EL PORTAL - A Charming Authentic Inn Adjacent to Tlaquepaque
We are not in the habit of bestowing rave reviews on places still under construction, but we were so captivated by a visit to El Portal that we wanted to share our impressions with you. Nestled right in the heart of town on the original homestead of Sedona’s founders, this charmingly authentic and engaging 12-room inn hopes to open in June. The location is fabulous, with the fine restaurants, upscale gift shops and galleries of the renowned Tlaquepaque arts and crafts village sitting just outside the enclave. Dropping by the property as prospective guests, we chanced upon affable owner Steve Segner who proudly gave us a tour of the work site.
Intended to recreate the atmosphere of a gracious century-old Spanish hacienda, the inn consists of one- and two-story buildings constructed around an interior courtyard centerpieced by the customary splashing fountain. As we wandered around the complex, however, it quickly became clear the project is a labor of love and that strong emotion and much capital has been invested to insure its successful realization. Meticulous attention to historic detail is evident throughout. All 12 accommodations feature exquisite handcarved doors that Segner has crafted himself, each embellished with art nouveau-style stained-glass panels and antique doorknobs from the 1860s. Authentic hand-plastered adobe walls are an heroic 18 inches thick, while the interior surfaces are hewn with traditional round edges to give a soft flowing movement to the structures. Vintage hardwoods include organic peeled juniper logs, plus old timbers from abandoned mines and trestle bridges. Stone and rock came from a carefully selected quarry in Utah and the artful period tiles from one of the world’s most venerable ceramic companies.
Furnishings from the early 20th-Century Arts & Crafts movement will decorate the inn, as well as art deco and Southwestern antiques. "I want to give guests the feeling of being in a very special and relaxing private home," Segner told us. In keeping with that ethic, no two bedrooms will be alike, though each will feature hand-sculpted walls, custom-painted decorative detailing, high-beamed ceilings, corner fireplaces and oversized baths with whirlpool tubs and large walk-in showers. Full entertainment centers and computer modems are also expected to be standard amenities. "Old Hickory" offers both a private courtyard and its own secluded garden, while second-floor "Macintosh" and "Arts & Crafts" yield especially memorable red-rock views. A full description of all lodgings can be found on El Portal’s website.
Although it will be operated as a small hotel, complimentary afternoon wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served, along with weekend barbecues. In addition, there will be an open kitchen, with wine and snacks being available anytime of day. As we noted before, Tlaquepaque’s many excellent restaurants lie just a short stroll away. Our hat is off to Steve Segner for creating what appears to be a truly unique and luxurious in-town retreat. If you stay here later this year, we would welcome your thoughts. Deluxe Double/Single, $225-$495. Contact: El Portal, 95 Portal Lane, Sedona, AZ 86336. Tel. (800) 313.0017 or Fax (928) 282-1941
A Connoisseur's Guide to Peaceful and Unspoiled Places
Box 50 • Sun Valley, Idaho 83353 • U.S.A.
Fax (208) 622-2716 • www.andrewharpertravel.com
December 8, 2003
Dear Mr. Segner:
It gives me great pleasure to inform you that El Portal has been named a 2004 Grand Award winner in our 25th annual Hotel of the Year competition. The criteria for your selection is outlined on the front page of the January issue.
Key U.S. travel editors will soon be informed of this award, as well as of 25,000 sophisticated subscribers who will be receiving their January issue in a few days.
Wishing you a healthy and prosperous New Year, I am
Editor and Publisher