April 5, 2012

El Tovar, a Grand Canyon Gem

What’s better than a visit to the Grand Canyon? Spending the night there in the El Tovar Hotel.

Though it’s >100 years old, I walked into the hotel with the same anticipation as if entering the latest & greatest modern luxury hotel. I had heard about it for years & knew it was a ‘must do’ which actually made me worry that I had overly high expectations. But I was not to be disappointed.

I have to admit I am biased. I LOVE the historic grande dames of the National Park system. Exposed knotty beams, taxidermy on the walls, Native American prints...I just eat it up. And the employees are always so happy to be there (who wouldn’t be??), so service is always good.  And the location? Getting any closer to the rim would be downright dangerous!

Booking a room at El Tovar can be tricky business. As is common with older properties, rooms are smaller than in modern hotels, they are inconsistent in size, layout, amenities, and bathrooms & closet space tend to be modest. We spent a little more for an oversize room, which in fact turned out to be about the size of a standard hotel room. There were 2 queen beds, a single chair, an armoire, and a small closet. Cozy for a family of four, but clean and comfortable with modern bedding. The bathroom was relatively spacious, and fixtures were new.

We did luck out in a couple ways: we had a large balcony (shared with another room), and we were on the second floor. The latter had two benefits: fewer stairs to navigate in a hotel with no elevator, and a common area just down the hall with a TV, piano, fireplace, and tables and chairs that overlooked the lobby. At the end of a full day of hiking & sightseeing, it was nice to have a place to read a book, play cards and games, and even enjoy a meal delivered by room service.

The hotel also has many suites, each with different bedding and amenities, and some that sleep 5 or 6.  I obtained the suite information with all the details so that I can help my clients pick the best one for their family. 
You don’t have to be a guest of the hotel to enjoy one of its finest features: the beautiful dining room which features a private room built just for President Roosevelt. A casually elegant setting, guests can feel comfortable in dress clothes or jeans, and enjoy fantastic food and friendly service. (Insider tip: Don’t bother to ask about corkage fees, as you can’t bring your own wine to restaurants in Arizona.)

As is true for accomodations in most National Parks, El Tovar books up very far in advance, especially for peak vacation periods, so it is imperative to plan ahead.


Suzy said...

Looks like a cool place to stay for location alone. I love older properties as well. It's nice to have that feeling of history in the air I think.

Anonymous said...

that's the hotel from 'National Lampoon's Vacation' with Chevy Chase

Suzette Mack, Family Travel Advisor said...

That's right! Thanks for pointing it out. I loved that movie.