The Hotel Binge
|Jul 14, 2020|
Much of the citizen angst in Napa county for the last few years has been directed toward the explosion of new and expanded winery development, largely because the driving impetus for the projects has been to increase neighborhood-busting tourism rather than neighborhood-friendly wine making.
But more recently hotel development, the next step in the conversion of a rural place into a tourist trap, has become an area of concern, with a large number of hotel projects coming to Napa City, and resorts in the works both up valley, mid-valley and down. And now the wine industry itself is venturing into overnight accommodation after their success in becoming restaurateurs. Ted Hall's Long Meadow Ranch Farmstead Hotel was recently presented to the St. Helena City Council. The Inn at the Abbey is underway adjacent to the Freemark Abbey Winery. The other Hall's are also pursuing their hotel project adjacent the Hall Winery. These projects represent a significant acceleration of the massive tourism expansion that has already distorted and begun to push out normal life in Napa. Now wineries are beginning to become hotels.
It's past time to begin focusing on the amazing number of hotel projects in the Napa County pipeline as representing a major shift in the physical and spiritual future of this place. As noted in a previous comparison with Las Vegas, at some point the income generated by tourism will exceed the amount of money to be made from wine, and the built environment will follow suit.
Wineries, like casinos, have a one-story impact, and can be softened with trees and vineyards in an attempt to retain the rural character of the landscape. But hotel development obliterates the landscape with multi-story walls of buildings. At some point the physical environment that draws tourists to a place, the enjoyment of the open-space vineyard and woodland covered landscape in Napa's case, will be abandoned to the universal tourism joys of lounging around a pool by day and cruising the strip to be entertained at night. The rural heritage of Napa County, already under threat by the legions of winery projects pursued to process tourists rather than grapes, will totally vanish under the onslaught of a 24-hour destination tourism.
The Farmstead Hotel, Inn at the Abbey and the Hall Winery Hotel are harbingers of a trend in tourism development in Napa County. The continued development of such projects at the more than 500 wineries in the county (undoubtedly an attempt will be made to redefine accommodation as "agriculture" as was done with dining) would dramatically hasten the descent of Napa County into a true Las Vegas of wine.
The Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has, of course, reinforced the folly of relying ever more heavily on tourism for the economic health of the County. But, as we've seen in so-far misguided re-openings after the lock-downs, the appetite for touristic debauchery is only increased by a period of abstinence. Hotel developers know that and they are frantic to get their projects underway.
Teresa Zimny LTE 8/18/20: Financial benefits vs. quality of life
NVR 12/27/18: No. 5 Story of 2018: Hotels growth and housing prices sparked a Napa County debate
SF Chronicle 10/5/18: How many high-end hotels can Napa Valley handle?
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The Hall Winery Hotel
Hotel explosion rocks Napa
Inn at the Abbey
The Farmstead Hotel
Franklin Station Hotel
Oak Knoll Hotel
Marriot AC Hotel
Black Elk Hotel
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