Jokake Inn History
Early in the 1900’s, a small frame house stood at the base of Camelback Mountain. Through the eyes of a passing artist, it was envisioned as an elegant abode. The painter, Jessie Benton Evans, purchased the property, including 40 acres of surrounding desert, and began renovating the house to suit her taste. Ms. Evans gave 12 acres to her son and daughter-in-law, who built a unique adobe house on the land in 1926, expanding it over the years to accommodate visitors for tea, and eventually, overnight guests.
The house was given its name by a young Hopi Indian boy who saw the structure and called it “Jokake,” which means “mud house.” Today, Jokake Inn stands just inside the grounds of The Phoenician as a symbol of the hospitality of the old Southwest.
The Phoenician: A Historical Perspective
In 1985 Charles Keating had a vision to build a multi- million dollar luxury resort that would display the elegance and sophistication of Europe, standing out as a sparkling gem in the Sonoran Desert. Keating purchased the land at the base of Camelback Mountain, as it was the most recognizable location in the Valley, providing dramatic views of the city skyline. To build his special palace, no expense was spared and no detail was overlooked.
Keating’s goal was to create a luxury property, incorporating only the finest materials to make the resort a true work of art. White marble was imported from Carrera, Italy, for the lobby; the ceiling was etched in 24-karat gold and 11 rare Steinway pianos, which graced the hallways, the presidential suites and The Thirsty Camel Lounge, were purchased. In addition, workers from the Island Kingdom of Tonga were hired to create the lush tropical landscape that complements the resort’s Sonoran backdrop. Regardless of Keating’s original intent to be anything but “indigenous,” The Phoenician naturally is, due to its landmark 250-acre location, name and mythical bird logo that mirrors the city of Phoenix.
For their natural desert surroundings and lush scenery, both Jokake Inn and The Phoenician have hosted numerous film and television productions. One of the best known is the movie “Raising Arizona,” starring Nicholas Cage, which featured Jokake Inn. The Phoenician has also been the subject of such programs as “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” and “Luxury Getaways” on the Travel Channel.
Authentic Mother-of-Pearl tiles were imported from Italy for $1 million to create the illustrious resort centerpiece known as the “Mother of Pearl” serenity pool. The tiles were hand-laid at the bottom of the pool to create a glistening, iridescent sanctuary – much like the inside of a sea shell.
In October 1996, the Canyon Suites building was completed. The boutique hotel sits on the northwest side of the resort property, which was previously home to the Elizabeth Arden Maine Chance Day Spa.
In Spring 2007 following a $5.5 million renovation, The Canyon Suites debuted as Arizona’s only boutique resort within a resort. The 60-room hotel offers a variety of exclusive services, including a private infinity pool and chauffeur-driven luxury car.
August 2016 unveiled The Canyon Suites in a new style of luxury, following a complete renovation of the interior as well as outdoor amenities. All 62 guest accommodations were redesigned, revealing a more contemporary, residential approach. In addition, the main lobby was renovated, adding The Canyon Lounge, which offers epicurean experiences such as an artisan breakfast and premium cocktail offerings. Just steps away from the lobby, the pool complex was also rejuvenated, debuting a Pebble Tec surface in the pool and revamped cabanas, creating an enchanting oasis where guests are able to lounge and relax.
In October 2017, The Phoenician completed a resort-wide transformation, entering a new era of modern luxury while continuing its legacy. All 585 guestrooms were renovated, as well as many public areas of the resort, including the pool complex, main lobby and retail corridor. In addition, the restaurant Il Terrazzo was redesigned to become the trendy Modern American restaurant Mowry & Cotton. This was the biggest renovation to The Phoenician since it opened its doors in 1988.
A relaxing retreat for mind, body and spirit, The Phoenician Spa opened in March 2018, flaunting a three-story facility with a rooftop pool and 24 treatment rooms, including a couple’s VIP suite. For primping and polishing, the Drybar and full-service nail salon offer various beauty services, while a fitness center with movement studio and personal training gym are available for an energizing workout. This facility replaces the Centre for Well Being, which was the resort’s previous spa.
The final chapter in the resort’s transformation was The Phoenician Golf Course and Athletic Club in fall 2018, allowing guests to train, exercise and engage in some friendly competition. Phil Smith, well-renowned architect, reconfigured the previous golf course into an 18-hole play with a challenging and dynamic desert profile. Behind Jokake Inn, the two-story Athletic Club was constructed, bringing a fitness center, activity/recreational center, refreshment center, retail shop, seven tennis courts, two basketball courts and a pickleball court to the resort.