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The History of Motels & the Motel SoCo

Updated: Feb 15

According to Wikipedia, a motel, also known as a motor hotel, motor inn or motor lodge, is a hotel designed for motorists, usually having each room entered directly from the parking area for motor vehicles rather than through a central lobby. Entering dictionaries after World War II, the word motel, coined as a portmanteau of "motor hotel", originates from the Milestone Mo-Tel of San Luis Obispo, California (now called the Motel Inn of San Luis Obispo), which was built in 1925 by Arthur Heineman. In conceiving of a name for his hotel, Heineman abbreviated motor hotel to mo-tel after he could not fit the words "Milestone Motor Hotel" on his rooftop. Many other businesses followed in its footsteps and started building their own auto camps.

Motel SoCo, once known as the Sky View Motel, was built in the 1940's. And rumor has it that the old Pagosa Springs Crematorium was once on the property. Having changed owners a few times through the years, it became known as the Motel SoCo in 2017. The current owners decided to change the name after realizing the Sky View Motel had more than just a couple bad reviews. One reviewer said, "Was there are murder in the shower?!"

But it wasn't just the name they changed. The decor was Phish themed and the amenities were greatly lacking. After many remodeling projects - floors, bathrooms and a lot of painting later- the motel now enjoys a reputation for being super cute and truly groovy, with a slogan of, "Good Vibes Only."

In the last few years the owners have added a bar and a restaurant; The El Camino Lounge and Grill - which is also a music venue and event space. Whether hosting live music by musicians from across the nation or an annual logging competition known as Loggerpalooza, there is always something going on at the Motel SoCo.

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