Historic Hotels in the Chandler, Arizona, Area

by Tricia Chaves

Chandler’s first luxury hotel was built just 12 years after its first settler Dr. John Chandler drafted plans for the town he called Chandler Ranch in 1900 and still operates today. Phoenix and its neighboring suburb attracted the attention of snowbirds and celebrities from its inception and continues to be one of the nation’s top tourist destinations. Historic hotels in and within a 20-minute drive of Chandler can be accessed easily from the Sky Harbor International Airport.

Crowne Plaza San Marcos Resort in Chandler

The San Marcos opened in Chandler in 1913 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The state’s first resort-type property offering a range of amenities and activities like horseback riding, tennis, golf, bridge and social events attracted celebrity clientèle like Fred Astaire and Joan Crawford. After a renovation of more than $2 million, it became the Crowne Plaza San Marcos Resort in 2006. Sleep Advantage rooms have comfortable beds with seven pillows, an eye mask and relaxing lavender bed spray. The resort has an 18-hole golf course, and A.J.'s Café serves casual American dishes and a Sunday jazz brunch.

Hotel San Carlos in Phoenix

When the Hotel San Carlos in Phoenix originally opened in 1928, it was considered super-modern as the city’s first high rise and the state’s first air-conditioned luxury hotel with an elevator. Original finishes that still exist in the lobby include ceiling and wall details as well as Austrian crystal mirrors and lighting. One of the hotel’s revolutionary elevator cars operates using its original manual controllers. Guest rooms have retained the original layouts, plumbing fixtures and woodwork. Two-bedroom signature suites are named for some of the hotel’s most well-known guests like Mae West and Marilyn Monroe. Enjoy a drink or a dip on the poolside rooftop patio and lounge, or savor a meal in one of two on-site restaurants.

Royal Palms Resort and Spa in Phoenix

A wealthy New York financier had this Spanish colonial-style mansion constructed for his winter home in Phoenix in the early 1920s; it was opened for guests under new ownership in 1948 as the Royal Palms Inn. In 1995, local businessman Fred Unger purchased and spent millions of dollars on the restoration of the property to a series of rooms, casitas and villas. The Alvadora Spa offers a full menu of body and beauty treatments and a 24-hour fitness center. T. Cook’s restaurant serves Mediterranean selections indoors and around chimineas on the patio; the poolside Cabana Café serves lunch.

Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale

This AAA Four-Diamond-rated Hotel Valley Ho, constructed in 1956, was the first hotel in Scottsdale to stay open year-round due to its newfangled central air conditioning. The property was designed by the same local architect, Edward L. Varney, who created the municipal building and Sun Devil Stadium and hosted Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood’s 1957 wedding reception. The hotel was sold and closed for construction in 2004 and reopened as a “mid-century modern resort” in 2005 — exactly 49 years to the date of its original opening. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors open to a patio off each guest room. Enjoy meals at Cafe ZuZu and Trader Vic's, and unwind in the oval-shaped pool and the VH Spa.

About the Author

I was editor of the newspaper in college & on the yearbook staff in high school. I'm learning to speak Brazilian Portuguese.