Forest Houses Resort is located at 9275 N. Highway 89A in Sedona, and is closed in January and February. Information: 928-282-2999 or www.foresthousesresort.com.
© Morey Milbradt
Click image to view larger in separate window.
Forest Houses ResortIf you're looking for a cozy place to hang your stockings this month, Forest Houses Resort in Oak Creek Canyon features 15 rental "cabins," and they all have fireplaces.
By Kathy Montgomery
For Bob Kittredge, Forest Houses Resort is more than a collection of funky stone and wood rental houses along Oak Creek. It's his childhood home and the repository of his family's history. Walk into the office, and you'll see memorabilia he's unearthed, including his own baby bottles, glass milk containers and a miniature replica of the motorcycle his dad drove in on — one of the first built by Harley Davidson.
Bob's father arrived in 1930 with his brother, a pet monkey, a baby coyote and plans for a "citadel in the woods." The brothers bought the 20-acre property for $60 an acre and built The Barn, now guest lodging, to house a team of Percheron draft horses that dragged the logs used to build the Log House, the brothers' first house.
Both of Bob's parents were artists. His father, also named Bob, never attended high school but apprenticed himself to a sculptor at age 14. Ambling down what was once the canyon road, Bob Jr. points to the Studio House, a guest house with north-facing clerestory windows that served as his parents' studio.
Bob Sr.'s preferred medium was stone, and Bob likes to say his father graduated from stone sculptures to larger, livable works of art. He built the Rock House as a rental trial balloon in 1946, and five more houses over the next 10 years. He quit building for good in the 1970s, out of frustration with Coconino County's newly minted building codes. The resort now includes 15 houses, which range from a studio apartment to a rambling, five-bedroom, multistory structure.
When Bob Jr. took over the property in 1982, it was closed as a resort. He reopened the resort in 1987 and has run it ever since. His daughters now sleep in his old room.
"It's been a lot of fun for me to fix it, work on it, improve it," Bob says. "I'm trying to maintain Mom and Dad's style, structure and ambience." That means no streetlights, no televisions and no telephones, except for one public pay phone. Even cell phones don't work. A confirmation letter advises guests: "Here at Forest Houses, we offer you absolutely nothing to do. You must kick back and relax."
Bob has known some of his guests for 30 years. He thinks of them as friends. "People can vacation anywhere," he says. "They will come back to a place that greets them by name."