The city of Solvang is getting two brand new hotels from luxury hotel brand Highway West Vacations, expanding the region’s upscale hospitality offerings as the county moves to rebuild its tourism industry.
The hotels, the Winston and the Vinland Hotel & Lounge, will offer visitors a combination of luxury and old world charm right in the heart of the little Danish town tucked in the Santa Ynez Valley.
The two new properties will be an extension of Highway West’s footprint in the region, as they also run the famed Sideways Inn and the Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground in Buellton.
“Obviously we have an established footprint with those two properties, our owners live on the Central Coast and love this area and we feel that it’s really going to become a growing tourist demand destination, even pre-COVID. We’d already seen a great demand from people making weekend trips up here from L.A. and Orange County or coming down from San Francisco, especially now that the road trip is back and people are looking for those great destinations,” said Matt Bernard, area general manager for Highway West.
The Winston is a boutique hotel opening July 1 in the historic Old Mill Clock Tower, at 486 1st St. Highway West has looked to preserve the classic charm of the building by maintaining the beautiful exterior while giving the inside a vibrant and daring décor to give it a contemporary feel.
“There was a lot of retrofitting that had to be done to bring it up to current code. We gutted the interior, redid the entire footprint on the inside to give us what we have now,” said Mr. Bernard.
The Winston features 14 rooms with retail space on the ground floor. Each room and suite is uniquely designed with oversized headboards and bold colors, interesting textures, and contrasting patterns. The Clock Tower Suite is perfect for a romantic getaway, while the entire hotel is well-suited for buyouts.
“All of the rooms, with exception of one, have either a single king or a single queen. We do have one room that has two king beds in it, but really the rooms are designed for sort of double occupancy of people traveling together. Because it is only 14 rooms we see a ton of potential for buyouts for the entire property, whether it’s a wedding party or family reunion or birthday celebration or corporate meeting or event. If you want to take over the entire space it would be very easy to do so,” said Mr. Bernard.
The project has been in the works for two years, and although the COVID-19 pandemic presented some challenges and setbacks, it gave Highway West an opportunity to implement “invisible check-in,” perfect for traveling in the current environment.
The system is similar to Airbnb’s model, where upon arriving, guests receive an email with a code for the entry door and one for their room. There is no front desk.
“There’s no one that you’re having to stand in line with, talk to, check-in, hand over a credit card, go through that whole rigamarole where you’ve got 10 people in line behind you. We handle all of that in advance,” said Mr. Bernard.
At no point are guests required to collect a key and carry it around as locks are all managed through pin-code entry. There’s also no staff that guests would necessarily see during their stay.
“We have a host that’s there cleaning rooms and doing the morning breakfast service and keeping up the public areas, so you feel that there’s a very high level of service and attention to detail that’s been put into place but you may never actually see somebody doing it,” said Mr. Bernard.
COVID-19 has also not diminished the success of the Vinland, which has been open since the county eased restrictions on leisure travel two weeks ago. The hotel has proved popular with everyone from couples to families, especially travelers booking rooms for a same-day stay or one or two days in advance.
“There was a ton of pent up demand, which we expected, but I don’t think anyone expected quite as much as we’ve seen. The phones don’t seem to stop ringing,” said Mr. Bernard.
Located at 1455 Mission Drive, the 82-room Vinland offers guests a clean, modern design, elevating the traditional Solvang hotel experience, with amenities including a heated pool and hot tub, cold brew coffee bar, and soon-to-open V Lounge, featuring fresh Californian fare with an unmistakable Danish flair in addition to local wines, craft beer and innovative cocktails.
“A great benefit of the restaurant is it is going to be able to stay open much later than everything else in Solvang. Technically speaking we have to close at 2 a.m., but other than that we can be open the full range of the evening. It’s going to give Solvang a much needed additional nightlife and opportunity to do things once everything else closes,” said Mr. Bernard.
In addition, the hotel is working to partner with local vineyards to offer guests a chance to experience the region’s world-class wines. When the partnerships are finalized, guests in the hotel’s top suites will receive a bottle of wine from a local winery upon check in and a voucher for tasting rooms.
“The thought behind it is we’re in this killer location and we have so many of these great wineries that are accessible and we really want to let people feel like there was a sense of place to where they were staying,” said Mr. Bernard.
“It’s a great opportunity to highlight some of the great vineyards in the region and give our guests the opportunity to feel like they got a unique one-of-a-kind experience.”
To book a stay at these or any of Highway West’s other locations, visit https://highwaywestvacations.com.
“We’re really excited to bring these two great opportunities to Solvang and to the valley as a whole. There’s a lot of exciting change coming to the city and into the valley and we’re excited to be on the forefront of that, bringing in two great new properties,” said Mr. Bernard.