Hotel Valley Ho
A Mid-Century Modern Star is Born
The influx of winter visitors and tourists to Scottsdale in the mid-1950s prompted the construction of Hotel Valley Ho, which originally opened on December 20, 1956. It featured ten lush acres and 180 guestrooms of contemporary design, centered on a courtyard and pool that were frequently a hub of activity, hosting events from weddings to fashion shows.
Hotel Valley Ho was the first hotel in Scottsdale to have central air-conditioning, and thus the first to be open year-round. It was also the first to employ southwestern architecture and to feature a European plan.
Hotel Valley Ho was the sister property to the Westward Ho in Downtown Phoenix. The name came from a newspaper contest; inspiration came from the Westward Ho. Husband and wife Robert and Evelyn Foehl were developers and owner-managers of the hotel, and lived on-site in a private apartment with an enclosed garden.
The hotel was designed by local architect Edward L. Varney, who also designed Sun Devil Stadium and the Phoenix Municipal Building. The construction cost was $1.5 million. Each guestroom featured a black-and-white television, impressive for the time, and some had kitchenettes. Plans for a tower were drawn but not executed, and two buildings were added at the north end of the hotel in 1961.
Hotel Valley Ho was acquired by Ramada in 1973 and expanded to include the neighboring Ramada Hotel, which was built in 1961. The entire complex was renamed Ramadas Valley Ho Resort and operated as such until it went up for sale in 2002. The highest offer for the hotel was from a buyer who wanted to tear it down; fortunately, it was saved from the wrecking ball when the owner decided to sell to MSR Properties, a local company that wanted to restore it to its former splendor. The landmark hotel was closed and plans for renovation went underway.
Construction began in 2004, and the hotel reopened on December 20, 2005, 49 years to the date from its original opening. Total renovation costs came to $80 million. One hundred and twenty guestrooms and conference spaces that were built as part of the Ramada Inn to the south in the early 1960s were torn down, as these buildings were not considered historically significant and were not part of the original Valley Ho. Additions included ZuZu, the OH Pool, VH Spa, and The Tower (completed in 2008).
Hotel Valley Ho is now considered one of the best-preserved mid-century hotels in the country according to architect and author Alan Hess. The buildings have been completely renovated, but the hotel still retains its original character and style.
Hotel Valley Ho has been a resting stop for many Hollywood stars throughout the years. In the fifties and sixties, the landmark hotel's style and upscale nature, as well as its distance from Hollywood, attracted VIPs who desired privacy. Many celebrities also came because the Foehls invited them after befriending them at their resort in Southern California.
In 1957, Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood held their private wedding reception in the hotel's ballroom. Wagner's parents had been regular guests at the hotel and thought the pair should be married away from the Hollywood limelight.
Today, Hotel Valley Ho continues to welcome athletes, actors, musicians, business, and leisure travelers alike.