Meet Steve Segner. Steve is a well-known ‘Face Of Sedona,’ and is the owner-operator of El Portal, one of Sedona’s boutique hotels. He is involved in many community projects and is known as a Sedona personality.
Q: Tell us why you are in Sedona, and what you do?
A: I made a life decision at a very young age of 55 and sold my business. I wanted to start all over again in a brand new field that had nothing to do with my training or background. I always felt the left-hand side of the bell curve was fun, and the right-hand side was the defensive. I had a second home in Mystic Hills that I built. It was an Adobe Arts and Craft hacienda that Bob Villa featured in his American Home Magazine. Connie and I collected Arts and Craft furniture for 40 years, so we had some of our collection in that house. I wanted to do something in Sedona, so I bought a lot behind Tlaquepaque, met with the Design Group, and started designing a hotel. The hotel resembles an old Arts and Crafts mansion of the 1900s with twelve rooms, a commercial kitchen and a courtyard in the middle. The wallpaper, doorknobs, and paintings, represents that period in time as well. I wanted to create a small hotel that would cater to those who traveled a lot and didn’t want to stay at a cookie-cutter hotel.
Q: I do know that your hotel is pet-friendly.
Yes! I was in the pet food business for 40 years, and I got tired of sneaking my dogs into hotels and making them stay in the hotel room. We were one of the first hotels in America to become pet-friendly. We designed the rooms featuring hard surfaces – no carpets – and five of our rooms have backyard areas so guests can let their dogs out at night. Our whole marketing plan targeted travelers with pets. In my 20’s, I invented one of the first all-natural dog foods. By doing that, we knew our clientele and were able to offer something that they would appreciate.
Q: What do you do with the commercial kitchen at your hotel?
A: We serve a Southwestern breakfast each morning to approximately 50 to 60 guests a day. Our staff cooks from about 7:30-10:00.
Q: Do you live on the premises?
A: I live up in the Canyon at Indian Garden – it’s the old Thompson Estate. We have three acres and built another Arts and Craft home. It’s called Greene and Greene – named after the architects in Pasadena in 1900. They were heirs to the Proctor and Gamble Empire. We recreated a version of their house dating back to 1911. The wallpaper, doorknobs, and wood are authentic from that time. We also decorated it with the rest of our collection of Arts and Craft furniture.
Q: How long have you lived or worked in Sedona?
A: We have lived in Sedona for 22 years now. At first, we owned a second home in Sedona and traveled back and forth between Pasadena.
Q: If family or friends visit Sedona, is there someone that you take them to meet?
A: No. I’ve worked seven days a week since I was 14 years old, and I still work seven days a week now. Everyone who knows me knows that. When the family comes to visit, they know that I will be at work at 6 am and will be home at 6 pm. If they want to see me, they’ll come to the hotel. I don’t socialize that much outside of work. I meet every hotel guest – that is my social time. I enjoy hiking with guests and getting to know them. I watch their kids grow up. One of my guests has a young son who I send books to read, and when he visits, we talk about the books.
Q: What do you believe is the contribution you make to the hotel group or the community?
A: When I was younger, I made a life trade-off. I said I would work hard when I’m young, and hopefully, I will have time to give back. That trade-off occurred at 55. I was going to start a new career and again at 70. I wasn’t going to make any more money, wasn’t going to start a new business, but I was going to try to get involved in things I thought could make a difference. I installed the History Walk along 89A Uptown, including the lighting system underneath. I’m involved with politics as well as the Sedona Lodging Council. Each hotel agreed to donate a total of 150 room nights to employees of Ace Hardware, Basha’s, and Clark’s so that their employees can stay two nights, free of charge. It is our way of saying thank you for serving us over the last two months, during this crazy time.
From the interview with Jonelle Klein