LA POSADA HOTEL
Only two Amtrak trains a day, one east bound and one west bound, stop in Winslow and they only stop long enough for passengers to jump on or off real quick. But in the magic days of train travel, a LOT of trains stopped here and a LOT of passengers got off to stay at this fabulous old place, the La Posada Hotel.
Allan Affeldt is the President and owner of the La Posada Hotel. "This is the last great railroad hotel built anywhere in the country. It was built in 1929, opened in 1930. And it was Mary Coulter's masterpiece. Mary Coulter was probably the most important woman architect of the early 20th century. She was the head architect for Fred Harvey and the Santa fe."
For over 20 years, this grand hotel that Mary Coulter designed to resemble the elegant hacienda of a gracious Spanish Don, played host to America's rich and famous..If nothing else you're walking around in some pretty heady atmosphere. Just the people who stayed in the room we stayed in, for instance: Bob Hope, Clark gable, John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Charles Lindbergh, Howard Hughes, Mary Pickford, Carol Lombard, Douglas fairbanks. Ah, man, if the walls could only talk.
"When this was built," Allan says, "it was a destination resort. There were a dozen trans-continental trains stopping here everyday. And we also had the only remaining Lindbergh-designed airport in the country. So, there was TWA stopping here as well. You can imagine...there were 3,000 meals a day served out of these restaurants., A train pulls up here, everybody unloads and they come into this room, which is the lobby."
Americans got in a hurry and stopped riding trains and started riding planes and fast cars on freeways, and La Posada was relegated to a blink through high-speed, tinted windows and ALMOST lost. Allan Affeldt and a mixture of creative financing, government grants, and city and citizen involvement blended to buy the hotel and start a major and total renovation. When it's done, La Posada will pretty much be the grand, old hotel it once was.
"There are very few places like this left," Allan says. "Most of the great railroad hotels got knocked down because the railroad didn't need them anymore. This is one of the most important buildings in the southwest. It's Coulter's masterpiece. It's her only building in private hands. So, it's very important it be restored and open to the public. It was closed for 30 years and it was very nearly gone to the wreckers."
That the male-dominated society of the 1930's would give a female, Mary Coulter, absolute control over the design and construction is just short of a miracle in itself. And she created here a gracious and timeless place right smack-dab in the middle of a lot of Northern Arizona's scenic attractions that offers once again a respite from the frantic pace of the 90's. You'll have to slow down a bit, a lot, to enjoy it.
The hotel gets better and better as time goes by. More rooms are open and it's getting to the point where you really ned a reservation. There is a pleasant bar where the service was so-so the night we were there. The restaurant, however, is likely one of the best anywhere along I-40 in the west.
The hotel is located right on the mainline tracks of the BNSF railroad at 303 E 2nd St in Winslow, Az. Winslow is along what was once Route 66, 53 miles east of Flagstaff, in Northern Arizona.
For info: 928-289-4366. You can make reservations on their website: http://www.laposada.org.
Amtrak trains to Chicago and Los Angeles stop at about 7 in the morning and 8 in the evening.