It’s a long stretch of highway between San Antonio, Texas and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dust can swirl and kick up with summer wind along the sparse landscape for miles until the Pecos Valley where pecan trees flourish at the outskirts of Artesia.
Named in 1903 for the artesian wells that helped draw settlers to the area, Artesia is a southwestern town worth a stop for its history and aesthetically pleasing charm. Hotel Artesia is part of the draw. The 53 guest room hotel with its Art Deco architecture and southwestern flavor is why we decided to stay here for the night, and why we ended up at a concert at the Eddy County Fairgrounds.
When we arrived in Artesia after a seven-hour drive, my husband wanted nothing more than to kick back in the comfort of our hotel room but, by the time I took photos, our plans changed.
He had gone wandering, checking email in the small business center before peeking into a meeting room where leftover cold cuts, buns and a few pickle and tomato slices had yet to be cleared away. Seeing “Texas Tornados” scrawled in Sharpie on the lid of a container of mayonnaise, he remembered the older men with guitars he had seen hanging out in the bar/lounge combo.
The men were still there.
“Hey, are you guys the Texas Tornados?” my husband asked, recalling their CD we once had–a CD recorded when Freddy Fender was with the group years ago.
“Yeah, man. Who are you?”
The band was waiting for a ride to a gig at the Eddy County Fairgrounds. Turns out, they’d left San Antonio that morning as well.
My husband recounted this after I’d taken note of our room details that incorporated modern European style furnishings with Art Deco inspired fixture choices. This included the bathroom where the granite vanity and sink were accompanied by Paya Organis amenities, plush towels and aesthetically pleasing glassware.
Taking note of the microwave, coffee maker, I transferred food from our cooler to the small room refrigerator before I joined my husband in the lobby. The band had left by then, but the desk clerk gave us details about getting tickets at the gate. The hotel had sold all the ones they had.
Along with serving as overnight lodging, the hotel is a hub for Artesia and a place to get info on town happenings. We just happened to arrive the same weekend as the “Smokin on the Pecos” New Mexico BBQ Championships. The Texas Tornados were Friday night’s entertainment.
We had to go.
Although Freddy Fender passed away, the original band members Augie Meyer and Flaco Jimenez are still part of the Texas Tornados that deliver “Hey Baby, Que Paso?” and “Who Were You Thinking Of?” with their special fusion of country, rock and Tejano style.
Attending a local happening then returning to a town landmark for the night where its bar was turned into a DJ run disco was another treat. We grabbed a couple of beers and settled into one of the couches near the double-sided fireplace to hang out for awhile and listen to some music. When we went to our room on the 2nd floor, we couldn’t hear the music so a rockin’ lounge doesn’t get in the way of guests’ peace and quiet. The double-sided fireplace would make this a wonderful hangout spot in the winter.
By morning, the lounge/bar had been changed to a breakfast place where we had complimentary self-serve breakfast sandwiches of eggs and sausage, coffee and juice. These were fresh made sandwiches and quite good. The staff bustled about making sure there was a constant fresh supply. Cereal and pastries were also included.
After checking out, we spent an hour in Artesia learning about the town’s history, including the role of oil in the town’s development by taking in the sculptures and signage as we walked around the town.
A stay at the Hotel Artesia, paired with time in Artesia is time well spent. I’d go back here for sure–even if it means driving though a dust swirl to get there.
Room rates currently range from $105 to $132 at Hotels.com. Along with double rooms, there are one room king rooms and extended stay rooms that include a kitchenette. Wi-Fi is free. A dog is allowed with a $35 fee.
Post and Photos Courtesy of Jamie Rhein