No doubt about it, one of Arlington’s tourism gems is the beautiful Sanford House Inn & Spa, located at 506 N. Center Street just minutes from UT Arlington and the Arlington Entertainment District.
The venue offers three kinds of experiences you can enjoy separately or combine for an extended visit: A charming B&B-styled boutique hotel, a full-service spa, and an elegant dining experience known as Restaurant 506.
General manager Valerie Landry recently shared more about Sanford’s place in the Arlington tourism universe and what she believes makes the Sanford House so special:
You aren’t just the general manager of The Sanford House, your family is also the hotel’s owner. Can you tell us more about how Sanford House got started?
Valerie Landry: “My mom, who is a long-time Arlington physician, opened The Sanford House with my dad more than 20 years ago, inspired in part by the experiences she had working in my grandparents’ hotel growing up. For a while, my grandparents managed Sanford House as a retirement job, but then they retired for real and my mom hired additional staff to help her run everything.
“After I graduated from college, she asked me if I’d consider joining the team and I said yes! I started off as the spa director and I also worked in marketing, all while going to graduate school at UTA to learn more about the business. About eight years ago, I took over as the Sanford House general manager.”
As a business owner of a property that is also a tourist destination, what does tourism mean to you? And how have you seen it change over the years?
VL: “Tourism in Arlington has changed significantly since we opened. I came on board around the time that AT&T Stadium was opening, which seemed to be a turning point for Arlington. Before that, we were more of a “families-coming-to-Six Flags” destination. Which was great, but now we have a lot more diversity with people of all ages, life stages, and interests coming to our city.
“I think that the addition of the stadium and new sports teams, as well as the growth of UTA and downtown, have all been contributors. There aren’t too many cities who can brag that they’ve had the kind of growth that we’ve enjoyed! Moving forward, I think it’s important that we capitalize on this positive momentum by continuing to develop and offer the same high quality experiences.”
What do you love most about Arlington, both as a place to live and as a place to own a business?
VL: “I love that our community shows so much support for the tourism industry. They want to see the growth continue and the success sustained.”
What do you like most about interacting with Arlington visitors?
VL: “Our guests are often surprised by how much we have here, and so impressed that they start planning their next visit while they’re still here. It’s so cool to be a part of that experience!”
Speaking of your guests: Where do they come from, and what do they like to do when they visit Arlington?
VL: “Our guests come from all over the world—for example, we recently welcomed guests from Germany, Austria and England. They come to celebrate special occasions, take care of business, go to a football game, or just to get away from it all. Many of our international guests choose Sanford House because they like the fact that we offer an experience that has a European feel to it. They enjoy Arlington’s signature attractions and the live music scene—and they also really enjoy Arlington’s food scene. Arlington is experiencing a culinary movement, in my opinion, and our guests are blown away by the sheer number of options available for authentic dining experiences.”
What do you think sets Sanford House apart as a destination?
VL: “Our team is committed to providing a world class experience. It’s like I tell our managers: People don’t come here out of necessity, but out of choice, and that’s an honor we work hard to deserve. When we interact with guests, we have a unique opportunity to make someone’s day brighter or to add an extra layer to their special occasion. Whether it’s staying at our hotel, dining with us, or visiting the spa, we try to be totally present so that we can help our guests have a wonderful moment for themselves. When that happens, we know we’ve succeeded.”
Start planning your Sanford House experience at www.thesanfordhouse.com/