By the time the summer tourist season rolls around, Sonoma county is slated to have several hundred more rooms than it did a year earlier. The count includes almost 300 rooms at three hotel properties that opened since late summer, plus an additional 325 units slated to come online this spring.
Beside those properties, developers have announced plans for at least nine more new hotels or major expansions, including the renovation of the historic Empire Building on Santa Rosa’s Old Courthouse Square. New hotels are proposed in Petaluma, Sebastopol, Healdsburg, Rohnert Park, Cotati and Sonoma.
In Napa County, more than a dozen hotel projects are in various stages of development that could bring at least 1,700 new hotel rooms to the county in the next few years, according to city planners.
That’s on top of 5,146 rooms at 131 existing properties, according to Visit Napa Valley, which promotes the county’s tourism.
Projects include the roughly $200 million, 325,000-square-foot First Street Napa project, where the 183-room Archer Hotel resides. It opened in November and encompasses 45 shops and restaurants, and 30,000 square feet of office space.
Owners of Napa Valley Wine Train are also delving into the hotel market and have submitted plans to the city for a 5-story, 148-room European-style resort near the 40,000-square-foot Oxbow Marketplace downtown.
Those behind The Meritage Resort & Spa in south Napa this summer plan to open Vista Collina Resort across Bordeaux Way, according to Visit Napa Valley. Originally called The Commons, it will have 145 guestrooms, including 39 luxury suites. Being built next to Vista Collina is The Village, with nine tasting rooms for Napa Valley boutique wineries, a 16,000-square-foot lawn for events and a neighborhood market, and a food-and-wine center for cooking demonstrations and hands-on classes.
The valley also has a few new small additions of rooms, according to Visit Napa Valley. The Ink House is now open in St. Helena. Built in 1885 by valley pioneer Theron Ink and on the National Register of Historic Places, it has been restored by the Castellucci family as a four-room luxury inn.
Wine Country Inn also in St. Helena is set to wrap in mid-February its second and final phase of renovations, upgrading 10 guestrooms with high-speed wireless internet, refrigerators and big flat-screen televisions. The circa 1975 hotel upgraded its Winery House rooms early last year.
Another National Register venue with newly restored rooms is The Francis House in Calistoga. Named for prominent local merchant James H. Francis, the five-room luxury inn is set to have suites available in late spring.
The new Sonoma County properties will offer some eye-catching extras: room-service robots, rooftop bars and viewing areas, a car-stacking garage system, a hostel component within one hotel and affordable housing units provided next door to another. The projects include new restaurants, tapas bars and wine and beer venues.
“Developers are certainly interested in the region,” said Steve Jung, general manager of the Doubletree by Hilton Sonoma Wine Country in Rohnert Park and president of the Sonoma County Lodging Association. That’s what happens, he said, “when a market does so well.”
The hospitality sector has been a significant engine of economic growth in the county during the past eight years. And hotels have been a big part of that expansion.