John and Marie Peach were always just ahead of the curve.
Auto courts dominated the roadways when they built the Coronado Motor Hotel in 1938. Combining rooms with adjacent parking under one roof, rather than in separate cottages, was a progressive idea then.
The Peaches built their home at the center of the original 14 units, using timbers from the old Southern Pacific Hotel. Their son, John Jr., literally grew up in the hotel, helping with everything from laundry to checking in guests in the front room of the family home.
Tourism in Yuma was just accelerating, and when war rationing brought building to a halt in the 1940s, the Coronado was under construction. But Yuma was a military town, and the new Mission-style hotel didn’t take down its “No Vacancy” sign for four years.
Then a member of a referral association, the Coronado was one of 10 hotels chosen by M.K. Guertin, who broke off from the group in 1946 to form a new organization. His Best of the Western motels became Best Western, and the Coronado remained a member for the next 68 years. John Jr. eventually took over the hotel; he owned and ran it with his wife, Yvonne, until his death in 2019, and Yvonne now runs the hotel.
The Peaches’ original home is no longer a residence, but a museum. Yvonne originally decorated it with memorabilia as a gift to her husband. Now open by appointment, the museum retains the original lobby and reception desk and features displays about Yuma, Best Western and the hotel’s fascinating history, along with some of its original furnishings from a Monterey Furniture line called Coronado. Fiestaware pitchers and cups once stocked in guest rooms line the kitchen’s shelves.
Over the years, the Coronado continued to expand. It now lines both sides of Fourth Avenue for the length of a city block and includes the Yuma Landing Bar and Grill, built on the site where Robert G. Fowler landed his Wright Model B biplane in 1911. A monument in the restaurant’s parking lot commemorates the event, and photos and artifacts celebrating Yuma’s aviation history decorate the restaurant’s interior.
Like John Jr.’s parents, the Peaches kept a step ahead, installing fiber optics and flat-screen TVs before Best Western required them. As Best Western became more corporate, though, the Peaches left the chain, electing to preserve the site’s unique history. And the hotel continues to go the extra mile for its guests, including a complimentary, cooked-to-order breakfast at the Landing with every night’s stay.
233 S. Fourth Avenue