CALIFORNIA Travel Guide
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.
Hotel Fashion / Fashion Designers / Dorchester Collection / Luxury Hotels / California Hotels / Beverly Hills Hotels / → All Tags
Thinking of starting your holiday shopping? Yeah, we’re not either but, luckily, the good folks at the Dorchester Collection’s Beverly Hills Hotel have our backs.
The hotel is launching an exclusive jewelry line by Anndra Neen (Phoebe and Annette Stephens are the sisters behind the label), winner of the 2011 Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize, for the gift-buying season. Available the first week of November and only through December, you can pick up a piece of the collection at The Beverly Hills Hotel's gift shop. That's it. There's nowhere else. Pieces from Anndra Neen have accessorized Michelle Obama, Jessica Alba, Drew Barrymore, Nicole Richie and Anna Paquin so you'll be in fine company.
The first piece to launch is a distinctive bracelet inspired by the hotel's iconic design elements, from distinctive shades of pink and green to the signature banana leaves found on the wallpaper and landscaped gardens across the property. It is created by hand and features Agate stones and alpaca and brass materials. (We wanted to show you the piece but we're told it's still being perfected by the design team.) Additional pieces to debut include a necklace, choker and clutch. To give you an idea of cost, the bracelet will retail for $485. Not horrific at all.
All this week, we'll be talking about Hotel Beds--where to buy 'em, how to make 'em, how to trust 'em (see story below!) and what to do when the bed isn't enough to send you to Sleepyland. Got a hotel bed question or comment? Send it to us! We're not sure about you, but we like to know a little bit about the different beds in which we sleep. At the end of the day, hotels are simply community beds, a concept that brings up a few questions: How often is the mattress replaced? Or worse... what about those spills and stains? We caught up with Philip Ridgway, Director of Housekeeping at the Four Seasons San Francisco, to get some answers. Here are 6 things to know about the life of a hotel mattress:
1. All the mattresses in the Four Seasons San Fran are the same, and they are made specifically for the brand. They are usually ordered on a large-scale by the corporate office and delivered directly to the individual hotel. They typically try to replace the whole hotel at once about every ten years, unless there’s an incident where one has to be switched out.
2. Speaking of incidents, don’t worry about spilling that glass of wine. Just don’t set the room on fire. Four Seasons will only charge in the case of gross negligence, like if you had a huge party and literally (not figuratively) set the sheets on fire. They won’t charge you for a small spill or if your kid wets the bed. Those things happen. The best thing to do is just be honest and let housekeeping know.
Wine Country Hotels / Napa Valley Hotels / Wine-Tasting Hotels / Food and Wine Festival Hotels / → All Tags
It’s fall and if you are anything like us, you’re excited about turning leaves, unpacking some sweaters… and wine. Well, let’s be honest, we are always excited about wine. But it just so happens that fall is also wine season and that means grape stomping, wine tasting and, more specifically, a very special festival in Napa. Allow us to elaborate.
Two of the main components that make the Central Coast of California so unique, the combination of wine country and the ocean, are now available in one place at the Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara.
The upscale hotel, known to host big-names such as Michael Jordan and a number of celebrity weddings, recently opened a new on-site tasting room called The Experience (name needs work?), bringing many of the area's wines directly in-house. We have to say that the room looks beautiful, and the ocean-views of the property will no doubt make guests rethink whether the drive up to the Santa Ynez wine country is necessary.
The wine list includes pours from all over the world with a spotlight on local vineyards, including Firestone, Foley and Lincourt. Interestingly enough, and perhaps a bit surprising, tasting at the Bacara is not significantly more expensive than it is at the wineries themselves. Flights of four are $10 and flights of six are $15 at the Experience, while a flight of six is $10 at Firestone Winery, for example. When you factor in the 45-minute ride to wine country from the Bacara, the prices are rather reasonable.