The nation’s tourists view Scottsdale as a sleepy golf mecca for winter visitors, according to a survey conducted by a national travel magazine and a cable news network.
That perception indicates that Scottsdale tourism officials have not made strides in their efforts to transform the city’s image into a hip, trendy hot spot on par with Los Angeles and Miami.
Scottsdale finished 23rd among 25 cities nationwide for its after-dark attractions, beating only Dallas and Santa Fe, according to the survey, which was conducted for Travel + Leisure magazine and CNN Headline News. New Orleans and Las Vegas finished first and second respectively in the category.
In the culture category, Scottsdale received the dubious distinction of the penultimate spot, edging only Orlando, Fla.
New York and Washington took the top two spots.
The pollsters asked 60,000 people to rate 25 cities in 60 different categories.
The survey was conducted from April 30 through July 15.
Scottsdale’s national reputation as a golf and resort paradise earned the city high marks in categories associated with the outdoors and relaxation. It placed 11th in the country in the Access to Outdoors category, and sixth in the Relaxing Retreat category.
Local experts and business owners cited Scottsdale’s relatively nascent status as the primary reason for its poor national perception as a desirable destination for young and restless tourists.
Rachel Sacco, the president and CEO of the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau said, “Our downtown development is just starting. We have built and are building more boutique hotels, and a younger demographic is beginning to come into town. Only in recent years have we added nightlife and top-notch cuisine. It would surprise me if our rankings were still low in a couple of years.”
Paul Piazza, the head of Scottsdale’s main art alliance, said the Scottsdale region is still playing catch-up with the rest of the country in terms of cultural prominence.
“Phoenix did not become a year-round community until the 1970s. In the 1950s and 1960s, There were still dirt roads around Pima Road,” said Piazza, president of the Scottsdale Gallery Association. “We have a plethora of art galleries with a wide-ranging span of art. Our art galleries have art that range from pre-historic to contemporary. There are 250 galleries in the metro area and 140 in Scottsdale alone.”
Scottsdale’s reputation is changing, said Andrew Chippindall, the general manager at Hotel Valley Ho.
“It’s true the national perception is that Scottsdale does not have a good nightlife. Yet, in the last 18 months to two years, we have seen an increase in the number of people choosing Scottsdale purely for its nightlife and culinary offerings. We have seen people from the Midwest choosing Scottsdale over Las Vegas. Our visitors will relax by the pool during the day, and hit the nightclubs at night,” he said.
The on-going emergence of nightclubs such as Axis/Radius and Myst in Scottsdale’s downtown district may help increase Scottsdale’s reputation as a nightspot.
Axis/Radius is hosting its 10th anniversary celebration on Nov. 10, featuring rocker Dave Navarro and DJ Skribble.