Category - Stay

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Finding Tranquility at Aravaipa Farms Inn and Orchard
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A Relaxing Night’s Rest at Rim Country’s Strawberry Inn
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Graduate Tempe Brings Academic Nostalgia to Travelers and Students

Finding Tranquility at Aravaipa Farms Inn and Orchard

 

Aravaipa Farms Inn and Orchard is located about 70 miles north of Tucson. The drive up via Arizona 77 is beautiful and takes you through the small towns of Oracle and Mammoth. Once you turn off 77, it’s another seven miles to get to the inn (with three miles being well-maintained unpaved road). The driveway is a somewhat steep descent into the property, where you can either leave the car parked and get shuttled across Aravaipa Creek (which is generally low and accessible with a four-wheel-drive but isn’t required). I chose to leave my car across the creek and requested a shuttle ride across the creek. The Inn owners- Jill and Kevin Maddon, and the Inn’s host- Laura Bailey met me and took me across the creek and to the property.

The Inn and (mainly peach, pear, and apricot) Orchard sits in a riparian countryside, and is nestled beneath the shadows of Brandenburg Mountain. In 1995, Carol Steele (widely known in the Phoenix and Scottsdale culinary scene in the 70s through 90s) acquired the property from Bill Farney. For almost twenty years, she hosted guests in her “reverse B&B” (Arizona Highways- March 2001) and served up her legendary artisanal food. In October 2016, the Maddons bought the 46 acres after learning that Carol was retiring and was selling the property. They did some renovating, while still maintaining Carol’s original flair and tradition, and re-opened in 2017. Check out the article on ‘Carol Steele- The Godmother of the Phoenix Culinary Scene’ here.

I was given a tour of the Inn, which included a peek into most of the casitas (minus the Blue Door Casita, as a guest was staying there), The Tree House, and the Farmhouse. Two casitas are housed in the original barn, where you can see remnants of the original horse stalls and the barn doors. Other features include galvanized steel roofs and ceilings, and Saltillo tiling. The other two casitas have been built out (of the original property). The Farmhouse is the largest of the lodging options, with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a full kitchen. The Tree House is the largest of the casitas, with a tree trunk post that stands majestically in the middle of the space. Each of the lodging options has its unique style, decorated with kitsch and rustic items (Carol’s quirky folk art, handmade birdhouses, paintings, rocks, primitive items, etc.) that don’t necessarily make sense, but yet, fit perfectly in their nook. Walkways feature bits of broken pottery and old dishes.

Inside The Farmhouse, The Tree House, and Mountain + Garden Casitas

I stayed in the Orchard Casita- a beautiful stucco suite with eclectic furnishings, and stonework designed by Lazaro Cervantes (you can see more of his work throughout the property). The kitchenette was well-stocked with fresh coffee, honey from the orchard, sugar, and creamer. The distressed hutch contained utensils and dishware for my convenience. Breakfast is available for an additional fee, but I highly recommend it. You’ll find a homemade frittata, yogurt, granola, fresh fruit, orange juice, and muffin(s) in the mini-fridge. There is no phone nor television, however, I was still able to access wifi on my phone (which was still spotty).

Inside the Orchard Casita + Breakfast

In the evening, we gathered at the main house’s patio for Happy Hour. When the dinner bell rang, we proceeded to the communal dining room for the farm-to-table three-course meal that was prepared by Laura and her lovely staff with recipes that have been handed down by Carol. It was an intimate group, with the Maddons and the only other guest at the Inn. We started with salad and Laura’s homemade bread (which I’m still dreaming about to this day…). The main course was a noodle dish with veggies for me (let the staff know ahead of your stay of any food allergies or dietary restrictions), while the others had fish. Dessert consisted of prickly pear sorbet with a madeleine cookie. Everything was delicious! Tip: Bring reusable containers for leftovers.

Dining Area and Dinner

This was a wonderful and peaceful experience. I enjoyed roaming around the orchard, stargazing and watching the bats flutter around the casita porch after dinner, looking at all the unique curiosities, taking photos, and just enjoying the solitude. I would’ve taken a dip in the pool, but the temperature was too cool for me. However, when I stay there again, I’ll be sure to test out the waters. Tip: Be sure to obtain your hiker’s permit prior to staying here, as it’s only three miles to Nature Conservancy’s Aravaipa Wilderness Preserve.

 

The most photographed door on the property, which has also been featured in Arizona Highways and Sunset Magazine. 

Enjoy this video of the serene Aravaipa Creek …

INFO:

Address: 89395 E. Aravaipa Rd., Winkelman, AZ 85192

Phone: (520)261-7373

Email: info@aravaipafarms.com

Website

 

NOTE: I was hosted for a night in exchange for an honest feature. All opinions are my own.

