One East Valley Marriott may be doomed but another is nearly ready to bloom, Marriott International’s chairman said Wednesday.
The conversion of the Mesa Sheraton to a more upscale Marriott is expected to be completed by mid-May, said J.W. Marriott Jr.
"That will be a very important property for us," he said.
The patriarch of the hotel family was in the Valley on Wednesday to receive the first Global Services Leadership Award from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
Marriott received the ASU honor after being introduced by his son, Stephen Marriott, at one of his most elegant Valley properties, the Ritz Carlton-Phoenix.
The Marriott chairman also discussed the potential demise of a personal favorite haunt, the Marriott Mountain Shadows Resort in Paradise Valley.
The sprawling 70-acre resort and golf course is owned by Host Marriott, a separate company from Marriott International, which manages the property.
"That has been an important hotel for us," J.W. Marriott said. "Time has marched on beyond Mountain Shadows, and Host Marriott has been reluctant to reinvest. So that’s where it sits."
Stephen Marriott started his career in the family business in sales at Mountain Shadows. But J.W. Marriott said that to maintain the brand image, the owners would have to sink a sack of money into the aging resort, and Host Marriott sees a better business potential in turning the property into residences.
While Mountain Shadows owners have approached the Paradise Valley Town Council about a different use for the land, no formal proposal has been submitted.
Brain Hoover of Paradise Valley, who first stayed at Mountain Shadows a dozen years ago when he and his wife were moving to the area and now lives nearby, said he hopes the owners have a change of heart.
"It’s a wonderful facility, and I’d like to see it stay," Hoover said. "And I’d like the tax stream to stay in the town."
Hoover mentioned two other older Paradise Valley resorts that opted for revitalization instead of closing. Sanctuary was transformed from John Gardiner’s Tennis Ranch a few years ago, and the Doubletree La Posada is about to undergo a massive redo.
But while he can’t save Mountain Shadows, Marriott said he is committed to the Valley and has been spending vacations in places like Camelback Inn, recently renamed a JW Marriott Resort, since 1968. The company currently has 42 Valley hotels, from Fairfield Inns to the Ritz Carlton.
Marriott, who wrote a book, "Spirit to Serve," detailing his company’s culture, said he accepted the ASU award, "on behalf of all our associates who make it happen every day."
His philosophy was handed down from his father, whose Washington, D.C., nine-seat root beer stand evolved into the massive 2,700 hotel empire that his son now pilots.