SFGATE is trying something new: “Get a Room,” a sporadic round-up of accommodation news, trends and oddball items of interest. It’ll be a collection of the good, the bad, and the ugly in hotels, vacation rentals, camping, glamping, staycationing, and whatever other obnoxious new travel portmanteau strikes SFGATE’s travel editor, Freda Moon, as comment-worthy. 

Here in Northern California, some hotels are faring remarkably well, including Big Sur’s Ventana, which just set a North American record for the highest per-room sale price when the 59-room resort was sold to Hyatt Hotel Group for a whopping $148 million, or $2.5 million a room, according to the San Francisco Business Times. Ventana Big Sur is breaking the record set in April by another local luxury hotel, the Montage Healdsburg, which sold shortly after its December, 2020 opening for $2.04 million per key. 

Ventana Big Sur’s rates of over $2000 per night might be jaw-dropping for most of us, but it’s Sonoma County’s new $45,000 per month — and, yes, there is a 30-night minimum — “farm stay” that really boggles the mind. Opening in July in a corner of Northern California famous for attracting a generation of back-to-the-landers, The Barn at NewTree Ranch’s “new farmstead concept” speaks to the long, strange trip Sonoma has experienced over the last several decades.  

In Travel + Leisure, the wonderful Bay Area travel writer Jill Robinson cheekily describes the wine country property as offering guests a cornucopia of Goop-worthy buzzwords: It’s a “biodynamic ranch” and a “sustainable, plant-based community” that will provide an “immersive farm-stay experience” and will “anticipate guests’ every need and pamper them with simplicity.” Nothing screams “simplicity,” after all, like dropping an entire annual salary on a month of what Robinson describes as a program of “yoga, kayaking, and paddle boarding on the ranch’s Lake Andreas, an immersive plant-based cooking school, a sound journey with Tibetan singing bowls, and a Wim Hof experience designed around healing breathing practices.” 

The future of San Jose’s Fairmont Hotel is taking shape

In March, San Jose’s swanky Fairmont Hotel, one of the anchors of the downtown and convention center area, abruptly shuttered. The hotel declared bankruptcy and kicked out guests staying there at the time, including the Las Vegas Golden Knights hockey team. It now appears that Hilton Hotels & Resorts will take over operation of the bankrupt 805-room luxury hotel, according to paperwork filed with the bankruptcy court. 

The hotel, which Hilton indicates will get a name change to “Signia by Hilton San Jose,” has not yet announced a reopening date. The filings also showed how hard the pandemic hit the Silicon Valley business hotel, which reported that it would need $45 million from its new operating partner in order to shore up the business, according to the San Jose Mercury News. At the same time, the Mercury News reported this week that the hotel’s value has fallen dramatically in the last two years, from $267.6 before the pandemic to $220.4 million in March, 2021 — a drop of 17.6% since 2019. 

With the now-former Fairmont again in the news, read this devastating piece by archeologist Shoshi Parks on the history of the downtown property: The Fairmont hotel was built on the arson-ravaged ruins of San Jose’s Chinatown.

Betting big on Vegas, baby 

Last week marked the first time since 2010 that Las Vegas’s famed Strip got a new hotel. The massive 88-acre Resorts World Las Vegas, which officially opened on June 24, is actually made up of three separate Hilton brand hotels — the 1,774-room Las Vegas Hilton, the 1,496-room Conrad Las Vegas and the Crockfords Las Vegas, with 236 rooms and suites — and some 40 different restaurants and bars, a 5,000-capacity concert venue, about 70,000 square feet of retail space, a 100,000-square-foot “boutique mega club,” a “Bali-inspired” day club, and a five-and-a-half-acre pool complex with Vegas’s largest pool deck. The 4.3 billion development is getting raves from Vegas watchers, including Travel + Leisure, which calls it a “wonderland.” 

Some are wowed by the hotel’s exterior, which is said to have one of the largest LED building displays in the world. Others, the fact that Paris Hilton made an appearance at the hotel’s opening. But the folks at Eater Las Vegas are more more interested in what’s on the menu at the 59-story Resorts World tower, which is home to restaurants from Mexican chef Ray Garcia, “Las Vegas favorite” Nicole Brisson, James Beard award-winner Marcus Samuelsson, and Famous Foods Street Eats — a Singapore-style food hall with hawker stands, which Eater declares perhaps the “most exciting” thing about this entire celebrity-studded scene.  

The Queen Mary in Long Beach, California

The Queen Mary in Long Beach, California

Julie Tremaine

Long Beach takes control of the Queen Mary in an effort to right the historic ship 

As SFGATE reported last month, Long Beach’s iconic hotel ship, the Queen Mary, is in such disrepair that the historic attraction is in danger of capsizing. The 83-year-old vessel requires constant maintenance, but after being given $23 million as part of a 66-year lease agreement with the city, the ship’s lease-holder, Urban Commons, went bankrupt in January. Now the Long Beach Post is reporting that the city of Long Beach has retaken control of the Queen Mary, including day-to-day operations, for the first time in 40 years. 
In a sign of how dire things are for the Queen Mary, which is said to need $300 million in critical repairs, an auction for the ship’s lease was canceled because no bidders came forward. 

In worse news still, on June 21 the Post reported that another attraction, a football-field length Russian submarine — the Cold War-era “Scorpion” — that is berthed alongside the Queen Mary for two decades, poses yet another threat. The submarine is badly rusted, raccoon-infested, taking on water and “in danger of sinking or rolling and possibly damaging Long Beach’s historic ocean liner,” according to the Post’s reporting. The Scorpion, which is effectively abandoned (and its owner a mystery), could cost millions to move. 

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