80,000 Guests a Year Expected at Hotel Californian

Even though the Hotel California actually opened last month, the ceremonial ribbon cutting Oct. 5 brought together the developer and designer to discuss what really went into the making of a miraculous setting from what once was the biggest seaside eyesore in Santa Barbara. 

Media folks toured the three buildings that comprise the Hotel Californian property and had a chance to interview developer Michael Rosenfeld and designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard. 

Rosenfeld said he was “compelled to do the right thing” with what once was a “big, black ditch” and “not cut corners.” From the looks of the design, he didn’t do that. He said he also expects some 80,000 guests a year at the Hotel Californian. 

Bullard said he designed just about everything in the hotel and its restaurants. He made specific reference go the Moroccan-style of design that can be seen throughout the property. While many people would describe the architecture as “Spanish revival,” Bullard said he paid homage to the combination of Moorish and north African influences in the design. The Moors ruled what is now Spain for some 500 years and dominated its architecture and culture. 

“I wanted to honor (Santa Barbara’s) architectural history,” Bullard said. “Something that felt right, but shook it up a bit.” 

Bullard said he took charge of all the art work in the guest rooms and designed the restaurants, including the Blackbird, which features a photo of Alfred Hitchcock with a crow and seagull on his shoulders. 

“This whole area has been reborn,” Bullard said, referring to the Funk Zone that surrounds the hotel. “It’s about emotion … it’s the most fun choosing the art.” 

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