Tucson Gets Techy: Creative Venues & Awe-Inspiring Backdrops Ignite Innovation

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Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, Tuscon
Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, Tuscon

Engineers from across the country met for the T11 Fibre Channel Standards Meeting in Tucson, Arizona, this past December with one major goal in mind: to design the next generation of fibre channel technology.

Approximately 200 employees from about 50 member companies gathered for the week-long event at the 393-room Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, which is situated in a canyon on the front range of the Catalina Mountains within the Sonoran Desert. The property’s 37,000 sf of meeting space was certainly a draw for the group, but the surrounding hiking trails were the real reason that Chris Lyon, North American business development manager at Amphenol Corporation, one of the meeting’s member companies, chose the property. The Window Walk Nature Trail, for instance, takes guests on a hike through the Sonoran Desert to an 80-foot waterfall located on-site.

“The resort has walking trails and gardens, so during breaks, attendees could go out and take a hike and just kind of relax,” says Lyon. “Of all the places we’ve met, I got more compliments on this selection than I have in years.”

Attendees worked in the resort’s 10,800-sf Kiva Ballroom from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day on the new fibre channel technology. Nearby restaurants—whose close proximity was another reason why Lyon chose Loews—drew them out of the hotel in the evenings for dinner and networking. Lyon worked with the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau to plan an off-site evening event at the Pima Air and Space Museum.

The museum is one of the largest air and space museums in the world, with more than 300 aircraft and spacecraft—several of which hold historic significance. For instance, Hangar 4 houses a selection of restored World War II aircraft such as the B-29 Superfortress. Another exhibit in the Dorothy Finley Space Gallery offers a glimpse inside a training version of an Apollo space capsule. Attendees had the entire museum to themselves, which allowed them to explore the exhibits before and after eating in the museum space.

“Our attendees are engineers, so they like things that are kind of techy,” says Lyon. “For them to be able to have dinner in a museum where there’s all this tech history was a highlight. It catered to the group very well. Some of the attendees had even helped design the planes in years gone by.”

Lyon says Tucson’s temperate climate was a good fit for a winter meeting. Plus, the location was easy to get to since attendees come from all over the country. Lyon also says the pricing for the meeting was really good for the value they got staying in the destination.

Lyon adds that he did not plan much structured time off-site for the group because the meeting is held six times a year and has a specific goal that needs to be accomplished. However, the CVB provided information that gave attendees—several of whom planned pre- and post-visits—ideas of how to explore the area. One idea was a visit to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, an all-in-one 98-acre zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden. The Sabino Canyon, located just north of Tucson, was another suggestion because it showcases the area’s Southwestern desert landscape.

“Tucson is a great place to go,” says Lyon. “There are lots of great places to eat. The comment I have gotten from people is it is honestly one of the better places we’ve gone.”

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