I was able to attend a community meeting last week for the Joie de Vivre hotel planned (interior demo is occurring as I write) at the Cal Western Life Building at 926 J Street.
His vision of a boutique hotel is one it that needs to be a reflection of the community and how it's citizens feel about it for it to be successful. That was what the meeting was about. To pick everyones brains on the subject.
The room was full of people from young and old, straight and gay, married and single, hipsters and hippies, different ethnicities, and different economic backgrounds, all with opinions of what the hotel should be like.
We were all asked to think of 5 words to describe Sacramento and the hotel.
My words were:
1) Unexpected/surprising -People are surprised to see what Sacramento is about after being here for a little while compared to what their perception was.
2) Lush -Trees, Greenery, Rivers, Parkways
3) Diverse - We are one most diverse cities in the US
4) Influential -Being the state capitol, politics and influence play a role in our city
5) Aspiring -For what Sacramento aspires to be
I personally wanted to stay away from the really old feeling words like historic, timeless, traditional and the such.
In the end, my group choose words that reflected the past and the hopeful future of Sacramento. Unexpected/Surprising, Lush, Aspiring, Influential, and Timeless.
While most people were on the same page other common words I heard most were welcoming, friendly and eclectic.
One part of the meeting that I found very interesting was when Chip asked everyone to tell him what percent of the hotel between the historic and timeless, and chic and modern they would like to see. The first lady who responded said 90% historic and timeless, 10% chic and modern, which I thought would be the common consensuses from most people in the room..to my surprise the responce from the crowd was a big "No!!"
Almost everyone wanted to see this become something different from what Sacramento currently has, or is accustom to seeing. People wanted to see more like 10% "old" and 90% chic and modern, which I am very much in favor of. He mentioned that in the other meetings, people also felt this way. Which I was a little surprised at, but very glad to hear.
Maybe it's that I go to so many of these community meetings and a majority of people that go are the older generation Sacramentians that usually want to keep the historic, traditional and timeless parts of Sacramento alive and aren't so much into seeing the cosmopolitan side of Sacramento (regardless of how small it is, but is growing fast)
I am all for keeping the history of Sacramento, but I think a lot of times people are too consumed by it and try to portray it too often in everything we do. There are only so many things that can pay homage to the Gold Rush, Railroads, and Capitol. It gets boring and old after a while. Time to mix it up a bit.
Chip had what I thought was a good idea for the hotel (I'm sure he has been thinking about this for a while already). He wants to do a combination of both, which would include when you first arrive at the hotel you get a sense of history and timelessness from the building itself, but when you step inside, something more chic, modern and surprising with the lobby, entryway and restaurant, then as you move to the rooms from the elevator and hallway, slowly go back to traditional.
His reasoning seemed to be Sacramento has that older, timeless feel to it on the outside, but inside people are much more sophisticated, cultured, and modern than what they may be perceived as, but deep on the inside, there is still that sense of tradition. Pretty accurate in my mind.
One feature that I think will be absolutely amazing is the outdoor patio will be open on the 6th floor facing the Capitol Dome. If you drive down J Street you can see it when you look up at the building. As the area cleans up a bit more, I can imagine the most amazing wedding ceremonies at Caesar Chavez Park followed by a reception on the 6,000 square foot patio over looking the Capitol. This will be the spot for receptions in the future.
We were also asked about what we would like to see with the restaurant. Everyone was very adamant about a non-chain. They assured us it would not be a chain.
Since this hotel is supposed to be a reflection of the community, my recommendation was to look at a local restaurateurs such as Biba or Rick Mahan at Waterboy who have been part of the community for a while now. They seemed to want to do a play on all the fresh local produce we have access to here in California. While that sounds fine and dandy, it unfortunately also screamed more California or American cuisine to me.
One lady had an excellent recommendation to have the restaurants wine list include Delta wineries in addition to the usual Napa and Sonoma wines.
All I can say is I can't wait to walk through that lobby for the first time. I think this is going to be a real landmark project in Sacramento. Expected opening is Spring 2008