Ellison to transform Epiphany Hotel into tropical 'resort hub'

Billionaire's new development looks to blend Hawaii, Japan into downtown Palo Alto

Editor's note: This article was posted on April 1 -- April Fools' Day. It is satire, and thus, while occasionally referencing reality, it does not represent the opinions or intended actions of any real people.

In 2012, Oracle founder Larry Ellison bought the Hawaiian island of Lanai. Three years later, he bought the Epiphany Hotel in downtown Palo Alto.

As it turns out, the purchases were related: Ellison is now putting in place plans to renovate the hotel, move in a new restaurant and convert the building at 180 Hamilton Ave. into an immersive, one-of-a-kind dining-and-travel experience in the heart of downtown Palo Alto.

News broke in March that Ellison plans to open an outpost of high-end Japanese restaurant Nobu inside the Epiphany Hotel. Sources familiar with the deal have confirmed that the space, once home to Casa Olga, a convalescent home, will this year be transformed into a multi-level dining, social and technology hub, drawing on Japanese and Hawaiian influences.

"Ellison loves spending time in Japan, Lanai and Palo Alto," the anonymous source, a close friend of Ellison, said. "He wanted to be able to have the best of all worlds in one place, close to home."

The bottom level of the new venture will be home to Nobu, sources confirmed, replacing current hotel restaurant Lure + Till. It will be the first Nobu in Northern California and will have several special menu items specific to the Palo Alto location, sources said. The architecture will reflect feudal Japan, sources added, with the facade on the bottom three stories renovated to resemble a tiered pagoda.

Inside, the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth floors will each have a theme based on a different Japanese, Hawaiian or Silicon Valley region, according to preliminary plans that were released Thursday. The third floor, for example, is Lanai. There will be a salt-water pool (in which visitors can scuba dive as well as swim), pineapple-plantation room and a local replica of the famous Lanai Cat Sanctuary. The cat sanctuary on the Lanai level will be opened up once a month to provide cat therapy to at-risk youths, seniors and despondent scuba divers.

Just above the Lanai floor is a replica floor of the Oracle campus in Redwood City. Employees will be able to enter a lottery to work there once a month.

On the penthouse level there will be a social and tech hub where Ellison will invite startups, tech leaders, celebrities and local business people to give talks; host networking events; and test out cocktails for a new cocktail book he's currently writing called, "A Drink With Larry."

Rooms at the new "seven-star hotel" (as the development is branded) are located on the fifth and sixth floors and start at $1 million a night. Customers who buy shares in Oracle stock will receive a 1 percent discount. Room service will be delivered by either Nobu Matsuhisa himself or his hologram.

Pending the City Council's approval, Ellison hopes to start construction by this summer and to have the building open by 2017, sources said.

Happy April Fools Day!

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5 people like this
Posted by Down the street
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 1, 2016 at 10:47 am

April Fools....I hope! But we are talking about Larry E.!

5 people like this
Posted by Hahaha!
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 1, 2016 at 11:26 am

When my eyes turned from a cringe, my mouth then cringed... after which, it preceded to hit the floor in over the top "are you kidding me!" fashion. Then.... da.da.da.... the LIGHT BULB moment due to the absurdity level in this piece.

Ha! APRIL FOOLS'! Good one! Hey... ya never know with Billionaires! They even run for President! EGO's

GOOD ONE!! Hahahahahahahaha ~ Almost tops me running out the house with one sock on and one off because my son had said someone was stealing my car!! Ha-Ha... yeah, he got me too!

3 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 1, 2016 at 11:59 am

Why do you assume this a joke? What better time is there to bury this kind of news in plain sight?

Like this comment
Posted by Becky Sanders
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 1, 2016 at 12:03 pm

Oh gosh, I guess I am an anachronism... out of step... yearning for the olden days when that posh place was Casa Olga, a low income apartment house for the not so lucky, fallen on hard times crowd, and yes, some addicts and sad people. I knew a fine lady that used to live there. And she would have been on the streets but for that place. She tolds us so and was so grateful for her billet there. An exotic getaway right in the heart of Palo Alto... that's business and that's what we value and call progress. Larry's project sounds fun. I hope it works out for him and enhances our collective experience of downtown.

3 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Apr 1, 2016 at 12:13 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Gosh, I was still musing on city hall as housing when this story popped up. Posters have been calling for SV execs to build housing for their workers. Why not ask Larry to lead on this?

Happy April 1.

6 people like this
Posted by Got it
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 1, 2016 at 12:32 pm

It was the scuba diving comment that gave it away for me. Scuba diving on the third floor? What a brilliant idea! Great job!

7 people like this
Posted by julianne
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 1, 2016 at 3:50 pm

loved the "therapy" cats in the pool. thanks for the chuckle

Like this comment
Posted by tenant
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 1, 2016 at 3:53 pm

Guess I'm just dumb,

Is this an April fools joke or not?

Like this comment
Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 1, 2016 at 4:11 pm

April fools jokes like this are just stupid.

1 person likes this
Posted by bob berry
a resident of Los Altos
on Apr 1, 2016 at 5:01 pm

I just talked with Larry, and you are almost right. They miss stated room rates.
it is $1.00/night with the purchase of 1,000,000 shares of Oracle stock.

Like this comment
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 2, 2016 at 5:13 am

Larry Ellison is one of the smartest people on earth.
Let us enjoy his creative investment, and this hotel and property flourish.
We just need to relax and enjoy.

Palo Alto will gain from this venture.


Like this comment
Posted by Jenna
a resident of Southgate
on Apr 2, 2016 at 7:58 am

That wasn't funny. I freaked out when I read Nobu was coming to town. That would be an incredible addition to downtown and I had quickly planned on spending every Friday night there. Next time, pick a different restaurant for your joke. Now I don't like you guys.

Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 2, 2016 at 2:55 pm

Hey - don't forget that the Hawaiian theme has been very popular in San Francisco and elsewhere - the Tonga Room. And the Matson Lines were the usual method for getting to the islands. Cruises are coming back. That is what funded Filoli.

If you spend any time in the islands there are very high end eating experiences and very high end hotel décor.

I say we could use more of that and reduce the air time getting there. We could see a Roy's Restaurant, or a Duke's. There is Fleetwood's on Front Street - Maui. Follow the money - it knows where it is going.

2 people like this
Posted by Voter2
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Apr 3, 2016 at 9:58 pm

Editor: can future editions limit the number of articles published as April Fool's Jokes? 1 article is understandable in the spirit or the day, 2 is okay, but Palo Alto Weekly has taken it too far with so many false articles. It makes it difficult to determine which article to read, or if the article will be another satire. This detracts from the credibility of the publication.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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