Let me cut to the chase. I can easily recommend Casa de San Pedro Bed & Breakfast Inn to any traveler (birder or otherwise) visiting southeast Arizona. This hacienda, designed to evoke traditional architecture of Spain and Mexico, is a diamond in the rough, a sanctuary for tired, hot souls and a gracious provider of hardy gourmet breakfasts. The inn caters to a birder’s obsession in many ways, from round-the-clock bird-friendly coffee to its fully outfitted Great Room with scopes and binoculars overlook busy bird feeders. The swimming pool is a work of art. The inn is located 90 miles from Tuscson, near Ramsey Canyon, Bisbee, and Sierra Vista. Read on for the details.
We turned a dusty corner and, like an oasis in the desert, Casa de San Pedro materialized the afternoon sun. My husband and I had been traveling through southeast Arizona for days – it was blazing hot. When we first entered our rented vehicle, the temperature gauge registered 116 F. We were exhausted and parched, like two sponges curling on the hood of a black Mercedes baking on a slab of asphalt.
It was mid-August. I had been birding Southeast Arizona, compliments of Clay Taylor and Swarovski Optik NA, for three days with a bevy of other U.S. bird bloggers (the inestimable Sharon Stiteler, Nate Swick, Robert Mortenson, and Mike Bergin) plus Jim Cirigliano of Bird Watchers Digest and Rue Mapp from Outdoor Afro. We had a fascinating time exploring popular birding spots around Tucson (Mt. Lemmon) and the Chirichua and Huachuca Mountains; in places like Miller and Ash canyons and Coronado National Forest. We’d spent hours admiring southeast hummingbirds at Beatty’s Miller Canyon Guest Ranch and Orchard and Ash Canyon Bed & Breakfast, aided by hummingbird expert Sheri Williamson and her husband Tom Wood, who is an accomplished tour guide. Sheri not only wrote the book on hummers (A Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America), but she’s the director of the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory. Needless to say, we were in good hands and didn’t miss a tick. Clay let us test out the brand new Swarovski spotting scope (the Swarovski ATX – the first modular scope on the market), which was fantastic for viewing the plumage details of a Mexican Spotted Owl sleeping in the shade, and by trip’s end, we all headed in different directions.
My husband and I traveled further south from Tucson toward Hereford, which lies at the southern end of the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (NCA). At the advice of Forrest Davis, one of our well traveled contributors who lives and works nearby, we had scheduled one night at Case de San Pedro, a hacienda-style inn located adjacent to the NCA before heading back north. (A tour of Taliesen West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and school in Phoenix, was next on the agenda).
This was our first trip to Arizona, and based on what we’d seen so far in the rural countryside of the southeast, and even from the iconic birder-friendly inns a bit north, we didn’t expect much from the Casa other than a standard inn to meet our basic needs.
But when we pulled into the driveway and saw the adobe-walled hacienda – the courtyard and elegant, and dare I say sexy, swimming pool, we were gobsmacked with pleasure. We’d found exactly what we needed to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary in style and romance.
The Casa has ten air-conditioned guest rooms designed in warm, earthy tones representative of the southwest. Each room a private bath tiled in hand-painted Mexican tiles. The rooms are arranged around a courtyard bursting with blooms and butterflies which are attracted, no doubt, by the bubbling fountain.
A walk through the courtyard leads to an open Great Room with a large fireplace and picture window overlooking the feeder area. The Great Room has been outfitted to satisfy birders and naturalists; spotting scopes, extra binoculars, field guides, and even a computer with a connection to eBird are available. We lingered a while in the Great Room to update our checklist and a plot our next birding adventure.
Upon arrival, we immediately changed into swimsuits and dove into the pool – which is a custom-designed aesthetic wonder. The infinity hot tub was also impressive. While the water slowly melted away our suffering heat, I noted the silence, which every inadvertent splash seemed to offend. We remained in the pool until we were pickled, then laid back in deck chairs and for once appreciated the late summer heat as it warmed our white, northern hides.
I lay there awhile in perfect peace before realizing we had only booked only one night at Casa de San Pedro, and our plans were not flexible. Quelle horreur!
Determined to make the best of our brief stay, we headed out to do some birding. We walked under the willows and cottonwoods along the San Pedro river for some birding. We followed the walk with a romantic dinner at an Italian restaurant in Bisbee. We retired early, however, eager to spend as much downtime at the inn as possible.
I recommend you make an excuse to get to Southeast Arizona (13 species of hummingbirds is a brilliant excuse) and book at least part of your stay at the Casa de San Pedro. Karl and Patrick are warm, authentic people who go above and beyond to welcome people who are gentle on the earth. Day and night, shade-grown coffee and herbal teas were offered in the common room. Fresh-baked pie was available for desert. And in the morning, Karl and Patrick prepared a full gourmet breakfast with fruit, freshly baked quiche, a side of ham, and more.
And tell them I sent you.
Rooms are roughly $169 per night. AARP and The Nature Conservancy members get 3% discounts. Deals are often advertised through their email newsletter. Visit http://bedandbirds.com for more details.
Note: The author received a complimentary night at the inn in exchange for a review.