WELCOME BACK HOTEL CALIFORNIAN
By Bonnie Carroll
Official Grand Opening on the Santa Barbara Waterfront
A property created with a real love for California in mind, and fascinating design touches reflecting the unique beauty of Morocco is now an exquisite new addition to the Santa Barbara community. From top to bottom the design is smart, sophisticated and sensually delightful with views of the ocean from the rooftop that are simply breathtaking. This jewel of a hotel was worth waiting for and will please locals and tourists alike.
The romantic Spanish colonial revival design property incorporates flourishes of Moorish influences throughout the 121-room hotel and is built on the site of the original Hotel Californian at 36 State St. The long-awaited development known as La Entrada celebrated its grand opening with a huge celebration and ribbon-cutting by Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider.
The famed Hotel Californian, designed by local architectural firm DesignArc and developed by Michael Rosenfeld sits on the site of the original Hotel Californian, with the original facade being skillfully retained. The official opening in October adds one more irresistible attraction to Santa Barbara’s popular waterfront and Funk Zone area.
Guest rooms are located in the two buildings on the south side of Mason Street, while the taller building next to the railroad tracks holds the banquet room, restaurant, boutique shops and a major public parking structure. The interiors were done by Martyn Lawrence Bullard, and are exquisitely Moorish-inspired. More than two million pieces of interior tile were used throughout the hotel.
An exquisite rooftop pool venue is the crowning jewel of this property. The views of the coastline, Santa Barbara Wharf and harbor are amazing, as well as the panomamic view of the surrounding mountains. A sunset cocktail on this beautiful 'chill out' escape with the ultimate view is a must when visiting Hotel Californian.
The hotel is part of three corners that also includes 20,000 square feet of commercial area featuring meeting and event spaces, a fitness center, a fashion boutique and two restaurants: Goat Tree open from 7 a.m to 9 p.m. daily and Blackbird, open only in the evening from 5 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Alexander La Motte is executive chef overseeing all of the hotel’s culinary operations, including its exquisite Mediterranean and Contemporary American restaurant and the gourmet café, as well as a hands-on role creating customized offerings for special events and celebrations. He was executive chef at the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco, where he lead all culinary operations and was instrumental in the reconceptualization and conversion of the former Season’s Restaurant to MKT Restaurant – Bar, now a top-rated San Francisco Steakhouse.
La Motte graduated with honors from The Culinary Institute of America and went on to intern at prestigious New York City dining bastions Jean George and Daniel Boulud. Moving to Napa Valley, he embraced roles at Thomas Keller’s Per Se and The French Laundry in Napa Valley where he served as chef de partie. La Motte also served as the saucier at Café Boulud in Palm Beach, Fla., sous chef at Daniel Boulud Brasserie in Las Vegas, chef de cuisine at The Park Chalet in San Francisco, executive sous chef at The Clift Hotel in San Francisco and executive chef of the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, California.
The Goat Tree Restaurant, offering good food with a Moroccan twist, features restaurant or on a charming outdoor patio overlooking State Street toward the wharf. Their menu is filled with healthy and delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner items. A breakfast of quiche with onions & bacon, arugula salad and a cup of amazing fresh fruit is a start to a perfect day in Santa Barbara. The cafe offers a variety of chef inspired dishes like fish stew-Bernard, rabbit & squid with crispy couscous, quinoa tabbouleh, lamb meatball sandwiches, and all the usual favorites. The fresh bakery goods and pastries by pastry chef Kuhnert are fantastic, and fresh juices and smoothes all day are another appreciated touch.
Blackbird, the hotel's upscale signature restaurant is a chic but comfortable room, features a lively bar and the menu is full of favorites to please every taste, including some Moroccan style dishes that have gotten rave reviews. The best thing about this State Street venue is you can walk if off strolling along Cabrillo Boulevard to the Santa Barbara Harbor after dinner.
The Majorelle spa is a dream venue straight from Moroccan heaven with a surreal waiting room covered with hand-made blue and white tiles and tempting designer seats under one of he most beautiful light fixtures I have seen in any spa around the world. Their service menu has the latest new trends, and some uniquely healthy treatments. They are using the finest skin care products available anywhere, and have hired expert therapists and estheticians for all their patrons treatment needs. From purist oil blends for healing to a fun Funk Zone Massage that will please. For reservations and information visit: www.hotelcalifornian.com