CA Travel Guide
The world is officially in "Countdown to Christmas" mode and now, so are we. Every day until Christmas we'll be featuring a hotel that's in a holiday mood--whether it be with gigantic gingerbread houses, over-the-top Christmas decorations, thrilling lighting displays and best of all, Santa appearances. But of course, any hotel can assemble a fake tree, put on some lights and declare themselves "festive." Which is why we're looking at hotels that are really going ALL OUT. Know of a hotel that's super excited for Christmas? Let us know!
If you were near the The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside, Calif. (an hour east of LA) on the day after Thanksgiving, then you probably noticed things were a little "brighter" in the area.
That's because the hotel switched on approximately four million Christmas lights that illuminate the hotel as part of their annual Festival of Lights celebration.
The light show draws in about 300,000 visitors and includes over 400 animated characters in addition to the four million lights. It takes 10 weeks of round-the-clock preparations by a crew of 30 to get it all ready. And it's been happening for 21 years now. We can't help but be curious about where they store these lights when Christmas is over. But it's probably way neater than our tangled stash in the garage.
Bad Celebrity Behavior / Sean Penn / St Regis Hotels / San Francisco Hotels / Celebrity Scoop / → All Tags
Apparently, a fan tried to snap a pic of the actor while he was hanging out in the hotel's swank Lobby Bar. Penn noticed the flash and went ballistic, lunging at the man fan and screaming "Do we look like f**king zoo animals?" (Umm....) Penn also threatened to make the fan "eat the phone" before telling him to "get the F out of here." You can watch the video of the temper tantrum here on TMZ. Incidentally, his outburst was caught on video...by another person in the bar. LOL.
Penn even went up to the hotel manager and told him that he "should do something about that." But hotel management actually asked the fan, who was attending the same conference as Penn, if he wanted to call police. Fortunately for Penn, he said no. After the whole kerfuffle ended, Penn went back to drinking at the bar.
Yeesh. Granted the fan should have asked Penn's permission, or at least not used flash, but we're kinda thinking Sean Penn should be grateful someone still wants to take his picture. No need to make someone "eat the phone." Which is going to be our new saying BTW.
JW Marriott Resort and Spa in Palm Desert, Calif. recently underwent a $25 million top-to-bottom renovation that saw the spiffing up of its 884 guestrooms and suites as well as the vast lobby atrium and upgrades to its two championship golf courses. But don't worry, the quaint boat rides that go around the resort's lakes remain, dock and all, at the far edge of the lobby. Oh and of course the exotic birds that line the bottom of the lobby are still there, providing endless entertainment for passerbys.
The resort also introduced a few new dining concepts including the Rockwood Grill (previously the LakeView Grill), the Blue Star Lounge, and a Fisherman's Landing outpost. While Rockwood serves an out-of-this world breakfast buffet and the Blue Star Lounge has cozy outdoor seating and fire pits, it's still Mikado's Japanese Steakhouse, which will be packed on weekend nights (seriously, do not go without a reservation.)
Legoland in Carlsbad, Calif. only opened their first hotel this past April (read all about it here but already they were dreaming of opening a second hotel next to the theme park, this time with an additional 50 hotel rooms, along with 40 themed cabins that would have been designed as either tree houses or "Hobbit lodges. Amazing!
Except the city of Carlsbad rejected Legoland's proposal and instead voted in favor of a bland Westin resort from Grand Pacific Hotels. Booo.The Westin will actually come about as an addition to the existing Sheraton resort near Legoland.
According to the San Diego Union Tribune, there is a possibility that Legoland will still be able to build their second hotel property on land that they already own versus land owned by the city. We can only hope.
But still, if this one doesn't get built, more Legoland hotels will happen as Lego's parent company, Merlin Entertainment, is prepping an public stock offering to fund hotel development and theme parks around the world.
