business from small meetings really getting
strong, especially midweek when our rates
can drop by half,” said Tracy Farhad, executive director of the Solvang CVB.
In addition to a Wine Passport that
encourages visits to the village’s 22 tasting
rooms, groups can enjoy wine-pairing
dinners, blending seminars at dozens
of nearby wineries, including Sunstone
Winery and Buttonwood Farm Winery &
“We also offer teambuilding activities
that tie into the Danish heritage of Solvang,” Farhad said. “People can learn about
making Danish pastry form a fourth-gener-ation baker or decorate gingerbread houses
at the Solvang Bakery, which is famous for
them. We even have a Danish-style treasure
hunt where people explore the town and
post what they’ve learned on social media.”
San Luis Obispo County
With expanding flight service, increased
marketing dollars and a wealth of new
properties ranging from a destination resort to downtown boutique hotels, San Luis
Obispo County is in the best position it’s
ever been for group business, according to
Michael Wambolt, director of travel trade
for Visit SLO CAL.
While long thought of as a drive-to des-
tination, the region got a major boost as an
air gateway with the opening of a new ter-
minal with food service and other ameni-
ties at the San Luis Obispo County Regional
Airport in November. The terminal comes
on the heels of new daily service to Seattle
on Alaska Airlines and to Denver on United
Airlines. The new service augments existing
multiple daily flights to San Francisco, Los
Angeles and Phoenix.
“We’re very accessible now, which is
something we’re emphasizing to planners,”
Wambolt said. “A lot of people don’t even
know we have an airport, but you can actu-
ally connect from all around the country.”
Another boost is coming from the cre-
ation of a county-wide marketing district
that includes more funding for meetings
promotion, he added.
“We have more ability now to penetrate
larger markets with promotion, which
we’re taking beyond the West Coast, in-
Latest + Greatest
➜ The Hilton Garden Inn Santa Barbara/Go-leta ( http://hiltongardeninn3.hilton.com)
opened in October with 142 guest rooms
and over 3,500 square feet of meeting
➜ The Hilton Garden Inn Lompoc (http://
this fall with 156 rooms, an indoor pool
and 3,356 square feet of meeting space,
including a ballroom and boardroom.
➜ The Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay
Beach Resort (http://embassysuites3.
hilton.com) completed a renovation of all
250 guest rooms and added new outdoor
➜ The Inn at the Pier ( www.theinnatthepier.
com) opened in September. The Crafts-man-style hotel is located downtown and
features 104 rooms, a rooftop bar and
full-service restaurant with ocean views,
4,800 square feet of meeting and event
space, pool and fitness center.
➜ Part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection,
the 128-room Vespera on Ocean (www.
marriott.com) will open next year with a
restaurant, pool, beach access, fitness
center and meeting space.
➜ Following a renovation and rebranding,
the former Best Western Plus Shore Cliff
Lodge is now the Shore Cliff Hotel (www.
shorecliff.com). The 100-room property
offers a pool area and event lawn with
➜ The Hotel Californian ( www.thehotelcali
fornian.com), a 121-room luxury property
featuring Spanish Colonial-style architecture and Moorish-style interior design,
opened near the waterfront. The hotel
features a full-service spa, a rooftop deck
with ocean and mountain views, outdoor
plazas and 2,850-square-foot ballroom.
➜ The Ritz-Carlton Company bought the
former Bacara Resort & Spa in September
and renamed it The Ritz-Carlton Bacara,
Santa Barbara ( www.ritzcarlton.com).
As part of the conversion, significant
enhancements are planned for the guest
rooms, meeting spaces as well as public
➜ The Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel Montecito ( www.rosewoodhotels.com) is set
to open in 2018 on a 16-acre beachfront
site in the upscale enclave of Montecito. The luxury property will feature 122
guest rooms and 48 suites, many of them
in single-story cottages and bungalows.
Amenities will include 12,000 square
feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and
event space, plus a signature restaurant,
full-service spa, beach club and screening
➜ The Fess Parker, A Doubletree by Hilton
tel.com) is currently undergoing a proper-
ty-wide renovation slated for completion
during the second quarter of next year.
Upon completion, the property will be
renamed Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront
➜ An expansion of Harbor View Inn (www.
harborviewinnsb.com) will add an additional 34 rooms and suites to its inventory
when completed in summer 2018.
SAN LUIS OBISPO
➜ The Embassy Suites by Hilton San Luis
com) completed a major renovation of
all of its guest units and public spaces
earlier this year.
➜ The Courtyard by Marriott San Luis
Obispo ( www.marriott.com) completed a
renovation of its 139 guest rooms, lobby
and fitness center. The hotel also opened
The Bistro, a restaurant serving breakfast
➜ The Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach (www.
cpventura.com) wrapped up a property-wide renovation that included all guest
rooms and its Top of the Harbor Grand
Ballroom, a venue with water views that
accommodates up to 350 people.
➜ The Ventura Beach Marriott ( www.marri
ott.com) is embarking on a $10 million
renovation that will include the guest
rooms and meeting space, with completion set for July 2018.
MOXI, THE WOLF MUSEUM OF EXPLORATION
+ INNOVATION, SANTA BARBARA