Hotel Turkey, a historical icon in Turkey, Texas, built in 1927, was a place Texas Tech alumni Pat and Tina Carson, regularly drove by and wished they could buy and restore. When the owner, a friend of the Carsons, offered to sell it to them, their wish came true.
Tina said their goal was to turn the historical hotel into a popular getaway in the Texas Panhandle.
“We knew there was a need,” Tina said. “We’ve seen people visiting Caprock Canyon, hunters, music lovers, and people that just want to get away from the city.”
After renovating the hotel, the Carsons were able to give life to their small town and provide a place for people to come and feel like they are a part of the community. The hotel’s 14 rooms are full almost every weekend. People not only come to stay but also come to eat in the hotel’s restaurant, which specializes in Friday fish fries, Saturday steak, shrimp plates and live music.
Tina said the hotel’s age, food and live music scene make Hotel Turkey a unique experience for guests.
“Everything makes us unique, the age of the hotel, and the nature of having live music every weekend.”Tina Carson
“We buy from Raider Red Meats, and we cook steaks on Saturdays,” Tina said. “And, they are absolutely great. We really have a lot of people that come just to eat our steaks.”
Tina said guests from across the South Plains, as well as the Dallas-Fort Worth area, come to visit the hotel. The hotel is a good halfway point from the Dallas area and New Mexico, so Tina says several guests often stop on their way to ski resorts.
“Some people just come to eat and listen to music,” Tina said, “but then we also get a lot of people that at five o’clock, say, ‘I’m going get out of town and go stay the night in Turkey or stay the weekend.’”
Bob Wills Day, which celebrates Turkey native and country music legend, Bob Wills, makes the last week of April the busiest time for Hotel Turkey. The hotel is fully booked and all of the property’s 70 RV hookups, are rented out. To accommodate the increased demand, the hours for the restaurant are extended and there is live music the whole week of the annual event.
Other than Bob Wills day, there are a few other events that draw in a large crowd for Hotel Turkey. In March, there is a National Enduro Competition at Caprock Canyon State Park, an event where riders race dirt bikes through the canyon and down the beds of the Red River. Bison Fest, which benefits the Official Texas State Bison Herd, is held in September in Quitaque at the Caprock Canyon, which is just minutes down the road.
Live music is one of the many things that makes staying at Hotel Turkey a unique experience. The hotel offers musical guests that range from local talents from Amarillo, Lubbock and other surrounding towns, to musicians touring from Nashville and Montana. Dave Martinez, who played at Hotel Turkey when they first opened, helps recruit the musical guests.
Dave has been a full-time musician since 2011. He has had the opportunity to travel around the state which allowed him to gain a large network of songwriters and musicians in the area.
“After I played there the first time, I spread the word to my fellow musicians,” Dave said. “I told them there was a new place in the area that was really neat, with locals who were really inviting.”
Dave and Carley, who is now his wife, began to regularly visit the hotel and became close friends with Pat and Tina. Their friendship with the Carsons led them to have their wedding at Hotel Turkey. After getting to know the locals and the town more, Dave and Carley moved to Turkey, and they both now work at the hotel.
“What makes the hotel unique and completely different from a lot of places that would be considered a music venue is the staff, the owners and the local people,” Dave said. “You have the opportunity to come visit for a day, stay and get treated like a local. It’s like you’ve lived here for 25 years.”
Hotel Turkey serves as a retreat for music lovers and allows them to feel like family. The hotel has been growing and getting busier with each year and each artist they have had. Tina hopes Hotel Turkey will become a well-known place for people to get away and listen to music.
“My favorite thing about the hotel without a doubt is listening to music or playing music on the big back patio on a summer day,” Dave said.
Dave goes on to say Hotel Turkey has the perfect atmosphere to eat a steak, drink a cold beer, and listen to live music with friends.
Whether you are going to eat a steak, stay in one of the rooms, or listen to music on the back porch, the Carsons will welcome you with open arms at Hotel Turkey.