Hotel Openings / JDV Hotels / Palo Alto Hotels / Hotel Opening Rates / Hotel Technology / Concierges / Hotel News / → All Tags
When we compiled our Master Openings list this year, we had a spot reserved in Palo Alto, Calif. for The Epiphany Hotel from Joie de Vivre Hotels. The hotel was supposed to open over the summer but now it's set to open next year, on April 1st. But already, the hotel is positioning itself as the must-stay hotel in Silicon Valley. In their own words:
Get wired. In the heart of downtown Palo Alto, surrounded by the hottest VC firms, the fastest-growing companies, plus the creative dynamism of Stanford University—this is where you need to be staying.
Clearly, the hotel's WiFi is going to be free and fast and full of plenty of bandwidth. The hotel is also promising the services of its own technology concierge. Sweet! No doubt this concierge better know his or her tech specs before starting the job. Yet given the hotel's location near Stanford, we don't think this will be too hard.
But what else can we expect from The Epiphany in regards to more traditional hotel amenities? For starters, there's 24-hour room service, regular concierge services, pet-friendly rooms, Frette linens, Malin & Goetz toiletries, Illy espresso machines, honor bar and dry bar, a work desk with ergonomic chair, 47" Samsung TV (55" ones in the suites) and a G-link iPod docking stations which will wirelessly stream movies and video games to guest rooms TVs. Housekeeping will also do a turndown service and will use green cleaning products too.
When Thompson Hotels' Jason Pomeranc and his partners left the Commune Hotels collection the other month, they walked away with Thompson's prized NYC properties but had to leave a few choice hotels behind as well as the beloved Thompson name.
Now, as Pomeranc and co. toil away on their new boutique hotel brand, we're getting word from some super secret hotel insiders that the Hollywood Roosevelt wants out of the Commune. We're not exactly sure of the reason but there is speculation that the hotel's owners liked the Pomeranc association. But again, this is purely speculation.
Indeed, a spokesperson for Thompson and Commune told us that the Hollywood Roosevelt "will remain a Thompson-branded property under Commune's management."
Keep reading for some hotel rumor mongering!
The 388-room hotel was supposed to open this past summer but instead, it looks like the hotel will open on December 11th with a special opening rate of $195 a night.
Done as a collaboration between the Sydell Group, chef Roy Choi, nightlife brother-duo Mark and Jonnie Houston, and interior designer Sean Knibb, the hotel sports not just a nifty logo and a killer location in K-town but also a rooftop pool deck, a lounge hosted by the Houston Brothers, a Pot restaurant and lobby bar from Choi featuring late night street eats, the Commissary greenhouse serving fruits and vegetables in salads and juice formats, as well as delivery service from the hotel with "the ease that mirrors a pizza shop or NYC Chinese take-out."
There are several room categories and clearly the ones to book are the ones with the view of the Hollywood Hills. Amenities include floor to ceiling windows, a large desk and seating area with Negril Chairs by Knibb, Baxter of California toiletries, bathrobes, curated minibar with American & Korean drinks and snacks, original artwork and best of all, free WiFi. Looks like our holiday hotel wish list is coming true a little early this year.
[Photo: The Line]
Hotels Doing Good / Orange County Hotels / Dana Point Hotels / Elephant Parade Hotels / Elephant Parade / → All Tags
You hardly need another good reason to visit Dana Point, Calif. as it's one of the most scenic spots in the country, populated with great resorts. But you will need to hurry up and plan your visit if you're hoping to catch the final weeks of the area's Elephant Parade which ends on November 17.
The Elephant Parade is a huge public art exhibition that showcases colorfully decorated, life-size baby elephant sculptures created by local and international artists (and some celebrities too.) It's totally free to see as the elephants are placed in high-pedestrian traffic areas and frequently visited spots around Dana Point, including the Harbor, local beaches, public parks and several resorts. Check out which elephants can be found where in Dana Point right here.
You can also scope out the elephants from your hotel room, so long as you're staying at one of the sponsoring resorts which are St. Regis Monarch Beach, The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, Marriott Laguna Cliffs Resort and Spa (where the grand auction will be held), and DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Doheny Beach. We're partial to the ellies out in front at the St. Regis but the Ritz-Carlton does boast a cute elephant done by Holly Branson, Sir Richard's daughter.
