La Posada Hotel - in Winslow, Arizona

I first learned about Mary Coulter, the architect of so many outstanding buildings throughout the Southwest, on my first trip to the Grand Canyon where her watchtower mesmerized me. Many years later, on a weekend trip celebrating our wedding anniversary, we stayed at her hotel, La Posada, in Winslow, Arizona. It has been spectacularly renovated and revitalized and we had read about it for years so we were anticipating the visit a lot.

The delightful Turquoise Room occupies the dining room and is a destination of its own. This restaurant is renowned for its innovative cuisine and use of local products. We had heard recommendations of its food from many friends and that just increased the expectations for this visit.

The hotel is lovely and everything we hoped for, and the food at the Turquoise Room never failed to delight us, but the biggest surprise of the trip was the fact that not only did Coulter design this hotel, and all its furnishing, but for what was the one and only time, designed the gardens as well. One of the reading rooms has a copy of her design on the wall, and she was ambitious. Herb gardens, vegetables gardens, flowering areas, shrubby borders, big shade trees and an array of other delights were in her mind. So far, only the courtyard garden has been restored to her design. The hotel wisely offers its morning coffee service right beside the entry to this charming, quiet spot and keeps its quietly lit after dinner making it the perfect place to stroll in the quiet twilight.

In Coulter’s day, the entrance was on the train side and the great lawns there are made for sitting and staring at the parade of trains. But in our time, the automobile is the way we get there and the owners have created an entirely different entrance on the ‘back’ with expansive new gardens designed by Phoenix Landscape Architect Christy TenEyck. When we were there water features were clearly planned but not quite ready and a huge patio, suitable for all kinds of parties and gatherings, was taking shape.

We spent a lot of our time there wandering the gardens, new, renovated, relic and imaginary, wondering how it would look if her design were able to fully installed. Go often, I know we will, eat Chef John Sharpe’s delectable food in the charming Turquoise Room, sleep in the graceful hotel in rooms named for famous guests, and leave with a deeper appreciation of Mary Coulter’s work and how Allan Affeldt and his wife Tina Mion have restored the spirit of a wonderful place.

For more information or reservations contact La Posada Hotel, 303 East 2nd Street, Winslow, AZ 86047, 928.289.4366.