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Wagon Wheel Motel (*ALERT*)

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Wagon Wheel Motel (*ALERT*)

Postby hbfsowino » Thu Sep 03, 2009 3:05 am

There it stood in Cuba, Missouri-- its classic neon still beckoning to Route 66 enthusiasts to this day-- The Wagon Wheel Motel, a part of classic American roadtrip nostalgia. I felt excited to be a part of the history this week. I was to stay there overnight as part of my Route 66 trek, the fifth consecutive year of driving the entire route from beginning to end. Leading up to my stay, I felt like I would be able to tell others about how cool (and lucky) I was to stay at the Wagon Wheel---given the history.

Sadly, the nostalgic feeling evaporated as soon as I set foot inside this motel, which evidently is on the National Register of Historic Places.

I should have known that I was in for an adventure as I paid my $18 room reservation. Yes...$18. Not a misprint. The room I was given was the dirtiest I had ever seen in a motel capacity. Mind-boggling filth. Granted, the cable TV was a nice touch, but I couldn't get past the roaches crawling out of the bathroom walls. Or the cigarette-burned bed sheets. Or the questionable door knobs/locks.

I wanted to root for this place. I really did. The caretakers seemed like nice people. The exteriors/grounds were properly maintained. I wanted to believe that this place was still the same motel I had heard about as a 'must visit' in certain Route 66 circles. But all the plastic sheets, Lysol and D-Con couldn't save my stay there. After a failed attempt at sleeping in my car, I drove away at 1:30am.

Let me state that I consider myself among the least pretentious people I know. I understand that, with doing roadtrips like this, that these kinds motels are not going to compare to the MGM Grands and the Caesars Palaces of the world. In a way, that's why I like them-- it's part of the charm. I have stayed at countless other iconic Route 66 mom & pop motels over the last five years--The Blue Swallow (Tucumcari), The Munger Moss (Lebanon), The Lincoln Motel (Chandler), The Cactus Motel (McLean)...including the Western Motel (Sayre) and the El Rancho (Gallup) this time around...just to name a few. The Wagon Wheel shouldn't not be mentioned in the same category of these places--at least on an 'overnight stay' basis.

I certainly don't mean to pile on here and make certain people look bad. I think this forum should be used to support the likes of the Wagon Wheel...etc. But I also know that this forum is read by Route 66 enthusiasts from all over-- especially in Europe. I would hate for people to travel that far and plan a stay...and be disappointed. My intent is to educate with facts, not to insult by opinion. The Wagon Wheel is definitely still worth the photo-op. I recommend you take a picture of the great neon sign.

And then keep on driving.
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Re: Wagon Wheel Motel (*ALERT*)

Postby ChallengerSRT8 » Thu Sep 03, 2009 3:13 pm

hbfsowino wrote:...its classic neon still beckoning to Route 66 enthusiasts to this day-- The Wagon Wheel Motel, a part of classic American roadtrip nostalgia...Sadly, the nostalgic feeling evaporated as soon as I set foot inside this motel, which evidently is on the National Register of Historic Places...The room I was given was the dirtiest I had ever seen in a motel capacity. Mind-boggling filth...I couldn't get past the roaches crawling out of the bathroom walls. Or the cigarette-burned bed sheets. Or the questionable door knobs/locks.

I wanted to root for this place...I wanted to believe that this place was still the same motel I had heard about as a 'must visit' in certain Route 66 circles...all the plastic sheets, Lysol and D-Con couldn't save my stay there. After a failed attempt at sleeping in my car, I drove away at 1:30am.

Let me state that I consider myself among the least pretentious people I know. I understand that, with doing roadtrips like this, that these kinds motels are not going to compare to the MGM Grands and the Caesars Palaces of the world...

...I also know that this forum is read by Route 66 enthusiasts from all over-- especially in Europe. I would hate for people to travel that far and plan a stay...and be disappointed. My intent is to educate with facts, not to insult by opinion.


Note that the poster starting this thread is not new posting some negative review as their first conversation. I would give this review some weight.

Thanks for the Alert/Review I appreciate it. What you described is unacceptable; of course the $18 rate should have raised a red flag. There are bargains in the world but in general you get what you pay for. The best advice I read here is inspect the room before paying for it or putting your card out. Even chain places with expected standards can disappoint, a Howard Johnsons not on Route 66 had the conditions described above.

