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BizTOURISM

$35 Million Makeover Westin La Paloma Restores Splendor to Iconic Resort Mary Minor Davis When Southwest Value Partners announced plans to renovate The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa in January 2012, the community sighed with relief. After the property had gone into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010, there was anxiety about what might happen to the popular, iconic destination. That anxiety was replaced by anticipation as work crews took over the resort. In August, the $35 million makeover of The Westin La Paloma was revealed, along with a new GM, Glenn Sampert. Guests are now enjoying the refurbished amenities at this dove of the desert. When La Paloma, which opened in 1986, was conceived by brothers George and David Mehl of Cottonwood Properties, it was expected to be the showpiece of the foothills. It featured a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, a clubhouse and the resort. The course was the first user of effluent water for golf courses in Southern Arizona and set the standard for desert preservation, according to Westin. A high-end residential community and an office complex completed the package. The development was touted as Tucson’s premier country club community and was the first of its kind in Tucson, with panoramic city and mountain views coupled with supreme recreational and social facilities. The resort attracted visitors worldwide. www.BizTucson.com

In 1988, the resort and country club were purchased by Aoki Corporation of Japan. Ten years later, a merger shifted ownership to Goldman Sachs, preceding a sale in 2007 to NCH-Transwest, a local property investment firm. Under the burden of the recession, Transwest suffered financial difficulties in 2010. Southwest Value Partners, a SanDiego-based real estate company cofounded by Phoenix Suns owner and Tucson native Robert Sarver, bought the property in 2012 and announced the multimillion-dollar makeover. Sarver, a University of Arizona graduate and chairman and CEO of Western Alliance Bancorporation, sees the potential of the Westin as the economy recovers and new marketing strategies are implemented. “There was a lot of neglect,” he said, noting the property had never been renovated. “It just needed a little TLC.” Sampert experienced the Westin as a guest when he and his wife vacationed in Tucson. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an extensive renovation of a property,” he said. “You could tell that a lot of work was needed.” Sampert sees a great deal of potential for business development, beginning with the local community’s support and commitment for the property’s success. “There is so much local pride in the resort of La Paloma,” he said. continued on page 128 >>> Winter 2014 > > > BizTucson 127

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The Tucson Region's Business Magazine

Biztucsonwinter2014flip  

The Tucson Region's Business Magazine