By Alex Gallagher
Nearly three years after its conception, Senna House opened its doors with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The six-story complex, with 169 rooms along with upscale amenities, sits on the former site of the Don & Charlie’s restaurant. Phoenix-based investment and development firm Opwest Partners developed the property.
“We’ve developed all over the country and this is the first property we’ve done in our backyard,” says Tyler Kent, managing principal at Opwest Partners. “It’s special to do what we’ve done across the country here in our backyard.”
Kent says he feels fortunate to build on a property that had a rich history. Don & Charlie’s was a premier Spring Training restaurant with walls covered in sports memorabilia and autographs.
When the restaurant, a favorite among Cubs fans, closed in April 2019, it was a lengthy process to transform the grounds into a six-story hotel.
“We were fortunate enough to acquire Don & Charlie’s and the city supported a redevelopment here to turn the restaurant into a hotel,” Kent says.
The site was attractive because of its location along Camelback Road.
“It’s very unique to have a Camelback Road address,” Kent says, calling it “arguably the most notorious thoroughfare in Scottsdale. Our hope is that guests and locals come to the property and feel a connection to Scottsdale through our design which will translate to loyalty.”
With the land cleared, Kent and his team retreated to the drawing board to devise a plan for the hotel.
“Our vision was originally to create a high-end lifestyle boutique hotel in the entertainment district,” Kent says. “We saw a market opportunity to add to Scottsdale’s hospitality stock while creating an authentic product.”
The hotel has a “soft brand,” one attached to large hotel company distribution systems that still allows the owners to create a unique name brand and design for the hotel. Senna is part of Hilton Hotels Curio Collection.
“Launched in 2014, the purpose for Curio Collection by Hilton was to have an eclectic, high design and extremely special collection of hotels for a growing number of guests telling Hilton, ‘We want a different type of experience in certain cities,’” says Corey Mitchell, a Hilton spokesperson.
Because of this, there are only a handful of hotels around the world that are part of this collection.
“Curio has only 110 properties globally,” Mitchell says. “We really do handpick unique markets where people can have a cool experience like they can at Senna House.”
For Kent and the developers, it was important that the hotel encapsulate the beauty of the Sonoran Desert.
“To us, the Sonoran Desert is such a beautiful and special place and when people come here, we hope that people connect our property to that,” he says.
The interior is decorated with desert plants and the walls feature Sonoran art, pottery and urban western furnishings. A wall of memorabilia honors Don & Charlie’s.
“The limewash that we have in our restaurant and some of the textures and materials that we used are a tip of the hat to what you’ve seen in desert modern over the years,” Kent says.
Even the name “Senna” refers to one of the natural beauties of the Sonoran Desert. “Senna House’s name came from the senna desert flower and is representative of our desert modern design,” Kent explains.
Kent says he believes the resort’s amenities take the concept to the next level.
“We’ve created a true lifestyle offering,” he says. “Whether it’s our Sonora Swim Club on the pool deck, Calla restaurant — which opens in early 2022 — our patio or our lobby.”
The pool also provides breathtaking views of the city. “The Sonora Swim Club is unbelievable with the views we have to the McDowells, Camelback and Four Peaks are gorgeous,” Kent says.
The swim club is not the only way guests can get stellar views of Scottsdale, he adds. “The views from our guest rooms are top of class for the market.”
Senna House has made its mark as part of an eclectic collection of hotels.
“Senna House fits perfectly in the collection. Its incredible location on the nationally recognized Camelback Road offers guests walkability to world class shopping, a one-of-a-kind entertainment district and so many diverse restaurants and bars,” Mitchell says.
Even with the gorgeous views and aesthetics, Kent and the staff at Senna House are intent on ensuring that guests have a great experience.
“The guest experience is our No. 1 priority,” he says. “If you come into Scottsdale and you’re looking for a high-end hotel with great amenities and great lifestyle offerings then we should be one of your top options. We think that after you stay with us once you will come back again.”
As the building neared its final stages of completion, Kent found it hard to describe how impressed he was with the product.
“A lot of what we do as developers is on paper and to finally see the vision and all of the things that go into building a property come to life is surreal,” he says.
Senna House’s opening could not have come at a better time as the city’s hospitality industry appears to be recovering nicely after being dealt a heavy blow by the pandemic.
“This couldn’t come at a better time as we are leading the nation in our recovery in the hospitality industry,” says Rachel Sacco, Experience Scottsdale president and chief executive officer.
“We are so fortunate that we are inviting Senna House as part of our community and part of the family of our hospitality industry.”
Kent reports the hotel had nearly 60 overnight guests booked on its first day. Since then, Senna House has seen strong bookings.
He expects the bookings to grow after the turn of the calendar year, when tourism season reaches its peak.
Senna House Scottsdale,
Curio Collection by Hilton
7501 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale