Originally opened on December 20, 1956, Hotel Valley Ho stands as a mid-century modern icon in Downtown Scottsdale. Owned by John B. Mills, and managed and developed by Robert Foehl and his wife Evelyn, it was built on the belief that “the important thing is to make your guest feel wanted. Hotel Valley Ho has been a Downtown Scottsdale landmark since 1956.
Architect Edward L. Varney was commissioned to design the buildings. With offices in both Arizona and California, he was one of the wealthiest architects in the Valley. Varney was known for his minimalist, modern style. His designs included Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Stadium and H.B. Farmer Building, the Motorola Building on McDowell Rd. (now General Dynamics), and the Phoenix Municipal Building. He was ahead of his time, putting all of the electrical wiring, plumbing, and mechanical fixtures for the Valley Ho in underground tunnels. He also sub-structured the hotel to support a seven-story tower at a time when growth in Scottsdale was outwards, not upwards.
The design of the hotel became instantly distinctive – it combined modern and Southwestern styles in a way never before seen. The signature element was the set of concrete panels that still line the property. Construction costs totaled $1.5 million, equivalent to $12 million today.
Guests enjoyed luxuries like rollaway sofa beds, televisions with rabbit ears, and central air conditioning. Some rooms also had kitchenettes. A diving pool at the center of the property was the hub of activity, playing host to banquets, fashion shows, and lazy afternoons. Many of the Foehls’ Hollywood guests followed them to Scottsdale, having stayed at their resort in Southern California.
In 1973, Robert Foehl passed away. The Valley Ho was acquired by Ramada and lost its luster over the years. In 2002, it went up for sale and was redeveloped by local company Westroc Hospitality. The hotel reopened on December 20, 2005. Additions included ZuZu, the OH Pool, and VH Spa for Vitality + Health. The seven-story Tower was completed in January 2008, in the spirit of Varney’s original plans.
Alan Hess, architect and author of numerous mid-century modern texts, has called Hotel Valley Ho “one of the best-preserved mid-century hotels in the country.” Extensive renovations have brought the hotel to a modern standard of luxury, while honoring its classic design roots.