1912 - It was the year Arizona traded in its territorial status to become the 48th state. It was the year Dr. Alexander J. Chandler founded the small town southeast of Phoenix that bears his name.
It was also the year that Dr. Chandler began building his dream…an oasis in the desert, a resort that would tempt the rich and famous from all over the world to return to Chandler, Arizona, year after year.
He named the resort San Marcos after Friar Marcos DeNiza, who is said to have visited the Chandler area in 1539 while searching for the mythical “Seven Cities of Cibola.”
When the San Marcos opened in 1913, it was the first Arizona resort to boast a full complement of resort amenities: golf, tennis, horseback riding, and polo. And for the more genteel, there were afternoon teas, bridge, shopping, and social things that grew into an international Who’s Who.
Year after year, heads of government and industry, debutantes, entertainers, athletes, and artists from all over the world basked in the luxury of the San Marcos and the warmth of the Arizona sun.
They came in search of warmth, recreation, rest, anonymity, they left a legacy as rich and colorful as DeNiza’s mythical Cibola.
The San Marcos Resort became a popular retreat and desert playground for the rich and famous. Hollywood celebrities, socialites, athletes, authors, artists, and heads of industry traveled from all over the world to soak up the warm Arizona sun and enjoy golf, swimming, and relaxing. Some of the Hollywood stars who are known to have stayed at the resort include legends such as Fred Astaire, Joan Crawford, Bing Crosby, Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Gloria Swanson, and Cher. President Herbert Hoover, Christian Dior, Gene Tunney, and Margaret Sanger also visited the San Marcos Resort.
One of Dr. Chandler’s close friends was famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright who visited the San Marcos Resort during its construction. During this time he and Dr. Chandler began working on a plan to build an even more modern and luxurious resort at the foot of Phoenix’s South Mountain. Unfortunately, the Great Depression stifled Dr. Chandler’s expansion plans. But the San Marcos Resort persevered. In fact, expansion of the resort began almost immediately after it opened. In 1916, eight bungalows were added, as well as a surrounding park area which featured sunken gardens, walking paths, pool, and playfield. More extensive changes occurred in 1924 when architect Myron Hunt, master of Spanish Colonial Revival design and designer of the Rose Bowl, added 16 bungalows and a second-story terrace. By 1932, the resort was able to accommodate 225 guests and was repainted with white and blue to add some contrast to the dark wood Mission look. In 1936, Dr. Chandler sold the hotel for $1 million but remained as president of the property. Some of the biggest enhancements occurred in 1954 when all baths were tiled and fitted with a tub and shower; the remaining pergolas were removed and replaced with wrought-iron grillwork for a more modern Spanish look. Guest rooms were expanded to accommodate 300 and the lobby, dining room and cocktail lounge were completely remodeled. The resort underwent hardship in the late 70’s and early 80’s and was shuttered between 1979 and 1986. It reopened in 1987 following the restoration of the original building and the addition of 250 rooms.
The 100-acre golf course was built in 1913 and was seeded with Bermuda grass, making it the first grass links in Arizona. Fifteen years later in 1928 the course was redesigned and was built to include a sprinkler system. Fresh off a multi-million dollar renovation, today the 18-hole San Marcos Golf Course sits on 72 well-manicured acres and includes a state-of-the-art irrigation system that produces premium playing conditions year-round.Book Tee Times