GRAND CANYON, Ariz. – July 27, 2015 – A comprehensive renovation of the roof of Grand Canyon National Park’s El Tovar, one of the oldest and most famous national park hotels, has been completed.
“Maintaining a structure of such beauty and historical significance requires equal parts carpentry skill, respect and passion,” said Jon Streit, general manager of Grand Canyon National Park Lodges. “Since we trace our roots to the construction of El Tovar and have managed – and renovated multiple times – the hotel since it opened more than a century ago, we feel a tremendous responsibility to do the job right.”
Opened in 1905, El Tovar was built to accommodate increasing numbers of train passengers arriving aboard the Grand Canyon Railway. The project included removal and replacement of underlayment materials and shake shingles on existing roof surfaces.
One of the original great hotels of the national park system and a key influence in opening the Southwest to tourism, El Tovar was built in 1905. El Tovar is a member of the Historic Hotels of America.
In 1901, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway laid an 80-mile railroad spur from Williams, Ariz. to Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim of the Canyon. Like other railroads, the company sought to increase its customer base and began making plans for the construction of a luxury hotel close to its terminal at the South Rim. Described as a cross between a Swiss Chalet and Norwegian Villa, El Tovar cost $250,000 to build and opened January 14, 1905.
The Fred Harvey Company, now called Xanterra Parks & Resorts, has managed El Tovar from the start. The famed Harvey Girls staffed El Tovar and other Harvey Houses throughout the West. The Harvey Girls went a long way toward “civilizing” the region, and many of the West’s prominent families today are descendants of these women and local ranchers and businessmen. Some former Harvey Girls still live in northern Arizona.
Today, Xanterra South Rim, L.L.C.* operates El Tovar as well as Bright Angel Lodge, Kachina Lodge and Thunderbird Lodge on the rim as well as Maswik Lodge a short walk away and Phantom Ranch on the floor of the canyon. Xanterra also manages restaurants, retail shops and other concessions such as mule rides and motorcoach tours. Many South Rim structures have become recognized for their historic and architectural significance and are designated as National Historic Landmarks.
Visitors can book their rooms online by visiting www.grandcanyonlodges.com or by calling toll-free 1-888-297-2757 or 1-303-297-2757 from outside the United States. You can learn more about the park by visiting www.nps.gov/grca.