Sunday, May 01, 2011


The name alone conjures up images of the old west doesn't it?  Well, it's as close to the authentic part of the old west there is in that part of New Mexico.  I'm a bit surprised it isn't a bit more developed with a  large NRA facility and the Philmont Scout ranch in close proximity.

We had poked our way into "town" last fall, curious about the St. James Hotel.  Another grand old timer in our never ending quest to seek them out.  We routed this trip just to be able to catch it.  Plain enough on the outside; it is after all from days when practicality outweighed pizazz.

A lot of these old hotels, here in the West, seem to have a sense of  Victorian elegance that is contradictory to their location.  The guests must be comfortable!

The Saint James is different.  You know it's wild west! Maybe it had to do with the number of stuffed animals around the place.

It wasn't anticipated, but we were not surprise to find a film crew wrapping up their day.  I think half the town was waiting to get into the saloon.  Or maybe it was just a big film crew.  As is rumored with many of these old hotels, the Saint James is said to be haunted and the SciFi channel was shooting an episode of an up coming series called Spirit Hunters to be aired around the first of June.

The tin ceilings remained throughout the public areas complete with bullet holes from gun fights.  This too is not unusual to find.  It does lend to the aura.  Especially since their guest registers include everyone from Jesse James to Annie Oakley.

We were sipping a whiskey, you don't call it a cocktail in a place like this,  when a tall, lanky man in complete western garb came in and started greeting everyone in the saloon.  Hub leaned over and informed me he was being interviewed on camera when he was checking in.  It turns out he was the manager.  And a most gracious one. Even when I complained there was no hair dryer in the room.  Actually I told every employee I met I needed a hair dryer and every one told me they would round one up.   More on this in a bit.

Lingering over dinner, we were pretty much the last people in the dining room when the manager, Steve, pulled up a chair and joined us.  He told us about himself and the enterprise that owns the hotel.  Managing it is his second job,  His day job is managing the local operation, a good sized one, of an Oklahoma cattleman.  He could be retired, but why?  He loves what he does on both counts.

What they do right is capitalize on the legends, even to labeling which rooms the celebrated guests occupied.  That's in the main building.  There is an annex, where we were due to occupancy restraints because of the film crew.  It wasn't so nice and this is where having hospitality professionals would be a tremendous boon.  Our room was dark and dingy, the bath linens old and thin and no hair dryer!

It became a running joke but never resolved.  I mentioned it the next morning as we were leaving, my head still damp from inadequate towelling.  There is only so much you can do with one towel after it has already dried a body!

The morning clerk said told me how sorry she was, but they only had two hair dryers and, of course, the film crew had them.

We might have gone back.  The film crew probably not.  It will be a long time before we do.  Come on, folks.  No one travels with a hair dryer anymore.  Hotels have them.  Especially those in out of the way corners that are trying to grow their businesses!

It wasn't a total bust though.  The town's deer were waiting for us in a field across from the hotel as we pulled out of town, an elk herd was just down the highway and of course the ever present antelope.  You know how I am about "critters" no matter how common or how often I see them.  They soothe my soul.


Margie's Musings said...

What an experience!

Dogwalk said...

One more day to go Margie, then I'll be back to my usual rants. ; )

ReNeigh said...

Of all things to complain about, a hair dryer? How petty. Why not try to enjoy the historic history of the building and the area as you can, even though the newest renovations are total crap. If you want to be waited on hand and foot, go to one of those fancy pants hotels. Places like the St. James are open and there for others to appreciate the history and enjoy the experience.. find something else to cry about, I'm sure you wil.

ReNeigh said...

Of all thigns to complain about, a hair dryer...really? How extremely petty. Places like the St. James aren't there to wait on you hand and foot, but there for others to appreciate and experience the history of the place and area. Rather than be a negative nancy, open your mind to the experience. If you expect a hair dryer in your hotel room, go to a Hilton.