Sunday, August 12, 2007

UC Berkeley to finally get a decent hotel

Chip Conley's Joie de Vivre Hospitality is opening its first hotel in the East Bay following its takeover and planned $9 million renovation of the historic Hotel Durant, one block from the UC Berkeley campus.

Joie de Vivre is also poised to takeover the Waterfront Plaza hotel at Jack London Square in conjunction with Ellis Partners LLC, which owns Jack London Square.

Based in San Francisco, Joie de Vivre is expanding aggressively throughout California. It entered the Los Angeles market just two years ago and now has four hotels there, including the recently-acquired Sportsmen's Lodge in Studio City. Conley told me the company is finishing negotiations with two more LA-area hotels. (None of this LA stuff made it into my story).

The Durant in Berkeley is an interesting buy for Joie de Vivre. The company may finally give the University of California the hotel it so richly deserves.

I have lived in Berkeley for 13 years, including 9 years within a block of this hotel, and my wedding guests lodged at the Durant this past June. The hotel has a lot of potential, with great bones, a rich history and a bustling bar.

But like the other major hotel near campus, Hotel Shattuck, it lacks in both amenities and service. The Durant is 80 years old and it shows, from the creaky elevators to the lack of air conditioning to the unreliable plumbing.

If you want a better hotel, you have to go to the Claremont, an expensive resort up in the hills, or to the DoubleTree at the Berkeley Marina. Neither are within easy walking distance of the campus.

The Faculty Club on campus has just 10 spartan rooms. The Bancroft Hotel across the street from campus looks nice from the outside but only has about two dozen rooms.

The university wants to partner with Carpenter & Co. on a fancy hotel and conference center just west of campus, a better location than the Durant from both the freeway and BART, but there is skepticism over whether this plan will ever happen at all.

Business Times: Hotel firm Joie de Vivre makes first East Bay foray (free link)

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V Smoothe said...

The Claremont is an easy walk from campus. And it isn't in the hills, it's just past Rockridge. Not that Berkeley couldn't use more hotels, but the description you provide is rather hyperbolic.

August 12, 2007 5:22 PM  
Ryan said...

It's not too close to Rockridge -- if you were on College Ave you'd turn on to Ashby, so you'd be in Elmwood. College is already well elevated from the flats, though it is not the hills admittedly. But as you go the next four or more blocks up Ashby from College you get higher and higher, and by the time you reach the stoplight for the Claremont (just past Claremont Ave, which indeed will get you to Rockridge), the Hills have begun.

The hotel's about page says it is "high in the Berkeley hills".

And it's about 1.5 miles to the campus corner at Piedmont/Bancroft, which is a bit of a hike, unless you're a student...

August 12, 2007 6:41 PM  
ryan said...

OK I did say neither are "remotely in walking distance," I think for sake of the Claremont I should say neither are "in easy walking distance."

Don't feel like logging in but then I suppose I'll have to to make the change ...

August 12, 2007 6:46 PM  

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