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Mixed bag for South Coast hotel projects

By   /   Monday, February 9th, 2009  /   Comments Off on Mixed bag for South Coast hotel projects

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The New Year seems to be bringing its share of new hotels to the Goleta area. And while many have argued that an influx of hotel rooms in the area means increased competition among hotel owners, Goleta City Manager Dan Singer says that’s not always the case.

“Goleta has the capacity to support these additional hotels,” Singer said. “They’ll be successful because of the location and because they’re niche.”

He said that each hotel attracts a different clientele, operating as different points along a spectrum of affordability.

To illustrate his point, he said that people who stay at places like the Bacara and Fess Parker’s DoubleTree typically only stay at the upper-end hotels, leaving a nice niche for the smaller competitors coming online in the near future.

Here is a look at a few of those upcoming developments.

Camino Real

The Goleta City Council approved the 99-room Camino Real Hotel, developer Mark Linehan’s boutique hotel at 401 Storke Road.

Mayor Roger Aceves and councilmen Michael Bennett and Eric Onnen voted in favor of the project, while council members Ed Easton and Margaret Connell opposed it.

Singer said the hotel is part of the Camino Real Specific Plan, a Santa Barbara County development plan approved before Goleta became a city.

While Camino Real will not have a restaurant, there will be a service kitchen in addition to a few small conference rooms, a gym and a pool.

El Encanto

The El Encanto Hotel, originally due to reopen in Santa Barbara this year after extensive remodeling, is not expected to open for another two years.

“We have stalled construction due to the economy,” said Koleen Hamblin, spokesperson for Orient Express, which owns El Encanto. “They’ve made a strategic move to launch the hotel property in 2011 when the environment is healthier. That’s when the hotel can get its due as one of Santa Barbara’s top gems.”

Hamblin said construction has been slowed and will be moving at a much slower pace from 2010 to 2011. Orient Express owns the property, which Hamblin said will be its premier West Coast site.

“We’re going to have permits done as we go along,” she said. “We’re going to get permits simultaneously so we can push the green button and go.”

Because of the delays, general manager Bruno Brunner left at the end of 2008.

“We just didn’t feel it was appropriate to keep a high-level GM on board if we’re not going to have anything to oversee,” Hamblin said.


The Bacara Resort hit a snag on Jan. 27, when the Goleta Design Review Board rejected designs for the hotel’s proposed hotel condominiums.

The board took issue with the style of architect John Pawson, concluding that the building design was out of context for the area.

The 56 condo hotels proposed by the resort had a minimalist design with strong horizontal elements but were not what the board had in mind.

“With all due respect I really don’t think this style fits this site,” said board vice chairman Thomas Smith.

The board will take up the subject again Feb. 24.

Marriott Residence Inn

Despite being approved by the Goleta City Council, development of the 140-room Marriott Residence Inn has been stalled in court.

Chumash supporters sued Goleta in an effort to protect the cultural value of the proposed building site at 6300 Hollister Ave.

The suit was filed by attorney Marc Chytilo on Dec. 19, more than a month after the project was approved by a 4-1 vote.

The lawsuit alleges that the project was approved by way of a mitigated negative declaration and that the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act.

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