Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

I’ve wanted to write this blog for several weeks but as city council work becomes more complex and time consuming, it leaves very little time for writing.

There were a flurry of press releases issued several weeks ago as well as discussion about the development at Tuesday’s, April 26th City Council workshop meeting. In case you missed it, here is what is happening to Crystal Lagoon.

The location of the development is at the southwest corner of 95th Avenue and Cardinals Way. It is just south of the State Farm Stadium. When the project was first announced and approved by council in June of 2020, as Crystal Lagoons Island Resort a 600-room hotel was envisioned with a lake area with white sand beaches, office, and retail space, a 100’ tall Aero Bar and a 400’ tethered balloon and a Mattel Amusement Park.

Two of the principles, Glen Bilbo, and Tommy Fisher, were involved in the project from the beginning. Tommy Fisher, a long-time resident in the Valley, has now taken over the entire project. Mr. Fisher is well respected in the development community.

Mr. Fisher and his son, Grant, reevaluated the project concept and in fact, have reimagined and upgraded it. The project is now called VAI and the VAI hotel has grown from the original concept of 600 rooms to 1200 rooms, making it the largest resort hotel in the state. I asked Mr. Fisher if their intent is to develop a 5-star hotel and he affirmed it that it is.

In essence, the office space and a substantial portion of the retail has been removed to make way for the larger hotel. There will be the main hotel and in essence, two annexes. All will look the same and offer the same level of service. There will be about 13 upscale restaurants on site as well as a “knock your socks off” wedding chapel. There will also be meeting and convention space.

The major emphasis will be on presenting live, musical events with plans for more than 100 events each year with well-known performing artists. Those who book rooms will be able to see the live concerts from the hotel where they will be performed on an island that faces the hotel. The live musical theater on the island will be able to rotate 360 degrees.

VAI Resort Hotel

One interesting feature will be a tunnel system able to accommodate service carts that will be used by employees to get from one structure to another. There will be some parking on site in the form of a parking garage for hotel visitors and overflow parking will be available on the city’s black lot on the east side of 95th Avenue.

The Aero Bar and tethered balloon concepts remain as does the Mattel Amusement Park under the management of Glen Bilbo. The Amusement Park, however, has nearly doubled in size.

All of the changes have affected the timeline for the project. The goal was to have the hotel open in time for the Super Bowl but with its expansion, the more realistic timeline has the hotel opening sometime between March and May of next year.

In summary the VAI Resort will include:

  • A 7-acre water way with sandy white beaches.
  • A 52,000-square foot man-made island.
  • A 360-degree, rotating concert stage.
  • More than 1,200 hotel rooms.
  • 170 stage-facing hotel rooms.
  • A 20,000-square foot spa and wellness center.
  • A wedding chapel.
  • A massive helium balloon that will take visitors nearly 400 feet into the air for an aerial view of the Phoenix area.
  • Aerophile’s Aerobar, a space that will offer food and drinks at 130 feet in the air, giving customers a high-up view of the Valley.
  • A 4D theater and a “fly theater,” similar to the “Soarin’ Around the World” ride in Disney’s California Adventure theme park.
  • Luxury retail shops.

In essence, many of the original deck chair concepts are still there. They have just been rearranged. The original principals involved in the project are still there as well. Their areas of responsibility have been rearranged too.

Make no mistake. This is an ungraded development that will still market itself to families to attend the Mattel Amusement Park but now it has branded itself beyond that concept. The live musical entertainment 100 days a year at a 5-star resort offering unique restaurant and retail concepts has taken the development to a whole new level.

This development enhances the Westgate area as it offers yet another recreational opportunity for Glendale’s premier experiential retail site. Music, sports and entertainment…the Westgate area has it all. There is no other area in the state quite like the Westgate area.

I continue to say that this is the most impactful project not just for Glendale, the state or the southwest but internationally. International visitors will be eager to enjoy a new destination/entertainment experience that offers something for everyone. As the development’s greatest cheerleader, I am eagerly awaiting its opening as well as everyone’s reaction to this blockbuster project.

© Joyce Clark, 2022      


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.