Shop Talk | April 6, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - April 6, 2012

Shop Talk

$10 MILLION IN UPGRADES ... Ten million bucks. That's the price tag to transform the dilapidated Casa Olga in downtown Palo Alto into a boutique hotel. A major California hotel chain, Joie de Vivre, which owns 31 properties, will take over the eight-story Casa Olga at 180 Hamilton Ave. "We'll be doing modest changes to the exterior, but the bones of the building will stay," Joie de Vivre founder Chip Conley said. Upwards of $10 million will be spent to upgrade the interior of the 48-year-old structure, which will turn it into a four-star, upscale, luxury hotel, slated to open in early 2013, Conley said. It was the corner location at Hamilton Avenue and Emerson Street that attracted Conley to the site. "It's a dynamite location. A lot of people would rather stay downtown than somewhere on El Camino," he said. And Conley should know. He attended Stanford University as both an undergrad and an MBA student. "My parents also went to Stanford. I have a strong connection with this city," he said. The new hotel will have a distinct Northern California flavor throughout, including a 50-seat restaurant with a sidewalk cafe. "The restaurant will be a farm-to-table kind of place," he said. The hotel could benefit Palo Alto's nonprofit organizations. "Joie De Vivre has a reputation for reaching out into the community, and we're actively involved in community giving," said Conley, who is also estimating $1 million in annual tax revenues for the city. "What's interesting is in the past 10 years, two high-end hotels were created in this area — Four Seasons and Rosewood — and neither one is located in the city of Palo Alto. So even though people are staying at those properties to be in or near Palo Alto, there are no hotel taxes coming from those properties to this city," he said. This development may be the final hotel for Conley. "This could be my last hurrah. I've been doing this for 25 years, and I'm looking forward to spending more time speaking and writing," said Conley, who has authored several motivational and leadership books. His current book, "Emotional Equations," was a New York Times bestseller. The name of the new hotel? "Don't know yet. We're surveying the community about this, and we're open to suggestions," he said.

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Heard a rumor about your favorite store or business moving out, or in, down the block or across town? Daryl Savage will check it out. Email


Like this comment
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Apr 9, 2012 at 11:17 am

It looks like the owner of Asian Box has bought the Rangoon restaurant on Waverley and will call it Altar.

How about some reporting on that?

Like this comment
Posted by commonsense
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 9, 2012 at 11:31 am

Rangoon is on Bryant

Like this comment
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Apr 9, 2012 at 11:46 am

Sorry, commonsense. Yes on Bryant.

Like this comment
Posted by Joseph
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 9, 2012 at 12:20 pm

A high end hotel would be great in that spot! More tax revenues for PA, and probably some private security presence. What's not to like about it?

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 9, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Hopefully this Sancho's will figure out how to make a real torta - it doesn't belong on a French roll.

Like this comment
Posted by poori
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 9, 2012 at 2:38 pm

open building for the poor. your country is greedy.

Like this comment
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Apr 9, 2012 at 6:42 pm


have you noticed that Palo Alto has a lot of units for people with low and moderate income?

Check the Palo Alto Housing Corporation website.

There are other communities around here where your message would make more sense.

Like this comment
Posted by free
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Apr 10, 2012 at 1:12 pm

free housing is the point. never seen a DOG pay rent!