I've lived in Arizona for 69 years (Tucson, Glendale, and Sedona). I love writing about Arizona history, antiques, books, and travel.
Construction of the Valley Ho Hotel
Robert Foehl and his wife Evelyn, both hoteliers, had worked at the famous Biltmore Hotel in the Los Angeles area and had established friendships with the Hollywood stars of the early 1950s. When they moved to Arizona, they purchased the Hotel San Marcos in Chandler, and began planning to build a new hotel in Scottsdale. The new hotel would be built around a pool and would have air conditioning that would allow the hotel to be open during the summer season. They hired architect Edward Varney, who had studied with Frank Lloyd Wright to create a modern design. The original design included a tower which wasn't built at that time, but the hotel, a restaurant, a lounge and a night club were completed.
The construction materials included masonry bricks, cast and poured concrete, and large panels of glass which connected guests to the environment outside. V shapes, repeated in the cast concrete forms resembled upside down arrow heads which added Western appeal. A porte-cochere over the entrance seemed to "flow" into the high ceiling of the lobby. While today, codes require a certain number of parking spaces, at the time, a parking lot where guests could park right outside their room was unusual. Interior decor included frosted glass, Formica counter tops and minimalist furniture. The cost of construction was 1.5 million.
The hotel was named Valley Ho. Several explanations have been given for the name. Ho was said to be an ancient Native American word for "you are welcome here", or the word Ho was chosen to connect it to the successful Westward Ho hotel downtown Phoenix. Some say that Valley was chosen because of the proximity of the new hotel to Paradise Valley. This may be true, but Paradise Valley was largely undeveloped at the time. Some say it was named for the Salt River Valley, which was what the metro Phoenix area was called before being called The Valley of the Sun. Any of the connections for the name, or none of them might be correct.
The grand opening of the Valley Ho was December 20th, 1956.
Valley Ho Hotel Scottsdale Arizona Shortly After Construction
Famous Guests and a Decline
The Foehl's Hollywood connections held and the Hollywood crowd began coming. The most notable stars Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner had their wedding reception at the Valley Ho in 1957. Jimmie Durante surprised the other guests late one night by playing the piano for them.
When Robert Foehl died in 1973, the Valley Ho was sold to the Ramada chain. Soon the decor was updated and changed. The hotel continued to be used for conferences, trade shows and business meetings until 2001, when the hotel was closed. It sat vacant and boarded when no buyers came forward. Demolition seemed like the best use for the valuable Scottsdale land. Soon a campaign was begun to have the property declared a historic site for its contributions to the history of Scottsdale. Partners Scott Lyon and Bill Nassikas of Westroc Hotels bought the Valley Ho and hired the Scottsdale firm, Allen and Philip, to renovate the hotel and to construct the tower that had originally been planned. The name was changed to Hotel Valley Ho and the grand opening took place on December 20th, 2005 exactly 49 years after the original opening.
Hotel Valley Ho Tower Added in 2005
Mid Century Modern is Retro-Chic
Today the Hotel Valley Ho offers studio guest rooms, pool view (cabana) rooms, tower suites, and executive suites. The words used most often by guests to describe the hotel are swanky, fun, funky, excellent, high end, retro hip, cool, chic, luxe, trendy and an urban resort. Zu Zu's restaurant is a treat and offers comfort foods of the 1950s and 60s with a modern twist. The lounge area is truly a step back in time. While the hotel is located just two blocks from fine dining and trendy shops, the solid rock and concrete construction and mature landscaping give the property a sense of quiet while being surrounded by the city. During the winter season, rooms are at a premium rate (as high as $400 plus), but during fall and summer rates rooms are offered at reduced prices (less than $200). Guest reviews from several popular booking sites most often rate their stay as 4.5 to 5 stars.
Zu Zu Restaurant
Lobby Mid-Century Furniture and Decor
Location of Hotel Valley Ho
A Cabana Poolside Room Valley Ho
What are you willing to Pay?
Decorative Local Rocks and Concrete Details
Glamorous Hotel Valley Ho Lounge
Beautiful Lush Landscaping
mactavers (author) on September 23, 2015:
Thanks. If you like the article, you would LOVE the hotel.
Chantelle Porter from Ann Arbor on September 23, 2015:
I would love to stay at this hotel some day. Great article.
mactavers (author) on February 25, 2015:
Thank you. I'm a lifelong AZ resident with a real interest in keeping our historical buildings around.
Trudy Cooper from Hampshire, UK on February 25, 2015:
Very interesting history, well written.
mactavers (author) on February 23, 2015:
Thanks for the comments. I have never stayed there, but have eaten there and walked around admiring the hotel many times since 2005.
Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on February 23, 2015:
Thank you for this nice piece as I have stayed there a few times and am glad to see it still is going strong.
Ann Carr from SW England on February 23, 2015:
Interesting place and history. It looks very retro but then I suppose it is! I like it.
Thanks for the introduction to this fascinating place with well-known guests.