Santa Rosa's new Hotel E seen as downtown kick-starter akin to Napa's Archer hotel
How can the arrival of a high-end hotel help shape the revitalization of a city’s tired downtown district?
For Napa, the answer is already clear: The November 2017 opening of Archer Hotel Napa has proven to be key to anchoring the city’s rejuvenated downtown.
For Santa Rosa, the verdict won’t be in for a while.
However, traction will get underway next month when the city debuts Hotel E, its first-ever boutique hotel, to be situated in the centerpiece of downtown: Old Courthouse Square.
“I think it’s huge for Santa Rosa and I think it’s huge for downtown,” said Peter Rumble, CEO, Santa Rosa Metro Chamber. “I can imagine that hotel will be close to full occupancy a full part of the year because it’s a beautiful building, has a number of high-end amenities and features, and it’s unique to Santa Rosa. There’s no other hotel of that caliber in the market.”
Located in the Empire Building at 37 Old Courthouse Square, Hotel E will open to guests on July 1, marking the completion of the first phase of the two-phase project, according to project developer Hugh Futrell Corporation and Greystone Hotels, owner and property manager.
The Empire Building portion of the hotel will be the first phase to open and include The Enology Lounge, a combination wine bar, living room and lobby, approximately 1,000 square feet of divisible meeting space and 39 guestrooms, according to Greystone. Room rates will start in the low-to-mid $200 range per night on a weekday, and in the low-to-mid $300 range per night on weekends.
The second phase of the hotel, in 19 Old Courthouse Square next door to the Empire Building, is slated to open early next year. It will have an additional 30 guestrooms and two suites with private decks, a large public courtyard, a roof-deck café overlooking Old Courthouse Square, a fitness center and additional meeting space. Plans also call for a Starbucks and the first Wine Country location of Perry’s, a family-owned San Francisco-based restaurant and bar, according to Greystone.
The Hotel E project is Greystone’s first in Sonoma County, said Eric Horadas, founder, CEO and president of Greystone Hotels, which has a portfolio of 12 hotels consisting of a mix of boutique and branded properties.
It was Hugh Futrell, CEO and co-shareholder of Santa Rosa-based Hugh Futrell Corporation, who contacted Greystone about teaming up on the project.
“We picked Greystone because of their success as an independent boutique hotel operator and owner, and their reputation for strong business ethics and precision in what they do,” Futrell said. “My company is very careful who we partner with and our partnership with Greystone has fully met our hopes.”
Horadas said he and Futrell’s views are well-aligned about the new hotel for Courthouse Square. Horadas said he sees downtown Santa Rosa as “an attractive proposition” for developing a high-end hotel.
“We look for high markets with high-demand drivers,” Horadas said. “We see a continued influx in tourism to Wine Country and saw a hole in Santa Rosa. There’s no product like this.”
“People now looking for that level of experience are going to Healdsburg or Sonoma,” Rumble said. “It’s not to take away from those destinations, but adding to our overall ability to serve that market and for Santa Rosa to be in consideration for that market. People looking for a bigger city experience in Wine Country will now have that in Santa Rosa.”
Horadas also said the ongoing growth at Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport, the SMART train, and the walkability to downtown restaurants from Courthouse Square added to the reasons he thought putting a luxury hotel in downtown Santa Rosa would make sense.
And he is confident Hotel E will elevate downtown Santa Rosa in a fashion similar to how Archer Hotel Napa has boosted its downtown.
“If you look at downtown Napa 10 to 15 years ago, it was dead. Everyone went to St. Helena, Yountville or Calistoga. With the Archer, it’s now a hot place,” Horadas said. “It’s the same thing in downtown Santa Rosa. It’s ready to be discovered.”
Archer Hotel Napa, which opened in November 2017, is the anchor of downtown Napa. The hotel was part of the First Street Napa project, a 325,000-square-foot overhaul started in 2013 that transformed three blocks of downtown.
“There has always been a draw and so much that is attractive about Napa Valley as a destination and an industry hub. However, in the early 2000s, few recognized the potential of the City of Napa,” said Mike Daood, president of LodgeWorks, which developed, owns and operates Archer Hotel Napa.