El Trovatore Motel in Kingman, Ariz., recently reopened to overnight travelers after being used as apartments for the past few years. The owner says he plans to restore the historic Route 66 motel in the coming months, including its distinctive neon signs.
El Trovatore owner Sam Frisher, born in Israel but has lived in the United States for more than 30 years, said in a phone interview Sunday that he acquired a motel license from the City of Kingman last week. El Trovatore had been used as apartments for the past few years.
Twenty-two guest rooms are available for $39.99 a night (plus free breakfast for two at a nearby restaurant). All of the rooms will be renovated and reopened in the coming months.
Frisher told a few of his plans for the property:
— Many of the rooms will have Hollywood star themes, such as John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn.
— Frisher kept many of the original bathroom furnishings, including the triangle-shaped sinks and tile floors.
— The main El Trovatore sign near the highway will be repainted and its neon restored. Frisher estimates that work will be finished by early January.
— Frisher hopes to restore the neon on the distinctive El Trovatore tower sign on the rear of the property within the next three months. A recent photo of the sign can be found here.
— Frisher plans to launch a website for the motel within the next few weeks.
— Longer term, Frisher wants to build an observation deck around the base of the El Trovatore sign tower. That spot affords good views of the nearby mountain ranges and the city.
All told, Frisher thinks he’ll have the renovations completed by mid-summer.
He said he’s paying for the restoration effort by refinancing the mortgage to a lower rate, plus another loan for the remodeling.
He said he initially explored using LED lighting in place of some of the neon, but reconsidered.
“What’s the point of restoring it if you don’t do the original look?” he said. “So we’re going with the original neon. That’s the kind of stuff you want to keep for America and Route 66.”
Frisher acknowledged that El Trovatore saw troubled times with police calls and code violations in recent years. He blamed poor management. He said he’s living on the premises to make sure the restoration proceeded properly.
One reason restoring El Trovatore may be a good move is because it will accommodate large Route 66 tour groups. Kingman boasts several vintage motels —Hilltop Motel is a good example — but they’re too small for tour buses.
El Trovatore Court was built in 1939 on El Trovatore Hill by John F. Miller, who gained fame and fortune years before by building the first hotel in Las Vegas, Hotel Nevada, in 1906.
UPDATE: Jim Hinckley at Route 66 Chronicles has a few more details about the motel, plus photos.