Touring Scottsdale's Hotel Valley Ho

In 1956, Scottsdale was a small city of 7,000 residents. The one-square-mile agricultural town was considered a long drive from Phoenix. Scottsdale started gaining popularity with winter visitors. Tourism and high-end shopping began to boom -- and the Hotel Valley Ho was born.

Jackalope Ranch took a tour of the hotel, the first in Scottsdale to have central air conditioning, to learn more about its history (and snap a few photos, too). Here's what we found.

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Edward L. Varney, a wealthy architect known for his modern, minimalistic style (and a student of Frank Lloyd Wright), was commissioned to design the hotel, which is the sister property of the Westward Ho in downtown Phoenix. Varney, also known for designing ASU's Sun Devil Stadium, was innovative when it came to his buildings. For example, when designing the Valley Ho, he ran all electrical wiring through underground tunnels instead of utilizing above-ground utility poles, which would've been an eyesore. Varney also planned ahead and made sure the main hotel building was structured to hold a seven-story tower. This was at a time when building up was unheard of in Scottsdale, and a tower was nowhere in the immediate plans.

Managers Robert and Evelyn Foehl were well-known in Southern California for their hospitality. They also owned a resort there that was frequented by the Hollywood elite. When the Valley Ho opened, the Foehls wasted no time inviting their famous Hollywood friends to Scottsdale. The hotel became the perfect getaway destination for celebrities looking for shelter from the limelight. The hotel offered privacy, as it was far enough from California that paparazzi wouldn't follow. Thereby it was a place where celebrities could let their guard down.

In 1973, the Valley Ho was purchased by Ramada and renamed Ramada Valley Ho until 2002, when it was put up for auction. That year, the Valley Ho almost met its demise. The highest bidder was someone who wanted to tear the hotel down, but it was saved when the owner sold instead to a local company, MSR Properties, who were intent on restoring the hotel and bringing back its midcentury glory.

Construction began in 2004. One year and $80 million later, the Hotel Valley Ho reopened its doors. Now when stepping inside, it's easy to forget what decade it is. That is, until you're greeted with the hotel's modern amenities. In 2008, Varney's vision finally came to fruition when the tower was completed, more than 50 years after drawing out the plans.

The Hotel Valley Ho is unique in that it has been completely restored, but its charm and splendor have been retained. Whether you're looking to get away and relax, need a stay-cation, or simply want to relax by the pool, the Hotel Valley Ho is an ideal destination.

Go visit, and step into a piece of preserved Arizona history. Tours are conducted by Ace Bailey and are available by appointment through the Hotel Valley Ho concierge. Cost is $19.56 (the year the hotel opened). Ace will give you an in-depth look into the hotel's history and let you in on a few of the secrets the Valley Ho keeps. You'll see the spa, art gallery, various rooms, and head to the rooftop for a look at the Phoenix skyline. Call 480-248-2000 for availability.

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