La Fonda Family Investors Install Commemorative Plaque


December 7, 2022 | 4pm | La Fonda Lobby

La Fonda on the Plaza Commemorates Centennial Milestone 

Santa Fe Landmark Closes Out Centennial Year with Debut of Commemorative Bronze Plaque Installation in the Hotel Lobby  

Wednesday, December 7, 2022 at 4pm 

Santa Fe’s landmark hotel – La Fonda on the Plaza – commemorated 100 years of hospitality with the debut of a permanent, bronze plaque in the hotel lobby on Wednesday, December 7, 2022 at 4pm.  The Honorable Mayor Alan Webber and New Mexico Cabinet Secretary of Tourism, Jen Schroer, joined La Fonda owners, Philip Wise and Chairman of the Board, Jenny Kimball (representing La Fonda Family Investors) and Rik Blyth, Vice President and General Manager to mark the historic occasion.  

La Fonda is not only Santa Fe’s oldest hotel (reports of an inn at the same location date back to the 1600s) but also the only one located right on the historic Santa Fe Plaza, the center of the city’s shopping, nightlife, and art market scenes. Locals often refer to La Fonda as “Santa Fe’s living room” and regularly frequent the hotel to celebrate the holidays and important events with family and friends. The hotel has played host to countless world and U.S. leaders, as well as luminaries of film, theater, music and literature.          


The current La Fonda was built in 1922. It was then acquired by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway and leased to the family of legendary hotelier Fred Harvey. The Harvey family turned La Fonda into one of the famous Harvey Houses, which it remained until 1968, when it was acquired by local businessman Sam Ballen and his wife, Ethel. In October 2014, after a series of interviews to ensure that the new owners would also be good stewards of the hotel, the Ballen family passed the torch to a partnership of families with a personal connection to the hotel. The partnership is managed by Cienda Partners, a firm with a long history of civic and historic investments and with substantial holdings in Santa Fe. Since the acquisition, the new owners have made substantial investments to improve all areas of the hotel, including the public areas and the guest rooms – always with the hotel’s history in mind.  

La Fonda Now 

To this day, La Fonda visitors are captivated by the distinctive, ever-present influences of famed architect John Gaw Meem and celebrated Southwest architect and designer Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter. Their original architectural and décor influences can be seen at every turn, and are complemented by the hotel’s expansive, museum-quality art collection which has been built by the owners over several decades.  

While maintaining this heritage, La Fonda keeps evolving to meet the highest standards of modern hospitality. Since 2008, a phased series of renovations, guided by careful study of the original building plans and décor elements, have brought the hotel’s guest rooms, restaurant, bars, lobby, and other public spaces to a new level of comfort and luxury. The latest of these is a luxurious transformation of the exclusive Terrace rooms and suites into the “Terrace Inn at La Fonda.” This hotel-within-a-hotel has a dedicated luxury concierge as well as a private refreshment and snack area. The accommodations feature stylish furnishings, original artwork, and private patios or balconies that overlook the beautiful Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis de Assisi or the historic Loretto Chapel and the sunlit Sangre de Cristo Mountains. 

Commemorative Bronze Plaque 


The commemorative bronze plaque memorializes the rich history of the hotel as a Santa Fe gathering place and a central part in the city’s culture and commerce. Current and previous stewards of La Fonda are listed in chronological order: Santa Fe Citizens Building Corporation (1922-1926); The Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railway and The Fred Harvey Company (1926-1968), The Sam & Ethel Ballen Family (1968 -2014) and La Fonda Family Investors (2014- Present). 


La Fonda is a AAA Four Diamond property. The hotel is a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Historic Hotels of America and is a winner of the organization’s “Best Historic Hotel” (76 – 200 rooms) and “Hotelier of the Year” awards.  La Fonda has also been named one of the Top 10 Hotels in the American Southwest in Condé Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards and ranked #1 Best Lodging in 2022 in the Santa Fe Reporter’s “Best of Santa Fe” Awards. For further information, please visit