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article imageReview: Old hotel in Wine Country opens as a new getaway spot Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Aug 31, 2012 in Travel
Sonoma - Nestled in a cluster of trees above Warm Springs Road in the charming little town of Glen Ellen is an old hotel that has been "born-again" as the Olea Hotel. Owners Ashish and Sia Patel invited the public inside to their grand opening on August 29.
"I feel like I am at my wedding; it’s incredible" said Ashish as he addressed the over 100 invited guests and local passerby arrivals that Wednesday evening. His wife Sia agreed as both were gracious hosts eager to let everyone know their establishment is now open for business. Ashish noted that it has been "kind of surreal, and a long haul," from what the hotel once was to what it has now become. Formerly the Glenelly Inn, with a varied history that goes back more than a century. The rustic resort needed some renovating.
Both he and Sia mentioned that it took some time just to get permits in order before work could began. Yet they both said it would not have been possible if it were not for the dedicated work of general contractors and laborers from C2C (Concept to Completion) Construction. "Those guys went through a lot to get all the work done, said Ashish as he asked the crowd to join him in giving the construction crew a round of applause.
Sia had mentioned earlier to this reporter that getting the hotel ready for guests was not easy as much of the old hotel was in need of major renovations. And, to bring the latest in amenities and convenience up to standard required that all the facilities be completely redone. When asked if there were moments in the project when she and Ashish thought they might have gotten into something too daunting, Sia smiled a bit and said, "well maybe for a few moments, for as soon as we started the process, I discovered that we were going to have a baby."
Yet, she said that despite the stress all went well and that her little one is now six months old. Sia's confidence is due mostly in part to all the support she and Ashish receive from family and friends. Of course it helps to have previous experience in the hotel and hospitality business. Ashish and his brother Devesh grew up in the hotel business. The Patel family owned a Best Western franchise in Santa Clara. Devesh said he is pleased to help his brother in this new venture that is in addition to a small hotel type place that the couple owns near Mendocino.
"My mom is helping us on that. She takes reservations and that place was our first." said Sia. Yet both she and Ashish's brother Devesh confided that being in the wine country was a preferred choice over Mendocino, because the commute is closer to the city and easier to get to other spots around the Bay Area.
The Patel's consider the hotel a family venture and they like to include everyone who works for them and with them as part of a family. As Bill Schawber one of the guests pointed out, "when people work together it makes things easier, - Maria Abadesco coordinated a lot of the community connections, got the music together, etc," he said. He was impressed.
Like Schwaber, all the guests invited for that evening, were impressed with what they saw. "I have looked all over the United States for a place like this," said Petra Luh, who works as a facilitator for Happy Homes, SVP, LLC. Happy Homes offers services from house cleaning to home repairs. Located in Sedona, Arizona Happy Homes wants to branch out to Northern California. Luh has relocated to Sonoma. Originally from Europe Luh said that "you would be surprised how many world travelers would love to come to a place like this."
"The French Riviera is lovely but not like this," she said. "So much of it has become too commercial and really packed in like a can of sardines," Luh said. She considers the Olea Hotel and surrounding area a great value for one's money, definitely when comparing to the resorts and inns of Europe.
While local author and photographer Kent Sorensen might differ in opinion, he did concur that Olea Hotel has some of the best views from the second floor balcony of the main house. Sorensen provided a short tour of some of the rooms and two cottages that make Olea a relaxing accommodation. As he looked out over the balcony he commented that type of view and tranquil setting must have been what drew famous author Jack London to this part of California.
Just down Warm Springs Road is the main intersection of the tiny town of Glen Ellen, not far from there is Jack London Village. This part of Sonoma County was London's favorite and his retreat from the world. Jay Gamel, of the Kenwood Press said that the pace of life is much slower and it is a place for writers like he and Sorensen.
Gamel was pleased to see the hotel re-open in its new incarnation because it helps to build a sense of community, while attracting visitors. Each business in some way helps the other. Many of the guests were local business owners and fellow hospitality proprietors like Steve Rose, owner of the Vineyards Inn in nearby Kenwood, on Sonoma Highway. Don Richard would understand because as the owner of Platypus Tours Limited, the newly renovated hotel provides an outlet for his excursions through Sonoma and adjacent Napa Valley. "There are so many parts to Sonoma County and Glen Ellen is an idyllic enclave. I am happy to see this place return to better than what it once was," said Pichard. He considered the total renovation a great job making it "an irresistible place, contemporary, yet simple, very down-to-earth and comfortable."
PJ Savastano who provides spa services, anticipates more will be included as time goes on. "we offer massage and spa treatment, at some point we want to offer facials and all the extras people expect from a fine resort," she said.
Executive Chef, Khambay Khamsyvoravong, kept the food and wine flowing as guests enjoyed hors d'oeuvres like chilled melon soup, quiche and various cheeses with fresh fruit. Small tomatoes with Mozzarella and a squirt of balsamic vinegar was consumed in record numbers. A warm evening and the delicious wine made the guests linger a bit longer.
As Sia and Ashish thanked everyone for attending she said, "we love being here and are so happy to be part of the community. Please stop by even if just to say hello for a muffin at breakfast."
Now officially open the Olea Hotel is taking reservations,for more information visit the web site to book your reservations on line or call 707.996.5131.
More about Olea Hotel, Sonoma County, Glen Ellen, Wine country
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