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Santa Cruz, California's Former University Inn & Conference Center Will Reopen as
Hotel Paradox After Owners, BPR Properties, Complete Multimillion Dollar Remodel

By Jondi Gumz, Santa Cruz Sentinel, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

March 07, 2012--SANTA CRUZ -- The former University Inn & Conference Center has a new name, Hotel Paradox, and by June will have a new look.

The new owners, BPR Properties, which acquired the 170-room hotel at 611 Ocean St. in October, say the multimillion-dollar remodel under way will result in a transformation.

"We saw the potential in this property to do something different, creating a hotel that rethinks the traditional hotel paradigm by redefining luxury," said Perry Patel, partner of BPR Properties, which owns hotels in Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Berkeley. "Hotel Paradox is not a beach hotel and has a hip, yet mysterious vibe that sets it apart from any other hotel in the area."

He described the new look as "edgy, yet welcoming" and "exciting and successful for the city of Santa Cruz."

David Issel, vice president operations at BPR Properties, elaborated on the new name.

"The Hotel Paradox presents a unique discovery for those who wish to solve its question," he said, promising "added 'quirky' touches to the service experience, including custom paradoxical amenities in the rooms."

BPR Properties has commissioned San Francisco designer David Oldroyd of Orlando Diaz-Azcuy Design Associates, to make over the five-story hotel. He is considered a rising star on the design scene, with his work leaning toward luxurious minimalism.

The hotel owners say they are looking for local contractors to work on the remodel and plan to employ about 80 people in full and part-time positions once the hotel is in operation.

Interior demolition is well under way. The lobby has been stripped, and a pile of rubble sits in the parking lot along with cardboard boxes containing air conditioning units.

Renderings were not available Tuesday but the new owners detailed a variety of changes inside and out.

The new lobby will feature a front desk made from reclaimed large eucalyptus and an interactive bookcase filled with games and books. A new restaurant-bar, Solaire, will provide indoor and outdoor seating and offer "Modern American cuisine" featuring seasonal and sustainable products from local farms and wineries.

Fire pits and cabanas will be part of the redesigned pool area, and a new fitness room will be installed overlooking the pool.

Rooms will feature a "soft gray and cream" color palette with high-tech amenities such as 37-inch flat-screen televisions with high-definition programming, iPod docks, complimentary Wi-Fi and cordless phones.

Other conveniences will include mini-bars, coffee-makers and room safes. Custom headboards are being made from reused snow fences, and guests will be treated to down bedding and a "pillow butler" offering hypoallergenic down and foam choices.

The hotel's 8,000 square feet of meeting facilities will be entirely redesigned. The ballroom will accommodate up to 350 guests for a seated dinner, 500 guests for a meeting or divided upon requests. Six different meeting spaces will be available with a "retreat specialist" to help plan meetings.

Bill Tysseling of the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce said he likes the new name.

"BPR is a sophisticated operator," he said. "I'm confident that this wasn't a 'shot-in-the-dark' choice and comes with a good understanding of the market they are trying to attact."

He called the company's plans "stylish and creative" and welcomed the attention to conference space.

"The upgrade of the facilities and rooms affirms our belief that there is great opportunity to add upscale rooms to the community's lodging inventory," he said.

Until closing in August, the hotel was the largest in the city of Santa Cruz. It was among the city's top 10 taxpayers, paying about $250,000 on an assessment of $22.5 million, and previously housed students at UC Santa Cruz.

The former owners, an affiliate of Seagate Properties Inc. of San Rafael, owed $13.3 million on a $14 million loan from Bank of America.

The new owners took over the loan, according to documents in the county recorder's office.

Last fall, the new owners had expected the remodeled hotel would reopen in May. Now the opening date is simply summer.

Follow Sentinel reporter Jondi Gumz on Twitter @jondigumz


(c)2012 the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.)

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