A medical doctor and social worker decide to work together to create a healing inn. Sounds like the plot to a lighthearted movie, right? It might be, were it not the real-life story of Shirley and David Alford. Shirley is a family physician who retired from the University of Colorado in 1991. David was a clinical social worker running Blue Lake Ranch since the 1970s, a guest ranch near Durango, Colorado. In 1991, they married and joined forces.
Switching from healthcare to hospitality is common, say the Alfords, proprietors of Casa Blanca Inn & Suites in Farmington, New Mexico. The service ethic is strong in both professions.
Fast forward 12 years to 2003. The Alfords, living in Durango and running their Blue Lake Ranch, received a phone call from a friend and the owner of the Casa Blanca Inn in Farmington, New Mexico, just 45 minutes away. The Inn had recently closed and the utilities turned off. The owner wanted advice on selling it. The Alfords obliged and were immediately smitten with the property. It was the expansive Santa Barbara-style white brick building with a red clay tile roof that they had always lusted after. The property was in rough shape, however, and a prolonged drought had taken its toll on the landscape
“We found a yard hydrant behind the house that still produced water and started watering everything to save what we could. We spent that entire day rescuing landscaping and falling in love with this beautiful home on a one-acre lot,” says Shirley.
So in 2004, after purchasing the property from their friend, they began a $100,000 remodel of the large four-bedroom hacienda, adding kitchenettes and covered portals with private entrances They erected a two-suite building where clothes lines had been. To complete the large complex, they purchased two homes across the street to create six suites for traveling health care professionals.
Their first guests at the reopened and renovated Casa Blanca Inn & Suites were Indian Health Service physicians assigned to the Shiprock/Farmington area who wanted a comfortable place to stay. Certainly, the Spanish-style hacienda fit that bill. With clay tile roofs and white painted brick, the house is now beautifully furnished with hand-carved Peruvian furniture, Guatemalan textiles, Navajo and other Native décor. The library is filled with first edition fiction books and books about the Southwest and gardening. The previously neglected grounds are now gardens, charming courtyards, and fountains for guests to relax.
After owning the Casa Blanca Inn & Suites for almost two decades, the Alfords are committed to providing gracious hospitality to their guests. “Guests love the beauty of the Inn and being within walking distance of the recently renovated Downtown Farmington Main Street, just blocks away. Guests with electric cars love the Tesla chargers, installed by Elon Musk for his stay at the Inn several years ago.
Unlike its neighboring city Durango, Farmington is just being discovered for its incredible microclimate (hardly ever any snow) and friendly, hometown feel. There is much to discover here from the Native American culture to striking landscapes and the staff at the Casa Blanca Inn are the experts,” Shirley adds.
CASA BLANCA INN & SUITES • Shirley & David Alford
505 East La Plata Street • Farmington, NM 87401 • 505-327-6503
casablancanm.com • firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook: casablancanm • Instagram: @casablancanm