Solvang Travel Guide
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The other weekend we made a trip up from Los Angeles to Solvang, Calif, a town most-known for its cameo in the movie "Sideways" and for its Danish settlement. For those with a Danish fetish, there is no better place to be--except Denmark of course.
We were lucky enough to visit Solvang during their Danish Days festival weekend which closed down the streets to celebrate the traditional ways of the Danish. This included aebleskiver-eating contests, dances in traditional garbs, and even some odd viking weaponry displays.
Cultural fetishes aside, Solvang is a great place to stay when visiting wineries in Santa Ynez or attending a wedding nearby, which is our reason for visiting. While the Hotel Corque is the more upscale option, we chose the Wine Valley Inn which has a central location in Solvang and rather reasonable room rates. However, not all rooms are created equal.
Sorry, we couldn't resist a punny headline!
The other week we told you about the sumptuous meal we scarfed, er, politely nibbled, at Root 246, Bradley Ogden’s new restaurant at the Hotel Corque in Solvang. Today, we’ll show you a quick walk-through video and some snapshots we took of our spacious room at the hotel.
The Corque used to be the Scandinavian Inn, but after it was purchased in 2007 by the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians (who also own the nearby Chumash Casino Resort), the Chumash initiated a complete renovation overseen by the architectural firm of David Bury. The hotel was then reopened in the spring of 2009. You know how we love newly renovated rooms, so we decided to spend the night and check this new look out.
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Bradley Ogden’s family of restaurants includes the storied Lark Creek Inn in Marin, and Bradley Ogden at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Last year, he opened Root 246 at the new Hotel Corque in Solvang, the Danish-themed town in Santa Barbara’s wine country, where Ogden now spends much of his time. During a recent overnight stay at the Corque, we got the chance to sample Ogden’s menu, which reads like a love letter to California produce.
Standing out from the other dining options in town (Danish pancake breakfast, anyone?), Root 246 is comprised of several distinct spaces. Guests can have a drink or nosh on small plates in the expansive, casual front patio with a fireplace in the corner, or head inside to any of the three interior elements of the restaurant.
Welcome to our regular feature, Pitch Your Hotel, where we let hoteliers, general managers and other hotel execs tell us on-camera what makes their hotels so different from all the rest. And believe us, the competition is fierce these days. So sit back, relax and listen to them explain why their hotels are worthy of your hard-earned dollars or rewards points.
We love the idea of vacationing at a dude ranch, riding the horses, rustling cattle, singing around a campfire…we’re not really about the roughing it, though, which is why we were glad of the luxury amenities provided at Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort.
Those include wood-burning fireplaces in the 73 guest cottages (and yes, we felt a little manly at being able to light and stoke our own fire), a recently built spa featuring a full array of signature treatments including the “Trailblazer” full-body salt scrub and massage combo, and a gourmet restaurant where guests are treated to breakfast every morning dinner every night as part of their “American Meal Plan” room rate—a throwback to the resort rates of yesteryear à la Dirty Dancing.
The tony Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort in Solvang’s wine country has promoted a few interesting theme weekends before, like the "Cowboy Ethics Bootcamp" coming up this fall, but they are going all out for September’s "Outback at Alisal Weekend," and bringing in chef, cookbook author, kitchen line creator and TV celebrity, Curtis Stone, to treat guests to some Australian specialties.
Co-sponsored by the Ranch and the South Australian Tourism Commission, the Outback Weekend will run from September 17-20, and is a “cowboy adventure bringing the Australian Outback to the California Central Coast.”
Wall-Street-er, Corporate Suit-y friends of ours, listen: we're certainly not suggesting that your integrity might need a bit of tweaking. But, um, maybe it does. It might. Sometimes we get a little carried away when we have our minds on our money and our money on our minds. It's okay.
So let's just say you are "an executive looking for a morale boost and a dose of ethical inspiration" (sounds a bit friendlier, right?). Author James Owen suggests you may be able to find said "ethical inspiration" by looking to cowboys you know, the dudes who used to do business with handshakes and good faith and, apparently, The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort in Santa Ynez Valley, CA (Santa Barbara wine country) agrees: they've designed a "bootcamp" retreat to teach the "Code of the West" to anyone who needs a bit of an...integrity boost.
So, you want to go tasting in Santa Barbara’s wine country like Miles and Jack from Sideways, but have no idea where to stay? Try the little Hadsten House Hotel in Solvang, about 30 miles north of Santa Barbara. Sure, it’s not the fictional Windmill Inn, but then again, you won’t have a nervous breakdown there.