a cook-off with culinary masters Todd English, Sanctuary’s own Executive Chef Beau MacMillan, and Phoenix’s Mark Tarbell. The weekend concluded with an extravagant private dinner for Muhammad Ali’s 70th birthday.

Sanctuary’s scenic and tranquil atmosphere provided a perfect backdrop for discussions on social issues and education for America’s youth. The weekend sparked conversations that forged new partnerships between Google and the Gates Foundation, Andre Agassi and Unicef, as well as a new Sports for Development program in South Africa and Ethiopia.

Hyatt_Regency_Scottsdale_Resort_and_Spa_at_Gainey_Ranch_1

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale earns honor

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch received the esteemed AAA Four Diamond Rating. Hyatt Regency Scottsdale has maintained this celebrated rating consecutively since 1988.

Hotels at this level are committed to providing every guest with a personalized experience and attentive service in comfortable, high-quality surroundings, according to AAA. They typically offer an extensive array of amenities and guest services.

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale is part of a select group of establishments within North America. Currently, just 1,535 hotels and 754 restaurants hold the AAA Four Diamond Rating.

“We are honored to be recognized as a AAA Four Diamond hotel,” said Peter Rice, General Manager. “At Hyatt Regency Scottsdale, we are committed to exceeding guest expectations and providing a premier travel experience. This rating acknowledges the hard work and dedication of our staff.”

“AAA is pleased to recognize Hyatt Regency Scottsdale as a Four Diamond hotel,” said Michael Petrone, director of AAA Tourism Information Development. “To maintain the exceptional standards required for this rating on a daily basis is an outstanding achievement. AAA Four Diamond establishments are attentive to guests needs and consistently deliver memorable travel and dining experiences.”

pillow

Massive Downtown Phoenix Pillow Fight coming

Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar Phoenix at CityScape will celebrate its one-year anniversary with a flurry of feathers during the largest pillow fight to ever hit Downtown Phoenix. On June 5th in the hotel’s second-floor Living Room, hotel staff will provide pillows and be on-site to share tips for friendly battles and proper techniques. Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails, a Kimpton restaurant, will offer $1 signature cocktails and snacks from 5-6pm in celebration of the anniversary.

Following the pillow fight, the hotel will host a party from 6pm – 10pm to debut LUSTRE Rooftop Garden that recently underwent several upgrades in addition to launching a new menu designed by Chef Stephen Jones. Guests will enjoy complimentary fresh bites, cool cocktails, a juice bar, sphere dancers and games of tennis table all to the beats of DJ Al Page.

Perched on the third floor pool deck, LUSTRE Rooftop Garden is an oasis in the heart of Downtown Phoenix with sweeping views of the city’s stunning skyline. The new menu highlights fresh bites, juice-infused cocktails and a fun and vibrant environment where guests can play table tennis. Local, seasonal ingredients are staples of the new menu, which features leafy green salads, veggies, local and grass-fed beef, a variety of flatbreads, kombucha on tap, fresh-squeezed juices and cocktails.

Both events are free and open to the public. The LUSTRE Rooftop Garden Debut Party is open to guests 21 and older.

To learn more about Hotel Palomar Phoenix at CityScape, visit www.hotelpalomar-phoenix.com.

volunteer

Paying it forward: Why it Matters

If one person can make a difference, think what an entire company can do.

Giving back has been at the core of many great businesses, but there is a growing trend in the way businesses are paying it forward — employee-volunteer programs.

Many businesses understand that it’s more than just numbers, it’s about values. Generosity and corporate responsibility are some of those values. Generosity demonstrates a genuine corporate value that benefits the company and employees. Many businesses have started to make it a fundamental part of their mission.

In many different ways, businesses are looking for ways to reach their consumers, connect with them on a personal level and give back to the communities in which they live and serve. Through employee volunteer programs like HERO at Harrah’s Ak-Chin, employees volunteer thousands of hours each year to help individuals and communities in need.

Some recent HERO success stories include:

* Employees raised $7,000 for the Dove’s event to help with a late life domestic abuse program and shelter (first of its kind).
* Over 40 participants in Pat’s Run to help provide resources and educational scholarship support to veterans, active service members and their spouses.
* Participation in Maricopa Relay for Life dinner and walk raised more than $18,000 for cancer research.
* Employees collected 831 pounds of food and distributed to needy families at the FOR Maricopa food bank event.
* Partnered with the Ak-Chin Indian Community, with over 160 volunteers, for a community trash pickup in celebration of Earth Day.

But communities and organizations aren’t the only ones benefiting — businesses and their employees are also seeing the benefits, too.

What goes around comes around
Beyond helping the community, volunteer programs help employees. Volunteering boosts motivation and allows employees to work with each other outside of an office setting. When employees have the chance to give back in a meaningful way for something they care about, they will feel more positively connected to the business where they work.

As for businesses, a donation simply is not enough. It’s about the return. Making a lasting impact is just as – and perhaps more – important as defining your mission. You can’t solve disease or climate change with good intentions. As your name comes around as a business that is generous with their time and money, you’ll gain new customers, clients and overall respect from the communities you serve.

Other benefits:
* Improve relations with the surrounding community
* Enhance public image through a different platform
* Strengthen employee leadership and interpersonal skills
* Improve employee retention

Charity may begin at home, but it certainly does not end there. From the small grass-roots enterprises to large organizations, building partnerships with nonprofit organizations and supporting employee volunteer opportunities is a great way to give back to those who have helped support your business and will likely bring beneficial returns back to the business.

Mike Kintner is marketing director at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort.