El Rey Court opened in 1936 with 12 rooms. It was built in traditional northern New Mexico adobe style. The developer who built the hotel also built a sister property, El Vado, in Albuquerque. The two lodging facilities have never shared the same owner. At the time they were built, both properties were on the original Route 66. In 1937 the New Mexico state legislature moved the northern swing of Route 66, creating a new leg of that highway. It generally followed the present course of I-40 from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque.
In the 1950’s El Rey’s owner added rooms and enclosed the individual carports to become sleeping rooms. El Rey also had a swimming pool built, a big change that kept El Rey in step with the newer hotels in Santa Fe.
Neighboring Alamo Lodge was built in the ‘50s just northeast of El Rey’s property line. It was also locally owned, and was home to a burro statue that stands today in that courtyard.
El Rey Inn currently has 86 rooms and suites on 5 acres landscaped with trees, shrubs and flowers, many grown on site in the inn’s own greenhouse, built in 1995. Each room is unique, decorated with Southwestern-style furniture and antiques. Paintings and sculptures collected from around the globe adorn the inn.
Terrell White bought the inn in 1973. He worked diligently to survive the early years. The ‘74 oil crisis had a profound impact on travel, and Mr. White began the expensive and laborious project of replacing all of the hotel’s eroded gas and sewer pipes.
Rooms were added in 1977, 1980 and 1983. And in 1993, Terrell and his wife Hanneke built the deluxe two-story, 10-room Spanish Colonial courtyard, influenced by the inns of France. In this era the property became known as El Rey Inn. The years of the motor court and Santa Fe motel were long past for the unique and lush garden inn.