Whether you’re a local resident or an out-of-towner attending the 2014 Venture Madness Conference in March, you will experience Scottsdale at its best time of year. The weather is perfect – highs in the high 70s and nighttime lows in the mid 40s – and the desert is blooming with activity.
“A major draw of Talking Stick Resort and a key reason for the selection of the property is that Invest Southwest wanted to gear this event around MLB Spring Training, and the venue provides an ideal opportunity for attendees to network in a fun and cool space,” says Randy Gustafson, vice president of innovation at Arizona Commerce Authority.
Talking Stick Resort
Your home base for Venture Madness 2014 is the 497-room Talking Stick Resort, which is a 20-minute drive from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. You’ll have little reason to leave the property during the three-day conference:
- 5 restaurants
- Full-service spa
- 2 golf courses
- 2 pools
- 5 entertainment lounges, including a sports bar, martini bar and indoor cigar bar
- 240,000-square-foot casino, including a 47-table non-smoking poker room
- Troon Golf-managed Talking Stick Golf Club, which operates two award-winning golf courses – North and South. Book tee times online or through the resort’s concierge.
Gustafson says it’s a great opportunity for a staycation for local attendees and their families.
“The event has daily receptions and other social events, and attendees who live in the valley have the advantage of not needing to drive home each night,” he says.
For people who do want to get out and explore, Infusionsoft’s Laura Collins suggests exploring the local business scene.
“Scottsdale has some great locally owned restaurants, galleries and shops within a few miles of the conference,” she says. She suggests searching Local First to find things to do.
Dining and Shopping
Talking Stick Resort offers round-trip shuttle service from the resort to Old Town Scottsdale and Scottsdale Fashion Square – two havens for foodies and shoppers. The shuttle is free to Player Rewards Club members and $10 for other guests. “I love fine dining,” Gustafson says. “And there are many great options not only at TSR, but also within mere miles of the resort.”
Where to Eat: Downtown Scottsdale is a great place to head Thursday night of the Venture Madness Conference when dinner is on your own.
- Best Burger: Daily Dose – 4020 N. Scottsdale Road. Get the pretzel bun. No reservations; worth the wait.
- Healthy-ish Dining: The Herb Box – 7134 E. Stetson Drive. Reservations (480) 289-6160. Farm-fresh ingredients. Irresistible cheeses.
- Fine Italian: Franco’s Italian Caffe – 4327 N. Scottsdale Road. Reservations: (480) 481-7614. A new local favorite.
- Innovative Sushi: Sushi Roku – 7277 E. Camelback (W Hotel). Reservations: (480) 970-2121. Freshest in town with California-influenced creativity.
- Mouth-watering Thai: Malee’s Thai Bistro on Main – 7131 E. Main. Reservations: (480) 947-6042. You’ll want to move here, just to be near Malee’s.
- Favorite Wine Bar: 5th and Wine – 7051 E. 5th Ave. Reservations: (480) 699-8001. Thursday specials include osso bucco.
- Modern Latin Cuisine: The Mission – 3815 N. Brown Ave. It’s cozy, sophisticated yet casual. Reservations (480) 636-5005
Where to Shop: Old Town Scottsdale is an interesting mix of tourist-y souvenier shops, art galleries and locally owned boutiques. ArtWalk takes place every Thursday from 7-9 p.m. Serious shoppers head to Scottsdale Fashion Square and its 2 million square feet of retail space for 250 stores (and growing). Anchor stores include Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Dillard’s and Barneys New York.
Spring Training: Arizona has been home to Spring Training since 1929 when the Detroit Tigers played two games against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs. The Baltimore Orioles was the first team to call Scottsdale home during the 1955 Cactus League Spring Training.
Your Venture Madness Conference pass includes transportation and tickets to see the Arizona Diamondbacks play the Oakland A’s at 1:10 p.m. March 6 at Salt River Fields.
Family Fun: Butterfly Wonderland opened in 2013 and is 1.5 miles from Talking Stick Resort. Guests start in the 3D theater for a short film before entering the Butterfly Experience Gallery. It simulates a humid rainforest, so wear layers. Check out the honey bees and ant colonies as well before heading to the laser and mirror mazes.
If Venture Madness and Talking Stick Resort don’t keep you busy enough, you can always check with event staff and the hotel’s concierge for more recommendations.