Travel company: Hotel Paisano one of best in world

MARFA — It’s official: Hotel Paisano is one of the best hotels in the world, according to Fodor’s Travel.

The travel company last week released its 2020 list of the world’s 100 best hotels, focusing on places that “offer enchanting and inspiring experiences.” Hotel Paisano was one of just 15 U.S. lodges to make the cut, with Fodor’s describing it as “one of the trendiest hotels you’ll find nowhere near an airport.”

In a separate review, Fodor’s notes that the Paisano was once the stomping ground of movie stars like Liz Taylor and James Dean and “has maintained its glamour with glistening Mediterranean architecture.”

Fodor’s also gave accolades to Jett’s Grill at the hotel — “one of the best restaurants in town,” according to travel-guide company.

“Service, like life here, is a little slower than in the big city,” the travel guide said of the restaurant. “But the meals are well worth the wait.”

Christian Rivera, a spokesperson for Fodor’s, said in an email that this was the first time the Paisano has ended up on its best-of list.

Still, Rivera said, “Hotel Paisano has been on our radar for some time now.” Fodor’s had previously directed Marfa visitors to the historic hotel as part of the guide’s “Go List 2017.”

Vicki Barge, general manager for the hotel, said in an interview Monday that she was thrilled with the designation.

“I have to say, I was quite excited,” Barge told The Big Bend Sentinel. “It was an unexpected surprise.”

Barge wasn’t sure what specifically excited Fodor’s judges, since she didn’t know when they visited. “That was probably on purpose,” she said of the undercover visit.

But she said visitors in general are typically pleased with the housekeeping and customer service — including front-desk agents who know Marfa well and can offer day trip suggestions. On the website TripAdvisor, the Paisano has earned a “very good” rating from guests.

The Hotel Paisano was built in 1930 by the Bassett family as part of their “gateway hotels” that welcomed visitors to the region. At first, Barge said, it mostly served railroad commuters (back then, there was still a stop in Marfa) as well as ranchers who came to town to make deals.

“Some cattle companies had offices in the building,” Barge said. “A lot of those deals actually happened on the property.”

That history has imbued the Paisano with a rich sense of place, Barge said.

“We are definitely part of the town,” she said. “We have become part of the landscape because we have been here so long.”

Barge is originally from Alabama. She moved to Fort Davis in 1996 and started working at the Paisano in 2001.

“I came on as just contractor labor and worked my way up to where I am now,” Barge said. She became general manager in 2011.

Barge was pleased with the whole review — including the mention of the sometimes relaxed pace at Jett’s Grill.

“They did remind people that if you’re coming from a big city, things move a little slower [in Marfa],” she said. “I thought that was a good thing for them to mention.”