Sunday, May 3, 2015
The Lure of the Rails
In the sleepy little northern Arizona town of Winslow a historic hotel has been brought back to life to serve a whole new generation of travelers. Their clients might not all be rail riders but, they are generally all lovers of historic places. A recent road trip took me through Winslow so I decided to spend the night at this historic gem.
The story of the La Posada Hotel starts with Fred Harvey the man who is said to have civilized the west with his impeccable service at the hotels and restaurants of the Santa Fe Railway. Construction of the La Posada (meaning resting place) began in the 1920's with Mary Colter as the architect designing the hotel. Colter was a rarity at the time, being a female architect and working in rather rugged locations. She began working for the Fred Harvey company in 1905 and through her career created some 21 projects for Fred Harvey. La Posada was considered to be her masterpiece.
The hotel is located right next to the railroad tracks as you can see from the above photo. The yard of the hotel ends at that fence and the trains are on the other side.
The hotel was open for 27 years closing in 1957. In the 1960's much of the building was gutted and used as offices for the Santa Fe Railroad. Several times over the years that followed the building came close to being demolished.
Through the efforts of some local people the building was saved and in 1994, a partnership was formed to restore the hotel and bring it back to life. The new owners are Alain Afield and is wife Tina Mion and Daniel Lutzick.
None of the three partners had any hotel experience but they have accomplished what many might see as an impossible task. They have transformed this shell of a building into an Arizona destination.
Just to give you a peek at one of the rooms, the above photo is a shot of my room. I love the rustic, old west feel.
The note on the night table made me smile. It says "Many of our guests are train enthusiasts. For those who are not, we are providing complimentary ear plugs." The trains do rumble through here all day and all night but to be honest I slept very well and hardly noticed them and I didn't need the ear plugs at all.
As well as it's historic features, the hotel also has become an amazing art gallery. More about that in another post.