If you see an elephant that really catches your eye, then you can bid on it during the Grand Auction at the Laguna Cliffs Marriott on November 17th. A portion of the sale proceeds will go to the Asian Elephant Foundation. The Elephant Parade itself started in 2006 as a way to raise awareness, and money for the Asian Elephant whose population has shrunk over 90 percent. Today, about 3,500 Asian elephants remain, compared to 35,000 in 1960 and only about 1,500 elephants live in the wild.
[Photo: St. Regis Monarch Beach/Facebook]
Hotel Openings / Hotel News / Ace Hotels / Hotel Opening Rates / Los Angeles Hotels / Downtown LA Hotels / → All Tags
The Ace in DTLA in early August
Good news has come for hipsters who wait--The Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles is now taking reservations for JANUARY 15, 2014 and beyond. But there's a catch.
You can't make these reservations just by going to the hotel website. Instead, you can only make a reservation through a link that was sent out to Ace's e-mailing list, called The A-List. Oh don't worry, we've got the link for you right HERE. Even better, the Ace DTLA is offering a special rate for opening night--just $129 for a small or medium room. A medium room with a terrace is just $149.
Some other good things to know about the Ace--WiFi is free (woot!), pets under 25 pounds are accepted for $25 (woof!), valet parking is available (not sure for how much yet) and all rooms are non-smoking rooms (whew!). The amenities will also include Rudy's Toiletries, Pearl+ soaps and a Revo Radio as well as a flat-screen and a fully-stocked minibar. We're so there, will you be?
When folks ask us to recommend a hotel in San Francisco, there are so many options to give them as San Fran has a crazy diverse hotel scene--from fancy luxury (St. Regis, Mandarin Oriental) to cool boutique (Vitale), or just plain friendly and happy (any Kimpton or Joie de Vivre Hotel) but here's one hotel you should seriously avoid--The Europa Hotel.
SFist has combed through some of the online reviews from TripAdvisor and Yelp for the hotel where rooms are incredibly cheap (about $36 a night) but often come with baggies of drugs, bed bugs, cigarette butts, sheet stains and the smell of urine and feces. (That's the official picture above from the hotel. You should see the ones posted by travelers on TripAdvisor.)
We didn't have the stomach to read through all the reviews as the first two literally turned our stomach but we did enjoy this line from SFist:
Curiously, on Google Plus, we'd like to point out that the hotel has 3.5 stars, because why? No one uses Google Plus.
And other hotels to avoid in San Francisco? Let us know in comments below.
[Photo: Europa Hotel]
It's time for a walk down memory lane with a HotelChatter flashback!
We've chronicled the births (and deaths) of a lot of hotels in our 10 years of reporting on the hotel scene. (Yes, 10 years. We know. We can't even.) But in looking through the archives, we found this snapshot of the grafitti mural by tattoo artist, Norm, going up at the funky fresh Hotel Erwin in Venice Beach, Calif., during its first days open.
Kinda cool considering that the mural today is so much a part of the identity of the Erwin. Why, it's all over their Facebook page. Just so you can see, here's what the finished piece looks like today.
And interestingly, the Ink & Stay package that Erwin offered when they initially opened back in 2009 is still available. If you've booked it, we wanna know what sort of tatt you got so send us your story!
[Photos: HotelChatter and Hotel Erwin]
But in this digital age where everyone with a smartphone is taking pictures and uploading them to various social media outlets--is it even possible for this rule, er, request to be enforced? We took a quick look on Instagram and found a few photos of the pool scene but nothing too stalkerish. We even saw a photo of someone posing next to this sign.
So maybe people are obeying the No Photos rule after all. (Also, whoever can tell us WTF a harp was doing in one of the guest rooms, we'd very much appreciate it.)
Of course, we had to flaunt the rules ever so slightly to snap this shot of the cute, pink, To Go boxes from the Cabana Cafe. Inside lies a McCarthy Salad...for $30. But it's still cheaper than the $500+ a night room rate.