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Navajo Nation funds new hotel in Shiprock, N.M.

Project looks to tap into tourism and business travel markets, create jobs
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer, along with Shiprock Chapter officials, toured the site for a new hotel in Shiprock in 2019. The project was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy of Navajo Nation)

For years, Shiprock, New Mexico – population 7,602 – has had no hotels, a missed opportunity for tourism and business travel revenue.

But that is about to change.

Plans for construction of a new hotel and restaurant in Shiprock are moving forward, reports the Navajo Nation Council and Shiprock Chapter House.

In August, the Council approved legislation allocating $11.4 million in funding to the Navajo Nation Hospitality Enterprise for the project. The bill also transfers $8.3 million from the Navajo Gaming Enterprise to NNHE for construction costs.

According to NNHE CEO Stanley Saap, the hotel will have 80 rooms, a full-service restaurant, indoor pool and meeting rooms. It will be located on U.S. Highway 491, northwest of the intersection with New Mexico Highway 64.

It is expected to take two years to construct and cost approximately $22.5 million. The hotel is a “long overdue economic addition to the Northern Agency,” according to the July 4, 2022 Navajo Nation Council Summer Session report.

Initial construction is set to begin this year.

“A hotel and Navajo-inspired restaurant for the community of Shiprock is one step closer to being a reality,” said Navajo Nation Council Speaker Seth Damon in a news release. “The Navajo Nation welcomes thousands of tourists annually who visit the Four Corners region and will make this new hotel a business hub.”

A new 80-room hotel is planned for this lot in Shiprock, New Mexico. There are currently no hotels in the town. (Courtesy Navajo Nation)
A new hotel is planned for Shiprock, New Mexico, on the Navajo Nation.

Navajo Nation Council Delegate Eugenia Charles-Newton, representing Shiprock, said the hotel and restaurant will change the economic landscape for the northern agency of the Navajo Nation. It is expected to boost the local economy and create hundreds of new jobs.

“It will offer a place to stay for thousands of tourists visiting parks and monuments in the Four Corners region each year,” Charles-Newton said.

She noted the project, which began planning in 2016, was delayed because of the pandemic. Construction costs also substantially increased because of supply chain issues and inflation.

According to the NNHE, $970,000 will be utilized for architecture and design, $700,000 for site improvements, $800,000 for required NTUA utility upgrades, $17.9 million for building construction, and $2,050,000 for hotel and restaurant furniture and equipment.

The Navajo Nation Department of Tourism is looking into the idea of building a visitors center next to the new hotel in Shiprock, according to the Council’s Summer Session report.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Council Delegate Otto Tso are joined by Arizona State University students at the Office of the President and Vice President in Window Rock, Arizona, on Aug. 8 during a bill signing that funds economic and infrastructure projects. (Courtesy Navajo Nation)
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“With the amount of traffic Highway 491 welcomes daily, this economic interest could potentially drive influence to other sites of interest in the area and chapters,” the report states. “With all this being presented, it is impossible not to see the greater picture at hand that would only benefit all communities from Route 66 to the Four Corners. Currently, this business venture is something the community of Shiprock is trying to improve and the more curb appeal this area has, there is great potential at hand. We thank Hon. Delegate Charles-Newton and the many tribal entities for their dedication to igniting this progress.”

Historically there were motels in Shiprock, but they all closed down over time, said a resident who did not want to be identified.

“We get tourists asking about hotels, but we have to send them to Farmington or Cortez,” he said, which are 28 miles and 42 miles away, respectively.

In a Facebook post, trucker Leslie Knight-Bartee said she regularly travels from Texas to Nevada and passes through Shiprock.

“Can’t wait for a hotel in that area, it will be great for the economy there,” she stated.

In addition to the Shiprock hotel and restaurant, the legislation passed by the Navajo Nation Council also allocated funding for multiple community and infrastructure projects, including:

  • $1.6 million for the Ganado Chapter senior and veterans center project.
  • $1.2 million for the Tuba City senior center project.
  • $2.2 million for the Tselani/Cottonwood Chapter senior center project.
  • $2.1 million for the Becenti Chapter veterans center project.
  • $7.2 million for the Gadiiahi/To’koi Chapter community building project.
  • $2 million for the Nazlini Chapter senior center project.
  • $2.5 million for the Westwater community for infrastructure development.
  • $1.6 million for the 2022 Navajo Nation elections.
  • $203,000 for the Tsaile/Wheatfields cemetery project.