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Coronado Hotel in running for chain's most historic
Best Western has gathered some of its finest properties from around the world to highlight in its Fan Awards, among them the Best Western Coronado Motor Hotel in Yuma.
The Yuma motel is one of five finalists for most historic. And it has the distinction of being the only Best Western property in the U.S. to be in the contest.
The Coronado — “Where the Past Makes History” — is up against four hotels in Great Britain and France for the historic award. The hotels feature historical events or values and are often associated with a unique historical story.
Coronado's general manager and co-owner Yvonne Peach has appealed to the community to rally behind the motel and vote for it — and vote often.
To vote, go to www.facebook.com/bestwestern and click on Best Western Fan Awards. People can vote once a day through Sept. 16 in each of the seven categories: best view from a hotel room, most beautiful hotel setting, most historic hotel, most impressive guest room, most impressive lobby, most unique guest room and most unique hotel.
When the votes have been collected, one Best Western Rewards member will be selected to take a trip to one of the seven winning destinations.
The Best Western Coronado Motor Hotel, 233 S. 4th Ave., is not only is the oldest motel in Arizona, it's also the oldest Best Western in the United States.
Owner John Peach said his parents, John and Marie Peach, both immigrants from Czechoslovakia, arrived in Yuma in 1916 and opened The Famous Cleaners. They also managed the Vindom Hotel in downtown Yuma for free room and board.
In 1938, they opened the Coronado Motor Hotel.
A motor hotel was a new concept during this time period, said Peach, who took over the hotel in 1979. He noted that building the rooms side by side with parking spaces immediately in front of the rooms was not commonplace during this time.
In the 1940s, the Peaches got permission from the government to expand because of a shortage of rooms for soldiers during World War II.
Many people also came to Yuma to get married because there was no three-day waiting period as in other states, said Yvonne Peach, and 1st Street was lined with little wedding chapels.
Over the years, many of the WWII veterans who got married here would come back to the Coronado for their anniversaries, she said.
Another repeat customer was actor-comedian Bob Hope, who always asked for the same room. Yvonne Peach said he frequently came to town to perform at the USO, entertaining American military personnel.
The Coronado's original hotel lobby, which was Peach's boyhood home, has been turned into a small museum with Best Western memorabilia, historical photos of Yuma to original hotel furnishings.
In another historical tie, the Yuma Landing Restaurant next to the motel is on the site where the first airplane landed in Arizona 100 years ago. Today, a statue of Robert Fowler, who flew the Wright Model B biplane, stands on the property. Inside, historical photos and memorabilia decorate the restaurant.