|By Donna Hogan, The Tribune, Mesa, Ariz.|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
May 18, 2004 - The Doubletree La Posada Resort in Paradise Valley will get underground parking, a luxury spa, $1.5 million private villas and other upgrades expected to triple the aging hotel's revenue, the new owners said.
California-based Crown Realty & Development bought the 35-year-old sprawling resort at Lincoln Drive and Tatum Boulevard in March for $30.6 million.
The company plans to spend, "more than we paid for it," to spruce up the place, said Crown Realty president Robert Flaxman.
The new owners submitted an application to the town for the makeover and plan to make a formal presentation May 27. An informal meeting with neighbors is scheduled for a day earlier.
Flaxman hopes to get necessary approvals by early fall, start construction in March 2005, and debut the new resort in early 2006.
La Posada will close for part of the construction period, he said.
Some structures will be torn down, others will be built, and everything left standing will get a major makeover, Flaxman said.
"You won't recognize the (old and new) properties other than that they are on the same land," Flaxman said. "There isn't a structure that won't be touched in some way."
Even the meandering pool, possibly the first water playground in the metro area, will be dug up and replaced by several pools -- some surrounded by cabanas and lush landscaping and reserved for adults only, he said.
"We are catering to the luxury market," he said. "The sensibilities we are trying to achieve are romance, beauty, garden settings, fireplaces, unparalleled service."
The Doubletree has 262 rooms and suites. The new resort will have about the same, Flaxman said, although more than 60 of the units will be privately owned villas -- prices starting at $1.5 million -- available for the resort to rent out when the owners aren't using them. This is similar to the ownership structure of nearby Camelback Inn.
Flaxman also plans to create an elegant restaurant that will be a draw for local people and hotel guests.
"Our target is that when anybody asks, 'What are the three best restaurants in the Valley?' this will be on everybody's list," he said.
In fact, Flaxman hopes the new resort will be a hub for the upscale neighborhood.
"Right now, Paradise Valley people never go there," he said. "But when we are done, the quality and beauty will be so provocative, the local community will embrace it. It will be a place where people will want to live as well as play."
Among the changes proposed are a luxury spa and the elimination of the huge asphalt parking areas to be replaced with an underground parking garage. The resort's exterior will be redesigned with, "Andalusian style and ambiance," including cobblestone, reflecting pools and lanterns.
Town and tourism leaders say they are pleased about Crown Realty's plans for the property.
In recent years, a decline in tourism nationwide caused by a faltering economy and business travel slowdown has led to diminished tax contributions from the resort industry. Paradise Valley has no property tax, so bed taxes -- fees paid by hotel guests -- and sales taxes supply the town funds. The new resort is expected to generate significantly more cash for the coffers, said Tom Martinsen, town manager.
Crown Realty estimates the upgraded inn could cough up as much as three times the revenue of the existing resort.
Even more important, La Posada's upgraded status will give Paradise Valley's tourism industry recovery a big boost, Martinsen said.
"We're extremely enthused about this project," he said. "This resort is becoming a tired facility. The quality of the new La Posada is going to be outstanding. It will set standards for the other resorts in the town and in the whole region."
Rachel Sacco, president of the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, which markets Paradise Valley resorts as well as those in Scottsdale, said all of the area's resort properties reflect on the image of the destination.
"We are so excited about La Posada having ownership that will maximize that property's potential by pumping dollars into it," Sacco said. "That property has been a favorite of customers coming to Paradise Valley and Scottsdale over the years, but it really is in need of refurbishment so it can compete with the rest of the properties in the Scottsdale area."
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(c) 2004, The Tribune, Mesa, Ariz. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.