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Strategic Hotels & Resorts May Spend Upwards of $230 million to Overhaul and Expand the Fairmont
 Scottsdale Princess Resort; Michael Mina Restaurant and Randy Gerber Bar to Be Added
 
By Donna Hogan, The Tribune, Mesa, Ariz.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Aug. 12, 2007 - The $230 million overhaul of the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort will be a boon to local tourism and help, not hurt, other city hotels, industry experts said.

The Fairmont's plans reportedly include 70,000 square feet of new meeting space and 334 additional guest rooms that will make the sprawling north Scottsdale property the biggest resort in Arizona.

The 1,000-room Sheraton, under construction in downtown Phoenix, will be a few dozen rooms bigger, but it is designed as an urban hotel.

"This addition will allow the Fairmont to compete with other destinations, not other Scottsdale resorts," said Rachel Sacco, Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau president. That's what happened in 2002 when the 950-room JW Marriott Resort at Desert Ridge and 750-room Westin Kierland Resort -- both in northeast Phoenix -- opened nearly simultaneously, striking fear into the hearts of nearby hoteliers. But the fears turned out to be unfounded, Sacco said.

"We've seen first-hand how newer properties with more rooms and larger meeting space brought new business to Scottsdale," she said.

And the Fairmont's planned Michael Mina restaurant and Randy Gerber bar will attract the notice of upscale leisure travelers, she said.

Longtime Scottsdale hotelier Tom Silverman, general manager of the Chaparral Suites Resort in downtown Scottsdale, said he isn't worried about the Fairmont's expansion, even though it will be adding more guest rooms than he has in his entire property.

"This will really bring in large groups that could never come here before," he said. "And that's not really our market."

Silverman said he is much more concerned about a trio of full-service urban hotels set for downtown Scottsdale that he said could steal his guests.

"That's a lot at once," he said. "We're getting too many in a concentrated area. That worries me."

Sacco said the Fairmont Scottsdale's owner, Strategic Hotels & Resorts, is "banking on the future" of the destination's tourism allure by investing a whopping $230 million in the property.

CONTACT WRITER:

(480) 970-2338

or dhogan@evtrib.com

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Copyright (c) 2007, The Tribune, Mesa, Ariz.

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