In 1930, Dennstedt Construction Company built El Primero Hotel for John and Lily Ratcliffe. According to local historians, the Dennstedt family --three brothers-- was reputedly the first "German Boat People" who migrated from Germany. Building their own 14-foot boat, they set sail to North America in the 1840s and landed in New York. Journeying to Canada, young Albert (Al) Lawrence Dennstedt later found his way into Minnesota and eventually settled in California. Aside from building the first modern hotel which boosted amenities such as steam heat and cold running water in Chula Vista, Al also pioneered apartment building concepts in the area.
After retirement, Pie and Sol Roque were interested in renovating properties in San Diego. During a few occasions, the Filipino-American couple had their sights on El Primero Hotel. Finally in 2004, the hotel became available for purchase and there was no hesitation. The estimated 4-month project of renovation turned into a 14-month labor of love. From resetting the foundation in the lobby to installing double-pane windows, the Roque’s restored the hotel to its clean, art deco charm with touches of contemporary style. The building construction incorporates modern and environmental practices.
El Primero Hotel opened its doors again to the public in August 2005 and has not looked back since.