Talk about predictability. Winters in the Arizona cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tucson are a model of consistency. You could spend a month in those towns and maybe see enough rain to fill a shot glass. Sunny skies, 75-degree days, and cool nights are perfect conditions for business meetings, especially if a jacket and tie are required. You might not want to plan a meeting in Arizona from May to September (unless you're looking for a bargain rate), but that leaves plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery, great golf, and the four business-minded Arizona resorts that make our Top 18 list. "Among the best things about the area is that one of the country's biggest airports is less than 30 minutes away from any one of the area's great golf resorts," says Lorri Jordan, with the Phoenix-based Honeywell's Industry Solutions Co. "It's all right here." Also receiving consideration for their service were Marriott's Camelback Inn, Golf Club & Spa; Omni Tucson National Golf Resort & Spa; and The Boulders Resort in Carefree.
THE ARIZONA BILTMORE RESORT & SPA (PHOENIX): Much like The Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla., the "Jewel of the Desert" is steeped in history. Opened in 1929, the resort claims to be the only hotel in the world with a Frank Lloyd Wright-influenced design. Not only have Presidents stayed here but Irving Berlin wrote "White Christmas" while sitting poolside. Beyond its storied past, the Biltmore offers great weather, 36 holes of golf, a spa, 60,000 square feet of meeting space, and 734 guest rooms. It is also operated by KSL Recreation Corp., which has another resort in our Top 18, the La Quinta Resort & Club in California.
THE FAIRMONT SCOTTSDALE PRINCESS RESORT (SCOTTSDALE): Of the upscale resorts recommended by business planners, none was mentioned more often than the Scottsdale Princess. "It has Southwestern flair with top-caliber golf and meeting facilities," says Dede Patterson, vice-president of Velocity Sports & Entertainment agency in Westport, Conn. The hotel is a first-class experience, and while the golf is not quite on the property, planners can dangle the carrot of playing the nearby Tournament Players Club of Scottsdale Stadium Course (home of the PGA Tour's Phoenix Open) to attendees. In addition to state-of-the-art meeting facilities, the Princess boasts the Marquesa, a AAA 5-diamond restaurant.
LOEWS VENTANA CANYON RESORT (TUCSON): Set along the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, this resort nearly has all the same amenities as those in Phoenix and Scottsdale, but the pace of life is a little slower in Tucson. The architecture is vintage Southwest, with native copper outlining the walls. Outside, the mighty saguaro cactus dominates the countryside. The meeting space is adequate, but the 36 holes of golf located along a plateau overlooking the city are breathtakingly memorable.
THE PHOENICIAN (SCOTTSDALE): Long renowned for its lavish decor and its tony accommodations (including an $8 million art collection), this resort is building a reputation for itself as a place to conduct a business event. There are 21 meeting rooms and five board rooms, allowing large groups to hold a conference. The Estrella Theatre is the centerpiece, designed for presentations using nearly any state-of-the-art technology. The 27-hole course is vintage Arizona golf, with wall-to-wall grass against the backdrop of a rocky desert.