Where tradition meets excellence: Little America Flagstaff is an iconic Arizona getaway destination
By Allison Brown
Nestled beneath towering Ponderosa Pines surrounded by Flagstaff’s natural beauty is Little America Flagstaff – a welcome sight for weary Route 66 travelers, a home away from home for returning families, or a romantic getaway for couples.
Whatever the reason for the stay, the Little America Flagstaff hotel can provide the rest, relaxation, hospitality and luxury that guests seek. Little America Flagstaff General Manager Fred Reese says their top priority is taking care of guests and making sure they get the most out of their stay.
“You’re going to be treated like family here because we’re a private family business,” he says. “We consider our customers as members of the family and we consider our staff as members of the family. So we put a very strong emphasis on customer service and kind of follow the golden rule, treating others the way you want to be treated.
And, after nearly 50 years in business, according to Reese, based on the reviews and interactions he’s had with guests, the hotel’s customer service and family atmosphere are a big part of what keeps people coming back.
“We are probably on the third generation of customers. I have clients who come to me all the time and tell me their grandparents brought them here when they were little,” Reese continues.
“When you’ve been in business for 50 years in one place, you’re going to pass generation after generation. And, because we do such a good job, future generations like to come here because they have fond memories of children coming here and enjoying the forest.
Of course, location is probably Little America Flagstaff’s biggest draw.
Just two and a half hours from Phoenix, the nation’s fifth-largest city, and about an hour from Sedona, Flagstaff is within driving distance of most Arizona hotspots. Nearly 75% of the hotel’s business comes from within the state, according to Reese, adding that its most popular time is from May through October.
“The weather here is phenomenal. When it’s 110 or 120 degrees in Phoenix, it’s only 80 to 90 degrees here,” Reese says. “So it’s a great escape. The majority of our business is in-state and originates in the Valley, where many people like to get out of the heat and escape to the cool climate. »
With an outdoor pool, hot tub, and playground, guests can make the most of the cooler weather. The hotel also sits on 550 acres covered in Ponderosa Pines and other native trees and wildlife for guests to experience. Behind the main lodge is a nature trail that can be hiked in a 1 or 2 mile loop.
“(Guests) can really take in the natural scenery we’re sitting on,” Reese says. “No one else in Flagstaff can quite claim that their resort is set on such beautiful grounds amongst the pines like us.”
Little America Flagstaff is also a short drive from historic downtown Flagstaff, which consists of several pedestrianized blocks filled with unique restaurants, breweries, and shops — not to mention murals, live music, and of a mass of cute dogs on a walk. There is also the history, as most of these buildings are restored from the 1890s.
While the hotel’s most popular times are during the warmer months, those who brave Flagstaff from November through February can experience true winter and are more than likely to see snow. In fact, Flagstaff saw its first snowfall of the season the first week of October. In mid-November there will be skiing, snowman building and, in Little America, a magical winter wonderland with the chance to meet Santa himself.
Around the holiday season, Little America Flagstaff is transformed for the North Pole experience and decorated with over a million lights woven through the pine trees and hung around the lodge. The hotel served as the trolley launch station for the North Pole Experience, which is provided by a separate company, for 10 years.
“You ride the North Pole Experience Trolley which transports you to the North Pole and you can drive to Santa’s workshop,” Reese explains.
“There’s a fully interactive workshop where you walk into different rooms – there’s the toy hall of fame, a bakery, the toy-making room, the toy-packing room, the elf college. It’s amazing for all ages to have this experience and then you end up seeing Santa at the end of the tour.
The event draws tens of thousands of people throughout the holiday season, Reese says, and has been a great partnership for the hotel and Flagstaff as a whole. People don’t have to stay at Little America to participate in the North Pole Experience – they just need to check in for the trolley there – but the hotel does offer a special meal and lodging package and a reduced rate for those who stay.
Also during the holiday season, the hotel offers guests a unique opportunity to experience its famous North Pole Experience breakfast buffet up close and personal with Santa Claus and a memorable photo op at Little America Flagstaff from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Sunday, November 13. until Saturday 24 December.
Reese says the hotel’s holiday events have grown more popular over the years, and people are starting to see Flagstaff’s winter beauty — not just its cool summer.
Little America Flagstaff opened in June 1973 as the third hotel in the Little America franchise. According to Reese, Little America is actually from Rural America, a small town in Wyoming. He says it started as a small truck stop motel, but has grown massively and transformed into the luxury getaway it is now.
The Flagstaff location was actually built from the ground up, with painstaking detail put into everything from the color scheme to the bathroom tiles and the feel of the carpet (it’s wool) . The hotel has 247 rooms; 10 meeting rooms ranging from 225 square feet to a 6,000 square foot ballroom; the much-loved Silver Pine Restaurant and Bar, which caters to all culinary cravings; a 24-hour travel center with a hot grill and deli; Souvenir shop; business center and fitness center.
According to Reese, the hotel underwent a massive renovation from 2016 to 2018 that updated nearly every facility. He says he received lots of compliments from guests about the renovation, especially the materials used.
“We get a lot of feedback that it’s comparable to some of the better hotels they’ve been to. We feel like we’re offering the best value for what a guest is going to buy — they’re going to get a luxury bed and breakfast with exceptional service,” says Reese.
“The bedrooms have been furnished with tables, desks and a headboard in living wood from British Columbia, the carpeting is English wool, the stone and granite are from Spain. Everything is so upscale and beautifully appointed, so you get a luxury experience at a great value.”