CALIFORNIA Travel Guide
Known for a hotel scene that bears a burden on the budget traveler, Santa Barbara's newest hotel, which is actually a hostel, looks to fill that void. Opened this week in the Funk Zone neighborhood, The Wayfarer is a 31-room hostel that offers both private and shared accommodations.
The opening of the Wayfarer is especially interesting given its location in the Funk Zone. An "artsy" neighborhood filled with murals, a surf museum, wine tasting rooms, breweries, a distillery, and small restaurants, it displayed a touch of grit in its early days that Santa Barbara had always lacked. But as its popularity has grown, so have the price tags on its restaurants and urban wineries.
Last year, our bro Jaunted noted that the local media was concerned that the growing gentrification of the neighborhood would ultimately be what killed it as higher-end concepts and projects, including hotels, looked to capitalize.
Hotel Openings / Santa Barbara Hotels / California Hotels / Hotel News / Kimpton Hotels / → All Tags
The Canary Hotel will get some company later this summer when Santa Barbara County debuts its second Kimpton property in the form of The Goodland Hotel, set to open in July with 158 rooms and a self-described "Southern California Bohemia meets surf culture design.”
Kimpton’s vibe and localized approach to hotel decor is a good match for Santa Barbara’s laid-back scene, fitting in nicely between the small beachy inns (Hotel Milo) and the bigger, more luxurious hotels (Fess Parker). But one curious thing about the decision is the location of the property, as it will be located outside of downtown Santa Barbara in neighboring Goleta.
Now, there’s nothing “wrong” with Goleta (I used to live there, in fact), but it certainly isn’t a prime location as a tourist looking to experience Santa Barbara. You’re caught nearly ten miles outside the buzz of downtown in a much more residential and strip-mall oriented area, and most of the other hotels nearby are basic, catering to businessmen and parents of university students. Renting a car becomes almost imperative as you won’t be able to walk to any restaurants, bars, or beaches. The website describes the hotel as being "a rollerblade away" from downtown Santa Barbara, but that's unfortunately incredibly deceptive and, to be honest, simply a flat-out lie.
With Memorial Day around the corner, it’s that time of year when hotels take down the scaffolding and show off newly renovated digs in time for the busy summer season. The 126 year-old Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego is the latest to announce a refreshed look with the upcoming launch of a new beach area on May 1st.
Called Del Beach, the new waterfront set-up features daybeds, half-moon cabanas, boogie boards, surfboards, stand-up paddleboards, kayak rentals, and a beach playground for kids. The revamp will also come with new white and burgundy beach towels, and guests can rent chaise loungers and sun umbrellas. A full food and beverage service will offer salads, sandwiches, mai tais, and margaritas right on the beach.
The small town of Ojai often gets lost in the shadows of destinations such as Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, and Big Sur along California's central coast, but after a recent visit to the "Valley of the Moon," we began to understand what has made it a long-time getaway for those looking to escape L.A. and refresh in the powerful, healing aura that our bro Jaunted discovered.
Something that initially seems like a drawback is what turns out to be one of Ojai's best attributes: The fact that it is not located on the coast. Tourists coming to California understandably want to be near the ocean, yet same-state travelers (aka Cali locals) appreciate the change in scenery, change of pace, and the rejuvenating properties that live in the orchard-heavy landscape of Ojai.
The Biltmore, Bacara, and Davy Crockett's Fess Parker get a lot of the attention when it comes to Santa Barbara's hotel scene and full-service resorts, yet a drive through town, especially in the blocks adjacent to the beach, reveals clusters of boutique hotels and small inns that far outnumber the bigger brands.
One such property is the Hotel Oceana on Cabrillo Boulevard, which sits across the street from the beach and the harbor. Featuring a collection of cozy courtyards outside of rooms and between buildings, we were impressed with its colorful landscaping, the blues, reds, and yellows of the flowers and furniture bold against the backdrop of the green gardens. The rooms and views are just as eye-popping, as you will see in the following photos.
Killer View / Santa Barbara Hotels / California Hotels / Fess Parker / Doubletree Hotels / → All Tags
A few weeks ago, we showed you the before and after pics of the Fess Parker's most recent renovation. The revamp ensured that the hotel will remain one of the city's flagship hotels going forward, at least as far as aesthetics go. We love the new rooms, and one thing that hasn't changed is the beautiful ocean and mountain views they provide.
Next week, we'll poke around town and dish on all the hotel news happening around town, including other hotel renovations as well as offerings you can expect from different properties this summer.
For now, enjoy this wonderful view from the hotel's Gardenia Building, and feel free to daydream about the warm California sun as we transition into spring.
[Photo: Will McGough]
Hmmm... this was definitely a new one for us. This weekend, we stayed at the Hampton Inn in San Clemente, California, while attending a wedding on the adjacent golf course, and when we entered our room, we found this note waiting for us, pressed on the headboard.
