By Ray Stern
By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
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"Old man Brumder of the Waukesha tool company would only stay in this building," Bud says, shaking his head at the odd ways of the very rich.
@body:The nephews of "old man Brumder" own the hotel now. Steve and Charles Trainer are the third generation in their family to visit Castle Hot Springs. Their grandfather, Robert Uihlein of Schlitz Brewing, came starting in the Twenties, and once even owned a share in the resort.
Uihlein was the one who used to disappear on horseback for a week at a time. The Trainers have apparently inherited their grandfather's love of horses; Steve Trainer claims the resort has the best riding trails in the country, and both he and his brother own homes in the area to avail themselves of those routes in the Bradshaw Mountains.
"It really has not ever changed since it was built," Steve Trainer says of Castle Hot Springs. "To some people, that was not attractive--they wanted to see it updated, to be more consistent with the urban resorts like the Phoenician or the Camelback Inn or the Biltmore. "To me, one of the things I loved about it even as a kid was that it did never change. And the people who worked there were the same people year in and year out. It was almost a family." Although the Trainers have restored historic buildings in the family's hometown of Milwaukee, they have kept Castle Hot Springs off the National Register while it's on the market. And Steve Trainer is deliberately vague when it comes to his plans for the resort. The Trainers have listed it for sale, but failing a buyer with $4.5 million to acquire it and plenty more to restore it, they may develop it themselves sometime this year.
"We've had a lot of interest, particularly in the last 60 days," Steve Trainer says. "I suspect it's because the economy in Arizona is improving."
If the Trainers developed it, the new Castle Hot Springs would be a little jewel of a resort, some 45 units in all, but with a better golf course. The brothers have already renovated one of the cottages to get an idea of how it would look with 18 years' worth of junk removed from the rooms, and the bathrooms updated.
It looks quite spiffy. One thing, however, would not change. Two of the guest rooms still share a bath.
@body:Mike Smith wasn't born in Morristown, but after he moved to the little town as a teenager, he felt like he'd finally found his home. When he was in the Army, he missed the desert so much he took a pencil and drew from memory the mountains he could see from the Castle Hot Springs Road.
"I can't sit here and tell you I honestly remember the first time seeing it," he says of Castle Hot Springs, "but I'd love to be with someone who doesn't know it's there, and put them in a vehicle and drive them out there and get a reaction. It's just so out of place."
He was so fascinated by the hotel, he did research on it for a class he took in Arizona history. Then, for a course last semester at ASU West, Mike Smith suggested that the old hotel would be a good topic for a documentary. This April, he and a fellow student were given the run of the hotel for filming. It was the first time Mike Smith had ever set foot on the grounds he had been fantasizing about for years.
"I was just . . ." He hesitates and starts over. "It haunted me for three days. Afterwards, I'd lay in bed and think, 'Wow, it's dark out there now.'"
With his neatly trimmed mustache, and his confident, polite manner, Mike Smith has the air of someone whose natural good manners were improved by a couple of years in the Army.
When he and his partner were finished filming, Mike Smith wrote thank-you notes to Steve Trainer, as well as to Bud Mullins.
"To the folks who know about Castle Hot Springs, it's almost a shrine," Smith says.