There was "a lighthearted spirit missing from the wine region," says designer Brian Smith about the reasons behind creating The Sandman in Santa Rosa, California, in the heart of Sonoma County. B&Bs and wine-focused resorts have long been the bulk of travelers' options there, with few boutique lodgings.
Before the renovation, the rooms were seriously dated. "Some of them had red carpet and blue carpet, typical of 1990s motor lodges," recalls Smith, "and La-Z-Boy-ish sofas plus dark woods." Working with a small budget, a decision was made to leave the bathrooms alone (but add Malin + Goetz's wildly popular toiletries) and instead focus more on making the rooms fun, injecting a "sense of humor" into the design whenever possible, says Smith. Determining what to revamp and what to leave as-is "was an exercise in what's important," he says.
"Hotels are more than just a place to sleep," says Smith. "A motor lodge can be a destination."