There are people that like to find a place to go that is off the beaten track. Someplace that they believe is a little oasis that few people know about. This brings out the adventure in travel when you can find a place that is unique and away from the hustle and bustle. If you ask people what they consider off the beaten path, they might tell you that you have to intend to go out of your way to find a destination, perhaps at the end of a road. But consider this, what if you could find a place that seems off the beaten track but actually isn’t. There is a bed and breakfast in Southeastern Arizona that meets that description. Down By The River B and B
Down By The River B and B is located on the San Pedro River in St. David, Arizona between Tombstone and Benson. The B and B was opened in April 2005 by Mike and Barb Hug. We have had guests say “You are certainly off the beaten path aren’t you?” After their day trips around Cochise County they told us that no, it only seems that way when you first come down the road. After they get ready to leave, many have written that this is the most pleasant experience that they have had in a long time. Mike stated, “Barb and I wanted this B and B to be a lasting memory for people that visit us. When they departed we wanted them to treasure our seclusion and yearn to come back again with friends.” That wish has been fulfilled many times with returning guests.
Down By The River started as a discussion after a particularly hard week at work in Phoenix. “We both were tired of the rat race and wanted to do something that we would enjoy and take us on to a point where we could retire,” stated Mike. The conversation led to a discussion of the hospitality business and B and Bs in particular. “We did a lot of preliminary due diligence and while traveling, we spent weekends in various bed and breakfasts to see what we would like to do,” said Mike. In 2003, they decided that the venture was worth pursuing. After envisioning what they wanted to have for the bed and breakfast, they found the land and built the B and B. Barb spent time gathering furnishings and finding the right antiques to decorate the B and B. Her efforts led to a museum-like ambiance in the building. Barb also took on the development of a menu. “Barb never wanted guests to have a breakfast that they could get at a chain restaurant. So she found different recipes and took classes so that she would have that breakfast that would awe the guests,” said Mike. Meanwhile, Mike spent time with the plan design, permitting and the building of a website.
Barb envisioned that the B and B be located on 15 acres of land, with mountain views and within walking distance of the San Pedro River for bird watching. The river is one of the 5 best migratory birding areas in the US. Barb also wanted a location within close driving distance to the many historical sites (Tombstone, Bisbee, and Forts Huachuca and Bowie), National Monuments (Chiricahua, Coronado) and state parks (Kartchner Caverns). Saint David is a greenbelt in the desert and it seemed to fit all the requirements. Mike was dubious that they would be able to find a location that met Barb’s requirements but they did find the land. After 14 months of construction they quit their jobs and opened the bed and breakfast.
When we first started the B and B, there were only a few wineries that had tasting rooms in Southeastern Arizona, 3 in Sonoita and 1 in Bowie. We didn’t realize until later that our location would be perfect for guests that wanted to do tastings in both regions. In 2006, more tasting rooms opened in Willcox and our son and daughter-in-law were some of the first to find them. We visited Coronado the next weekend and met Jacque Cook. We talked with Jacque about her wines and finally set up a private wine tasting and food pairings at the B and B for our guests and some friends. We felt that the event was successful and Jacque introduced her wine to many future buyers. Barb and I visited all the wineries over the years and as new ones opened we would stop and check out what they had to offer. While doing this we met most of the owners and have become friends with many of them.
During one of our outings, we found a new magazine that had just been published by Rhonni Moffitt named Arizona Vines & Wines. Amazingly we have kept every edition, including the first which was only 8 pages. And we have kept a copy of every issue since. We contacted Rhonni after the second or third issue and she included us in as a lodging location for the Willcox Wineries. We have referenced her magazine many times on our website’s events page and blogs. We keep up with the new tasting rooms when they open and put the link up on our website’s wine tasting page. With the growth of the winery business, we have added one more item to the list of things for our guests to do in the area.
In 2009, Barb passed away from cancer and Mike continued to run the B and B alone. Some of the guests knew about Barb after she became really ill and one of them kept in touch with Mike. After a year of phoning and emailing Mike married Angie in Wisconsin and brought her to the B and B to start a new life. At their Arizona reception, Anne Roncone from Lightning Ridge came and did a wine tasting. Anne’s wines were a hit with the guests and we were so thankful for her help.
Over the years, the wineries in Arizona have helped promote our B and B and also supported the efforts of Mike with the Knights of Columbus Memorial Golf Tournament that benefits cancer research at the U of A. To show appreciation to the wineries for their support, Mike and Angie have invited different vintners to the B and B and provided a dinner and lodging for the night with breakfast in the morning. Angie stated, “The wine community is filled with wonderful positive people and the camaraderie among the different winemakers is unbelievable. They are enthusiastic with their product and they will share their knowledge with you so that you can better enjoy the experience.” You can’t find a better class of people than the winemakers here in Arizona.
Many people would consider Southeastern Arizona to be off the beaten track, but we are not! In reality this part of Arizona is only a 3 hour drive from Phoenix and with the higher elevations we are cooler than the city by up to 20 degrees. There are a lot of things to do in the area and many natural wonders to see while you are here. There is also the amazing wine that is grown here and with more than 20 wineries, you can be sure to find some of the best wine made in the US.
Down By The River Bed and Breakfast can be found in St. David, between Benson and Tombstone just off highway 80 using Apache Powder Road.
Article and Photos By Mike and Angie Hug, owners of Down By The River Bed and Breakfast