The Madonna Inn: a sumptuous heritage

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What began as a place where travelers could take a break between two major California cities has evolved into a world-class hotel steeped in history, entrepreneurship, and a love for the unexpected. A place known for its unique decor, including lavish common areas, lots of pink, and even a cascading urinal, The Madonna Inn was designed by Alex Madonna. Alex saw a need while working on the 101 freeway, the main artery between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and why do it like everyone else? As you will read, Alex did nothing like everyone else; thus, the unique and eclectic Madonna Inn was born.

Dalton Pearce, a grandson of Alex and Phyllis Madonna, and the third generation of the family carrying on the inn’s tradition, recently updated us on the history and current events of this iconic location. Dalton not only continues the Inn side of the family tree, but also the lineage of rodeo and farming coming from his paternal side. Dalton’s father, Clint Pearce, and his grandfather participated in various rodeo events. Even today, Clint and his wife Connie, who is the line of Madonnas, continue the legacy of rodeo in the San Luis Obispo area, often donating time, money, and the Madonna Inn as a venue to help his success. Dalton has made the rodeo side of his family very proud, having won the coveted Rookie of the Year award in 2016 for the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association, better known as the PRCA, and that same year winning the Pendleton Rodeo as a team. . gite side.

While Alex Madonna didn’t rodeo, he grew up farming. His family lived near Camp San Luis, where they ran a small dairy farm. Since most people back then rode horses, he was no stranger to horses, and as it is now, life on a dairy farm is tough, so he grew up understanding the value of hard work. fierce. Alex, who embodied a true entrepreneurial spirit, began a successful career in construction by hauling sand and rocks in his Model T Ford throughout the California area. He eventually won a contract to build roads overseas during World War II, then returned with a group of loyal employees who helped him start his construction business in the United States. Her company was integral to building roads and bridges across California, and that’s when the idea for the Madonna Inn took hold.

1958 was the year the Madonna Inn opened with twelve rooms. Alex Madonna knew he had to do more than build a hostel for weary travelers to make a lasting impression. This was long before social media and a time when news traveled more slowly, so a location had to be on top for that to happen. As Dalton described his grandfather, Alex was simply tenacious and not afraid to get people talking. This was the motivation behind the hostel’s quirky styles, with pink as the base and coordinating color and the rooms each carrying their own theme.

What started small and saw its fair share of struggles and difficulties, including a fire that destroyed the original hostel, has blossomed into a place of destination. The hostel currently offers 110 rooms and, as with the original design, each has a different theme. Alex once said, “Anyone can build one piece and a thousand like it.” It’s more economical. Most places try to give you as little as possible. I try to give people decent housing where they get more than they are entitled to for what they pay. I want people to arrive with a smile and leave with a smile. It’s fun.” The cafe is another must and serves delicious food and the famous pink champagne cake loved by visitors, locals and even Kacey Musgraves. Dolly Parton is a frequent visitor and has been known to order a big steak and potatoes at the inn and eat it all!

The hostel’s common areas are lavish, bordering on ostentatious, but get people talking. The architectural style is akin to the Swiss Elm ski resorts, with pink again the common theme and extending to litter bins and streetlights. The Inn complex also houses one of the largest exhibition centers in the region and is used for events such as wedding shows, home shows and other professional events. It’s also a convenient location for concerts and often sees popular shows due to its location between two major cities. Recently, their scene has been graced by Cody Johnson, Dustin Moore and Jack Harlow.

The Madonna family is still a household name in the San Luis Obispo area, not only because of the inn, but also their contribution to agriculture and rodeo. Dalton runs his own herd of cattle, just like his grandfather, and continues to rodeo. COVID has been a time of struggle, but the hostel is proud to say no employees have been laid off. Due to its unique heritage and tradition of spectacle and surprise, the Inn is now more than just a stopover, but a location target on many to-do lists.

Cowboy Lifestyle Magazine

This article was created for the spring issue of Cowboy Lifestyle Magazine which was published in early April. You can read this article and many more by visiting the full number. For more information on Cowboy Lifestyle Magazine, visit the website here.




With a life steeped in the western way of life and agriculture, my goal is to share interesting, intriguing, and exciting stories about the world of rodeo, ranchers and farmers, the outdoor lifestyle, and more. . Currently, I reside on a working cattle ranch in Arizona’s iconic Superstition Mountains, where I enjoy jumping and playing cowgirl when I’m not sharing stories of the cowboy lifestyle. Follow me on Instagram or TikTok! tiktok.com/@tiffanyselchow


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