By Karen Billing
The new owners of The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe presented their plans to the RSF Association board at its meeting on April 19. Escrow closed on the $28 million sale April 11 to new owners JMI Realty, owned by John Moores and John Kratzer, both Rancho Santa Fe residents.
“We’re incredibly excited to be the new owners of The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe,” Kratzer said. “It’s a rare opportunity that your passion and profession bring you home and you’re able to work in your own backyard.”
Krazter added that he even hopes his daughters get married on the The Inn’s front lawn.
Kratzer said the Royce family, who owned The Inn since 1958, went through an extensive process over the last year and a half to fully vet all of the potential buyers. It wasn’t a case of selling to the bidder; they wanted to ensure that the buyers understood what an important community asset The Inn was and that it would be taken care of, Kratzer said.
“We should all applaud them for the process they went through and for sticking to their guns,” Kratzer said. “It’s an honor to have been selected.”
Eighty percent of JMI’s properties are hotel oriented and they were involved in the redevelopment of the Petco Park neighborhood.
“We believe this is the most incredible community in America, we sincerely believe that,” said Kratzer, with a beautiful, sunny Rancho Santa Fe morning as his backdrop as the meeting was moved to the Association’s patio to accommodate about 15 member guests. “To have the opportunity to acquire a community asset like The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe in the best place in America to live is obviously very, very unique.”
He said while some hotels might offer more rooms or a bigger spa, what no one else can offer is the Rancho Santa Fe community, the ability to walk through the village, visit the shops and eat at the local restaurants.
“We view the physical position in the community and the relationship with the community as the most important amenity,” said Kratzer.
Kratzer told the board they plan to make significant physical improvements to The Inn but until Sept. 1, the changes will be subtle. Phase one will include landscape clean-up, new flatware and linens, and new items in the rooms such as coffee makers.
Starting Sept. 1, “the dust will start flying” as they completely renovate 60 rooms, expanding the size of the bathrooms and adding all new “FF&E” — furnishings, finishes and equipment.
The new owners plan to make renovations on one building at a time and the fact that The Inn has 38 buildings scattered throughout the property is a benefit for this type of renovation.
Phase two will be relocation of the spa into the main building to make it more accessible for guests. It will be located just past the check-in desk.
The third phase will be improving the technological infrastructure, adding things that clientele expect, such as Internet access and HD televisions. Phase three will also include anything that requires Art Jury or county approvals.
It is still very early in the process for JMI, and Kratzer said they are still considering a number of options for upgrades and additions. They are looking at the food and beverage operation very carefully and are considering expanding the informal eating areas, such as the bar. They are also trying to find ways to accommodate the hosting of more executive level meetings at The Inn.
The management company Benchmark Hotels has been selected to run The Inn because of its experience with similar-size luxury hotels. Kratzer said they are working carefully to select a new general manager as he will be the face of the hotel and they are additionally looking for a new chef.
Kratzer said he knows many local organizations, such as the RSF Garden Club and RSF Rotary Club, use The Inn for their meetings free of charge and they aim to continue that offering.