Historic Inn at Rancho Santa Fe reportedly sold

Inn at Rancho Santa Fe/Ben Sevier

The historic Inn at Rancho Santa Fe reportedly has been sold with the announcement expected this week, according to sources who did not want to be identified. The sale reportedly will be completed by May 18.

Speculation was that all employees would be laid off and have to re-interview for jobs with the current general manager and executive chef leaving the Inn.

No further details about the sale or future plans were immediately available.

Located at 5951 Linea Del Cielo, at the culmination of downtown Rancho Santa Fe’s Paseo Delicias business corridor, the building dates to the beginnings of the community where it was the first structure built and served as the real estate office for the burgeoning town.

Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio Resort & Spa division operates the four-star 21-acre property constructed in Spanish-California architectural style. One- and two-bedroom suites and cottages generally cost around $300 nightly with some cottages rented on a long-term basis.

“The Inn began as ‘Morada’ in 1923 with just a few guest rooms and grew cottage-by-cottage over nearly 100 years,” according to Marriott promotional literature. “Today, our historic hotel boasts 80 guest rooms, including six suites and one 2-bedroom cottage, spread over 17 cottages.”

The Inn also features Morada restaurant — the original Lilian Rice designed building was referred to as La Morada, a Spanish word roughly translated as “meetinghouse.”

“Helmed by Executive Chef Jessie Lee Williams Jr.,” Marriott said, “this San Diego north county restaurant boasts a fiercely seasonal menu of creative coastal ranch cuisine paired with a handpicked wine list, craft cocktails, local San Diego beers and the laidback elegance of California ranch lifestyle.”

Special events and weddings are a popular feature at the Inn that serves as a kind of upscale community focal point. Cable TV’s reality show “Married at First Sight” even taped parts of several episodes at the resort last month.

Originally built by the Santa Fe Land Improvement Co. — the developers of Rancho Santa Fe — as a guesthouse for clients, the inn was named La Morada when it first opened in 1923.

The name later changed to the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe in the early 1940s when it was acquired by its third owner. The hotel was sold in 1958, when Stephen Royce, who had been a pitcher for the New York Giants for just one year, purchased it. The Royce family put the property on the real estate market in late 2011.

JMI Realty, the real estate investment firm of San Diego Padres owner John Moores and his partner, Ranch Santa Fe resident John Kratzer, purchased the property for $28 million in April 2012, according to county property records. JMI spent $12 million renovating more than half of The Inn’s 107 guest rooms and the historic hotel spa, according to sources at the time. This also included included a complete renovation of the restaurant, main lobby, entrance area and pool deck, and addition of a day spa.

The Inn became part of the Tribute Portfolio brand of Marriott International in May 2017, the third California hotel in the Tribute Portfolio. The Inn General Manager Jerome Strack said at the time, “The Inn is thrilled to join the Tribute Portfolio and sees ‘tremendous value’ in the opportunity to introduce Rancho Santa Fe to Marriott International’s guests without compromising the history of the hotel.”

The Inn also owned a total of 35 buildings in the Rancho Santa Fe village, collectively known as The Residences at The Inn. The residences in the various pods have historically been available for rent. That 1.88-acre property with three casitas on La Gracia was sold for $4.5 million in August 2017 to Rancho Santa Fe resident Ladonna Monsees.

As for the possible restructuring of Inn property holdings and direction, sources said they were told informally that new management would make changes and renovations, but details would not be available until next week.

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