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.
The most recent major addition began in 1994 when the Whites bought the neighboring Alamo Lodge. After an extensive renovation, El Rey Inn incorporated its 21 rooms. Connected by meandering walkways, the North Courtyard also features a sauna and secluded, yet outdoor, whirlpool with handcrafted fireplace. In 2005 one of the courtyard units was transformed into “El Agua”, a popular fitness room for guests.
Much of El Rey’s success comes from its Santa Fe style and large, inviting outdoor areas. Guests find the lovingly tended grounds relaxing and interesting. It has been said that even El Rey’s guests are friendlier! The abundant greenery and singing birds must soothe the traveler’s soul.
The Whites also attribute the Santa Fe hotel's longevity to the dedication of its staff. In early 2006 El Rey’s family of employees gathered at El Gancho’s Steaksmith to celebrate the inn’s 70th anniversary. Over 2 dozen of the staff were honored for their outstanding work in hospitality. The Whites have always been dedicated to preserving the inn with its original Route 66 charm.
Staff loyalty is shown by their combined 366 years of experience at El Rey. At the 70th celebration employees were each presented with Nambé ware and a personal note from Terrell expressing his appreciation for each person’s talents.
Quietly charming El Rey is a place for relaxation and comfort for Santa Fe visitors, as well as a unique place to work. El Rey is known for its lush Southwestern gardens, and the inn was awarded Backyard Wildlife Habitat status in 2003 by the National Wildlife Federation.
Over the years, Santa Fe has grown to surround El Rey Inn. When guests discover the quiet charm of the hotel’s grounds and buildings, they are transported back into a more peaceful time.
As one of our guests wrote: “...Stayed here as a child in the 50’s, rediscovered it in the 90’s, and have been coming back ever since. El Rey just keeps getting better and better...”
We thank you for staying at El Rey, Santa Fe's Hotel Classic, and hope to see you again soon.
Your friends at El Rey Inn