Our History

It all started with a $2 train ride...

During the building boom of the early 1900's, subdividing was rough, tough and risky. In 1905, Frank H. Ayres took a $2 train ride from Ohio to California with his wife and young son Donald to explore land development opportunities for his employer - an Ohio real estate firm.

In those pre-Hollywood days, climate and oranges were the main attractions bringing visitors to California. Many stayed, including Frank, who immediately bought eight small ranches in the mid-Wilshire district of Los Angeles and was charged with overseeing the land's development after becoming a partner in the Ohio firm.

Eventually, Frank left his employer to form his own company, Frank H. Ayres & Son and continued to develop land throughout L.A. County. It was then that the Ayres' brand of high-quality property development made its mark on Southern California, and a bona fide tradition had begun.

With horse-drawn equipment, Frank Ayres carved Southern California's bean fields and pig farms into prosperous residential and commercial communities. The young company developed nine subdivisions in the Wilshire area from 1905-1910, and the dream was just beginning. To this day, all Ayres projects draw on the vast knowledge and experience of generations of its family business—scroll down to explore our history throughout the years.

1920s & 1930s

In the roaring 20's, Don Ayres Sr., Frank Ayres' son, entered the family business. The father and son team increased productivity, even venturing to build a few homes. Movie-making had now become a full-fledged industry, and demands for lots and homes rose. Quickly, confidence in Ayres grew stronger, and, from 1923 until the early 1930's, the company developed 11 large tracts of single family home sites, apartments and commercial units in the Pico/Robertson area.

Frank Ayres and his son were also instrumental in connecting Santa Monica to the greater Los Angeles area. It's been said that the Pico-Robertson-La Cienega business district was able to stave off the impact of the Great Depression due, in part, to Ayres' forward thinking perspective.

1940s & 1950s

Don Ayres Sr.'s foresight had become the foundation of entire communities in the Los Angeles Area. The war was over, but the housing boom had just started. Don Ayres Sr. pooled 3,000 acres belonging to several land owners to form Westchester - one of the first planned cities in the United States.

In 1947, he developed Portuguese Bend on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. To create an interest in this obscure area, Don Ayres Sr. devised a plan to allow resort-style living at affordable prices. Growth was stimulated and the settlement quickly became a booming success.

1960s & 1970s

In the middle of the previous decade, Don Ayres Sr.'s son, Don Ayres Jr., joined the firm, perpetuating a family tradition of quality land development. Don Sr. took over the land subdividing function and Don Jr. started the firm's homebuilding interests. In the coming decade, the Ayres brand would become a recognized name, creating distinctive homes in well-planned areas from the San Fernando Valley to San Diego.

In 1960, the company designed a subdivision of 400 homes on a small piece of land. Don Ayres Jr. took charge of the project. The lot size was small and took some imaginative thinking, resulting in Newport Shores. The community of luxurious beach homes on the ocean was yet another tribute to Ayres' problem-solving capability.

Versatility and innovative thinking are just two Ayres family characteristics that sparked company growth and broadened the firm's area of operations throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Years of hard work and innovation laid the foundation for what would become the next big adventure for the Ayres name.

1980s

Don Ayres Jr. developed the concept of a European boutique hotel after a trip to Europe with his daughter Allyson Ayres-D'Eliscu in the early 80's. He decided to apply the Ayres' time-tested, success-proven formula to satisfy the growing need for hotels in the Southern California area.

Since 1979, Don Ayres Jr.'s son, Bruce Ayres, had been involved in the land acquisition portion of the family business but expanded his duties in the early and mid-1980s to include hotel specific land acquisition.

In 1984, the first hotel location was opened in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California as the Cardiff Country Side Inn, with Allyson Ayres-D'Eliscu playing a significant role in the interior design of the hotel. Thus began the tradition of the Ayres family as hotel builders, owners, and operators.

1980s

1986 saw the opening of two more Country Side Inn locations, both under Allyson's interior design direction, in Costa Mesa, California and Alpine, California. The Costa Mesa hotel would soon become the flagship hotel for the growing collection. 1986 was also the year Don Ayres III began his hotel career at Country Side Inn, Costa Mesa working in the restaurant, at the front desk and then in the sales department.

Allyson Ayres-D'Eliscu continued her exceptional design work on the fourth location added to the collection in 1989 - the Corona Countryside Inn - and continued working for the next 11 years ensuring each hotel was comfortably designed to welcome guests to their home away from home. In 1989, Doug Ayres joined the family business acquiring land for home building and hotel development as well as construction of the acquired land. Doug was highly influential in bringing the quality of the final product to a higher level.

1990s

The opportunistic growth model favored by the Ayres family continued to prove successful in the 1990's when another nine Southern California hotels were added - Lebec/Grapevine, San Clemente, Diamond Bar, Yorba Linda, Orange, three in Ontario, and a second in Corona.

Don Ayres III became VP of Operations in the early 1990's and was instrumental in building the organization, its culture, its values and brand. In the mid-1990's, the hotel collection was rebranded as Country Inn by Ayres in the first ever attempt to bring the family name into the brand.

By the late 1990's the hotel collection had cemented a reputation for exceedingly friendly service, cleanliness, and value. To better define the collection, focus groups were formed to once more examine the collection name.

2000s

In 2001, the Ayres Hotels brand was launched with the opening of Ayres Hotel Laguna Woods, Ayres Hotel Anaheim, and Ayres Hotel Seal Beach. Between 2001 and 2005, all hotels were transitioned and became Ayres Hotels, a collection of handcrafted boutique hotels with European-inspired décor, living room style lobbies, and a home-like atmosphere.

In 2002, Ayres Hotels was awarded the Orange County Business Journal Family Owned Business Award in the Large Business category. Doug Ayres continued to elevate the brand with the opening of the exquisite Ayres Hotel Manhattan Beach in 2004.

2000s

2005 meant 100 years of Ayres! This year was all about celebrating 100 years of business in Southern California. This was also the year that Don Ayres III began his work in the hotel development and commercial center portion of the business.

2005 was also the year Janet Ayres, Don Ayres Jr.'s wife, brought her keen eye for design to the Ayres Hotels. For eight years, Janet led interior design and quality assurance programs structured to keep the collection a unique blend of 90% traditional and 10% cool.

In 2008, Allyson Ayres-D'Eliscu's husband, Bruce D'Eliscu, who had worked on previous residential projects with Doug Ayres in the 1990's, entitled and built the stunning Ayres Hotel Redlands along with working in property management for the company. By the end of the 2000's, Ayres Hotels had grown to an impressive 19 hotel collection including the final location built in 2009 - Ayres Hotel Chino Hills.

2010s

As the Great Recession began to impact the country, the opportunities to develop became more strategic and deliberate. Even in difficult economic times, the Ayres family remained open to opportunity and added Ayres Hotel & Spa Moreno Valley, Ayres Hotel Fountain Valley, and a second location in Orange - Ayres Hotel Orange.

Ayres Hotels is now a robust collection of diverse hotels, and has branched out to include Allegretto Vineyard Resort in Paso Robles, the first-ever destination resort of its kind for the company and a passion project for Doug Ayres, who championed every aspect of its development.

Today, the family tradition of quality and value is stronger than ever. It ensures that every property is expertly designed and managed with excellence and meticulous attention to detail. As the Ayres family looks toward the future of the Ayres Hotels brand, they remain committed to those things that have made for a successful collection, while still challenging the status quo and exploring ways to keep the company viable and dynamic.