San Marcos Hotel builds on past, eyeing future - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

San Marcos Hotel builds on past, eyeing future

May 11th, 2021 development
San Marcos Hotel builds on past, eyeing future

By Paula Soria

The San Marcos Hotel continues to be not only an enduring downtown Chandler landmark but an amazing experience for guests.

When it first opened in 1913, Dr. Alexander Chandler knew how to sell the hotel to the public.

The views, weather, amenities, entertainment and recreational activities helped him sell the hotel as a destination sport.

With recent renovations, the hotel still aims to do just that.

“It was the center of the community,” said Nate Meyers, coordinator and curator of collections at the Chandler Museum. “It was the business that the town was formed around and it sits at the heart of the downtown area, so it’s central to everything that has happened in Chandler since its founding.”

Chandler had dreamed about opening a resort for more than a decade and he originally planned to build one in Mesa, but that fell through.

For his general manager he hired Grace Perley Robinson, who was manager of Scottsdale’s Ingleside Inn for five years. She remained at the San Marcos for 19 years.

The hotel quickly gained a reputation for having amenities that many hotels lacked – such as electricity and telephone lines in every single room. It also included a golf and tennis course, horseback riding and car rental.

“I think that the entertainment, the recreational opportunities, parties and all that kind of stuff were kind of like the driver for its attractiveness – and the climate of course,” Meyers said.

The resort was the winter vacation spot of the rich and famous – including actor Jimmy Stewart and President Herbert Hoover. Australian actor Errol Flynn honeymooned there with his wife at the time, Nora Eddington.

In 1913 the hotel had 30 guest rooms. Now, it has 249 rooms.

In the past two years, all of the 1980 guest bathrooms. The bedrooms have new beds.

Andrew Fishburn, assistant general manager, said crews also have been doing ongoing work on the grounds to bring back the lush gardens, though they are making sure to to use native Arizona pla nts that don’t consume much water.

Wifi and security have been upgraded and exterior lights on the main building have been replaced. The building itself has been repainted, walkways have been retiled, and all furniture replaced.

The historic pergola wrapping around the building has been restored, as have the original wood windows. All signage has been replaced and the 80s awnings on the main building have been upgraded with more traditional structures in a modern color.

Looking forward, the resort will continue its improvements with the mission of also improving the guests’ experience.

“Lobby, bar, restaurant, meeting rooms, ballrooms and additional grounds work will all be starting in the next two months,” Fishburn said. “We are also adding a marketplace in the main lobby that will have an extensive wine and liquor selection for retail sale.”

Even now, the San Marcos still has its share of regular visitors.

“The thing I like the most about the San Marcos is it is central location to the Old Downtown. It is walking distance to so many great places to eat and drink. The people here at the hotel treat you like family; they are awesome,” said guest Steve Mehring.

“I’ve come here for a long time over the past few years for business and come every one or two months and it’s like there’s no other place I would rather be,” he added. “Even though it’s a little far away from where I need to go to work, it is the place of choice.”

Fishburn said the San Marcos will continue to thrive.

“This property has been around through two world wars, Prohibition, the Great Depression, 20 sitting presidents, several owners, renovations, abandoned in the 1970’s, changed names several times, 9/11, economic highs and major downfalls,  and now the uncharted territory we entered in 2020,” Fishburn said.

“Regardless of what has happened around her, she has continued to welcome guests and with the love this property is now getting, she will continue to do so for a long time.”