Hotel San Marcos

Posted by junketseo in Phoenix Ghosts
Hotel San Marcos - Photo

Small rays of light sneak through the slight breaks in the blinds, dimly illuminating contemporary furnishings and the stark white of luxurious and plush bedding. Children’s laughter breaks the silence from outside, and if you strain just enough, you can hear hearty conversation echoing from the not-so-distant golf course. It’s just another beautiful morning in Phoenix as a guest of the Hotel San Marcos, an icon of the city and a significant part of the region’s hundred-year development.


Hotel San Marcos is a focal point of the desert capital, an antique structure developed at the behest of a prolific veterinary surgeon who sought to build a life of luxuries in the middle of nowhere. Though it exists under IHG’s Crowne Plaza brand today, the San Marcos had more humble beginnings marked by financial woes and a tragic and gruesome death.


Guests of the Hotel San Marcos enjoy modern, 21st-century luxury amenities, unaware that, at any point, the lifeless eyes of an eternal guest may be watching from nearby. The historic hotel isn’t riddled with supernatural maladies, but workers have become familiar with the ghostly presence that has called the hotel home for decades.


Who stalks the halls of the Hotel San Marcos?


It’s believed that the spirit of an unknown woman wanders the halls of the Hotel San Marcos. Keep reading to learn more. And for stories of the most haunted locations in Phoenix, take a tour with Phoenix Ghosts!


Bringing Life to the Desert Calm


Before Arizona was inducted into the United States in 1912, there was little to anchor large communities of people save for the relatively new town of Phoenix, upon which one man wished to expand. Dr. Alexander J. Chandler sought to give a reason to visit Arizona with a vision of a growing town in the middle of the Sonoran desert. Chandler was first summoned to the Grand Canyon State to serve as the local veterinary surgeon, but the longer he stayed, the more his desire to develop and build took hold. 


In 1891, the doctor bought land, starting with an 80-acre stretch south of Mesa. Before long, those 80 acres multiplied into 18,000, giving him the space needed to start working on his idea for the future of Arizona. Calling upon architect Arthur Brunett Benton, Chandler laid out the primary structures of what would be his namesake town.  


Believing it was time for the region to grow, Chandler started with the idea of a resort. Benton took on designing the central feature of Chandler, Arizona, and the finished product was meant to be a Mission Revival concrete space that would provide guests of the newly formed town with a comfortable place to stay. The framing of the hotel required a steel rebar to be finished, which remained in scarce supply, requiring the development of the hotel to run into 1913.


On November 22, 1913, Dr. Chandler opened the 35-room Hotel San Marcos, which was named for Friar Marcos De Niza, and kicked things off with a grand celebration that was 500 people strong. Notable names like Vice President Thomas Marshall and Arizona’s House Representative Carl Hayden were in attendance to raise a toast to the new establishment. 


As it turns out, it wouldn’t be the last time a well-known name was a guest of the San Marcos.


Hollywood Elites, Golf Courses, Expansions…


When Chandler first envisioned the new hotel, he always knew it would be an ongoing project spanning multiple expansions. For now, though, the $250,000 build was perfect for helping Chandler grow into a popular destination. As one of Arizona’s first resorts, Hollywood’s greatest and unforgettable stars saw it as an escape from their day-to-day. Names like Cher, Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Bing Crosby, and Christian Dior graced the hotel’s grounds, but that also meant perfection was even more important.


Dr. Chandler got to watch as his resort boomed in popularity despite the Great Depression. By 1916, the Hotel San Marcos saw its first add-on, a series of eight bungalows, walking paths, a pool, and sunken gardens. Not far from the resort itself sat the associated golf course, a 100-acre stretch of green that opened with the hotel and saw improvements as soon as 1928.


There were rocky times scattered amidst successes, and from 1979 to 1986, the resort was forced to close due to hardships. At that time, there were enough rooms to accommodate 300 guests who could take advantage of the remodeled lobby, cocktail lounge, and dining room when the hotel reopened in 1987.


As of 2024, 111 years after Chandler first opened the doors to his historic Hotel San Marcos, guests could take advantage of 249 rooms. At least those of the material plane could. Others, like Leone Jense, had free reign over the iconic property. 


And all it took was her life. 

… and the Tragedy of Leone Jensen


Many years before the latest renovations of the Hotel San Marcos, a young lady named Leone Jensen made Chandler’s resort her final resting place. On May 27, 1928, Fueled by a broken heart (or to put an end to her suffering from a life-threatening illness), 22-year-old Jensen jumped from the hotel’s seventh story out of the window of room 720. She died on impact. 


Jensen’s story is often buried by the opulence and lighter stories of the Arizona hotel, but many guests may find it difficult to ignore her plight when she comes to visit them at night.


The Ghosts of the Hotel San Marcos


The ghost of Leone Jensen is believed to be a permanent resident at the Hotel San Marcos, but there’s a question as to whether she’s the mysterious woman in white that guests have reported seeing standing at the foot of their beds. 


A quiet specter, the woman in white offers no hint as to who she is or what she wants. Maybe it’s an echo of another guest whose life ended, accidentally or otherwise, within the walls of the Hotel San Marcos. With how many people have circulated in and out of the hotel, it does seem like anything is possible.


However, even if Ms. Jensen is the woman in white reaching out for help from the other side, there are plenty of other spirits and lifetime guests of the Hotel San Marcos. Stay a night within the antique walls of the hotel, and you may just hear the whispers of children who aren’t there, see the apparition of a little girl sobbing alone in a guest room, or catch a disturbing moan from empty sections of the hotel.


What secrets may the Hotel San Marcos house, shrouded by years of renovations, expansions, and changed management? It’s possible that only a voice from beyond could answer that question. Are you brave enough to reach out and ask? If you’re lucky enough, they’ll reach out to you, as some guests have complained of receiving ominous phone calls from impossible extensions.


Want to know more about Hotel San Marcos’ haunts and the many spirits that call Phoenix home? Then visit our blog and check out our social media on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Don’t miss out on an unforgettable evening—book your Phoenix ghost tour