Rising like a phoenix in the Arizona desert, a new resort is taking shape in Glendale, Arizona. Set on 60 acres and just 1,000 feet from the Arizona Cardinals football stadium, Vai Resort promises to be the most unique resort in Arizona when it debuts in 2024.
TPG recently visited the site of the new resort to see the development firsthand. Grant Fisher, president of Vai Global Development, showed me around and shared his vision for this one-of-a-kind oasis in the desert.
What sets Vai Resort apart from the other luxury four- and five-star properties in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona? For starters, it will not join one of the major hotel brands, according to Fisher.
Plus, it will have unique attractions, such as a tethered hot air balloon and a concert venue dubbed “Vai Amphitheater” that can hold up to 8,000 guests for A-list concerts and events — the resort is currently planning on hosting up to 100 live shows per year. There’s also the temperature-controlled sand at the 52,000-square-foot Konos Beach Club, which will have DJ parties and 5 acres of refreshing pools to cool off in.
Lobby rendering at Vai Resort by Simeone Deary. VAI RESORT
The resort will be home to the Mattel Adventure Park as well. Featuring the Hot Wheels Bone Shaker roller coaster and a “Thomas & Friends”-themed land, the park gives guests the chance to enjoy all kinds of unique experiences. Barbie fans will particularly love the life-size Barbie Beach House and the rooftop bar and restaurant serving Barbie pink cocktails.
With four hotel towers, more than 1,100 rooms and plans to employ 1,800 full-time employees, Vai Resort will be the largest hotel in Arizona. The next largest hotel is the newly reimagined Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, which has 1,000 rooms and sits near the Phoenix Convention Center.
Don’t think the resort is just for leisure, though. With 80,000 square feet of planned state-of-the-art meeting space, corporate groups will also be able to enjoy the resort, and Fisher envisions group buyouts of entire towers for incentive trips.
Hotel tower themes
Amphitheater Tower guest room at Vai Resort. BECKY BLAINE/THE POINTS GUY
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Each hotel tower will have its own valet entrance and porte-cochere for guests arriving at the resort, so there’s no dragging luggage across the expansive grounds to find your room.
We toured the Amphitheater Tower, where the theme is rock ‘n’ roll. The building has a north-south configuration, and all 148 of the south-facing rooms look into the grounds and the $40 million stage that will have state-of-the-art technology.
These rooms become private skyboxes where guests can view concerts from their own balconies — the plan is for each room reservation to receive six concert tickets. For anyone looking to host a larger party, the third-floor VIP Skybox can hold up to 60 guests with prime concert views.
Amphitheater Tower third-floor VIP Skybox looking at concert stage. BECKY BLAINE/THE POINTS GUY
“We’re committed to creating a new type of venue — a visionary new concept that is a true game-changer in the world of music and hospitality,” Fisher said. “Our aim isn’t just to build the greatest venue in Arizona, but to set a new standard for live entertainment globally. We’re excited to share this vision with the world and look forward to welcoming artists and music fans from every corner of the globe to the VAI Amphitheater at the VAI Resort.”
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BECKY BLAINE/THE POINTS GUY
The rooms themselves are well appointed with indoor and outdoor seating (for balcony rooms), a dining/work table, a media center and ample storage. The bathroom features floor-to-ceiling Carrara marble, Bulgari bath products and a selection of hair tools. Open the closet and you won’t find an iron but rather a steamer and comfortable robes and slippers.
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BECKY BLAINE/THE POINTS GUY
Other resort towers include the family-focused Rhythm Tower, with easy access to the Mattel Adventure Park and a prime view of the Hot Wheels Bone Shaker roller coaster that wraps around the outside of the building, and the Cadence Tower, which has a boutique feel.
Perhaps the most impressive tower is the Vai Villas Tower, which will feature 176 all-suite accommodations ranging from 1,100 to 5,300 square feet. Each villa will have a kitchenette with a full-size fridge, a wine fridge and a sink, as well as a powder room in addition to the main en suite bathrooms. The rooftop will feature two private pools for the exclusive use of villa guests.
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Vai Resort Villas Tower. VAI RESORT
Fisher also noted that below the Villas will be up to 80,000 square feet of luxury retail shopping featuring curated brands from SoHo in the Manhattan borough of New York City; Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California; Sonoma, California; and Mykonos, Greece.
Diverse food and drink options
Lobby bar rendering by Simeone Deary. VAI RESORT
If unique is the name of the game, expect to be wowed by Vai Resort’s offerings. The property is planning to dominate in this category, with 12 different dining venues featuring a range of international cuisines.
We toured the space that will become the signature steakhouse on the eighth floor of the Amphitheater Tower. Floor-to-ceiling stacking glass walls open up to let guests enjoy the cool desert evenings and live entertainment that will take place on the amphitheater stage below. The steakhouse will also feature a cigar lounge, a speak-easy and a private dining room.
Vai Resort’s eight-floor view from the steakhouse. BECKY BLAINE/THE POINTS GUY
There will be 10 unique bar and cocktail experiences around the resort, too, from the Konos Beach Club to various lobby bars to the mimosa bar in the “Thomas & Friends”-inspired land.
When Vai Resort begins its phased opening in 2024, it will be the largest resort in Arizona. It will have the most unique attractions and entertainment the Valley of the Sun has ever seen.
Stay tuned to TPG for more information as the resort nears completion. You can also check the live construction camera on the resort’s website for progress.