Our GAHLA History

The story behind the

Greater Albuquerque Hotel & Lodging Association

In the early Sixties, more than 50 years ago, Interstate 40 was still under construction due to the Federal Highway act of 1956, which created the interstate system across America; Winrock Center was then Winthrop Rockefeller’s newest regional shopping center which included the Winrock Motor Inn;  East and West highway signs coming into Albuquerque warned of “last chance for water and gas”; and tourists got their kicks on Route 66 or Central Avenue, then a major thoroughfare buzzing with bright neon signs promoting western motif motels, motel courts and charming curio shops. Downtown Albuquerque was home to the elegant Alvarado Hotel. The celebrated Franciscan Hotel had sadly, just been demolished. The Trade Winds Motor Hotel, Sundowner, Royal Inn of Albuquerque, Winrock Motor Inn and the Holiday Inn were the Albuquerque “hot Spots” in the late 60’s.

Seeking to revitalize the downtown area, the City of Albuquerque commissioned Green & Associates to conduct a feasibility study for a new convention center. The city commission appointed a committee to review the findings and recommendations regarding the marketing and funding of the proposed convention center. The committee was comprised of Pete Domenici (then City commissioner), Herb Smith (City Manager) and three hoteliers, two of which were from Central Ave and one from the Winrock Inn. The review of the Green & Associates study provided the impetus for New Mexico’s first Lodger’s Tax. The appointed committee brought together rival Innkeepers for the common goal of determining the best use of Lodger’s Tax to promote conventions and tourism in Albuquerque.

As the new Albuquerque Convention Center, and the Albuquerque Inn (DoubleTree) were constructed, the City signed an agreement with their New Jersey developer, Mr. Monroe Tapper. The agreement granted the new Albuquerque Inn exclusive rights to the food and beverage business at the convention center- provided the new hotel did not have any meeting or banquet facilities. In addition, the new hotel would receive$50,000 from Lodger’s Tax to offset the hotel cost of marketing the convention center. This move upset many local Innkeepers who considered it unfair competition. Consequently, in 1969, the Albuquerque Innkeepers Association (AIA) was founded to represent the hotel industry on such issues.

Two years later, the City backed off from their position of the $50,000 Lodger’s Tax subsidy and changed the percentage of food & beverage revenue the city would receive from the hotel. By this time, the Albuquerque Civic Plaza had recently been completed, and Mr. Tapper was negotiating to have a tunnel built from the Civic Plaza’s underground parking garage directly to the Albuquerque Inn’s hotel lobby. Again, the project was to be funded by Lodger’s Tax. The founding members of AIA used their influence to prompt both architectural and political compromise, involving the use of the Lodger’s Tax funds. Today, the tunnel is located between the convention center and hotel. 

1969 Founding AIA Members: 

Robert Dodson- First AIA President (Royal Inn, Central)
Bill Kouri- (Four Seasons Motor Inn became Radisson Water Park)
Al Raab (Winrock Motor Inn)
Murphy Jenkins (Holiday Inn, Central)
Lucky Boyd (Hilton Downtown, now Crowne Plaza)
Tim Dowling (Trade Winds Motor Hotel, Central)

At the time, Central Avenue was the hub of hotel lodging, and a major voice in formulating the Albuquerque Innkeepers Association.

Historical Highlights

1972        Assisted in creating Albuquerque’s first Tourism and Convention Bureau board within the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce. Developed Albuquerque’s first formal marketing program

1976        Actively Lobbied the NM State legislature to allow for Lodger’s Tax Advisory Boards for    each community to protect the use and promotion funds derived from Lodger’s Tax.

1979-80   Founded the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau- ACVB (now Visit Albuquerque)

1989        GAIA Launched its first annual golf tournament to raise funds for hospitality student scholarships.

1990        Actively lobbied the NM State Legislature for the Tourism division to have its own independent Secretary heading up the department with the assistance of Governor Bruce King.

1998       AIA changed its name to Greater Albuquerque Innkeepers Association, reflecting the growth of the metro area.

2004       The organization lobbied successfully to self-impose a 1% hospitality fee.  This fee is used to augment the marketing dollars received by Visit Albuquerque (at that time ACVB).

2009       The organization partnered with the Albuquerque Police Department to report crimes on a secure network called APD Hospitality Connect. This partnership alerts members to potential risks and assists in tracking and preventing crime at member lodging establishments.

2010       The Albuquerque Hospitality Games were established to promote friendly competition among members and award trophies to the winning teams for a one year period. The Games help to highlight the spirit of hospitality in the city and are a source of pride for all involved.  

2019       GAIA changed its name to Greater Albuquerque Hotel & Lodging Association updating the name after 50 years of its founding and closely aligning it with our national association- the American Hotel & Lodging Association

2022       GAHLA lobbied the hotel community to approve the ATMD (Albuquerque Tourism Marketing District) a Visit ABQ initiative adding a 2% assessment onto lodging folios which gave an additional $4-5M annually to Albuquerque’s tourism marketing budget. Additionally, the organization supported and successfully passed legislation to amend the City’s Procurement Policy allowing Visit ABQ to be a sole source vendor.

2023         Annual Golf Tournament renamed in honor of Charlie Gray past executive director, longtime hotelier and 2017 NMHA Tourism Hall of Fame honoree

For over 50 years, this organization has lobbied the NM State Legislature for expanding the NM Department of Tourism’s advertising budget and supporting responsible use of Lodger’s tax for Albuquerque’s benefit. 

Today, as in the past, GAHLA remains the voice of Central New Mexico’s Hospitality industry, not only promoting its economic significance and value locally, regionally and throughout New Mexico, but also supporting businesses and interests which enhance and further develop and grow the destination.

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