Meet Your Hosts
Owners of The Inns at El Rancho Merlita
John and Diana Osborne fell in love with El Rancho Merlita when they met Merle Norman’s delightful companion, Tom Dixon. The history of the property and Diana’s vision for a return of the elegance that Merle Norman brought to Tucson when she built her winter guest ranch entranced the Osbornes.
Diana is an architect. She exactingly restored and renovated the Ranch House and Guest House to their original elegant ranch-style vintage grandeur. Diana invited interior decorators to the home for a Tucson Museum of Art competition to present their vision of the ultimate interior design for the rooms based on the Osborne’s ranching and mining history in Arizona. Brands from John’s “Tres Bellotas” (“Three Acorns”) family ranch south of Arivaca, Arizona, and inspiration from Diana’s family’s guest ranch in Oracle, Arizona (near her great-grandfather’s historical trading post in Mammoth, Arizona) conjoined influences from Arizona’s historical economic bases of Cattle, Copper, Climate, Citrus, and Cotton (Arizona’s “Five C’s”).
The Osbornes intend El Rancho Merlita to evince the historic ranching and native roots of Arizona and the Southwestern United States. They leveraged the historic architecture, revived and enhanced with paintings, furnishings, pottery, rugs, stonework, and garden art (such as the “man in the maze” labyrinth, a star-gazing platform, and a saltwater swimming pool) to create a magical place that surrounds and envelops guests in contemplative space.
John and Diana Osborne, both children of Arizona pioneering families, grew up with a deep love and respect for Arizona history. Their youths were spent, exploring desert washes, hiking the steep forested trails of the nearby Santa Catalina Mountains, and skiing the southern-most ski area in the United States (Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley). Winter visitors can swim in the pool and golf or bike in the morning, and ski on the mountain an hour away, when conditions are ideal.
John, a third generation Arizonan, and Diana, a fourth generation Arizonan, partnered with Pattie Bell – an experienced Innkeeper and Tucson Ambassador. John and Diana, with Pattie’s 20 years of experience in Arizona hospitality, love this place!
Innkeeper of Our Tucson B&B
After years of honing her skills in the restaurant and catering business, Pattie Bell discovered her niche when she landed a position as an innkeeper’s assistant at the first bed and breakfast to open in Tucson. Since 1990 she has assisted in the management of inns in Tucson, Sedona, and Bisbee, AZ. In between management assignments she operated a professional inn-sitting service, Saved by the Bell, taking charge of small inns all over the west in their owners’ temporary absences.
Her partnership with the Osborne family and The Inns at El Rancho Merlita is “the most exciting endeavor I have ever been involved with and a dream come true!” She is as inspired daily by the beauty of El Rancho Merlita as our guests are when they see it for the first time.
Her freshly prepared breakfasts and afternoon treats will knock your boots off, with special needs graciously accommodated. She likes to call her welcoming approach to hospitality “Western casual”. Take advantage of her forty-plus years as a Tucson resident when planning your itinerary and allow her to recommend a favorite trail in Saguaro National Park, a dining spot after visiting the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum or map out a road-trip tasting of Arizona wines. Whether you are seeking a rejuvenating respite or enthusiastically indulging in all of the activities that Tucson and Southern Arizona have to offer, Pattie and her staff will ensure your travel aspirations are met.