by Michael C. Lowe | January 01, 2015
Why here?
Scottsdale, Ariz., continues to impress with its ever-growing roster of unique resorts and venues, including Talking Stick Resort's newly refurbished Palo Verde Lounge (above). The two-story space, which debuted this past November, sports a sleekly colorful vibe and premium tequilas.

Good Eats
The Derby Public House opened on North Saddle Bag Trail last year, featuring a vintage British horse-track vibe, specialty cocktails and gastropub fare. Don't miss the lobster mac and cheese.

Order the ultimate teaser or pillow gift from Scottsdale's own Superchunk, which creates small-batch, hand-crafted•treats such as bacon caramel corn and duck-fat toffee.

Mobile Menu
Food Truck Caravan can help plan an inventive F&B event, drawing from its pool of 40 food-truck partners. Among crowd-pleasers: the Grilled Cheese Truck and the Bang Bang Dumpling Truck.

Purposeful Play
The Scottsdale Resort & Conference Center offers more than 30 creative team-building activities for groups, from an Amazing Race-style competition to the "Bada Bing Challenge," a cooking contest. A list of options can be found at 
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Local Update

Last October, the Radisson Fort McDowell reopened as the We-Ko-Pa Resort & Conference Center. The newly independent facility has 246 guest rooms, more than 25,000 square feet of function space, a golf course, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, a spa and a restaurant. The resort also now manages the neighboring Fort McDowell Adventures, which offers group activities such as horseback rides, desert Jeep tours, Segway tours, riverboat cruises, kayaking and more.

• Talking Stick Resort recently debuted a series of upgrades to its upscale casino-level lounge, Palo Verde. The space was unveiled last November and includes modern décor and furnishings, oversize couches, two multi-colored LED staircases and a DJ booth for live entertainment. Additional renovations were completed on the downstairs tavern, where patrons will find premium tequilas, Southwestern-inspired cuisine and made-to-order sangria. The 496-room resort has more than 100,000 square feet of meeting space, a spa, and 11 restaurants and lounges on-site.

The former Millennium Resort and Villas Scottsdale reopened last October as the McCormick Scottsdale. The property's 125 guest rooms, lobby and lounge underwent a six-month renovation and now feature a modern, relaxed feel. The hotel has 13,000 square feet of function space.

The Hotel Valley Ho has added several new event areas. The Oasis Pool deck offers serene water features, palm trees and landscaping with room for up to 150 guests, while the two-story presidential loft suite has space for up to 10 guests among custom furnishings, modern design and floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on Camelback Mountain. For larger groups, Sands, a 3,500-square-foot event venue with an additional 1,500 of outdoor patio space, will undergo renovations in July. The facility has outdoor fire pits, a full kitchen and bar area, and free Wi-Fi.

The Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch recently completed renovations on five meeting rooms, adding new décor, carpeting and artwork. The 11,840-square-foot Arizona Ballroom also was revamped, and a new boardroom hosts groups of up to six.

The Chef's Kitchen & Herb Garden opens this month at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia. The space will be available for cooking demonstrations and wine and tapas tastings, in addition to private events, breakout sessions and receptions. The 293-room property has more than 27,000 square feet of indoor space and 74,000 square feet of outdoor space for meetings and events.

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community near Scottsdale will open what's billed as the largest aquarium in the Southwest next year. The OdySea Aquarium will join the adjacent Butterfly Wonderland and Odysea Mirror Maze and will feature exhibits on the Amazon, coral reefs and penguins, and more. The $170 million facility will be available for group buyouts.

Scottsdale's Museum of the West is set to open in February, showcasing the history, present day and future of 19 states in the American West. A total of five galleries will feature a variety of paintings, sculptures, cultural artifacts and interactive exhibits throughout the 43,000-square-foot space.

The Scottsdale Plaza Resort is continuing propertywide renovations that began in 2012 and have included revamps of guest rooms and executive suites. Last year, the resort wrapped up $1.8 million in upgrades and expanded its meeting space from 40,000 square feet to 44,300 square feet. In addition, the hotel's sports pub and lounge received new bar equipment, carpeting, furniture and seven new flat-screen televisions.