When it comes to corporate travel, Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak offers luxury for the business person on the go - from conference rooms and golf outings to a plethora of business services and amenities.
PHOENIX - The brunette walks into the bar and approaches a guy sitting there, watching the Phoenix Suns play the New Orleans Hornets on a small corner TV. "You're with the Costco group, right?" she asks.
He looks up, laughs. "I shop at Costco. I'm a member! I love Costco."
The woman smiles, apologizes for the mistake and hustles over to meet one of her colleagues she really does recognize. This type of identity mix-up is more common than you'd think at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort. There are so many business groups here that it's easy to think one of the guys in khakis or one of the women in white blouses are with your meeting when they're really not.
"It's like you need nametags at night too, just walking around the property," the Costco woman said later, smiling.
Some 48,00 square feet of meeting space can house a lot of different business excursions. Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak boasts three spacious ballrooms and 46 different choices in conference rooms. They even offer events in a nearby Old West theme town for those high-powered executives who want to get their fake cowboy on.
When it comes to meeting space, Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak is like Baskin-Robbins. There's a different flavor or setting for every group.
When you're just a regular guest - and Squaw Peak draws a lot of families too with its River Ranch, four acres of pools, waterfalls and one huge, windy Lazy River to float on - you sometimes wonder why the resort's so spread out. When you're there for a business event, you quickly understand. The meeting space and convention area gets its own separate building.
The resort also has meeting-planning specialists who handle groups. If you have a smaller-sized meeting trip (requiring 25 guest rooms or less), you can do special e-Events booking right on Squaw Peak's Web site, including selecting your meeting room.
One of the best things about using Squaw Peak as your conference base might just be the amenities a vacationing guest enjoys, too. If you haven't been here in a few years, you'll see some changes. A $24 million renovation that began in 2005 has helped nudge Squaw Peak closer in character to the resorts that neighboring Scottsdale is known for.
Perhaps the most noticeable improvement comes in the completely redone Tocasierra Spa. Who couldn't use a massage treatment during a business conference?
The rooms are not hugely different, but they're still large. Squaw Peak's standard rooms include a living room/entrance room and a separate bedroom past the bathroom. You're not going to feel boxed in - which can be no small thing after spending a day stuck in conference rooms.
Then again, at Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak, maybe you'll have your business event outdoors. Corporate dinners can be held out on the patio under the desert stars. Which surely makes some of those high-achiever reward banquets a tad more bearable.
You're in the Valley of the Sun, after all. Even on business, you want to experience some of that desert nature. At Squaw Peak, you don't have a connected golf course you can just sneak out on, like at its sister property Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort, which boasts Lookout Mountain Golf Club.
Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak's location might take some getting used to for those who've made other Phoenix-Scottsdale golf trips. You're neither right in downtown Phoenix near the sports arenas nor in trendy Scottsdale close to the high-end restaurants and clubs.
But you are in Phoenix. It's about as hard to find a golf course here as it is to locate a bar in New Orleans' French Quarter. Lookout Mountain's only a quick 10-minute drive away itself.
Playing the course, you'll come across plenty of business groups. Many companies hosting a retreat at the Pointe Hilton resorts will hold a tournament at Lookout during their stay.
Expect to have your employees names on a well-maintained scoreboard and plenty of personal attention from the golf staff. Hilton's making it a company-wide point to ensure its golf course experiences match its resort guest experiences.
"We want to make that business group having a golf tournament feel special, important," Ben Fusco, Hilton Resorts Southwest area vice president, said. "It shouldn't be like just playing any other round on the course. You're going to get more than simply a golf cart with your name on it."
Business people are made to feel like a number enough times throughout the year. On that big reward retreat, there should be a little pizzazz. No matter which group you're with - or how often you're mistaken for the Costco guy.
May 12, 2008