West Valley developers capitalize on tourism boom
Whether it’s a concert, the Super Bowl, March Madness or a bowl game, you can find it all in the West Valley. Thanks to an influx of tourists heading west for entertainment, cities in the West Valley are trying to capitalize off these guests — newcomers and locals alike.
The West Valley is proving itself to be a top destination for hospitality in the Grand Canyon State, with developments such as theme parks, the largest hotel in Arizona and indoor sports districts.
One of the largest hospitality developments coming to the West Valley in 2023 is the construction of the VAI Resort, a 60-acre entertainment resort opening in Glendale near State Farm Stadium and the Westgate Entertainment District. Upon opening, VAI Resort will be the largest hotel and entertainment destination in the state of Arizona.
After VAI is built, guests won’t have to go far for warm white sand beaches and clear blue water. VAI Resort will bring in a mix of Las Vegas, Miami, Dubai and Greece, offering a first of its kind experience. The resort will be home to a $40 million stage, 1,200 luxury hotel rooms and a 52,000-square-foot party island, according to VAI’s Vice President of Marketing Jessica Anderson.
“Instead of going potentially to Cabo, Puerto Vallarta or some of these options that may be close to the U.S, why not just come to Arizona instead?” Anderson asks.
Centered around the resort is a 360-degree, state-of-the-art concert stage. The main hotel features an amphitheater that sits 10,000 in a semi-circle built around the stage. VAI is looking to program the concert stage over 100 nights a year with a variety of artists including “very, very high level artists” that could be potentially coming to the area during tours, Anderson says.
READ ALSO: VAI Resort in Glendale will become Arizona's biggest hotel
At the VAI Resort, there is something for just about everyone. The resort will offer fine dining concepts, sports bars and nightclubs, along with white sand beaches and entertainment shows. “Every single one of our venues, whether it’s a bar, lounge or restaurant, is built with the opportunity for us to be able to program live entertainment,” Anderson adds.
Located within just a 10-minute walk from the VAI Resort will be the first-ever Mattel Adventure Park, set to open in 2024. The theme park will offer a family-friendly experience with a Barbie Beach House, Hot Wheels roller coaster and go-karting, among other attractions.
West Valley rooms
When Arizona hosted Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, Glendale had under 1,000 hotel rooms in a one mile radius. After Glendale hosted the Super Bowl once again this February, the city was better equipped to handle an influx of tourists with 1,700 hotel rooms open in a one mile radius, and upwards of 3,000 rooms by the time the Final Four rolls around, according to Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps.
Studies have shown that people who stay in a hotel remain within a one or two mile radius of that hotel and spend their money in that radius. This is exactly what the West Valley is trying to capitalize off of. “What happened in 2015 is the vast majority of people coming with the outside dollars that we wanted to capture stayed in Scottsdale and other areas because they had the hotel rooms and the few rooms we had were booked,” Phelps says.
If tourists coming for a concert or game cannot find a place to stay in Glendale, they now do not need to go as far as Scottsdale to find a hotel room. Since 2020, the West Valley has added nearly 2,000 hotel rooms with 5,895 rooms in the area. By the end of 2024, you can expect nearly 8,000 rooms in the West Valley, according to WESTMARC CEO Sintra Hoffman.
Built for experience
Hotel rooms are not the only thing the West Valley has added to increase hospitality in the area. The West Valley, spread across 3,000 square miles, is trying to build experiential entertainment destinations to offer hospitality to visitors and residents.
“We decided to focus on not just having a sports district, but sports entertainment, and not just an entertainment district, but an experiential entertainment district because younger generations are into experiences,” Phelps says.
Popstroke, a golf and dining-establishment opening this Spring, is an example of the experience that new hospitality developments will offer. Spread across 50,000 square feet, golfers can enjoy two 18-hole putting courses designed by professional golfer Tiger Woods.
READ ALSO: Glendale plans modernization of Gila River Arena
“All of these entertainment centers that really draw people in are going vertical in the West Valley,” Hoffman says .
Also opening this spring in Glendale is Chicken N Pickle, an entertainment complex that will include 30-40 pickle ball courts. The complex is expected to attract 700,000 annual visitors and will offer a chef-driven restaurant and sports bar.
Space to grow
The West Valley has proven itself to be a hot-spot for economic development and hospitality in the state of Arizona, for some time now. Developers have been starting to see the potential success that lies in the West Valley, with tourists constantly flooding to the West Valley year-round.
“People see the wealth that exists here and specifically developers and investors see that. Now they’re understanding that there is money in the West Valley and that will also drive their decision making to invest here,” Hoffman says.
The need for more hotels and entertainment destinations will continue to grow, with millions of tourists coming to the West Valley just this year, but that is something the West Valley is prepared for.
“My prediction for the West Valley down the road is it's thriving, it's vibrant. It's bringing those amenities, and bringing in that younger population. I think we're creating those opportunities for the younger population to stay and work here,” Hoffman concludes