What, exactly, is a large hotel?

Letter to the Editor


Editor, Index-Tribune:

Measure B is all about large hotels. But what exactly defines a large hotel? The topic has never been covered in the months of debate, pro and con, over Measure B. How many rooms does a large hotel actually have?

This is letter is an attempt to put “large hotel” in perspective. Please do not ask about the types or size of the respective rooms. I have not been to them all – or, actually, to any of them. And, of course, we don’t know if “room” means the same thing in each country and ownership.

So, according to thrillist.com, on a “100 percent stats-driven list of the 10 largest hotels in the world, seven would be in Vegas. In fact, out of the biggest 25, a whopping 15 are in that patch of Nevada desert. This is a far-more-interesting roundup of the most massive accommodation options in 10 different countries.”


1. Izmailovo Hotel, Russia: 7,500

2. MGM Grand, United States: 6,852

3. First World Hotel, Malaysia: 6,118

4. Ambassador City, Thailand: 4,219

5. Sheraton Macau Hotel, Macau: 3,896

6. Shinagawa Prince Hotel, Japan: 3,680

7. Atlantis Paradise Island, Bahamas: 3,200

8. Marina Bay Sands, Singapore: 2,561

9. Dacheng Shanshui Intl, China: 2,353

10. Hotel Moon Palace, Mexico:  2,133

Photos and more information are available at thrillist.com/travel/nation/largest-hotels-in-the-world-10-hotels-that-could-house-entire-cities.

Chris Scott


  • Mike Stephens

    Certainly those are large hotels. 59 rooms is a small hotel. The fact that those against this development chose to fight over a 59 room hotel is insane. Perhaps we should ship the Yes on Measure B people to one of the above listed hotels and they can see what a large hotel project is all about. I guarantee from what I know about the proposed project and that is public information, we will all regret seeing these properties turn into something other than this quality project. Please get informed and vote No on Measure B!

    • Hugh Black

      We don’t know where the money to build the hotel is coming from… my guess is that the LLC is funded with money from non-Sonoma folks. I think they have little or no interest in the town or the local impact. Their interest is only doing what is necessary as it relates to getting approval to build.

      Kenwood Investments has an office in Sonoma…..but, they are really located in San Francisco. It seems like everyone that is against B is because of the money. Anyone that is for B has been called a NIMBY by more than one writer against B. I suggest we have a new word, AFMIMBY – anything in my back yard for money.

      So, should we put a sign on the city hall lawn that says “FOR SALE”.

      Hugh Black

      • Mike Stephens

        Really Mr. Black? Did your really write this? We don’t know where the money is coming from? Why would this be any of your business or my business? Have you heard of TOT Tax? Regardless of who is invested in the hotel will all pay the price of doing business in Sonoma. Sadly your comment can’t be further from the truth. Those voting No on B care about Sonoma and it’s future unlike those voting Yes on B. Not only will the hotel likely hire local people and have restaurants/shops/bars for people to shop, it will also bring more people to the square to further increase traffic and hopefully more money to the existing or any new shops that hopefully will pop up. City Hall For Sale?? Really? This will never happen!! How can those against the Hotel or the developers think that a small 59 room hotel will alter the feel of Sonoma? It will only add something of interest other than Peets, Staples and the other businesses you can find in anywhere USA. Sonoma should be unique and allow quality thoughtful development. Sadly Measure B does not tackle this pressing issue in a way that justifies a Yes vote. Voting No on Measure B does Protect Sonoma and her future.

        • Hugh Black

          Thank you!! You understand!!! Its all about TOT …. money!! I don’t think that is the only reason we should do something. My comment about city hall for sale was facetious since TOT is the reason cited ad museum with
          by no on b without regard for quality of the town. We get more money, the city can do more something. but, at what cost. My concern is a 59 room hotel will be followed by another and another and another… until we are just another tacky tourist trap town!!!! Life is not all about the money!!!!!

  • bob edwards

    How big is a big hotel? Here’s a quick 10-step exercise that might convey the reason Measure B is needed and why in Sonoma – not Macau, Singapore, Russia, China, Las Vegas where we don’t live — “Small Is Big!”

    1. Consider the Ledson Hotel on the Plaza with only six (6) rooms & a restaurant/bar, recently praised with a proclamation by City Council for being a ‘good fit with the historic character of
    our Plaza’ & for generating lots of Transit Occupancy Tax revenue for the

    2. Stand on the Plaza across the street from the Ledson & look at its size & the space it occupies on 1st street East; walk to the back of the Ledson (through the alley on the north side) to get a more complete sense of its size & bulk.

    3. Read Measure B to see that it would still allow a hotel as big as 25 rooms –over four
    (4) times the size of the Ledson — to be built in town, using ‘the existing process.’ And even bigger hotels would be allowed if the city’s annual occupancy reaches 805, as it has done in in Yountville.

    4. Look at the Ledson and visualize a hotel four times its size, big enough to stretch northward from the corner of E. Napa & 1st St. East all the way past the Sebastiani Theatre. Or eastward on E. Napa St., from 1st street east past the Cheveux.

    5. Now imagine the visual, traffic, pedestrian and other impacts to the downtown/Plaza area & surrounding neighborhoods that a hotel that size would generate, in little old Sonoma.

    6. Consider that if Measure B does not pass, there will continue to be no limit to the size of hotels that could be built in town.

    7. Note that a 59 room hotel has been proposed on W. Napa St. in sight of the duck pond on the southwest corner of the Plaza. It would be roughly ten (10) times the size of the Ledson Hotel.

