By Greg McFarlane
Thanks to an industrious Las Vegas widow and her band of tireless and devoted employees, a formerly nondescript stretch of U.S. Highway 93 boasts two uniquely Nevadan places to stay— the sumptuous A Cowboy’s Dream Bed & Breakfast and the bucolic Windmill Ridge Restaurant & Lodging.
The establishments sit barely half a mile apart on the northern outskirts of Alamo, a placid Pahranagat Valley ranching hamlet in which life and work have remained visibly unchanged for decades. Together, the resorts are helping to transform the valley into a destination in its own right. Both properties—A Cowboy’s Dream built from scratch and Windmill Ridge purchased and modernized—are the culmination of one prominent Nevada couple’s love affair with their adopted state.
A Cowboy's Dream Bed and Breakfast
A Cowboy’s Dream is the brainchild of Las Vegas philanthropist Phyllis Frias. It’s also a monument to her late husband, Charlie, the cowboy referenced in its name. The Friases enjoyed a marriage of more than half a century of companionship, accomplishment, and adventure.
Originally from San Antonio, they moved to a still largely untamed Nevada in the late 1950s, settling in Las Vegas. Charlie got a job driving a taxi, and within four years owned the cab company. A couple decades later, he had become a local magnate and a household name. Today, Frias Transportation operates more than 1,000 cabs and limousines, and the company continues to prosper. While building a fortune, the Friases also gained renown for their altruism. A Las Vegas city park, fire station, and elementary school each bear the Frias name.
Like most Las Vegans, Charlie resided here by choice, rather than by birth. He was especially taken by Nevada’s vast rural expanses. It’s almost impossible to find a photo of Charlie in which he isn’t wearing a wide-brimmed hat and riding boots.
After a long and eventful life, Charlie died in 2006. Phyllis was left with not only a lifetime of happy memories, but a mission. She wanted to develop a destination that captured the Nevada spirit that Charlie embodied—bold yet comfortable, rustic yet refined, with plenty of elbowroom and a picturesque backdrop. Today, that destination sits less than a two-hour drive north of Las Vegas.
At 26,000 square feet, the ranch-style Cowboy’s Dream is immense. From a distance, it looks like a custom-built multilevel luxury home, only one constructed on a colossal scale. Yet it fits seamlessly into its surroundings of Alamo farms and homesteads. If not for the majestic roadside sign in the shape of a Prairie schooner, it’d be easy to miss the resort from U.S. 93.
Lincoln County’s sparse population drew the Friases here, and that’s reflected in the layout of the resort. It has only eight guest suites, each decorated in its own signature motif. This isn’t the faux fashion of assembly-line rhinestones and cowboy boots that have seen more polish than mud. This is authentically and forever western.
Accentuating the warmth and character of A Cowboy’s Dream, each room is identified by a name instead of a number. There’s the Annie Oakley suite, replete with sketches and antique playbills bearing the image of the legendary markswoman. The Duke features a masculine color palette of John Wayne memorabilia. The Roundup is resplendent in its equine décor and original artwork showcasing horses and the men who ride them. The room’s twin beds are decked out in leather and cherry wood. The similarly appointed Rodeo suite pays homage to the Old West, its design timeless and historic.
The Alamo reflects an integral part of American history, 1,200 miles from its Texas namesake (coincidentally in Charlie Frias’ hometown), with adobe walls, exposed brick, and a vivid southwestern theme. Across the courtyard is its counterpart, the Longhorn, festooned with images of the quintessential Texan cattle breed.
And because any good cowboy (or cowgirl) takes time from roping steers to show his love for the woman who gave him everything, the roster of rooms is rounded out with a pair dedicated to the memories of the mothers of Charlie and Phyllis. The Bessie T. Frias suite is a roomy 900 square feet of warm floral patterns and earth-toned accoutrements, while the Alma Chamblin suite is adorned in delicate shades of white, azure, and robin’s-egg blue. Each of the eight suites opens to the self-contained courtyard and has individual patios and rocking chairs.
The elegant guest quarters notwithstanding, it’s the communal areas of A Cowboy’s Dream that make the resort shine. A bunkhouse offers a wet bar, card and pool tables, darts, and a big-screen TV. The sunlit Great Hall features a library, dining room, large kitchen, and a wrap-around porch that serves as an informal gathering place for the small clowder of well-behaved outdoor cats that have chosen to make the resort their home. The adjacent outdoor oasis is replete with a rope hammock, chuck wagon, barbecue pits, fire ring with circular seating, and an unsullied view of the mountains that roll away in every direction.
Windmill Ridge Restaurant & Lodging
Where A Cowboy’s Dream is lavish, Windmill Ridge is homey and unassuming but every bit as welcoming.
Windmill Ridge’s accommodations consist of 25 detached “cabins” (the quotation marks required to elevate them from the primitive log structures usually associated with that name). Each cozy Windmill Ridge cabin is a miniature kitchen-less house, with its own layout and loaded with the domestic touches that make a house a 21st century home, such as flat-screen TVS. Wireless Internet is available in the restaurant and adjacent meeting room. The cabins are set back far enough from the highway that every night’s sleep is a peaceful one.
On a per capita basis, Windmill Ridge hosts more day-trippers than does its more lavish counterpart. They include world-weary Las Vegans looking to decompress, hardy southern Utahans on the hunt for wildflowers or petroglyphs, and plenty of long-haul truckers and utility company employees who love the property’s easy access and generous parking; to say nothing of its prime location.
For More Information
A Cowboy’s Dream Bed & Breakfast
95 Hand Me Down Rd., PO Box 357, Alamo, NV 89001
Nightly Rates: $159-$499
Windmill Ridge Restaurant & Lodging
2111 Windmill Circle, PO Box 630, Alamo, NV 89001
Nightly Rates: $89-$139
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