 

A Relaxing Night’s Rest at Rim Country’s Strawberry Inn

Located about 30 minutes north of Payson, and nestled amongst the piney forest of Rim Country. lies the blink-and-you’re-through town of Strawberry, AZ. The Mr and I paid the town a visit this during our last trip to the Grand Canyon State, mainly because I was a tiny bit obsessed with wanting to try the cinnamon rolls at Pine Creek Fudge. Aside from my food cravings, I also wanted to stay at The Strawberry Inn, a tiny boutique hotel that I’ve heard so much about (along with PCF) via Instagram. Luckily, they had rooms available for the date that we’d be coming in, and we made the side trip happen.

The Strawberry Inn almost reminds me of a Swiss chalet, or a quaint little inn in Alpine region of Central Europe. The two-story, eight-room inn is painted a dark grey and trimmed with white and red. There were numerous Adirondack chairs, rockers, picnic tables, and a couple porch swings that made it possible for guests to enjoy the evening sunsets and gorgeous mountain scenery. The focal point of the Inn was the famed (and most photographed) windmill, which sat a couple feet from the main building.

Since the Inn operates on a vacation rental setting, we had made our reservation online, and then were given a lockbox code to get to our key the day we arrived. I’m sure if you’ve researched the Inn, you’ll notice that a majority of the folks who have stayed there, have mentioned that the interior decor reminds them of Fixer Upper. I couldn’t agree more. I could see Joanna Gaines’ influence in the white ship-lapped walls, the hues of subtle whites and grays, and the hint of industrial chic. We stayed in room six, which was on the upper level. It featured a cozy king bed, sitting area for two, Keurig station, and good-sized restroom with standing shower. A hotel and area guidebook is also in the room, which I highly recommend reading when you first arrive. Before we left, I also took advantage of the little chalkboard (as most of the guests do) to doodle a thank-you message to the couple.

I didn’t get a chance to meet owners- Amber and Carson personally, however, I was able to e-chat with them briefly about the Inn. The Inn was built in the late 1970s, and was used as an office building. There was even a coffee shop that was housed in the windmill at one point (boy would I have loved to have seen that). Then it was converted into a motel called The Windmill Corner Inn. When the couple found it, it had been through a tax sale, and the last owner had done some cosmetic work, while also furnishing it with used hotel furniture. Amber goes on to explain, “As a family, we have had a connection to the Pine-Strawberry community for a long time, and have great memories of spending time in the area with family over the years. The idea of being able to create a unique getaway for others to come and fall in love with Rim Country was incredibly appealing! We stayed in the Inn during the summer of 2016 before committing to the purchase. The beds were uncomfortable and the lack of air-conditioning coupled with windows that wouldn’t open left us feeling pretty discouraged and we considered walking away from the deal. We packed up our kiddos at 11 at night to head back home, and just as we were getting out of town a BEAR ran across the highway! Yes, a real BEAR! Maybe we were just sleep deprived at that point, but we took it as a sign and decided to continue with the purchase, fully aware of the huge amount of time and energy this was going to take. We dove headfirst into a complete remodel of the property. It was a family affair, with a ton of help and support from both sides of our families. After a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, we officially launched in November 2016 and were thrilled when we sold out our very first weekend.”

Their hard work has definitely paid off. With cozy rooms that won’t break the bank, it’s no surprise that people flock to the town to stay there when they venture off to Tonto Natural Bridge, Mogollon Rim, Fossil Creek, and other numerous outdoor excursions. Next time, I’ll be sure to stay in Amber’s favorite room- number eight. “It’s REALLY hard to choose. We intentionally made each room unique and loved every minute of choosing pieces for each space. Room Eight has always been a favorite though, because it has an extra window that lets in tons of natural light.”

When we stayed at the Inn, a majority of the restaurants were either closed for that day, or closed early. We managed to find one decent place in town- Bandits, which was a bar and grill, that served up decent grub. I also recommend stopping at Mogollon Moose Bakery in Payson. They are open for breakfast and lunch, and have really great staff and food. Plus, the space is the cutest, and features goods from local artists. Also, definitely stop by The Honey Stand in Pine to pick up local honey, jam, and salsa. The next morning, we drove a couple miles back to Pine to get a cinnamon roll from Pine Creek Fudge. And yes…totally worth it! It’s a great little local coffee shop that serves coffee, lattes, ice cream, etc. It’s a MUST stop in my book! I can’t wait to get the chance to stay there again. This time, it’ll be for a couple days, in order to explore the area, and eat at more local restaurants.

Amber and Carson also recommend while in the area:

• Visit the Fossil Creek Waterfall – It’s beautiful, and even the most stunning photographs don’t do it justice. Permits sell out fast though.

