The Phoenician Resort



INTRODUCTION

How can 130 acres of resort "nestle" anywhere, especially in the heart of a thriving metropolis known as "The Valley of the Sun"?

Yet, through the combination of landscaping and architecture, this slice of desert heaven does seem to discreetly nestle against Camelback Mountain, its sandstone terraces barely discernible. Even in the heart of Arizona's Sonoran desert, the well manicured landscaping is lush and mature, accented with a scenic cactus garden boasting 350 varieties of blooming succulents that attract colorful desert hummingbirds. Architecture is at once impressive and unobtrusive.

The Phoenician Resort, a lavish stretch of desert chic, is home to 18 PGA-approved holes scattered across lush green fairways. The Resort boasts 580 elegant rooms, suites, and casitas; a lighted 11-court tennis complex; seven swimming pools; plus a Centre for Well Being that soothes and challenges body and soul. Restaurants cater to tastes ranging from Mediterranean Country to Southwestern Casual to traditional English tea. A skilled and attentive hotel staff provide impeccable guest service (Rice, 1994).

The Phoenician also offers superb meeting facilities with 60,000 square feet of meeting space, a 22,000 square-foot grand ballroom, 21 conference rooms, and two boardrooms. A Business Center, an individualized Butler Program, as well as in-house Audio-Visual and Destination Services Departments cater to a group's and attendee's every need.

From the beginning, the Phoenician was envisioned as a resort that would combine the luxury of Europe's top hostelries with the colors, textures, and ambiance of the Southwest. Since its opening in October, 1988, The Phoenician has attracted vacationers, business clientele, and notoriety from around the world. A lobby graced with imported Italian marble, Persian rugs, crystal chandeliers, soft carpets, deep couches, gold leaf detailing, and mile-high flower arrangements flown in from Europe and Hawaii (Davis, 1993) suggests more than an ordinary luxury hotel. Each of the Phoenician's luxurious guest room accommodations have a view, including the Resort's two 3,200-square-foot presidential suites that come complete with baby grand piano, gourmet kitchen, formal dining room, casual living room with fireplace, and 24-hour butler service.

With Charles Keating's monogram erased from the middle of the stunning lobby's star burst-pattern marble floor, and in the hands of new owners Sheraton ITT, The Phoenician is an ode to success, not wretched excess (Reinman, 1994). What continues to make The Phoenician successful is its ability to carry out its simply stated goal: provide guests with unparalleled luxury service. Certainly, well refined organizational communication skills are necessary in order to accomplish this goal successfully. This portion of the observation plan focuses on the effectiveness of communication between the Resort and the customer in understanding the customer's needs and expectations for a group function, as well as the effectiveness of communication between the Resort management and employees in successfully meeting the customer's needs and expectations for a group function. Additionally, the observation plan looks at the forms of feedback received from customers after an event, which w!

ould assist the Resort in providing continued superior service in future events.

OBSERVATIONS

Pre-Conference Meeting

Focusing on the written, verbal, and non-verbal communication within the Convention Services and Banquet Operations Departments, I attended a pre-conference meeting with the guest/group representatives of the International Association of Convention and Visitors Bureau (IACVB) and The Phoenician management. Each department affected by the scheduled event was represented, including both the Resort and General Manager. In a spacious, well pointed meeting room set up with water service, refreshments, writing tablets and pencils, hotel participants convened prior to the arrival of the guest/group representatives. Resort staff members resembled cast performers in a long running Broadway play, made up to appear larger than life in the production they were about to take part. Fashionably dressed in conservative business attire, well groomed, and with bright, attentive gazes, each participant arrived well versed with the Group's Resume, as well as the Time and Event Schedule for a!

total of 182 individual events, each of which had been distributed to the departments prior to the pre-conference meeting.

At the formal start of the meeting, Mr. Steve Therriault, Convention Services Manager, introduced Ms. Wendy Shapiro as the guest/group representative for the IACVB, and he introduced the local representative from the Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau. Ms. Shapiro profiled the IACVB as a global organization, representing more than 415 member bureaus in 28 countries. She related that the organization was founded in 1914 to promote sound professional practices in the solicitation