Hotel news from SoCal’s new Joshua Tree AutoCamp, a Bay Area winery turned monarch butterfly sanctuary and the psychedelic side of Las Vegas


This week in “Get a Room”, SFGATE’s roundup of hotels and accommodations, Las Vegas continues to reign as the strangest place on the planet; the “luxury camping” trend continues its fiery domestication of once wild places with the arrival of AutoCamp in Joshua Tree; and a Bay Area winery becomes the country’s largest “pollinator sanctuary”.

Santa Barbara glamping company AutoCamp has developed a chain of luxury Airstream resorts in places like the Bay Area (Russian Sonoma River), Yosemite and Zion in the west, and Cape Cod and the Catskills on the coast. is in recent years. Now the company – which embraces a sort of candle-boho sensibility – is opening its new location in the Southern California playground for cool kids: Joshua Tree.

The 25-acre property is expected to have a communal clubhouse that’s a “modern take on traditional Quonset huts,” a hot tub-plunge pool hybrid (plunge pool in warm months, hot tub in winter), and outdoor showers. in the most chic units. The sprawling trailer complex – once an oxymoron – says it will have 47 Airstreams and eight suites, each with custom textiles and “architecture that nods to the city’s eclectic nature.”

Glen Steigelman floats in a swimming pool made from a corrugated steel water tank in the rustic desert bungalow adjoining Joshua Tree National Park.

Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

AutoCamp Joshua Tree was designed, according to its sleek marketing materials, for “minimal environmental impact” including native plantings, heavy reliance on solar energy, and starry sky compatible lighting. Among the resort’s offerings are experiences worthy of Southern California: sound healing sessions and wellness classes, wine tastings, and movies under the stars.

In recent years Joshua Tree has become a darling of the desert, the favorite getaway for a certain type of elegant angeno. Namely, the kind who commands a brutalist two-bedroom $ 1.75 million house set in a field of boulders. The downside to this explosion of interest among “creatives” – as a recent Hollywood Reporter article described them – is affordability. Property values ​​in the area have grown exponentially over the past five years, and Airbnbs is doing booming business.

AutoCamp joins the fun on December 16, with rates starting at a low of $ 175 on weekdays and breaking the $ 500 mark on busy weekends. Add in some disgusting resort fees (a whopping $ 53 here), and a weekend of “camping” could easily cost over $ 1,000. Toto, we’re not at KOA anymore.

Las Vegas is (again) where the weird is

It’s been a strange few years. But there’s something about Adele’s Vegas mansion – and Katy Perry teasing hers, Jumpsuit Elvis style – that hints at normalcy. For those who are not familiar with Sin City’s strange habits, it’s easy to imagine it as another American industrial hub. What New York is to commerce, Washington DC is to government, and Los Angeles is to pop culture, Vegas – one is tempted to believe – is to mass entertainment.

Elvis impersonator Roger L. Foster strikes a pose on Fremont Street.

Elvis impersonator Roger L. Foster strikes a pose on Fremont Street.

David McNew / Getty Images

Then Vegas turns out, over and over again, so much weirder than anywhere else – so wacky it’s almost satire proof. It’s been 50 years since Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” appeared in Rolling Stone, and this desert metropolis just keeps getting stranger and stranger.

In recent developments, The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas has gotten even more, er, colorful when Spiegelworld’s Opium – a “wacky, scorching, wild journey” exploring “the space between Las Vegas and Uranus” – spawned a spinoff restaurant. The Superfrico restaurant-meet-hallucinogenic experience opened in September, but breathtaking reviews and photos of the self-proclaimed “psychedelic-American-Italian” restaurant provide a glimpse into Alice’s culinary adventure in the Land of Wonders. wonders.

Susan Stapleton has the trippy visuals at Eater Las Vegas while The Points Guy offers some details on the food, which appears to be decidedly less gonzo than the overall experience.

Neon signs for the El Cortez hotel near the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas in 2009.

Neon signs for the El Cortez hotel near the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas in 2009.

George Rose / Getty Images

Meanwhile, El Cortez, one of the oldest operating casino hotels in Vegas, celebrated its 80th anniversary this month, and The Points Guy’s Leezel Tanglao entered the Jackie Gaughan suite at the Fremont Hotel. Street. Named after the longtime El Cortez owner and famous Vegas character, who lived there until his death in 2014, this $ 1,000-per-night room is a time-traveling portal to the 1980s excess. Available by request only, the suite is 2,800 square feet of marble bidets, golden swan-shaped water faucets, and retro Vegas-style pink and gold.

While there is surely a to-do list for those who fantasize about what it would have been like to be a casino mogul during the Reagan years, it seems like a select few. The Gaughan suite only gets one reservation per month.

The Tank Room at Jordan Vineyard & Winery near Healdsburg, California.

The Tank Room at Jordan Vineyard & Winery near Healdsburg, California.

George Rose / Getty Images

Bay Area Wine Estate attracts bees (and monarch butterflies)

Victory gardens of all kinds made a triumphant return at the start of the pandemic, when the weather was plentiful and food seemed to be running out of steam. In North Bay, the Jordan Estate of Sonoma County took its pandemic-era plantation in another direction, converting 10 acres of its prized Healdsburg real estate estate into a so-called “pollinator sanctuary.”

The winery, which also operates a European-style castle for overnight guests, has seeded the preserved acres with native plants known to attract the Western Monarch and native bees, both of which are considered “at risk” in northern California. The multi-year project includes the planting of 3,400 plants covering 100 species, according to Marin Living magazine. Among them: milkweed, the plant known to support migrating monarch populations.

Western monarch butterflies thrive in gardens created to welcome pollinating insects and birds.

Western monarch butterflies thrive in gardens created to welcome pollinating insects and birds.

The Washington Post / The Washington Post via Getty Im

“Milkweed is a very expensive – and difficult – plant to grow,” writes Lisa Mattson on the winery blog. “It takes a lot of work to successfully germinate milkweed. You can’t just throw the seeds in the ground and water them. The winery therefore teamed up with a local 4-H group to germinate milkweed plants. The estate is now the largest wine sanctuary in the country, according to the nonprofit eco-association Pollinator Partnership.

You do not have to stay at the Jordan Chateau, which is reserved for “Rewards members” of the cellar to experience the sanctuary. While tours are temporarily suspended for construction, the winery regularly hosts wine hikes and tours to show off the 1,200-acre property.

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