Moab Happenings Archive
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Coach, a Cowgirl and a Pirate Ship: Moab’s Aarchway Inn
By Linda Schmidt

This article could be entitled “True Stories.” The Aarchway Inn, Moab’s very delightful resort hotel, has stories, including bears and lions roaming the grounds (with supervision), and rare heavy rain that seemed to set the Pirate Ship afloat, but the best one is about its beginning, featuring a coach, Mike Bynum, and a Moab cowgirl, Theresa Horning.

On February 6th of 2006, Mike went to visit this property. It was for sale; a price had been agreed upon. But who would run it? On his way he stopped by the old Red Rock Motel to meet its manager Theresa for the first time; they conversed for about 10 minutes. When he arrived at the property, he found all in disarray—furniture in the hallways, a real mess. He was informed that two busloads of visitors were booked for the next day, but would be sent elsewhere. Mike called the current owner and said “I need to have this property now.” Then he called Theresa, “Remember me? Come on out here now.”

They walked around, he asked her if she could have it ready for the following day, and she said yes! She was hired on the spot as the new general manager, and Mike asked her what she needed from him. “Cleaning supplies.” Theresa called in 13 relatives who worked with her late into the night. Mike purchased lobby furniture locally, and the hotel was ready for guests the following morning. Off and running, just like that!

Mike’s choice of the property and his general manager has paid off. The Aarchway is an extremely popular resort, particularly with families. Every inch of it, inside and out, has been upgraded since those early days, and it is lovely! There are 97 rooms, 2 apartments, 5 family room suites, 2 executive suites, and 8 three-queen suites that are very popular with families. Please check out their website (listed below) for photos of the rooms, the amenities (which have taken every desire and need into consideration), the pool, and all else that is offered.

The property is situated on 11 acres, and the grounds behind the hotel, which were once a tamarisk jungle, are now luxuriously landscaped, a true oasis. There is, foremost, The Playground, which is the home of the Pirate Ship. Mike says “Watching kids being happy is as good as it gets,” and his impulsive acquisition of the Pirate Ship has given him and countless children hours of joy. He saw the ship in a container yard near I-70 on his way to Grand Junction one day and after a brief consultation with Theresa, had it delivered to the Aarchway Inn just four hours later!

The grounds are amazingly quiet, with views of the red rock cliffs of the Colorado river and the wetlands that border it. Looking back at the Inn, murals done by artist Nik Hougan present an Anasazi scene on the massive wall of one wing, and the La Sal mountains on the other. Beyond the fenced border is a trail that leads into the Matheson Wetlands Preserve, open to guests by granted permission. The grounds feature lawns, trees, a fire pit and even a bee garden! Off to one side is a basketball court and a tether ball arena. This oasis has been the site of many weddings, birthday celebrations, family reunions, and concerts, including a drop-in concert of the Moab Music Festival.

Dynamic elements contributing to the great success and popularity of the Inn are Mike’s years of sports, coaching, and his intuitive business sense, plus Theresa’s true grit, a memory like a steel trap for details, a get-it-done-now work mentality and her loyalty to Mike. They share a concept of respect as the basis of team management. They also share a deep interest in the Moab community, which has led to, among other things, hosting the annual Skinny Tire Festival and promoting local artists’ work in the Aarchway Inn.

Please check out the website: Warm and accommodating, beautiful and fun: Moab’s Aarchway Inn! Book your visit on line or phone +1 435-259-2599 and be sure to mention you read about it in the Moab Happenings.

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