The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, already owners of two large hotels in the Santa Ynez Valley, announced Wednesday that the tribe has purchased the 71-room Hadsten House Inn, with its day-spa and restaurant, at 1450 Mission Drive in Solvang.
City and tourism officials welcomed the news, while an opponent of tribal expansion said the purchase proved that the Chumash have “no further need for taxpayer subsidy” to annex more property into their reservation.
“We are excited about adding the Hadsten House to our portfolio,” Tribal Chairman Vincent Armenta said in a written statement. “The property has made a name for itself as one of the Valley’s favorite destinations when it comes to quality, boutique lodging.”
The two-story building on Highway 246 at the western edge of Solvang was built in 1972, and in 2007 underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation to become one of the only lodging establishments in Santa Barbara County with an indoor heated swimming pool.
The tribe bought the hotel from AFTC-Solvang and the Iqbal family. The sale price was not disclosed.
Nerissa Sugars, spokeswoman for the Chumash, said there are no plans for a name change or major renovations, nor are there are any plans to make the property part of the tribe’s sovereign reservation through the federal government’s fee-to-trust process.
Fee-to-trust removes land from local jurisdiction and places it under tribal authority. The sovereign tribal land then becomes exempt from local and state taxes and local zoning laws.
Although he opposes the expansion of gaming at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez and the annexation of additional property to the reservation, Solvang Mayor Jim Richardson said the tribe’s latest acquisition will bring more tourist traffic to the city, which in turn helps the local economy.
“I want to thank them for investing in our city, and we welcome them with open arms,” he said.
The tribe already owns Hotel Corque, the largest in Solvang.
The Chumash purchase is keeping Hadsten House in “local hands,” and that is exciting because a local partnership already exists with the tribe, said Executive Director Tracy Farhad of the Solvang Conference and Visitors Bureau, which is the city’s official marketing agency.
“I think it’s going to be a win-win for everybody,” she said.
Bill Phelps, former general manager of Hadsten House, and his staff did a tremendous job in keeping up the hotel’s competitive edge, she said.
Executive Director Mary Harris of the Santa Ynez Valley Hotel Association said the organization, founded in 2011, is looking forward to continuing its relationship with the new owners and watching the evolution of Hadsten House.
Before he resigned his position at Hadsten House, Phelps was a leader in creating the hotel association and served as its first president.
The Hadsten House purchase “demonstrates no further need for taxpayer subsidy,” for the tribe, said Kathy Cleary, a board member of Preservation of Los Olivos (POLO), which has been a constant critic of the Chumash Casino Resort, efforts to annex land into the reservation, and expansion of the casino’s liquor license.
“POLO’s concern is that the Hadsten House will be used to support the casino. This is a violation of their Tribal-State Gaming Compact, Section 2.8, that defines ‘gaming facility’ as all buildings, rooms, parking lots, walkways, a principal purpose of which is to serve the activities of the gaming operation,” she said.
The heart of the tribe’s properties is the four-story Chumash Casino Resort on its 130-acre reservation in Santa Ynez, several miles east of Solvang. The AAA Four Diamond Award hotel with spa has 123 rooms and suites.
The largest of the tribe’s off-reservation holdings is the three-story Hotel Corque, formerly the Royal Scandinavian Inn, with its 124 rooms and suites and the adjacent Root 246 restaurant, both on Alisal Road in the center of Solvang.
The tribe also owns two gas stations in Santa Ynez, an employee-resource center office building in Buellton, and several vacant parcels around the Santa Ynez Valley. The largest of those is the 1,400-acre Camp 4 agricultural property about 2 miles east of the casino, which the tribe wants to annex into its reservation.
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