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As Week 2 of HotelChatter Cocktail Week(s) wraps up, here's our second run-down of some of the things we see going on in the world of hotel bars and bevvies. What do you see goin’ on out there? Let us know in the comments below!
Roll Out the Barrel(aging) –
One trend that is growing stronger this year is in-house barrel-aged and private label spirits. We're envisioning cask-aged moonshine made in a mad scientist-type laboratory.
Jeff Josenhans at THE US GRANT in San Diego is producing an in-house barrel-aged Chartreuse with Wayne Geiselman, who has a PH D in Food Science. Using complex-sounding reverse engineering, food scientist Wayne created a proprietary blend of 25 local, organic ingredients including Southern California wildflower honey. Jeff then took this botanical blend and an un-aged bourbon to use as the spirit base (as opposed to traditional European brandy), and is now aging this noble experiment in 100% New Allier French Oak (never done before in the cocktail world). Six-month, 1-year, and 2-year-old bottlings will be ready to open on October 15. If you want to stay over for the big unveiling, you're looking at rates starting at $239.
The Dorchester has revived the historical recipe for Old Tom Gin to create a newer, bolder blend exclusive to the hotel. The City of London Distillery has the weight of distilling the gin under the watchful eye of the hotel’s bar manager and expert alchemist, Giuliano Morandin. This is the second time Giuliano has re-introduced Old Tom Gin to the UK drinks market, the first being in 2006 after a 30-year absence. To celebrate the re-launch, Giuliano has created the Old Tom Cobbler cocktail, made with coriander, fresh lemongrass, elderflower and, not surprisingly, Old Tom. A 700ml bottle of The Dorchester Old Tom Gin is priced at £65 ($109) and is available at The Bar at The Dorchester or by visiting shop.dorchestercollection.com. Signature cocktails including the Old Tom Cobbler start at £16 ($27). Stays start at £505 ($838).
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.
Admit, it. You've probably thought about what it's like to actually live in a hotel. The thought is totally normal, especially when you think about the daily housekeeping, trendy design and staff often responding to most every want. Well, this idea can be a reality with a trip to the desert of Palm Springs and your own little slice of the Hard Rock Hotel.
The Hard Rock is looking for people, regular people like yourself, to invest in the luxury 163-room resort in the heart of downtown Palm Springs. With a little professional help from RealtyMogul.com, interested (and cashed-up) parties will register their desire to be part of the America's first fully online crowd-funded hotels.
Benefits for signing a check with a few more decimals than a night's stay extend way beyond bragging rights. Individual investors in the hotel will receive VIP benefits ranging from free use of the hotel owner poolside cabana, 25% discounts off the best available room rates and free room upgrades. Even if you're not a regular to Coachella Valley Music Festival, this might be a good reason to get away to the desert more often.
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.
Hotel Food / Hotel Restaurants / Loews Hotels / Montage Hotels / Florida Hotels / California Hotels / Beverly Hills Hotels / New York Cities Hotels / Boston Hotels / → All Tags
Yes, ladies and gentlemen — April is National Grilled Cheese Month (who’s coming up with this stuff?).
Some hotels have embraced the concept as a means to reinvent this American classic, some even going so far as to create over-the-top versions of what’s, already, a delectable comfort food.
The Seagate Hotel & Spa, for instance, is celebrating the month by offering a new specialty grilled cheese available at the hotel’s Beach Club. Are you ready for it? The Lobster & Pork Belly Pimento Grilled Cheese Sandwich, created by Chef Chris Schaefer, features pickled green tomato on Texas toast.
Executive Chef Gabriel Ask of Parq Bar at Montage Beverly Hills serves up a more traditional Brioche and Aged English Cheddar Grilled Cheese Sandwich, and kids staying at Gramercy Park Hotel can try their own version with brioche by having an American or Gruyere on Brioche Grilled Cheese Sandwich with French Fries from the Room Service menu.
And then there’s the Grilled Mac ‘n Cheese at Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa, created by Sous Chef Chris Salazar, which combines homemade mac ‘n cheese, ham, grilled balsamic tomato and guacamole on grilled sourdough bread.
See what Loews Hotels are doing for National Grilled Cheese Month after the break!
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.
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).