PHOENIX -- Two years ago, the 116-room Royal Palms Hotel and
Casitas was a place for teenagers on spring break rather than for
high-end meetings. After closing for a year-and-a-half-long
overhaul, this resort at the foot of Camelback Mountain emerged
last August as the latest luxury retreat in the Valley of the Sun.
A 1929 Spanish Colonial mansion, built as a private home, houses
a cozy lobby -- the scent of mesquite drifts from its fireplace --
a boardroom and a meeting room. The mansion's courtyard reveals its
original stone fountain and hand-painted tilework.
Historical hotels are scarce in Phoenix, a city of gleaming
modern buildings. Royal Palms joins the area's Hermosa Inn,
Camelback Inn and Biltmore as a step back in time. Royal Palms'
owners also own the Hermosa Inn, which was restored in 1992.
The resort's residential-style meeting rooms have wooden beams,
terra-cotta and gold walls, fireplaces, five-foot-tall iron
candelabra, libraries and wrought-iron chandeliers.
The largest indoor meeting space holds 300 people for a
Windows bring in natural light, and French doors lead to gardens
Outdoor space, bordered by citrus trees, accounts for 17,000 of
the resort's 27,000 square feet of meeting space.
There are dozens of outdoor niches, many with fireplaces, to
steal away for a private chat.
During my stay, Volvo was holding meetings to unveil its latest
The firm had booked 1,200 room nights over three weeks for
consecutive groups from around the globe.
The nine-acre resort is best for meetings requiring about 30
rooms, although some groups have taken 100 rooms, Greg Miller,
general manager, said.
And since the property is still new, planners can negotiate
deals on rates, according to director of sales and marketing Kathy
In high season, rack rates for casitas are $425; standard rooms
are $335, single or double occupancy.
Half of the guest rooms are individual casitas, each with
in-room fireplaces and private patios.
Standard guest rooms include either balconies or private
All rooms include cordless phones, so guests won't miss calls
while on the patios.
As the site of an American Society of Interior Designers
Showhouse, Royal Palms' 33 deluxe casitas were created by 25
different design teams in styles such as Barcelona, Romantic
Retreat, Pueblo Deco, Plantation, Spanish Colonial and Tuscany.
The resort built four eight-room villas during the renovation,
which include indoor and outdoor fireplaces.
In keeping with Royal Palm's residential feel, the nonalcoholic
drinks and snacks in the minibars are free, and tipping is not
allowed. A $16 daily service charge is added to the bill
During my stay, the resort's T. Cook's Mediterranean res-taurant
became a social hub on Saturday night. Guests should book tables
early, as the restaurant draws hordes of locals.
Couples huddled on the couches in the lounge, while others
indulged in cigars in the eight-person Cigar Room -- also part of
the original mansion -- which features a fireplace and red leather
T. Cook's also offers a private dining room for up to 12
Attendees who flock to Arizona for golf, meanwhile, can arrange
for preferred tee times at the nearby Raven course or the Biltmore
and Phonecian resorts.
Royal Palms is building a spa that is slated to open in 2000. In
the meantime, the resort can arrange in-room massages and spa
For an excursion, my group opted for a Carefree Jeep Adventures
Our guide, an American Indian named Twojoes, drove us 45 minutes
into the cactus-covered Mazatzal Mountains.
We passed through the town of Carefree, where Twojoes pointed
out some stars' homes as well as one that appeared in two James
The tour also included the chance to shoot a gun at empty soda
cans. None of us would try it, though, so Twojoes demonstrated for
To attract agents, Royal Palms is offering a rate of $55 per
night. The rate is valid through Sept.17.
The Royal Palms Hotel and Casitas is a member of Destination
Hotels & Resorts.
Phone: (800) 672-6011 or (602) 840-3610.