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Chandler’s Entrepreneurial Spirit Energizes Events

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Dr. Alexander Chandler is long gone, but his entrepreneurial spirit lives on in the Arizona city that bears his name and many of his creative touches.

Dr. Chandler developed the state’s first grass golf course, still in play at the edge of downtown Chandler. The town’s main street follows his early 1900s design, shaded by palms, flanked by historic buildings. The hotel Dr. Chandler masterminded remains an anchor, serving meetings that enjoy its ambiance, meeting space and walkable downtown location.

Visitors who expect a suburb of Phoenix will be surprised. Chandler is a city in its own right, founded by Dr. Chandler only 30 years after Phoenix was established. There’s no doubt though that proximity to the metropolis is an advantage. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, a major hub, is a 20-minute drive. Interstate 10 is 10 minutes from downtown. 

Bordering the Phoenix metro on the southeast, Chandler is home to global corporations, start-ups and small businesses. It’s a thriving city where Dr. Chandler would feel at home among minds that, like his, buzz with new ideas. 

 “There’s a lot of entrepreneurial energy that runs through our community,” says Kimberly Janes, tourism program manager for Visit Chandler. “It’s great to incorporate that energy into meetings; it really helps them blossom.”

Good variety of conference hotels

A top choice for meetings is the 249-room Crowne Plaza Phoenix Chandler Golf Resort, with its 32,000 square feet of meeting space and the San Marcos Golf Course at its edge. When Dr. Chandler opened the resort and golf course in 1913, the then-San Marcos Resort was the first true resort in Arizona. Since then dozens of hotels have opened in Chandler, especially in the last 20 years, when its 1,300 total hotel rooms increased to today’s 3,900.

Among the newest is the 264-room Marriott Phoenix Chandler, which opened in 2019 in the Price Road Corridor, where many companies are located. Its 28,000 square feet of meeting space, all on the main floor, adjoins the lobby and a popular bar. The hotel’s west side faces the desert and mountains so sunsets are knockouts by the pool or on the poolside event lawn. 

Other conference hotels include the 192-room Hilton Phoenix Chandler with 16,000 square feet of meeting space and the 106-room Holiday Inn Phoenix Chandler, with 2,000 square feet of meeting space. Limited-service properties are plentiful, including a number near the city’s popular Chandler Fashion Center mall, home to 200 stores and restaurants. The first Arizona location of destination sporting goods retailer SCHEELS will open there in fall 2023. 

Local is the norm

Local businesses are abundant, including restaurants, which tend to cover a lot of culinary bases thanks to residents from many countries and cultures. 

“Our diverse workforce really helps us, especially as far as dining options and the variety of things to do in the area,” says Janes.

In downtown, some 40 restaurants and bars serve meals to suit most every taste: Thai, Mexican, sushi, ramen, Italian, American steak and burgers, Irish and BBQ, to name a few. It can make planning for a group easy. “For an offsite dinner, they could just turn people loose downtown to explore for themselves,” says Janes.

There’s also plenty of post-dinner entertainment. “About 14 venues have live music. So every night live music is available,” she said.

Dining out can also be an adventure. At the Perch, guests meet exotic birds rescued by the bar and restaurant’s owner. The lush gardens and a massive rooftop bar feel like an oasis in the desert. And speaking of fowl, there’s also the Ostrich, a subterranean speakeasy named for one of Dr. Chandler’s business ventures. He hatched a plan to raise ostriches for their feathers during the roaring 20s. While the business didn’t work out, it did inspire an ostrich-theme festival, held each year in Chandler.

A lush patio is a feature at The Hidden House, a remade 1930s cottage with three dining areas with different atmospheres. It’s a favorite for celebratory and upscale dinners. 

One of Uptown Chandler’s big surprises is SanTan Brewing, Arizona’s largest independent brewery and distillery combo. It can work its way into meetings in several ways. Tours of its 35,000-square-foot production facility tell its story, describe brewing and distilling processes and offer samples of beers and spirits. SanTan is also a popular events space, with a private room and extensive options from its kitchen–anything from passed appetizers to taco and slider bars and full-out buffets.

Another locally inspired off-site venue, Greenhouse Gardens, is a small urban farm run by a local couple. They are happy to arrange farm-to-table dinners prepared by a local chef and served at tables outdoors or in a restored barn.

To add Western spirit to an evening, there’s the Eddie Basha Collection, a corporate gallery that surrounds guests at private receptions with 3,000 pieces of Western and American Indian art.

Fun for the whole family

As people begin to travel again, Janes is seeing more families tag along to meetings. They find plenty to fill their free hours in Chandler. Younger children love the Crayola Experience, one of five locations in the U.S., where kids can spend hours dashing among 20 hands-on Crayola-themed projects. 

In the heat of the summer, indoor activity centers offers cool retreats for fun, with everything from bowling and climbing walls to escape rooms and trampolines. Many public pools in the area are like mini water parks, with elaborate water slides and lazy rivers. Chandler’s position on the desert’s edge, with mountains nearby, opens up opportunities for hikes, horseback rides and hot-air ballooning. 

All in all, it is a friendly, relaxed city for meetings and events.

“Chandler is a very personable community,” says Janes, who’s worked there nearly 20 years. “You get to know folks and part of that goes back to that entrepreneurial spirit. Have you ever met an entrepreneur? They’re always happy to keep talking about what they love.”

For more information:

Visit Chandler

Kimberly Janes