Included here in its entirety, is the December 25th article in the Yountville Sun by its Editor, Sharon Stensaas. It truly gives one the sense why many come here to be satiated and entertained, but also to live here in this magically little town. Enjoy.
As visitor-dependent Napa Valley businesses brace for the full effects of the “slow season,” which traditionally runs from December through February and into March, local businesspeople are sharing concerns that this off season will be considerably more “off” than usual because of the nation’s economic crisis.
But read some of the publicity currently being circulated about Yountville, and it would seem this little village is positioned to fare better than most in the weeks and months ahead. Yountville looks good in print.
Last week The EarthTimes released a story on Business Wire with the headline “Oasis in an Economic Downtown: Napa Valley’s YountvilleSports Silver Lining With Impressive Stats on Tourism; Estimated $100 Million in New Construction and Bo)ost in Room Rates.”
Earth Times, a news website that publishes reports on a wide variety of topics, opened its Yountville story as follows, “As the economy sizzles into the sea, one cityin Northern California is bucking the tourism trend with impressive results. As top destinations are struggling with falling occupancy and average daily room rates, this city located 55 miles northof San Francisco posted a $25,000 increase in transient occupancy tax revenue (TOT) for July/August ’08, annual 8.3 percent gain in average daily room rates and annualized occupancy rate of 75.6 percent which represents a minuscule 0.4 percent drop!”
It doesn’t stop there.
“In these tryingtimes, scurrying for the competitive tourism dollar has translated into transport promotions, rock bottom room rates and added-value attractions driving most destinations. While there are always off-season deals to be had throughout Napa Valley and Yountville, this culinary bastion of just four square miles has quietly evolved into a textbook study of recession-proof marketing ..
“With nine hotels and six coveted Michelin stars, the town’s silver lining is due to a variety of factors, from careful master planned growthto a strong loyal. base of clientele and solid mix of group/leisure business. Add to that an estimated $100 million in new construction of hotels, restaurants and renovations in 2008/2009, a recent Stardard & Poor’s AA+ rating (July /2008) due to strong local tourism based economy, exceptionally strong financial performance and dedicated revenue stream from the town’s TOT, and the message is clear: This is the Little Town that Could.”
Yountville’s key survival techniques were identified as “an aggressive marketing communications program positioning Yountville as the West Coast’s top epicurean and favorable ‘green touring’ option linking all visitor assets via walking or biking.”
Intervicewed by Earth News for the story were Mayor Cindy Saucerman, Town Manager Steve Rogers and Villagio Inri’s Director of Sales and Marketing Steve Andrews.
If Yountvilleis being seen as green, it is about to get even greener in the New Year, with the planned opening of the Bardessono inn on February 2.
While these 62 inn units are yet to be experienced firsthand, the application of green features have already attracted ink in a number of building industry publications, and the public relations firm handling the property is positioning it as “Amedca’s Greenest Luxury Hotel.”
Aspiring to achieve Platinum LEED Certification for the inn, eco-developer Phil Sherburne, as his publicity describes him, wants to erase the notion that being green involves “wearing a sack-cloth coat.” His concept is that the highly personal nature of Bardessono hospitality may be nurturing and restorative.
The property will get approximately half of its electricity from a 200-kilowatt photovoltaic solar system discretely mounted and concealed on the inn’s flat-topped roofs.
To heat and cool guest rooms as well as the property’s domestic water supply, a systemof 82, 300-foot geothermal wells were drilled to work witha specially developed ground source heat pump system.
“Up-cycled” materials are being incorporated throughout the new inn, and they include recycled steel, green glass tiles and fly ash concrete. (Fly ash, a glass-like powder recovered from gases created by goal fired electric power generation, is a recyclable material often ued as a replacement for Portland cement.)
Locally-sourced and salvaged Monterey Cypress, Walnut, Redwood, Eucalyptus and California Bay Laurel wood is being used for everything from siding and ceiling beams to furniture and bathroom flooring.
The hotel’s entry features local stone salvaged and recut from the Bardessono family’s original homestead.
Meanwhile, Thomas Keller’s name and stellar reputation on the international stage of culinary arts, continue to generate so much media the YountvilleChamber of Commerce suspended its clipping service several years ago because it couldn’t afford to pay for the constant blizzard of clippings Keller generated with a Yountville mention. (A clipping service tracks mentions of a specific word or words for its clients by clipping the stories bearing those words from thousands of publications of all types from around the globe. Clients generally are charged a basic fee as well as a certain amount for each clip containing the word or words it has specified.)
And Keller is developing his own green profile. In May he will be honored by the Monterey Bay Aquarium with the Conservation Leadership Award at the Cooking for Solutions celebration for his efforts in promoting food practices that protect the health of the ocean and the soil.
And more local publicityis sure to come from the Keller organizationnext month, when French Laundry sous chef Tim Hollingsworth goes to Lyon, France, as the first American to compete in the prestigious Bocuse d’Or World Cuisine Contest.
Whether this proliferation of publicity will actually propel paying customers into local inns, restaurants, galleries, tasting rooms and shops remains to be seen, but tiny Yountville is generating more than its proportionate share of industry ink.