Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation for recognizing and celebrating the finest historic hotels, presented the 2017 Historic Hotels of America Lifetime Achievement Award to Duane and Kelly Roberts, owners of The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside, California. This prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award was presented at the 2017 Historic Hotels Annual Awards of Excellence Ceremony & Gala This award is presented to individuals who are dedicated to the preservation and stewardship of legendary historic hotels over many years.
The iconic AAA Four Diamond Mission Inn Hotel & Spa expanded from its humble 1876 beginnings as quaint adobe boarding house and blossomed into a full-service hotel in the early 1900s thanks to California’s economic citrus boom and warm weather attracting wealthy travelers from the East Coast and Europe. The Inn has played host to U.S. Presidents, celebrities and served as the setting in many Hollywood productions.
After changes of ownership, bankruptcies and near demolition, the hotel earned National Historic Landmark status in 1977, officially closing in 1985 before the Roberts immediately sought to revive it. After seven years and a $55 million renovation, they re-opened the hotel in December 1992. Since its relaunch, Duane & Kelly Roberts have been leaders in preserving, strengthening and honoring California and National cultural and heritage treasures.
The Roberts have created annual traditions such as the iconic Festival of Lights – created 25 years ago as a free gift to give back to the community and to share the beauty and history of The Mission Inn attracting hundreds of thousands of people – and Festa del’ Amore celebrates love and romance the entire month of February.
The Roberts serve on several boards such as the Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital Foundation; members of the Fox Riverside Theater Foundation Board of Trustees; Board of Directors for the Mission Inn Foundation; the Mary S. Roberts Foundation and much more.
Duane and Kelly continue to preserve and enhance their beloved hotel. The hotel is currently undergoing a $5 million renovation of guestrooms, restaurants and public space.
William “Rusty” Bailey
Mayor of Riverside, CA
Riverside’s Renaissance began with The Mission Inn. Riverside was no only the center of citrus horticulture but a resort region. The Inn attracted winter-bound tourists who spent months at a time. Riverside was the wealthiest city per capita by 1895. As the city prospered, so did the Inn which became favored by US Presidents, royalty, dignitaries and Hollywood stars. It was where the first World Affairs Conference convened, where artists would stay to be inspired. In the 60s, the hotel began to decay after being neglected, the city was no longer the center of the economic hub it once was. The beginning of Riverside’s revival began with Duane and Kelly Roberts purchasing The Mission Inn in 1992. The city is once again booming because of leaders like the Roberts.
John A. Russo
City Manager of Riverside
President of the League of California Cities 2002-03
The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa helped create the city of image of Riverside. The Raincross symbol began with Frank Miller after he patented for the Inn. The symbol has been identified with Riverside since 1907 and used extensively throughout the city, freeways, architecture, street signs, etc. The Mission Inn is designated as the city’s #1 landmark. In 1995, the city renamed a section of Seventh Street Mission Inn Avenue.
John F. Tavaglione
Riverside County Supervisor – 2nd District
The Mission Inn has had a huge impact on Riverside county with the many business that convene there, the tourists staying at the Inn bringing in occupancy tax, booming business that the Inn brings to the local community by sourcing from local Riverside businesses. The Inn’s rising success has also assisted with the county’s growth and new business moving to the region such as Amazon, Skechers, Aldi, and the California Air Resource Board. The Inn’s Festival of Lights brings $42 million economic impact to the region alone. The Roberts contribution goes far beyond the Mission Inn and they have impacted the entire community.
General Richard D. Roth
California State Senator, District 31
The Mission Inn has become an icon not only for the city, but for the state of California. The Mission Inn is one of the few hotels in California with the National Landmark status. It has become the center of political events, fundraisers, gatherings, weddings, meetings, etc for the region. The hotel continues to win national awards each year, bringing in new visitors from out of state and internationally to see and experience this amazing piece of history.
President and CEO, The Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce
The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa began the annual tradition of the Festival of Lights 25 years ago when Duane & Kelly purchased the hotel. The event has grown in size every year since. This past year brought over 75,000 people to the switch-on ceremony and hundreds of thousands of visitors to downtown during the six-week long event. Last year had a $47 million economic impact to the region. The Roberts have been heavily involved the chamber. Because of their contributions, the chamber named the building after Duane Roberts.