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home : news : national news free February 25, 2020

12/14/2019 8:34:00 AM
US travel opportunities abound this holiday season

Santa Monica beach front hotel built with out ordered to offer affordable lodging
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Santa Monica beachfront hotel built without proper permits and fined nearly $15.6 million will be allowed to remain open.

After hours of debate the California Coastal Commission voted 7-5 Thursday to approve after-the-fact permits for the Shore Hotel, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

In exchange, the hotel’s developer agreed to create a “micro hotel“ within the Shore resort that overlooks Santa Monica Pier. The resort will include 72 rooms priced no higher than $180 a night, waive $25 resort fees for guests in those rooms and limit their nightly parking fees to $25.

The developer, Sunshire Enterprises, still has to pay the nearly $15.6 million fine and must also cover $2.3 million in mitigation fees. The fine issued in May for opening the hotel without proper permits is a record for the commission.

The dispute began after the commission, which oversees development along California’s coast, granted Sunshine approval in 2009 to demolish two aging, moderately priced hotels containing a total of 87 rooms. They were to be replaced with a new hotel that commissioners were promised would also be affordable in a tourist area where inexpensive hotels are rare.

But after the demolition permits expired the developer built a 164-room resort hotel with two restaurants, a pool, a gym, a meeting space and rooms ranging in price from $265 to $800 a night, the Times said. Parking fees were $43 a night.

In seeking permit approval Thursday, the developer originally proposed adding a 14-bed, low-cost hostel with nightly rates topping out at $52. After commissioners said that was insufficient, the hotel agreed to turn the 14-bed hostel into a micro-hotel.

Hotel del Coronado begins $200-million major renovation
CORONADO, Calif. (AP) — Southern California’s historic Hotel del Coronado could temporarily cut up to 160 employees as it prepares to shut down boutiques, a restaurant and its spa amid renovations.

The sprawling property with white shingles and a red roof is in the midst of a $200 million facelift.

Once completed by the end of 2021, the revamped resort will have a new conference center, 142 more guestrooms, and a redo of the ocean-view sun deck.

The hotel built in 1888 was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977.

Long awaited indoor ski slope debuts at New Jersey megamall
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — An indoor ski slope that has been the most visible feature of the long-delayed American Dream megamall in New Jersey for more than a decade has finally opened.

Mall owner Triple Five says it’s the only indoor slope in North America.

The ski slope was one of the first elements built more than a decade ago and could be seen from the adjacent New Jersey Turnpike.

The retail and entertainment project began in 2003 next to the Meadowlands sports complex but stalled because of financing problems. Triple Five took over in 2010 and began a phased opening in October. All elements are expected to be open by spring.

The ski slope measures 180,000 square feet and includes a beginners’ area. It is 16 stories high with a 160-foot vertical drop. It is equipped to make more than 4 tons of snow per hour.

B.B. King Museum expanding to add space for his vehicles
INDIANOLA, Miss. (AP) — Work is starting on a $2.5 million expansion of a Mississippi Delta museum dedicated to a native son who became a blues legend.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday for new space at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola.

The museum opened in 2008 near the area where King grew up. The 15-time Grammy winner died in 2015 and is buried on the museum grounds.

The 4,500-square-foot (418-square-meter) addition will house King’s tour bus and two of his vehicles, a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow and a custom painted Chevy El Camino.

The museum says that other artifacts acquired since his death are being preserved and cataloged, including a guitar given to King by guitarist and inventor Les Paul.

Utah school from ‘High School Musical’ may get tourist boost
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah high school where the Disney movie “High School Musical” was filmed over a decade ago has become a tourist destination, and the trend could grow with the premiere of Disney’s new streaming service series based on the film.

Much of the popular 2006 movie was filmed at East High School in Salt Lake City. To draw in fans, the state office of tourism has compiled a four-day, four-night “High School Musical Itinerary” for visitors to follow, the Deseret News recently reported.

The campus is open to visitors for a self-guided walking tour on weekdays from 2:30 until 7 p.m. Some tourists just want to take their pictures in front of the school’s now widely recognized facade.

The school again welcomed a Disney cast and crew in 2018 to film a series based on the movie. The filming that went from the end of the school year through the summer made the campus busy, but it wasn’t overwhelming, East High School assistant principal Ken DeVries said.

“They’re very good to work with us. They’re doing everything they can to stay out of our way,” he said.

Most visitors to the school are respectful, though they can sometimes get a little aggressive. And it’s challenging when tour buses stop, he said.

“That’s when it gets a little obnoxious,” DeVries said.

But overall, having a place in Disney history and the hearts of fans who flock to campus has been positive, he said.

“They are delightful people and are just thrilled to see where their favorite show is made,” DeVries said.





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