    8. Imagine a hotel ten times the size of the Ledson, plunked down — not in Russia, China or Las Vegas — but in our quaint small town with its historic buildings and cozy neighborhoods, which made the Conde Nast list of top ten friendliest towns to visit because it was ‘small town,’‘quaint,’
    ‘laid-back’ and ‘not like Napa.’

    9. Imagine not only the visual impact, but also the traffic, pedestrian and other impacts — to the downtown area, 1st St. West & the Plaza & surrounding residential neighborhoods — of a hotel
    “only” 10 times the size of the Ledson, with its restaurants, event centers, bars, spas etc.

    10. Decide if more in-town hotels that big — or far bigger — would change the small town charm and character and Quality of Life of the Sonoma we all know and love, to something we wouldn’t like and could never undo.

    Measure B is all about preserving Sonoma’s small-town character and quality of life, the very things that bring visitors here in the first place and why we live here.

    No one lives here or comes here to stay in Sonoma’s big hotels. They live here and come here to stay in Sonoma.

    • Chris Scott

      Mr Edwards,

      I think you’ve stretched the Ledson Hotel about as far as it could possibly go. The hotel is a little too Gothic/Baroque with ball finials, dental trim, Romanesque arches, ornate black balcony doors and railings The building looks like it’s about to fall forward. Carla Heine described it in her book Sonoma Ghosts Tour; “The Ledson Hotel: The atmosphere is moody. How it passed the design review committee is a mystery to me. It has an Old South New Orleans look, with funerary wrought iron that is weighty beyond its overcoat of black enamel, and it sports new bricks, which will weather in time become comfortably old. For now, it is not unlike a woman who has overdressed for a visit to the cemetery.”

      What about the original building torn down for Ledson’s hotel. It was purchased by Samuele Sebastiani early the last century and had a rich history including as a bordello early on. Of late it had housed a T-shirt store and Marty’s famous barber shop with Marty’s weekly no limit poker games. Small apartments on the second floor. That was a piece of Sonoma’s history, small town character, charm and culture.

      Yes, I visited the duck pond and spoke to the ducks. They said only a small sliver of the Sonoma Hotel front could be seen and only from the very very south edge of their pond. They said they thought it would look very nice.

      Chris Scott

  • bob edwards

    The typo “805” in my last post should read “80%.”

  • David Eichar

    Size is relative. In the cities mentioned, Moscow’s population is 11.5 million and Tokyo’s is 9 million. Moscow is 969 square miles in size. 7,500 room hotel in Moscow is 7.74 rooms per square mile, or 6.5 rooms per 10,000 residents. Sonoma is 2.742 square miles with a population of just under 11,000. Relative to the size of Moscow, a 22 room hotel would be big in Sonoma. Relative to population, an 8 room hotel in Sonoma would be big.

    • Chris Scott

      Mr Eichar:
      Your logic is flawed and your math is wrong.

      • David Eichar

        I have double check my math and re-evaluated my logic. The math is good, unless MS Excel, Windows Calculator and my Canon hand held calculator are all flawed. Please elaborate where I went wrong.

  • Mike Stephens

    I agree with you Hugh that life is not all about money, but thoughtful development versus the alternative is what really matters. The discussion and design for this hotel has been in the works for a long time with open forums, changes to design etc. There is no other location left in town where it would be fitting, with exception of perhaps the auto dealer on Broadway. You don’t see people tearing down historic buildings in St. Helena or Healdsburg. Sonoma will never be Yountville. We don’t have Thomas Keller. Also, Yountville was never a destination, but Sonoma always has been and in order to keep up with the time and preserve the future from large corporate hotels and chain stores something must be done. Unforetunately Measure B does not deal with this issue properly. If Sonoma allows 2 more quality hotels, I really don’t see any other lots or areas where a large development would seek to develop. I don’t understand why people think it acceptable to continue to build apartment buildings and chain stores, but are so against a nice hotel and restaurant. It makes no sense. Allowing a hotel on West Napa is not going to open the flood gates for destroying the charm that exists. My fear is voting Yes on Measure B will only attract the likes of Peets, Burger and Vine, Starbucks, Ben and Jerry’s etc. This is not the direction Sonoma should be headed. You can get this quailty of food and drink anywhere in this country. Sonoma should and can be special. It is time for this to happen and after the hotel gets built our elected council and planning commission will do the right thing by moderating what happens to our town if they feel it is getting out of control. By no way is a 59 Room hotel and restaurant going to alter the quality of living in Sonoma, but will only elevate it.

    • David Eichar

      How about a 200 room hotel on the lot where the Chevrolet dealer currently is located?

  • Mike Stephens

    Is the chevy dealer closing shop? This is news to me. Would a hotel look worse than a car lot? Certainly the planning department and council would review any project and hopefully scale it appropriately for the town. Again, a property owner has the right to develop within the confines of established city planning and guidelines. By voting Yes on Measure B does not stop something large or aesthetically pleasing from being built. It certainly would still allow a large apartment complex or another strip mall. Doesn’t Sonoma have enough of this? I am sorry to say, but this debate is turning ridiculous. The hotel proposed to be built has been approved. Any other project will also have to be approved, so why are we cutting off all development? This is what Mr. Barnett has started and as we all know he stopped a restaurant in the past from joining our town. Why isn’t he protesting the eye sore across the mission? Perhaps if these old Sonomans weren’t so scary Kuleto or a well know chef would have opened up instead of the boarded up Burger and Vine. Coming soon??

  • Jay Tierney

    What is the relevance of the size of huge hotels in major metro areas? Las Vegas and Sonoma aren’t really worth comparing. How about a list of the largest hotels in a city of around 30k people, within the city limits?