I would hope someday someone will buy the Wagon Wheel and care for it with more pride.
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Re: Wagon Wheel Motel (*ALERT*)

Postby swa » Thu Sep 03, 2009 11:32 pm

Please keep in mind that motels/hotels do change hands every so often, even owners might come to realize they are on the wrong track and clean up their act.
I know quite a few places that used to be places to avoid, that are now regularly highly recommended out here.
Just to take two examples: one in Tucumcari was beyond neglect and is now the perl on the crown, the other in greater LA rented by the hour and is now well respected and sells out on weekends.

Therefore I'm not fond of negative reviews where the *future* owners have less than a chance to correct the situation without the past coming to haunt them online.

The best advice possible:
- Stick to a *recent* copy of the dining and lodging guide by the National federation. Their guide is updated regularly and only lists those that are acceptable.
- Inspect the room before you pay for it. If the owner refuses, that's your cue to walk out the door without looking back, if the room is acceptable to what you expect of it: hang on to that key and go and pay for that room.

That way nobody needs to warn away anybody from any place.
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Re: Wagon Wheel Motel (*ALERT*)

Postby hbfsowino » Fri Sep 04, 2009 3:03 pm

You are both 100% correct. Everybody should take the initiative to ask for a room inspection beforehand. If the inspection isn't up to 'your' par, then drive on.

(and of course, you get what you pay for, right?)

And let me state that this was the only blemish on my trip this year (I'll do my usual '10 Things I Learned' thread sometime soon). The rest of the trip was outstanding...like usual. The town of Cuba is an EXCELLENT stop--a must stop-- for the Route 66 enthusiast. The Missouri Hicks BBQ restaurant is (arguably) one of the best BBQ establishments on the entire route. There is a nice Mexican restaurant in town, too (south of 66 by a few blocks). The town boasts some very nice murals as well.

If there is an effort made--by the current owners or somebody else down the line-- to turn the Wagon Wheel around, I am all for it. I totally want to cheer for this place. And support it, too. It has so much history/potential.

If they can do what the guys in Amboy have done to Roy's Cafe, I'll be ecstatic! More on that later...
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Re: Wagon Wheel Motel (*ALERT*)

Postby zak66 » Fri Sep 04, 2009 3:46 pm

I can understand all the arguments, but I for one am happy this was posted at this time. I am doing business in ST. Louis for a few days and then hitting R66 from there to Okla City and for the first time my wife is coming along. Should be in Cuba on the 23rd or 24th of Sept. I will still stop and enjoy Cuba but will pass on the Wagon Wheel THIS time.
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Re: Wagon Wheel Motel (*ALERT*)

Postby writeronthego » Wed Sep 16, 2009 3:38 pm

Don't count the Wagon Wheel Motel out yet.
On September 15, 2009 the historic motel got a new owner, a business woman from Cuba, MO. She plans a major renovation of the rooms while keeping the historic integrity of the motel.
According to a recent news release she says, “I plan to modernize the motel, but keep it as historically accurate as possible. I want a clean, modern motel at a reasonable price that will continue to appeal to groups and Route 66 travelers.”
She plans an extensive updating of the motel guest rooms, including new wiring, new bathrooms, quality bedding, and other amenities to bring the rooms up to a higher standard.
The renovations will be completed in phases with the motel continuing to operate.
She hopes to finish the renovations by spring and to have a Grand Opening.
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Re: Wagon Wheel Motel (*ALERT*)

Postby ChallengerSRT8 » Wed Sep 16, 2009 3:57 pm

Great news, perhaps one should call the new owner passing along the recent review. So they know what is turning people off to this icon.
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Re: Wagon Wheel Motel (*ALERT*)

Postby JNB » Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:25 am

The problem with some of the old "mom and pop motels" seems to be in the change of management, which can either be for "the good" or "the bad."

Probably the Wagon Wheel is an example of "the bad."

The Historic Route 66 Motel at Seligman, AZ is a case of "the good." Well maintained in all respects and furnishings (especially roomy) and amenities such as TV and A/C brought up to present day standards.

Wig Wam at Holbrook, AZ is sort of a mixed bag. The TV and the A/C were a bit antiquated and the shower-lavatory-toilet space was the smallest I've ever seen.
However, the room was surprising moderately roomy and inside and outside of the room and the grounds were reasonably tidy and well kept.

Our room at El Rancho at Gallup, NM was something on the same lines. Small bathroom (although it did have a tub) and the room was a bit seedy looking. Rest of the building including, lobby (especially !) , gift shop and restaurant definitely a "must stop/must see."

