The luxe life in Scottsdale: air-conditioned sand and a new Ritz-Carlton
Experience Scottsdale’s Director of Tourism Sarah Kearney; Freda Rahnenfuehrer, Director of Sales & Marketing, Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn; and Experience Scottsdale’s Tourism Sales Manager Nicole Krekeler

The luxe life in Scottsdale: air-conditioned sand and a new Ritz-Carlton

TORONTO — With a new name and a new marketing campaign, Experience Scottsdale is on a mission: to sell Scottsdale as an authentic getaway in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, while keeping its ever-popular golf courses, spas and other tourism product top of mind with visitors.

Formerly the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, the tourism organization has rebranded itself as Experience Scottsdale and launched a new campaign with a whole-destination approach that focuses on ‘effortless revitalization’, desert-style.

A delegation met with retail partners, tour operators and media yesterday in Toronto to show off the new campaign.

In the past Scottsdale did a lot of segmented marketing. “It was like, here’s the product for the golfer. Here’s the product for spa-goer,” said Experience Scottsdale’s Director of Tourism Sarah Kearney. “We realized that everyone wants adventure and relaxation – not necessarily at the same time – but they want the option to do both. Now we’re marketing Scottsdale more as a whole experience and focusing on the Sonoran Desert, where you can unplug and get away from the hustle and bustle.”

New ads for Scottsdale now running in select Canadian markets play up the lure of the wild and untamed desert while emphasizing Scottsdale’s foodie scene, nightlife and wide range of hotels (and of course, golf, with just under 200 courses in the region).

Scottsdale has always had plenty of high-end accommodation with some of the biggest names in the luxury hotel business. Now the Scottsdale area is getting yet another upscale property – a highly coveted Ritz-Carlton – while existing luxury brands in the destination up their game with renovations.

The Ritz-Carlton, Paradise Valley is scheduled to open in late 2018 with some 200 casita-style guest rooms. The hotel will offer stunning views of Camelback Mountain and what’s being billed as the longest pool in North America.

The Ritz-Carlton, Paradise Valley will also boast 20,000 square feet of function space. Scottsdale continues to draw big numbers from the meetings and incentive market, and the resorts work hard to make sure vacationers get their getaway while corporate guests have their conference, says Kearney. “The hotels do a great job keeping the corporate travellers and leisure travellers separate. Vacationers aren’t seeing lanyards everywhere.”

Also new in Scottsdale, Hyatt’s Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa opened in October 2016 with just over 200 casita-style rooms and suites. Opening in March 2017, the reborn Mountain Shadows (formerly Marriott’s Mountain Shadows Resort, which closed down in 2004) will have 175 rooms and close ties to its sister property (and neighbor) Sanctuary Resort.

Amid the arrival of these new hotels, existing properties including Fairmont Scottsdale Princess recently wrapped up a US$60 million renovation that added 102 rooms and a new white sand beach pool (with cooled ‘air-conditioned’ sand, no less).

The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician, a Luxury Collection Resort, completed a 62-room reno.

Altogether Scottsdale has more than 75 properties. While many cater to luxury markets, Scottsdale isn’t just for high-end travellers, says Tourism Sales Manager Nicole Krekeler. Scottsdale is going after more families and has a lot of product for this market, including the OdySea Aquarium – the largest aquarium in the U.S. southwest – as well as Butterfly Wonderland and the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM). There’s also Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West and, coming soon, iFly in Phoenix.

Clients heading to the Grand Canyon should also be familiar with the Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn, at the South Rim of the canyon. “Finally there’s a resort-style property at the Grand Canyon,” says Freda Rahnenfuehrer, the hotel’s Director of Sales & Marketing. The Grand Canyon welcomed some six million visitors last year, and there are only about 2,000 rooms in Grand Canyon National Park.

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