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In with the new – Solvang

By   /   Sunday, January 11th, 2009  /   Comments Off on In with the new – Solvang

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Touting a new name and a new look to go with the New Year, the Royal Scandinavian Inn has been transformed into Hotel Corque ­— soon to be the newest destination in the Santa Ynez Valley.

The Solvang hotel, purchased by the Santa Ynez Band of the Chumash Indians in 2007, is currently undergoing massive renovations and is scheduled to open sometime in March.

When construction is complete, the 73,300-square-foot Hotel Corque will have 134 rooms and a 14,000-square-foot, five-star class restaurant that boasts celebrity chef Bradley Ogden as a consultant.

“We wanted both the hotel and the restaurant to provide guests with a sense of place,” said David Brents, chief operating officer of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. “Being located in the middle of wine country presents guests with a perfect sense of escapism and an opportunity to explore all that the Santa Ynez Valley has to offer.”

Project developers teamed up with Ted’s Creatives in San Francisco to rebrand the hotel and restaurant. Frank’s team identified key drivers of the hotel, such as escape and relaxation, and paired them up with wine country imagery to come up with the name Hotel Corque.

Brents said the developers initially came up with about 200 names each for the hotel and restaurant, but chose Hotel Corque because it was a play on words that highlighted the region’s wine industry.

The team named the restaurant Root 246 to convey both the freshness of the ingredients Ogden is famous for using and its location off Highway 246.

In the fall issue of Chumash Magazine, Ogden said Root 246 “will be contemporary, airy, warm, inviting and exciting. It will have everything you expect and a little bit more.” He added that the menu will change daily, depending on what is available in the area.

“I’ll be utilizing the local growers and farmers, utilizing the local fishermen in Santa Barbara,” Ogden continued. He also said his goal is to make the farmer’s market in Solvang three blocks instead of one.

Renovation of the hotel will be completed in stages, beginning in February and ending sometime in the spring. Renovation of Root 246 is scheduled to finish in late February, just in time for participants of the Amgen Tour of California to make full use of the banquet facilities for a gala of 300-plus people, said John Martino, Chumash Casino’s executive director of hospitality.

Although about 140 workers have been called in to gut the interior, Adam Hawthorne, the hotel’s resident manager, said the architecture will retain the Danish feel for which Solvang is famous.

The tribe purchased the hotel and restaurant in 2007 and soon began renovating the 25-year-old building. Ojai-based architecture firm David Bury & Co. was hired to renovate the hotel, while Young Construction of Santa Barbara is heading the hotel and restaurant’s remodel. The tribe hired Ogden to create a new restaurant and Mark Kirkhart of SantaBarbara-based DesignARC to help bring Ogden’s vision to reality.

Vincent Armenta, the tribal chairman of the Santa Ynez Chumash, said the purchase and renovation of the Royal Scandinavian Inn is a significant investment in the area that illustrates the tribe’s commitment to the community.

“We … believe that our newly renovated property will attract thousands of new visitors to an already thriving tourist destination,” he said in a release.

Brents added at a Jan. 6 press conference that the way people travel has changed, and could mean an increase in business to Solvang.

“The ability to get on an airplane for a cheap flight — those days are absolutely over, so we think that the regional fascination of wine country is something that has enduring value,” he said. “It’s within a tankful of gas for 20 million people, so we do feel encouraged, but we’re not underestimating the size of the challenge.”


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