The Blue Swallow at Tucumari, NM seems to be well received on all reviews and is rated #1 in Tucumcari on tripadvisor.com.

Carlyle Motel at Oklahoma City, OK also. Antiquated window type A/C (also missing some knobs and mounted high on a wall ...apparently a later addition.) Again, small bath area common to motels of its era, but moderately well kept in all areas otherwise. And on the direct route from Oklahoma City on Historic Route 66.

Finally:
Question :And what can you say about La Posada at Winslow, AZ ?
Answer: Excellent in all respects and a "must-must ! stop" for lodging and/or dining. :!:
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Re: Wagon Wheel Motel (*ALERT*)

Postby TheEditor » Fri Sep 18, 2009 12:50 pm

Speaking of La Posada in Winslow, Arizona -- http://www.laposada.org -- I spent a few minutes wandering around the place en route to points farther west.

It's truly an amazing, historic railroad hotel -- the very definition of elegance, which makes it an anomaly in an otherwise regular-looking small town. I could see why travel magazines like Conde Nast Traveler and National Geographic Traveler have ranked it among the best hotels in America.

Naturally, it's not cheap, but it's not stratospherically expensive, either -- I've seen room rates starting slightly above the $100 mark.

Just don't expect to be able to walk in and grab a room -- the hotel is often 100% booked, so this is one place you'll need to reserve in advance (sometimes far in advance). However, for folks who are taking along their reluctant spouses on a Route 66 trip, this would make a great romantic place to spend a night ... and might earn you Brownie points for the rest of the trip!
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Re: Wagon Wheel Motel (*ALERT*)

Postby papacheesy » Sun Mar 28, 2010 11:35 pm

Wanted to bump this thread to see if anyone knows how the Wagon Wheel is looking now. I'm taking a trip in a month or so, and would appreciate an update.

Thanks!
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Re: Wagon Wheel Motel (*ALERT*)

Postby JNB » Mon Mar 29, 2010 12:15 am

I don't know about the Wagon Wheel, but just a "for instance case" :
The TraveLodge at Tucumcari used to be one of the favorites on trips from Texas to California It was sort of a 1960's icon). But I've seen some rather awful reviews lately on tripadvisor.com. and the last time I stayed there there was a funny smell (not funny good, but definitely funny bad :( ) in the office and the room was getting a bit shabby. It could have been something harmless, but not being familiar with the smell it could have been the manager was smoking pot or something.

However, Del's Restaurant, next door to the TraveLodge seemed to be maintaining its usual good standards, at least on our last visit.

Of course, these things can change from bad to worse or vice versa depending on changes /of/or/ lapses in/ management.

As to La Posada, if you're a rail fan, ask for the "Amelia Earhart Room". It's on the second floor overlooking the train tracks. There is a bit of rail noise, but I went to sleep to the sound of the freights and didn't lose any sleep at that. :lol: There were no room phones, air condiitioning or television (at least on my visit several years ago.)
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Re: Wagon Wheel Motel (*ALERT*)

Postby GordoRad » Mon Mar 29, 2010 6:01 am

I was in Cuba last week and the renovations are still going on. The office is very nice....I don't know what it looked like before, but if the office is any indication of what the rooms are going to look like, they will be very, very nice!!

Gordo


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Re: Wagon Wheel Motel (*ALERT*)

Postby kvozel » Mon Apr 12, 2010 11:22 am

GordoRad wrote:I was in Cuba last week and the renovations are still going on. The office is very nice....I don't know what it looked like before, but if the office is any indication of what the rooms are going to look like, they will be very, very nice!!

Gordo


Glad to hear this. Anyone have any more recent info?
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Re: Wagon Wheel Motel (*ALERT*)

Postby route66world » Wed Apr 28, 2010 3:45 am

You should contact the Official Missouri Route 66 Association - http://www.missouri66.org and let them know - these associations have a lot more pull than one would think.

They are recommending / representing these locations and I am sure that these associations would like to make sure that EVERY traveller down Route 66 is a happy traveller.

Hope it helps!
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Re: Wagon Wheel Motel (*ALERT*)

Postby writeronthego » Wed Apr 28, 2010 10:53 pm

The Historic Wagon Wheel Motel featuring Connie's Shoppe now has a Facebook Fan Page, and you can get renovation updates and photos there. The restoration is extensive and the first block of Tudor style cottages will soon be finished. The second block of buildings is in full renovation mode now.
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