La Posada in Winslow, Arizona

Genie Davis September 1, 2015 No Comments

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The beautiful and historic La Posada Hotel

Do the kids know the Jackson Browne penned song the Eagles made famous, “Take it Easy?” If not, it’s time they learned the tune and you took them to Winslow, Arizona, for a visit to the Standin’ on the Corner Park which pays tribute to the song, and the profoundly awesome La Posada hotel.

The park itself is small but a lot of fun. There’s the life-size statue of the boy standing on that corner, there’s a flatbed Ford, too. Across the street are souvenir shops and a small Mexican eaterie, and sure enough the sleepy town is poised on the brink of becoming an artist enclave, with small galleries and workshops to explore. But it’s La Posada that will win the heart of any child or adult – age is no limit to appreciate the pleasures this venerable hotel has to offer.

 

HISTORY
The hotel has a riveting history. It’s first incarnation was a luxury hacienda, which was re-imagined by Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter into one of the very last of the Harvey House hotels, designed to accommodate railroad passengers. While the beautiful adobe place opened with a splash, the timing for this renowned craftswoman’s work to reach the public was awful: the Depression had struck. The hotel closed in 1959 and Amtrak – which runs outside the hotel’s back door – took over the space, gutted it, made it into offices, and then abandoned it.

But if the kids like fairytales they will like this one. On the brink of ruin, now owners Allan Affeldt and Tina Minion fell in love La Posada in 1997. Since then they’ve worked hard to recreate the 53 room hotel. Adults will love the copious art and southwest luxe ambiance. The kids will love that too. And so much more. Large gardens sprawl around the hotel, and then of course guests of all ages will enjoy sitting on a bench or strolling across the emerald back lawn to watch the trains come trundling down the tracks.

Don’t worry about the noise. Yes, there are a few rooms you can request if you are a train buff, where you can view the trains from your window. Even at that, this hotel was built with acoustic perfection, we never heard the trains roll by in the night. But when you want to hear and see them, just find a spot out back to train gaze or star gaze. There may be nothing quite like watching trains for family fun and togetherness and a peculiar kind of delightful clickety-clack zen.

La Posada by night – Photo – Jack Burke

 

ON-SITE ACTIVITIES & ENTERTAINMENT

There’s more to explore, too. A hay bale maze is designed to enchant the little ones. There’s a sunken garden and lovely fountains. The very reasonably priced rooms are each unique, homey in a Southwestern way with stylish wood pieces and tin mirrors. There’s a vast great room with plenty of games and books for more hours of family fun. Take the tots in hand and explore sculptures of horses, a spiral stair case, and grand murals.

And be sure to dine in the hotel at the stellar Turquoise Room, offering three meals a day with recipes exotic and interesting enough to fill the most contentious gourmet with satisfaction, and dishes easy enough on the palette to make your child – like mine – ask for more.

Chef John Sharpe offers meals that are organic and locally sourced, including the Killer Vegetable Platter that makes even carnivores quiver with delight. Fresh fish, rich chocolate-y deserts, soups and cheeses are all aspects of the dinner menu. Breakfast finds omelettes, pancakes, waffles – all perfectly prepared.

Kids will enjoy the plethora of jewelry, trinkets, kachinas, and postcards in the large gift shop too.

In the evenings, you’ll often find a flamenco guitarist holding forth outside the dining area, and there’s plenty of room for the kids to take a spin around the “dance floor” of lovingly polished tiles.

OFF-SITE FUN

Looking outside the hotel for fun? Less than fifteen minutes away is the Meteor Crater, a 550 foot chasm that includes a tourist-centric but fun film about the crater’s history, great views of the crater from several angles – including a playfully staged cutout of a minute looking human below. There are petroglyphs, Native American archeological sites, a kitschy collection of geode shops including one adorned with enormous and child-pleasing plaster dinosaurs all within a thirty minute drive. If the kids are clamoring for a snack, there’s a Sonic Drive-In at the edge of Winslow, and every once in awhile it’s hard to beat the chain’s “Happy Hour” for half priced drinks like fresh strawberry soda or a chocolate Coke.

An hour away, you’ll find the National Park treasures of the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert, which we also explored, but that’s a different story.

Take the kids on a trip to a grand hotel of the past and a brilliantly accommodating one of the present. Let Amtrak drop you at the doorstep, or drive from Phoenix, Flagstaff, Vegas, or LA. It’s a journey everyone in the family will cherish.

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Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling. www.geniedavis.com

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