Tucson skies

Why here?
(Pictured) Tucson's clear skies offer spectacular sunrises, sunsets and out-of-this-world stargazing. Other draws that make this Southwest city a popular spot for meetings and incentives are its gorgeous resorts, desert vistas, great golf, miles of hiking trails and a vibrant downtown.

 The 137-room AC Hotel Tucson by Marriott will open in downtown Tucson in 2017. Among the new property's features will be a fitness center, a rooftop pool and a restaurant.

 A 213-room Tucson Residence Inn by Marriott is set to debut at Main Gate Square near the University of Arizona. Offerings will include a restaurant, meeting space and a rooftop pool. Stay tuned for an opening date.

Tucson recently was ranked one of the Top 5 Cities for Millennials by Money magazine. Among the draws is a revitalized downtown, where a main attraction is the hip Hotel Congress.


Local Update 
 Loews Ventana Canyon Resort is undergoing a head-to-toe refresh. The 398-room property has 37,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, nearly 40,000 square feet of outdoor function space, a full-service spa and two heated pools. The multimillion-dollar refurbishment includes upgrades to the guest rooms, meeting space, lobby, fitness center, Lakeside Spa and Flying V Bar & Grill. The project is scheduled for completion in early 2016.

 Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort has completed its expansion. The luxury boutique property, originally built as an exclusive girls' school, added 32 guest rooms (for a new total of 60) designed to reflect the same Santa Fe-style construction of the existing historic structures.

The six new buildings that house the rooms were built in a setting that evokes a village-like atmosphere, with landscaped walking paths that lead to the Terraza Garden Patio, courtyard and swimming pool.

 The Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa has finished a $35 million renovation that includes upgrades to all 487 guest rooms, which now feature Westin Heavenly Beds, 42-inch HD TVs and new bathroom amenities. In addition, the property's 60,000 square feet of meeting space sports new carpeting, lighting and upgraded A/V equipment. This month, the resort's Contigo at La Paloma restaurant will debut with a menu featuring signature Latin dishes, including tacos, ceviche, paella and roast suckling pig.

 SMG now manages the Tucson Convention Center, the 8,920-seat Tucson Arena, the 2,289-seat Tucson Music Hall and the 511-seat Tucson Leo Rich Theater.

 The Pima Air & Space Museum has added a new attraction: an original flight-test Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

 The Sun Link Tucson Streetcar is now running along a four-mile route that connects five major metropolitan areas via 23 stops, from the University of Arizona through the 4th Avenue Business District and Downtown areas to Mercado.

starry, starry nights
Tucson is famed for its crystal-clear starry skies. Among the spots where visitors can view constellations and more is the 487-room Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa, which has a "cosmic concierge." Among daytime activities, guests can enjoy five outdoor pools, a golf course, a spa and more.

Meeting Hotels: Properties in Tucson include the 610-room JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa, 487-room Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa, 428-room Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Resort, 398-room Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, 301-room Holiday Inn Tucson Airport North, 299-room Radisson Suites Tucson, 297-room Hotel Tucson City Center InnSuites Conference Suite Resort, 287-room DoubleTree by Hilton Tucson-Reid Park, 250-room Tucson Marriott University Park, 241-room Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa, 232-room Hilton Tucson East, 216-room Sheraton Tucson Hotel & Suites and 215-room Casino del Sol Resort.

To find and compare hotels, and send RFPs, visit mcvenues.com.

Convention Center: Tucson Convention Center; exhibit space, approximately 148,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, eight; (520) 791-4101.

Airport Transit: Tucson International Airport, about eight miles south of downtown. Transfer cost by taxi, approximately $25

Taxes: Hotels within Tucson city limits: Room tax, 12.05%; sales tax, 9.1%; total tax on hotel rooms, 12.05% plus a $2 per night surcharge. Hotels outside Tucson city limits but within Pima county: Room tax, 12.05%; total tax on hotel rooms, 12.05%

Group Venue: James Beard Award-winning chef Janos Wilder has just opened The Carriage House, a multi-use space featuring a cooking school as well as a private event/dining room and a 500-square-foot enclosed patio. The venue offers year-round classes taught by Wilder and guest chefs, wine experts, mixologists and other culinary educators. The space can accommodate up to 70 guests for demonstration classes, 20 for hands-on classes. For meals, the venue can hold up to 200 people for a reception and 160 for a sit-down dinner, while a private dining room can host 14. (520) 623-7700; downtownkitchen.com

Contact: Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau, (800) 638-8350.