Luxury hotels in Sonoma … so it goes
You may not always feel it, but, like air pressure, development interests are always pressing to exploit opportunity in Sonoma. Hotels, in particular, represent such interests, and in a community so attractive to tourists, Sonoma looks like low-hanging fruit.
Sonoma’s attractiveness, of course, has little to do with big commercial development, quite the contrary. It is precisely the small scale, generally unaffected and non-commercial atmosphere that tourists appreciate and that distinguishes Sonoma from much of its wine country brethren.
When the Lodge at Sonoma was proposed, it was sold to the community as a low-priced hotel for locals who needed a place where relatives could stay for a
I was on the City Council and I remember it well. “$150 a night for a room,” the developers told the Planning Commission. “A local hotel owned and operated by locals for locals,” they added.
Today, it’s part of the Marriott chain, it’s mandated, neighborhood-serving “green features” walled off from the street and passersby.
Historical memory is terribly short; so it goes. Other than the money, what exactly is the benefit to Sonoma of a large luxury hotel on the Plaza? Is the money enough, or all that matters? If the yearly occupancy of the existing hotels and inns in town were increased by 10 percent, would that be an alternative, and if so, how can that be made to happen?
Ultimately, if Sonoma ceases to be the charming, unpretentious, small-scale community that makes living here such a joy, it will also cease to be attractive to tourists.
It is our authenticity that makes Sonoma special, not our money, our commercial development or our glitz. There are so many good ways to invest in this community, I remain disappointed in seeing big money simply devoted to making more big money. If it continues, well, so it goes … and sadly, so goes Sonoma with it.