Route 66 roadside motel revived with flair.
Route 66 roadside motel revived with flair.
Elvis slept here. Robert F. Kennedy campaigned at the Americana in 1968. A year later, Peter Fonda stayed in the roadside haven with the cast and crew of “Easy Rider.” B.B. King played the blues in the hotel lounge.
Now, Dallas-based Practice Hospitality is restoring the Americana with plans to open its doors this month. The hoteliers have designed the 89-room property into what they’re calling a “retro-futuristic oasis.” It includes vibrant colors, geometric carpet patterns and in-room disco balls.
The Americana is a new take on the “classic roadside retreat,” General Manager Zach Miller said. “When you get an historic property, you want to nod back to its heritage and history and then create tweaks that improve it for the future,” he said.
The Americana revival comes as Flagstaff bounces back from a brutal winter and continues an upswing in tourism after the pandemic.
A flurry of hotel development is occurring. Hyatt Place plans to open a 96-room hotel at 397 S. Malpais Lane. The Aiden by Best Western @ Flagstaff is a redeveloped 1970s hotel at the far south end of Milton Road.
Last year, Phoenix-based Classic Hotel & Resorts renovated a former Days Inn into the 123-room High Country Motor Lodge, a stylish retro hotel on Route 66 in West Flagstaff. That property originally was Holiday Inn No. 486 that opened in 1964.
The Holiday Inn and Americana were both top-tier Flagstaff motels in the 1960s, but both slipped a notch with the opening of Little America in 1973.
The newly refurbished Americana aims to regain its luster. At one time, it was Flagstaff’s largest hotel, with 151 rooms. It featured convention and banquet space for 300 guests, along with a 24-hour coffee shop and the Coral Reef Dining Room and Cocktail Lounge. In recent years, the Americana had become a last- resort hotel choice, with some rooms renting by the week. It sold for $1.2 million in 2008.
Enter Americana Hotel Ventures, which bought the 2.97-acre property in 2021 for $7.37 million, according to Coconino County records. Practice Hospitality is the Americana management company.
The hotel’s upgrades include a heated pool with “dive-in movies,” fire pits, hammocks, a bocce court, cornhole and other backyard games. The poolside bar will serve canned beer, wine and cocktails. Guests can explore Flagstaff on complimentary bikes or use a hotel telescope to gaze into the night sky.
The Americana’s Far Out Food outlet is a walk-up window serving a simple roadside menu of burgers and ice cream, said Miller, who previously managed the Jupiter Hotel in Portland, Oregon, a 1960s motor lodge.
In addition to candy-colored rooms, the Americana’s exterior color palette is equally as bright, much like the original hotel design.
“To be able to bring this property back to life in such a creative and amazing way is not only exciting but it’s also deeply a part of who we are as a company,” Miller said.
Practice Hospitality operates four other hotels: Hilton Dallas Park Cities, Hotel Colee in Atlanta, Mohave Resort in Palm Desert, California, and Drifthaven at Gearhart on the Oregon coast. Four others are in the pipeline, including the Americana.
Trace Ward, Discover Flagstaff director, said the Americana will appeal to Gen X and younger guests, but also “plenty of Boomers that might find the nostalgia quite fun. They’re going to hit it out of the park,” Ward said of Practice Hospitality.
The tourism bureau leader added that the Americana foreshadows other redevelopment since land for good hotel sites is scarce. “There’s demand for select-service hotels with style and comfort,” he said. “If people want consistency, they can go with branded hotels. Others want to be part of something different.”
Flagstaff’s first-quarter tourism numbers, the slowest months, were hurt by one of the heaviest winters on record. Many skiers and snowboarders canceled trips and hotel stays to avoid dangerous road conditions, Ward said.
However, Flagstaff has recovered from the 20% pandemic decline in 2020.
This past year, hotel occupancy was flat at 73.2%, but room rates increased 4% to $127.13 and per-room revenue set a record at $93.02, up 3.27% from 2021. The Flagstaff market has more than 5,000 hotel rooms.
Americana plans to set its initial room rate at $150. The opening is planned for July, Miller said. That would be almost exactly 61 years since it welcomed its first guests on June 11, 1962, with the tagline, “A Western brand of hospitality no one forgets.” FBN
By Peter Corbett, FBN
Courtesy Photo: The hotel’s upgrades include a heated pool with “dive-in movies,” fire pits, hammocks, a bocce court, cornhole and other backyard games.
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