Rancho Santa Fe Inn celebrates 50 years


Three generations under Royce family ownership

The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe is celebrating 50 years of continuous family ownership with a special gathering on Dec. 18. Several hundred invited guests are expected to attend to honor the Royce family, who has owned and operated the Inn for three generations since 1958.

“I don’t see any other hotel owned and operated for 50 years by the same family,” said Kerman Beriker, the managing director of the Inn. “We need to give back something to the family, they need to be recognized.”

Along with the Inn’s signature menu and entertainment, the party will feature a dedication ceremony to name an internal roadway “Steve Royce Lane,” after the first Royce who purchased the Inn in 1958.

The Inn will also hoist a 50th anniversary flag on the lawn facing the Village, and fill a time capsule with memorabilia from the Inn and tokens from dignitaries. The capsule will be opened every 10 years, Beriker said.

Three generations

After selling the Huntington Hotel in Los Angeles, Stephen Wheeler Royce purchased the Inn and its 23 sprawling acres in 1958. Royce brought his family to live on the property; his daughter and her husband, Dorothy and Westly Hadden managed the Inn until 1970.

Dorothy’s brother, Dan Royce, took over until 1991, when the torch was passed to her son, Duncan Royce Hadden, who is serving as the president of the five-star hotel.

Growing up at the Inn was magical, Hadden said. None of the grandchildren lacked a weekend or summer job, and Hadden said he did it all, from bellman and desk clerk to waiter and gardener. However, he was the only grandchild who dreamed of one day running the family business.

“My grandfather was my mentor,” Hadden said. “I fell in love with the way he operated, it stuck with me.”

Since taking over, Hadden said he strives to emulate his grandfather’s hands-on management and personal attention to guests. While he enjoys “absolutely all of it” Hadden said his favorite part of the job is interacting with the clients who come through the Inn’s doors.

“Everyday is totally different from the day before,” Hadden said.

In late 2002, Hadden hired Beriker to manage day-to-day operations so he could focus on overseeing upgrades and renovations.

Respecting history

Much has happened in the past five years: the 21 garden cottage rooms and magnolia cottage were rebuilt, the front lawn and terrace were redone, and the lobby, banquet hall, dining room and bar were updated.

Hadden said he was careful to respect and maintain the original Lilian Rice architecture and design, which gives the Inn its historic charm.

While the exterior of the Inn has not changed much since it was built in 1924, Beriker said they are constantly working to provide the finest services and state-of-the-art amenities, such as spa treatments, wireless Internet and flat-screen televisions.

“When I was a boy, the first bedrooms didn’t even have televisions,” Hadden said.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the Inn’s integral role in the Rancho Santa Fe Village, serving as both a physical focal point and a central gathering place.

“I feel like we are a part of the community,” Hadden said. “All of the community comes and goes, uses the facility and dining rooms.”

Looking forward to the next 50 years, Hadden said he hopes to continue the Inn’s involvement with the community, it’s high-caliber services, and maybe even keep ownership in the family - Hadden’s 19-year-old son is studying hotel management at New York University.

“We’ll see, it will be very fascinating if that comes to fruition,” Hadden said. “But I’ve never pushed this on either of my sons, I want them to make their own decisions.”