Inside the Ameswell Hotel is a fusion of two eras. Modern-day amenities catering to millennials — like heated saltwater pools, games of cornhole and restaurants staffed by robots — sit alongside nearly century-old aeronautics equipment and grainy photos capturing Mountain View long before the city became a tech hub.
It's a careful balance that Ameswell is hoping to strike, giving more than just a nod to the city's rich history while appealing to a modern luxury style that attracts business travelers and staycationers alike. The hotel, which officially opened last week, is decorated from top to bottom with art and amenities harkening back to Moffett Field and NASA Ames, all the way down to the "A" logo in the shape of Hangar One.
Ameswell has been a long time coming, approved back in 2016 as part of the so-called Moffett Gateway project. The 255-room hotel on Moffett Boulevard neighbors Highway 101 and a newly developed office building, which was constructed alongside Ameswell and is being leased to Google.
It's the latest in a recent surge of hotel development in the city, and the first to open its doors since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Opening a hotel during such a tumultuous time was difficult, said Philip Maritz, managing director with the developer Broadreach Capital Partners.
"We had mandated construction stoppages, supply chain challenges and a variety of delays causing an approximate one-year opening delay, but here we are!" Maritz said.
Everywhere you go in the hotel, there's a reference to Moffett Field or NASA. The fast-casual cafe next to the lobby is called the "Flyby" and is decorated with dirigibles, and the meeting and event spaces are all named after NASA missions like Voyager, Pioneer and Orion.
Next door is a library devoted to aeronautics and space flight, decorated with a test pilot's helmet, a piece of a jet fuselage and 1930s-era aircraft designs. An old promotional print of Moffett Field's 25th anniversary in 1958 touts aircrafts ranging from "lighter-than-air to faster-than-sound," referring to dirigibles and high-speed jets.
The goal is to always tie the art and features of the hotel to Mountain View and its history of technology, said Keith Battaglia, Ameswell's director of sales and marketing. But outside the aesthetics, it's still a sleek modern-day hotel, he said, with a 1-gigabit internet connection and perks that appeal to a younger crowd. Room service has been ditched in favor of a fast-casual dining experience, and there's an emphasis on outdoor activities with hula hoops and glow-in-the-dark bocce ball.
There's also a conscious effort to keep Ameswell from feeling like an exclusive development cut off from the community around it. Though the room rates are priced a little bit higher — starting at $329 — the downstairs food services are open to the public and priced around the same level as downtown Mountain View, Battaglia said. What's more, the hotel is working on the permits required to build a bike and pedestrian bridge between the hotel and Stevens Creek Trail, with a goal of attracting people from the community.
"This is not a stuffy, high-end hotel," he said. "This is an experience for the community."
Mountain View has been on a mission since 2013 to convert the 10-acre property off Moffett Boulevard into a mixed-use hotel and office project, with a goal of using the property to generate cash. The city owns about 7 acres of the site, containing the five-story, 200,000-square-foot office building and six-story parking structure, while Broadreach purchased the land under the hotel from Caltrans.
Though Ameswell is opening with the worst of the pandemic behind it, leaders in the hotel industry say a full recovery will take a long time. A report released Tuesday by the American Hotel and Lodging Association revealed that occupancy rates are at 55.9% this year, up from 44% in 2020 but well below the 66% occupancy rates prior to the pandemic. The report does not project a full rebound in 2022.
Across all 50 states, California saw the biggest loss in hotel jobs during COVID-19, with more than 75,000 fewer jobs this year than in 2019.
Mountain View's hotel tax revenue took a massive hit during the pandemic and only generated about $1.4 million during the 2020-21 fiscal year, less than one-fifth of what was projected before the pandemic hit, suggesting that local hotel occupancy and revenue generation sank even lower than the countrywide average.