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TIPS, TRENDS & TIDBITS: Praising Arizona

Themes from the American Southwest resonate with Europeans THE AMERICAN SOUTHWEST wowed the Old World at a gala dinner for a large retailer from the United Kingdom. Southwest Events Etc., a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based destination management company, staged the dinner at the Hyatt Regency Resort at Gainey Ranch in North Scottsdale. The event culminated a six-day incentive trip for 220 European salespeople.

Arizona's striking topography and rich Native American history served as themes for the Europeans' visit. "They were very much interested in our local culture," says Nancy Pavlik, Southwest Events CEO. "They came expecting everything to be modern and new, so they were fascinated learning more about the history of the Native Americans."

To simulate the night sky above the Grand Canyon, Southwest Events draped the walls of the ballroom in black fabric, on which hundreds of tiny lights glittered like stars. Against this background, plywood flats in the shape of canyons and mesas, painted purple, mauve and orange and trimmed with neon lights, formed a dramatic silhouette. Clusters of giant faux saguaro cacti bathed in gentle uplighting and covered in tiny twinkle lights gave the same effect "as you would get from a campfire setting in the desert," Pavlik notes. "The room just glowed."

To add a sense of mystery to the evening, each tabletop glimmered thanks to a neon ring, which was covered with a plexiglass tabletop and linen in soft amethyst. Every table also boasted an ice sculpture, again illuminated from beneath by a concealed light. Orlando, Fla.-based Ice Magic created the ice spheres and the neon table lighting.

"The client was especially pleased with the ice spheres," Pavlik explains. "They tied in with the evening's announcement that next year's incentive trip would take place in Iceland."

After dinner, a Native American hoop dancer and drummer duo gave an evocative performance. -T.M.

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