• Old County Inn (Pine), wood-fired pizza and live music. (The owners are preparing to open a brand new restaurant in town called Pinewood Tavern that we can’t wait to try!)

• Breakfast at Randall House. They make the most amazing French Toast we’ve ever had. And for lunch, they take a simple grilled ham and cheese sandwich and turn it into the most delicious sandwich in the world!

• Old Strawberry Schoolhouse. It’s the oldest schoolhouse still standing in the state- cute photo op.

• Pine Creek Canyon Lavender Farm – one of the newer additions to the Pine-Strawberry community. It’s a beautiful farm where they also make and sell lavender goodies, and host cooking and canning classes as well.

• Pine Creek Ice cream and Fudge. They also make espresso drinks which I always need on “vacation.” When guests add on the romance package to their reservation, we get the fudge from Pine Creek Fudge (we love shopping local!)

 

Please scroll down for a mini-tour of my time in Strawberry (starting with the Inn)!

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

Around town…

Strawberry, AZ, Arizona, Rim Country

Strawberry, AZ, Arizona, Rim Country

The Honey Stand, Pine, Arizona, Rim Country

Mogollon Moose Bakery, Payson, Arizona, Rim Country

Pine Creek Fudge cinnamon roll, Pine, Arizona

 

 

Graduate Tempe Brings Academic Nostalgia to Travelers and Students

The Graduate Tempe was our home away from home for a few days during the Mr and I’s last trip to Phoenix. The Downtown Tempe hotel is situated across the street of one of the largest universities in the country- Arizona State University. Like her nine (with more on the way) other sisters in the Graduate family, she was created for students and travelers alike; while also residing in the country’s most progressive college towns. Each hotel’s design is a thoughtful nod to nostalgic school days, while also giving acknowledgment to the town in which it resides.

The Tempe location is a 140-room building that used to be a Howard Johnsons in the 1970s. Then it became Twin Palms in 1994, before the final renovation to Graduate Tempe in 2014. The property was modeled after a 1970s tourist stop, with a Southwest twist. The designers collected artwork locally (while also trying to stay true to that particular era), through various aspects, such as: yard sales, Goodwill, and other thrift shops, estate sales, etc. The walls of the elevators resemble a cork board that could be found in a teachers lounge. The front desk is decorated with all the pages of Darwin’s The Origin of Species. A vacant desert-themed ant farm hangs proudly behind the reception. A local sketch artist designed the ‘People Paper’ wallpaper in the guest bathrooms. Since the hotel has some ties to the adjacent university, there are also subtle designs located within the property that pays tribute to the university, such as that the room keys that feature ASU alumni. The Normal Diner (which used to be an IHOP) was named after the school’s original name, Normal School of Teaching. The honeycomb pattern in the ballroom flooring and lighting pays tribute to ASUs Arts and Science school. Another nice touch in the reception area is that each agent on duty has a framed mini-bio at their station. The first floor also boasts a 24-hour fitness room and a small business area. Ride a separate elevator up to the top floor, where you’ll find the ballroom, rooftop bar, and event space.

Graduate Tempe believes in being the “living room” of the community, in that they source the artwork and food locally; they also try to involve the community in any way they can. For example, they have lobby activations for the students during graduation or finals; game nights and live music nights. The public is also invited to spend the day at the pool, they just have to make a purchase at Tapacubo Poolside Cantina.

The hotel is also dog-friendly, so be sure to let them know when you book your stay. You’ll receive a complimentary BarkBox upon check-in. Inside the box, you’ll find school themed goodies for your pooch. You’ll also receive a bowl and blanket for your dog to use during the stay.

I really enjoyed my stay at the hotel. I’d definitely have to say that the lobby was my favorite part of the property. Just seeing all the different pieces of artwork (still) has me obsessing over having the ultimate #wallgoals and scouring all the thrift shops and such for fun and amazing pieces of art. I also loved the colorful and multi-patterned couches, as well as the other Mid-Century inspired furnishings. Every aspect of that lobby was tied together perfectly. The room was cozy, and offered a great view of the city from the balcony. There was an in-room small refrigerator and iron with an ironing board that we found ourselves actually using quite often during our stay. Malin + Goetz toiletries provided a refreshing zen vibe after a long day of running around the city.

Be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with their different events and such! Also, ask about their bike rentals. Parking is $7 per night.

Scroll down for a photo tour!

Graduate Tempe, exterior, diner, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, exterior, restaurant, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, lobby, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, lobby, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, lobby, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, lobby, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, lobby, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, lobby, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe,Pool, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, hallway, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, hotel, Arizona

Normal Diner, food, Arizona, AZ

The photo collage above was taken at the Normal Diner back in 2016, when I had the opportunity to eat there (as I didn’t have the chance this time around). I LOVED the service and the food! It’s definitely a cute little place to eat!

 

 

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