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Santa Barbara’s luxury Hotel Californian sells to Foley Entertainment Group

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The picturesque Hotel Californian, near the Santa Barbara waterfront has been purchased by the Foley Entertainment Group.

Chairman Bill Foley has had a deep connection to the Santa Barbara area for years, and his Foley Estates Winery is nearby in the Santa Ynez Valley. He also has multiple property investments including sports teams,  restaurants, and is the CEO of Fidelity National.

The 121-room hotel on State Street at Mason covers three corners.

In a statement, Foley said, “Hotel Californian’s reputation for five-star service perfectly aligns with the philosophy of Foley Entertainment Group and allows guests to experience true luxury at one of the finest oceanside properties in all of California. What makes the acquisition even more special for us is our family’s connection to and love for the city of Santa Barbara. It is a magnificent place.”

Operations will continue to be in the hands of Managing Director Warren Nocon who has been with the hotel since 2013.

Foley Entertainment Group co-CEO Randy Morton said, “Hotel Californian has embraced the incredible opportunity of being part of the renaissance of Lower State Street and the growth of Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone. We look forward to innovative collaborations with the Foley Food & Wine Society and other FEG entities to enhance the guest experience even further.”

The group is also announcing plans to make the Blackbird restaurant the future home of the Foley Food & Wine Society tasting bar, with plans for an opening this fall.

Prior to the three-corner Hotel Californian, the original building was on only the southwest side and was built in 1925. It was damaged shortly after it opened, during a large earthquake.

The modern-day luxury version of this landmark reopened in 2017.

It has distinctively designed elements from the entrance plazas to the individual rooms. There's also a rooftop pool, meeting spaces and easy access to the waterfront, Funk Zone and downtown.

Prior to this development, the lower State Street "gateway to Santa Barbara" was in a transition from years of neglect and vacancies that left many businesses including car dealerships, restaurants and retail spaces empty.

Morton says,   " it really seems to be that we are in the best location  and it is very inviting and very comfortable  and everyone is exceptionally warm and friendly.

The transition comes at a time when Santa Barbara is recovering from the pandemic and the slow down in hospitality business.

Nocon, said, "one of the biggest things that's exciting about this deal,  it's now owned by a local  and that means everything to us . We've always wanted to be the Santa Barbara experience."

The Foley wine portfolio has 21 labels and they are coming to a new corner headquarters for the Foley Food & Wine Society at State street and Mason.

We are going to taste all the Foley wines,  we are going to have beautiful bites that will be done by the Chef here at the Hotel Californian.  and it is going to be an incredible experience you can sit inside sit outside , watch everyone walk by  look at the sunset," said Morton. "The decor, the design is absolutely exquisite it and it fits in perfectly in to the luxury segment of the Foley Entertainment Group."

For those coming from the waterfront to downtown, "this is the entrance to Santa Barbara   the original name of the project Entrada de Santa Barbara, that's who we are and that's who we want to be for all time now," said Nocon.

The staff and management is part of the transition, at the property  known for its unique one of a kind design features, its restaurants, three wine tasting rooms (Margerum, J. Wilkes and Melville), McConnell's ice cream and a destination for special events including many weddings and group meetings.

Nocon says, "it's the heart of who we are is not going to change. We need to support locally,  we support to support our restaurants, we need to support the people who come and work here."

Plans are already rolling out under the new ownership.  The first signature event will be the launch of the Foley Food and Wine Society Tasting room, September 28th.

"We're going to be engaged in the community and welcome all the locals who live here," said Morton.

The Foley Entertainment Group reports it has a portfolio that includes the Vegas Golden Knights of the National Hockey League, the Henderson Silver Knights of the American Hockey League, the Vegas Knight Hawks of the Indoor Football League, two community hockey facilities, the 6,000 seat Dollar Loan Center venue in Henderson, NV scheduled to open in the spring of 2022, the Vegas Golden Knights Foundation, Hotel Les Mars and Chalkboard Restaurant in Healdsburg, California, Hotel Californian and Blackbird restaurant in Santa Barbara, California, and Whitefish Mountain in Whitefish, Montana.

The seller is Woodridge Capital Partners headed by Los Angeles developer Michael Rosenfeld who was able to take a stalled out project and revive it and take it to completion with the opening in 2017.

For more information go to: Hotel Californian

Article Topic Follows: Money and Business

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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