The story of Fred Harvey and the hotels, restaurants and tourism system he conceptualized and built along the Santa Fe Railway line throughout the Southwest is a story of inspired entrepreneurism. His legacy continues to inspire today as entrepreneurs pick up where he left off, most recently at Harvey’s La Castañeda Hotel in Las Vegas, N.M.
In 2014, Allan Affedlt and his wife, Tina Mion, bought the shuttered 25,000-square-foot hotel built by the Santa Fe Railway in 1898 and in 2017 completed the financing to begin its restoration. They look forward to reopening the horseshoe-shaped hotel with its welcoming belvedere tower just off the railroad tracks in late 2019, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.
“Las Vegas, New Mexico, is the great undiscovered town of the Southwest, with more remarkable history and architecture than Taos or Albuquerque,” Allan Affeldt told the New Mexican. “And La Castañeda Hotel, where Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders held their first reunion in 1899 around the corner from Doc Holliday’s saloon, is the crown jewel.”
The New Mexican said Affeldt believes that once he reopens La Castañeda it will once again make Las Vegas a “must stop for travelers who love history and design.”
The historic property will join Affedlt and Mion’s La Posada, a Harvey Hotel designed by Mary Colter in Winslow, Ariz. The hotel, which opened in 1930 but had been used as railroad offices since the 1960s, was under threat of demolition by the Santa Fe Railway when Affedlt and Mion purchased it in 1997 and restored it with Daniel Lutzick. Conde Nast Traveler recently named the hotel to its Readers’ Choice Awards 2017 list of Top Hotels in the Southwest and West.
“Although none of the partners is a hotelier by training, they have accomplished what once seemed impossible — transforming a forgotten but magical place in to a living museum,” La Posada’s website states.
La Posada indeed is a magical place, also inspiring Oldest House Indian Shop owner Rick Smith after his first step into its lobby. “The epiphany came when my curiosity lead me to the timeless and well-maintained courtyard that was hidden from view…a time-traveler moment,” Smith says. Ever since, the idea of travelers headed west to “Indian Country” has fascinated Smith and inspired his career as a merchant set on creating fulfilling experiences for travelers and shoppers.
“Just like Fred Harvey of 135 years ago, we say to people, ‘Come explore!” Smith says. “Enjoy the unique cultural experiences that come with exploring history and with discovering new artists, places and friends.”