Darren Barakat editors note

Darren Barakat

When my wife and I go on vacation, I normally make the schedule for the week and then buy airplane tickets and rent a car.

I have learned to let her choose the hotel, though, after a few bad episodes over the years.

One weekend we stayed in Tucson to help our daughter move into her dorm. The hotel where we had stayed our previous time in Tucson was sold out, so I booked another one. The price was similar, it was within a mile of the previous hotel and the photo on the internet looked good. The online reviews were no worse than usual. It seemed fine.

We weren’t quite to the hotel when I could see it might be a mistake by the neighborhood. When we got there, my wife gave me a look that indicated she was less than pleased with the accommodations. The fire alarm went off several times during the night. Every time we left and came back, the same guy was loitering in the parking lot next to his car. I think he was dealing drugs.

My wife has never been to Superior, but I’m sure the Hotel Magma would pass even her high standards. The small mining town east of Apache Junction is making a comeback, and the Hotel Magma is possibly the best piece of evidence.

The former “mountain of rubble” has been restored to a state even better than its former glory from decades ago. Manager Miguel Sfeir gave me a tour of the restored hotel, and it’s impressive. The bathroom floors looked wet, but when I dragged my shoe across them, they were as dry as can be. They were just spotless.

For this issue of Pinal Ways we looked at guest ranches, restaurants and hotels, including the Hotel Magma. This issue also includes our annual listing of Pinal County restaurants.

Harrah’s Ak-Chin Hotel and Casino is another great hospitality story. It started out 25 years ago as a single building in the middle of nowhere, but it’s grown exponentially and today it offers the full Las Vegas experience, including entertainment, dining, lodging and gambling.

The community of Oracle has long attracted people who want to cool off and experience something different than a Holiday Inn. At one time in the area there were dude ranches. Eventually people grew tired of playing cowboy for a week, so today the properties are simply guest ranches, a place to relax or hold an event such as a wedding.

Other stories in this issue include the rich history of the Silver King Plaza building in Florence.

When my wife and I checked out of that hotel in Tucson, we said goodbye to it forever. Now I’m saying goodbye to Pinal Ways, but with much fonder memories, as I leave to pursue another professional opportunity. It’s been a pleasure to serve as editor, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the stories we’ve covered here for the last two-plus years.