Filed Under Tourism

Hotel Valley Ho

Preserving Scottsdale's Mid-Century Resorts

Hotel Valley Ho remains one of the only examples of of the midcentury motor hotel boom.

Built in 1956, the Hotel Valley Ho never had time for its original grand opening. The rooms filled up far too quickly to bother. The hotel thrived as tourists were drawn to Scottsdale's burgeoning arts and culture district; the industrial giant, Motorola, arranged to temporarily house its relocated employees in the hotel's graceful poolside rooms. Not only was the Valley Ho fully air conditioned, but it was open year round--an early innovator in this respect among Valley's hotels and resorts.

The hotel bridged competing trends that emerged in post-war Scottsdale between the Chamber of Commerce's "West's Most Western Town" branding and an emerging emphasis on high-end art and design.
Renowned architect Edward Varney joined these traditions through his design, melding organic southwestern architecture with the sleek, angular lines of mid-century modernism. Likewise, hotel operators, Bob and Evelyn Foehl, selected a name for the modernist design that resulted from a contest that asked the community to find a moniker that conveyed the appropriate "westward flavor." In bridging the nostalgic and the modern, the Valley Ho became an important symbol of 1950s Scottsdale's development. The postwar economic boom bred a host of luxury accommodations and tourist amenities in Scottsdale, and because travel and recreation, if only for a few weeks a year, were now within reach for many more Americans, Scottsdale quickly lured flocks of vacationers and seasonal residents. Scottsdale was forging its identity and aimed at glamor and glitz but differentiated itself by celebrating local southwestern aesthetics and traditions.

In 1973, the Ramada Inn Hotel chain, which owned an adjacent motel, acquired the hotel as part of a larger conference center. The new conference center and hotel took the name Ramada Valley Ho, although the new owners covered much of the mid-century architectural features that many viewed as outdated. The hotel continued to serve conference goers and tourists alike, but an aging infrastructure and increasingly competitive hotel market eroded its economic viability. In 2001, as Ramada Inn closed the hotel, local preservationists worried that the hotel might be bulldozed. Indeed, preservation reports noted that "with the Safari Hotel's demolition in the late 1990s, the Hotel Valley Ho is the only remaining postwar resort or hotel in the Valley, and conceivably, in Arizona, that has not had substantial changes to design, materials or architectural features. Of the major examples of motor hotels published in the architectural journals of the 1950s, none with the prototypical nature of the Hotel Valley Ho remain today."

Westroc Hotels & Resorts purchased the property--which had been placed on the Scottsdale Historic Register--in 2002, and invested more than $80 million in its rehabilitation. Reopened in 2005, the renovated hotel retained its original character. Westroc salvaged existing wings and the courtyard., as well as original brick walls, concrete railings, and fascia. It also preserved the custom steel open stairs of triangular patterns. New additions included a conference center and recreating Trader Vic's Restaurant, and additional levels were provided using the original 1956 drawings as inspiration. Allen & Phillip Architects led the renovation project.

Audio

Architectural Optimism Architect Douglas Syndor considers the significance of the Hotel Valley Ho within the broader architectural framework of its era. Written by Doug Sydnor and Amy T. Long; narrated by Doug Sydnor. Recorded at Scottsdale Channel 11. Audio courtesy of Papago Salado Association. Creator: Doug Sydnor and Amy T. Long

Images

As a Motor Hotel
As a Motor Hotel The architecture of the Hotel Valley Ho reflected both the optimism of mid-century America, including the clean horizontal lines and angles that characterized what became known as "mid-century modern" architecture. Architect Edward Varney also designed the hotel with the era's automobile culture in mind. An early "motel," the Valley Ho featured a drive-up entrance at the intersection of Main Street (later Indian School Road) and 68th Street. Source: SCOT-HIS-2012-0829; Scottsdale Public Library. Date: 1956
Staff Celebrate Motel Opening
Staff Celebrate Motel Opening The Hotel Valley Ho's horizontal lines reflect mid-century architectural trends. Designed and built in 1956 by Edward L. Varney Associates, it thrived, in part, because of a nearby Motorola plant. Source: SCOT-HIS-2012-0808; Scottsdale Public Library Date: 1956
Architectural Detail
Architectural Detail The Ramada Inn Hotel chain acquired the Hotel Valley Ho in 1973 and closed it in 2001, after which it was slated for demolition. Preservationists rallied to save the hotel, with its unique architecture and history, and successfully had it placed on the Scottsdale Historic Register. In 2002, the hotel was bought by Westroc Hotels & Resorts, which renovated the property in 2005. Source: SCOT-CCL-HIS-2015-7264; Scottsdale Public Library
Sleek Design
Sleek Design The hotel mixed principles of organic southwestern modernism, characterized by rock, concrete, masonry and glass, mixing it with sleek angular mid-century designs that include aluminum and other "modern" materials. By the time it was preserved in 2001, it was the last remaining (intact) post-World War II resort in Scottsdale. Source: SCOT-HIS-2011-2111; Scottsdale Public Library. Creator: Don Meserve
Date: 2001
Valley Ho Ad
Valley Ho Ad When advertising, the Hotel Valley Ho celebrated its modern "European" inspired design and the advantages of year-round sunshine. Image courtesy of Scottsdale Public Library. Source: Scottsdale Public Library
Aerial View of the Valley Ho
Aerial View of the Valley Ho When it opened in 1956, citrus groves and some of Scottsdale's earliest neighborhoods surrounded the Hotel Valley Ho, which sits along Indian School Road, parallel to the Arizona Canal, just south of Camelback Mountain. Source: SCOT-HIS-2012-0827, Scottsdale Public Library. Date: 2005

Location

6850 E Main St, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Metadata

Amy Long and Mark Tebeau, “Hotel Valley Ho,” Salt River Stories, accessed June 24, 2024, https://saltriverstories.org/items/show/32.