As snotty as it sounds, our first thought was whether the hotel wanted a cookie for this typically routine service. We also wondered if sticky notes are now the new way to communicate in our technologically advanced world.
But alas, the note is actually just a marketing opportunity by Hampton Inn. (We've seen another hotel use sticky notes before as a marketing gimmick too.)
A few years ago, the brand rolled out these printed sticky notes to assure guests that the sheets on the bed are clean. Which makes sense since our #1 fear is usually that the duvet cover hasn't been washed and contains god-knows-what kind of stains.
But while we definitely appreciate clean linens, we're not sure we need a note, much less a sticky note on the headboard, to remind us. This isn't Office Space, it's a hotel room.
What do you think? Should Hampton Inn use sticky notes on the headboard to remind guests about the clean linens? Or is there another way to do this? Sound off in comments below!
Lake Tahoe Hotels / South Lake Tahoe Hotels / California Hotels / Hotel News / Hotel Renovations / → All Tags
South Lake Tahoe's newest hotel, the Landing.
Despite eight ski resorts in the greater Tahoe area, winter is actually the region's offseason and, this year, it has seen an impressive amount of renovation take place in anticipation of the busy summer season. Below, we take a look at some South Lake properties that have been brushed up of late:
It's the newest hotel in Tahoe having just opened at the end of last year, and it's also South Lake's most high-end boutique resort. We told you about the bathrooms that sport the manliest hotel amenity ever, and that novelty is just a tiny aspect of what makes the lake-front Landing impressive. Its in-house, wood-fire Greek restaurant, Jimmy's, is perhaps the best dining in town (we recommend going with the tapas), and its position on the lake results in killer views. A full-service spa, free wine tasting, valet parking, and in-room fireplaces round out the perks. Rates start at $199/night.
Yosemite Hotels / Yosemite National Park Lodging / Yosemite Lodge at the Falls / Ahwahnee Hotel / Wawona Hotel / Curry Village / → All Tags
Our bro Jaunted is pulling back the curtain on Yosemite's 150th Anniversary this week, diving into the park's history and showing off some of its natural wonders, such as a waterfall that becomes a "firefall" for two weeks during February.
The winter months have their charm in Yosemite, but that said, spring, summer, and fall are without question the times of year when you can fully enjoy the outdoors. In celebration of its birthday, Yosemite has put together a package that will run at four park hotels from April 1st to September 30th.
Before we get into breaking down the newly renovated hotels of South Lake Tahoe, we'd like to tackle an often-asked question about the region: What's the difference between the hotels on the South and North sides?
In general, North Lake Tahoe forgoes nightlife for tranquility, and as a result, most properties are spread out, self-sustaining and more full-service oriented than many found on the South side, where entertainment options are abundant and hotels are bunched together in town. Expect to find a lot of lesser quality and budget hotels sprinkled in amongst the best kept ones in South Lake (which you will learn about this week).
Manly Hotels / Manly Amenities / Hotel Bathrooms / Hotel Toilets / Tahoe Hotels / South Lake Tahoe Hotels / → All Tags
Despite eight ski resorts in the greater Tahoe area, winter is actually the region's offseason since the campgrounds and harbors are closed, awaiting the spring sun. This year, the area has seen an impressive amount of renovation take place in anticipation of the busy summer season, especially in South Lake Tahoe. We'll be dishing on those details in a separate, in-depth piece but first, let's talk about the area's newest hotel--The Landing.
The hotel in opened in December and is already one of the most luxurious properties in South Lake Tahoe. We'll get to the specifics about the property next week, but as a quick teaser--and to highlight that today's upscale properties aren't designed totally for women--we must share with you the most manly amenity we've come across in some time. Believe it or not, it's in the bathroom.
Most of the hotel ghosts that we hear about here are pretty harmless. They are more poltergeisty rather than in-your-face frightening. But at the Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, there's clearly something that is at best, haunting and at worst, downright evil at play.
You may remember this hotel from earlier in the year when a young woman was found dead in the hotel's water tank. As if that wasn't tragic enough, her body had been in there for two weeks. It was only until guests and residents at the Skid Row hotel noticed the water had a black color and a foul odor. You're already creeped out. But now VigilantCitizen.com has found something even more disturbing--a video surveilance tape that shows the young woman, Elisa Lam, in the elevator shortly before she lost her life.
If you watch the video, you will see that Lam was not in her right mind. She entered the elevator and pushed all the buttons. Then when the doors wouldn't close, she peeked around the corner to see if someone was coming but yet she also hid herself and acted afraid that someone might see her.
Things get weirder still. She steps out of the elevator and begins waving her hands in a strange fashion and they appear to be a little warped. Finally, she walks away from the elevator and out of the camera's sight. The elevator then closes its doors and takes off.
Later, she somehow found a way into the gated water tank area, that's also protected by an alarm system and into the water tank where she drowned. Her death was ruled by the coroner's office as an accidental drowning but no drugs or alcohol were found in her system.