Motel Safari back in hospitality business

Chelle Delaney

There’s a new player on Route 66’s motel row.

On Wednesday, Nita and Shawn Berryhill of Globe, Ariz., became the new owners of the Motel Safari on Route 66, said Nina Berryhill. That’s when she and her husband, Shawn, signed the deal, she said.

“We’re very excited about the location on Route 66 and the town,” said Nina Berryhill. “Everyone we’ve met has been very friendly.”

They were attracted to the 25-unit Motel Safari because it’s on Route 66. And, Tucumcari’s small-town, family-oriented atmosphere also appealed to them, she said.

At Motel Safari, “We’re going to try and keep all the old 50s and 60s flavor and all the furniture,” said Nita, pointing to a decorative room divider and chair from the era.

Nita said she will be commuting for several months to oversee renovations. Her husband, a shop foreman and master mechanic at an automotive shop, will work in Globe until the hotel is ready for the couple to live, she said.

“This is really my thing,” Nita Berryhill said.
Owning and operating a motel runs in Nita Berryhill’s veins and family line.

“I grew up in a motel,” she said. “I was raised by my grandparents and they had a motel.

In fact, she continued to operate the El Ray Motel on Arizona Highway 60 East after her grandparents died in 1995. She sold the motel a year ago. But not long after, she discovered she wanted to get back in the hospitality business. She would not disclose the sales price.

Competition from the existing and planned hotels at the six exit intersections along I-40 to Tucumcari didn’t scare her off.

“I looked at the business in the town and the fact that the big hotels were here meant that there was business. So in that sense, I thought it was favorable,” Nita Berryhill said.

“I don’t see them as compeition because the people who stay in those hotels are not here to see Route 66. They’re really not competition. People traveling along Route 66 want to to stay in the small family-owned motels,” she said.