Cover Story

Participating in a traditional groundbreaking with digging sticks were Louisa Dan, Salt River Devco Board, Verna Espinoza, Santeo Family Spokesperson, Momilani Kauakahi, Salt River Devco Board Chair, Matthew Freeman, Senior Vice President Bank of American Merrill Lynch, Diane Enos, President, Martin Harvier, Vice President, Tom Largo, Council Representative, Eric Jacobs, Sr. Vice President Marriott International, Phil Brandt, Vice President and Senior Counsel Marriott International, Scott Dombroski, President W.E. O’Neill, Merna Lewis, Santeo Family Representative, and Donald Santeo, Tribal Court Advocate Supervisor.

Ba’ag Ceksan (Eagle Mark) Courtyard by Marriott Breaks Ground

By Jennifer Hernandez
Au-Authm Action News

The Ba’ag Ceksan (Eagle Mark) Salt River Scottsdale 101 Courtyard by Marriott broke ground on January 24. The four-story, 156-room hotel is located off the Loop 101 Corridor to appeal to business, leisure and group travelers. It will earn LEED certification through its design and construction for energy sustainability and is scheduled to open in February 2012.

This is the first Marriott-branded hotel to be built on tribal land in the United States. Marriott is partnering with Salt River Devco to develop the project.

Salt River Devco Board Chair Momilani Kauakahi said it was an honor to help break ground.

“This is a time for Salt River Devco and many partners to reflect on our shared journey and a time to look forward to a successful future together,” said Kauakahi. “A small group took a bold step, and now these leaders established an enterprise to benefit SRPMIC future generations. The family that came together to create future economic prosperity is so important. It was the groundwork that represents the creation of a new relationship and something new for our Community.”

Eric Jacobs, senior vice president of Lodging Development for Marriott International, said it has been a long process, but a wonderful partnership.

“A lot of folks who ultimately continued to work together with trust and good listening skills on both sides helped to get to this point today. On behalf of Marriott International, we congratulate you on this special day,” he said.

The hotel will have 3,000 square feet of meeting space, The Bistro for casual dining, and Marriott’s new Refreshing Business lobby, including features like the interactive GoBoard® Technology, a 55-inch LCD touch screen packed with local information, maps, weather, and news, business and sports headlines.

Representatives of the landowner, the Santeo family, also spoke during the groundbreaking ceremony.

“Spiritually we are blessed with the land that our ancestors once owned and now it is in our hands,” said Merna Lewis. “And we want to make sure to take care of it. I want to thank all those who came to be with us in this special celebration.”

Verna Espinoza said they always hoped to see the day something good would happen to their land, just as their grandparents and parents wanted.

“We are seeing it actually happen, not only for ourselves, but for our families and children and grandchildren,” Espinoza said.

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