How many motels are for sale you ask? Almost ALL of them! Ok, ok, I exaggerate, but there are quite a few for sale in the parts of town that would cater to tourists – downtown and along San Bernardo.

Carlos Guerra, former columnist in San Antonio, made a comment about his desire to see a push to better education and community development instead of focusing on padding the tourist industry. His point was – hope he forgives me if I don’t paraphrase correctly – a dependence on disposable income of visitors to your city just leads to unemployed housekeepers and dishwashers when that disposable income dries up. Interesting point. Now that he is retired, he is focusing on supporting education – Carlos Guerra Day will be September 24th in San Antonio and monies raised are going to scholarship to TAMU-Kingsville; but back to Laredo…

Laredo is a city that has been pushing to be an attractive tourist destination. It is obvious to see some of this with the number of hotels that have popped up (not motels, hotels). I am not saying this is not a worthy goal. What I am saying is – what are we doing to support our local existing businesses?

They don’t necessarily have to stay motels – especially the formerly beautiful Bender Hotel – but owners do have to do something with them, no? I wish I had the answers.

The motel that started my questioning, El Centro Motel on Matamoros Street

The oh-so-famous historic Bender Hotel

The beautiful Evelyn Motor Inn on San Bernardo

The infamous Cactus Courts on San Bernardo

The other Cactus Courts on Santa Maria Street


About Que Fregados

Que Fregados is a quirky look at little things that strike us funny in Laredo and the unique Latino culture. Suggestions and comments are welcome. You can also email to
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7 Responses to Motels

  1. Chuck Owen says:

    Motels/hotles are and always have been a home away from home for traveling public. The older ones in Laredo tell a story. When built and in their hayday, they fitted to what was then the traveling public, essentially folks with disposable income to travel, whether on vacation or for business. In their day, they fit the need. But they did not modernize with the needs of the client. Travelers seek more than a place to sleep; they want something comparable to their style of life. And so it is, newer facilities had to come along, leaving the ones you have pictured without sufficient people of disposable income to place heads in the beds. They gave way to the more desirable.

    Hotels are important to the well being of a community. Part of the disposable income goes to expend in restaurants, gas stations, and such, which puts money into the local economy. Haven’t read Carlos’ position paper but I suggest, as you have stated it, it does not make the total reach of economy. Education is important. Part of the ability to do that comes from taxes and other income associated with hotels, and that is a pretty far reach, an important sector to the local economy. The other factor of local help is the hotel tax paid, which goes to pay what locals also enjoy, and that is a fair sum in the broad scheme of things. Millions of dollars come to play.

    Guess I might ought to read Carlos’ viewpoint a bit. I just suggest your summary has left something very important out of play. Indeed, as for the older motels, better to raze them and build something more relative to the economy of the day.

    Just my thoughts, of course.

    • Que Fregados says:

      Chuck, I haven’t read his column about this topic either. I included his thoughts based on comments he had made and it sounded like it had been several columns where he touched on this topic. He was referring to the San Antonio downtown area where now they have a glut of new hotels and not enough people to fill them.

  2. Que Fregados says:

    Facebook tidbits (I had no idea the Bender had a penthouse!):

    Jessy Silvas – I had many great times @ the bender. I used to party in the pent house.

    Que Fregados – There was a penthouse up there??

    Catherine Bessette – LOL LMAO! hahahahh

    Jessy Silvas – Yes, the owner of martinez fence company owned the bender. She remodeled it. The back door led to the roof top. We used to throw water balloons from the top.

    Cuqui Rosillo – Probably for the GHOSTS that roam around the St. Peter’s Historical District and the riverbanks, and this is no”haha”matter of their roamings.

    Elisa Gutierrez – Can you invision a thriving tourist attraction downtown…I can. If only we had big bucks investing in our historical town. I can only compliment Mr. Gutierrez and Mr. Isaquirre for preserving the building that they have. The Sames Moore building …I think. Its beautiful inside. Thanks again for bringing awareness to the downtown area.

  3. Keyrose says:

    The Evelyn and El Centro Motel need a facelift. They add character to the town. They’re no Motel 6 but they might prove more economical.

    Taxes collected from motels could help fund community centers that promote education.

    • Que Fregados says:

      Yes, they can bring in some funds – but the problem is right now, they are hurting. KR, I actually went to check out El Centro and considered buying it but the owner was very honest about what it would take to make it succeed in today’s empty room days.

      I love The Evelyn – I think it is just soooo cool with its pool and permanent umbrellas. Sigh, I wish it could be revived.

  4. MaryHelen says:

    Those decaying downtown hotels, The Bender, St. Anthony’s, El Centro, any more?, would best be converted to urban living lofts for sale, as it has been done in Austin. Of course, some structures are too far gone to be rehabilitated and wouldn’t pass inspection. But those that do, including the second floor of many commercial buildings, would serve as a unique living situation for attorneys, bankers, young professionals, etc. Just my two cents….

  5. Pingback: Goodbye El Centro Motel | Que Fregados

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