Little America Celebrates Fifty Years in Flagstaff

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“Fifty years ago, it seems so long ago, but there have been so many great people. We wouldn’t be here without you,” said Holding.

“I can feel the joy of this place that started out as dirt, and it wasn’t easy dirt – it was rock,” said Bob Button of the groundbreaking and earthworks needed to construct the Little America Flagstaff during 1972 and 1973. Button, Little America’s first general manager, shared his memories in Little America’s Grand Ballroom on Aug. 18 in a 50th anniversary gala that included employees, businesspeople and dignitaries.

“My dad saved as many trees as possible during construction,” reported Stephen Holding. His parents, Robert and Carol Holding, built the hotel on 500 scenic, pine-covered acres, the second in what would become a chain of eight luxury hotels and resorts across the West. Robert Holding died in 2013.

“He got out in front of the bulldozers and said, ‘Stop!’ So that’s why we have so many trees here,” he said. The guest rooms were completed in 1972, but because the pool and main lodge were not finished yet, the opening occurred in 1973.

“1973 – there was an incredible amount of snow that year,” Holding added. “I have a lot of memories of being here. The hotel opened on my eighth birthday. I remember eating beef medallions for my birthday dinner.”

General Manager Fred Reese led a champagne toast while a DJ played background music. After the presentation, Jon Crowe of Caricature Company of Flagstaff drew portraits of guests, some dressed in 1970s attire.

Many guests remembered the Tiffany Tree Lounge and the impressive stained-glass tree hanging over the bar. The tree was removed when Little America underwent a complete revitalization in 2016-2018. However, the glass leaves were repurposed by a local artist and fashioned into necklace pendants. Many in the crowd wore the stained glass necklaces.

The two-and-a-half-year, multi-phase remodel was completed in 2018 by Loven Contracting, Ruscitto Latham Blanton and Neilson Engineering. Little America Flagstaff with its 247 rooms, is the only AAA-approved Four Diamond hotel in the city.

Little America Flagstaff is part of Grand America Hotels & Resorts (formerly Little America), a chain of eight hotels and resorts in Arizona, California, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. The lodgings are owned by the Robert Earl Holding family, which also owned the Sinclair Oil Corporation from 1976 to 2022.

“Fifty years ago, it seems so long ago, but there have been so many great people. We wouldn’t be here without you,” said Holding. “We look forward to the next 50 years.” FBN

By Stacey Wittig, FBN

Little America Flagstaff

2515 E Butler Avenue Flagstaff, AZ 86004


Photo by Stacey Wittig: General Manager Fred Reese leads a champagne toast while wearing a Tiffany Tree pendant, created from the stained glass tree that once hung in the hotel’s lounge. 

FBN Business,Local News,Tourism

2023-09-14 06:44:48 , Flagstaff Business News

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