The Arizona Republic
Sunday, January 30, 2005
A CHOICE FOR ALL SEASONS
Easy, elegant and even better: That’s Sedona in winter
By A.D. Hopkins
...Because Sedona was a very small town until recently, there are few historic homes, so perfectly adaptable to the hotel role. When Steve Segner wanted to get into the business in Sedona, he couldn’t find one.
“So I thought, ‘What if I built a B&B from scratch?’”
Segner re-created old Sedona, perhaps not as it was, but as it should have been, in a now-famous B&B called “El Portal.” Since the community wasn’t established until about 1900, Segner decided that his resort’s made-up history would start with a bunkhouse, essential to a new ranch. Then more modern and more luxurious rooms would be added as the imaginary “ranch” became prosperous. In reality, all were built at the same time.
| The illusion succeeded perfectly. El Portal is tucked into a side street as if the town had grown up around it. When we walked up its gravel pathways in December, El Portal had been open barely a year, yet it seemed to reflect the changing priorities and remodeling ideas of about four generations. The building was old-fashioned adobe and recycled timber, built around a central courtyard. There are strings of electric lights hung overhead across the level courtyard lawn, as people did some 60 years ago to allow night games of croquet. A fireplace opened onto the portico, as if originally built for a room that had been removed in subsequent remodeling, and two of the guests were enjoying its warmth this morning.
On a space-available basis and with reservations, El Portal serves meals to the public as well as its own guests. When we visited, the featured breakfast was a brie cheese omelet with mesquite-smoked bacon, fresh herbs, tomato, and raspberry chipotle sauce, served with roasted new potatoes and bacon or sausage. A mixed-melon appetizer was rendered special by pomegranate seeds, bursting with color and flavor. Each piece of flatware had an iron handle with a loop handforged onto one end; the other end was smoothly welded to a stainless steel blade, spoon bowl, or fork tines.
Interior designer Lynda Borgeois showed us one of the suites, with sturdy masculine furnishings from the arts-and-crafts period (roughly 1890-1920). Some pieces are actually antiques; since nobody made king-sized beds in 1920, Borgeois had one built of quarter-sawed oak in the style of Gustav Stickley, master designer of the arts-and-crafts movement. Railing rungs on the balcony are iron versions of cattail stalks and leaves. Every suite is furnished in a different style.