El Tovar Resort at the Grand Canyon

September 5, 2007 at 12:52 pm 3 comments

You can drive to the Grand Canyon from Phoenix (or Las Vegas) — both are about 4 hours south/southwest of this national treasure.A view of the Canyon And the view is worth every minute of that drive!

We had flown Midwest Airlines into Phoenix, then drove up to the Grand Canyon. Our destination was the 100+ year-old El Tovar Resort on the South Rim of the canyon. And it truly is a grand resort.

El Tovar Hotel
For those who know the name “Fred Harvey,” you know that this company ran the food service on the railroads andEl Tovar Lodge at South Rim of Grand Canyon at the major train stations for countless years. Known for quality and excellent restaurant service from their “Harvey Girls,” Fred Harvey was given the food service around the turn of the century for the Park Service hotels and restaurants. The Park Service wanted top-notch quality for its guests. In the late 1960s, Xanterra Corporation bought Fred Harvey and completed El Tovar’s renovation just 2 years ago. And from our experience, Xanterra is carrying on the excellence of the resort’s tradition.

Rustic Lodge and Modern Amenities
Because of its careful renovation, El Tovar retains its rustic and natural charm. As you enter the spacious lobby, you are awed by the historic decor that also welcomed people like Lobby at El TovarAlbert Einstein, Teddy Roosevelt and author Zane Grey. Just like the early days, luggage is portered from you car to your room by bellmen, real bellmen. Kind of nice, actually. You’ll appreciate it even more when you realize you have steps to climb to the front porch and more inside if your room is not on the main floor.

The rooms have been modernized — from large windows that easily open to welcome the fresh air to the spacious bathroom that has been totally renovated with period fixtures, flooring and wall tile. (Kohler, of course.) Room decor is plain, very clean and comfortable — after all, you’re there to enjoy the great outdoors.

Dining was excellent. The main dining room overlooks the canyon for a spectacular breakfast, lunch or dinner. The food was top notch as was the service.

Book Well in Advance.
The Grand Canyon lodges fill up quickly — I’ve been told almost a year in advance for prime season. We were lucky enough to get in for a couple of days mid-summer. Our room was about $140/night. Once you get there, just park your car and enjoy the park on foot, by shuttle or even mule.

NEXT: Hiking the Grand Canyon

1) El Tovar Dining Room.
This is an excellent restaurant with very good food. Ask for a table near the window to view the canyon during your meal — although many other tables share the view as well. Here’s a link to the El Tovar menu.

2) Arrive Early. Leave Your Bags. We arrived mid-morning, much too early for check-in. But the front desk folks stored our luggage and offered to phone us as soon as a room was ready (they called within an hour or two). In the meantime, we started our exploration of the park.

3) Weather at the Park. While the lower Arizona desert was hot, the temps around the South Rim were quite pleasant and comfortable for hiking.

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Entry filed under: Grand Canyon, Phoenix.

Minneapolis with 6 — More Fun, Bigger Savings The Grand Canyon: Hiking, Mule Tours, Condors and Whitewater Rafting

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. gcmaven  |  September 6, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    Just a clarification or two –

    It’s not a resort, nothing in the park could be considered a resort.

    Fred Harvey worked with the Santa Fe Railway, not with the park service. The Santa Fe built and ran the hotels at the Grand Canyon long before it was ever a national park! Then Amfac bought the properties from Fred Harvey. Xanterra (at first as “Grand Canyon National Park Lodges”) took over in the early 1980’s.

  • 2. David Landau  |  February 28, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    How can we make a reservation at this lodge?

  • 3. tish  |  March 3, 2008 at 8:44 am

    You can go to the Xanterra Website — http://www.grandcanyonlodges.com/el-tovar-409.html

    I do have this link on my post, but it’s not in bold type and is probably not as prominent as it should be.

    You’ll be able to see the open dates online.


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