Since the 1960s, the Inn at Rio Rancho and Event Center, under several names, has offered visitors to the City of Vision a place to stay.
For many years this Rio Rancho landmark was the only option for visitors to frequent outside of Albuquerque. Needless to say, with over 50 years in business, many changes have been made in one form or another for the hotel to continue operation.
The latest change to the hotel happened last year when the Howard Johnson moniker was removed and replaced by the prior name of Inn at Rio Rancho and Event Center.
Owner Sang Chae, an attorney in Renton, Wash., said he purchased the property in 2007 but started losing money on his investment in 2012.
According to a recent press release, Chae’s company, WR Management Co., agreed in late December to transfer the hotel to a new owner, but the transaction, to be completed on Jan. 16, was cancelled at the last minute.
Chae didn’t say which company was coming in or what the asking price for the landmark property was; instead he said the buyer was not going to operate the building as a hotel.
During this transition period, he said staff members were helping prepare the hotel for the new owners, aware they would need to seek other employment.
“What we learned during this transition was the special connection between the hotel and the community,” Chae said.
Now that the hotel has terminated any sale or changes that would affect its ability to continue as a place for people to stay and host events, Chae says the Inn at Rio Rancho is open for business as usual and the staff is there.
“As a member of the community for over 50 years, the hotel is committed to the services and events it has offered now and into the future,” Chae said.
The hotel is still for sale, but this time to a more specific buyer, he said.
Any future sale of the Inn at Rio Rancho will be contingent upon the hotel continuing to operate as a hotel and events center, the press release said.
“Because I will sell only to a hotel buyer, the transaction will be much smoother next time,” Chae said.
Dan Brittingham, general manager of the Inn at Rio Rancho, said he was relieved to hear he and his co-workers still had their jobs after coming so close to losing them.
“I am a huge fan of the historical connection the inn has to the community and I am excited for that connection to continue,” Brittingham said. “I am always optimistic when it comes to the inn’s future…I think there is a great opportunity available here for the right owner.”
Brittingham said there are numerous contributions, both internal and external, over the years that have contributed to the hotel’s current state.
“People will still get married, graduate, have their quinceaneras and other special moments,” Brittingham said. “I would like to see the inn continue to be part of those moments.”