Groundbreaking for New Luxury Hotel in Santa Cruz

The property will incorporate the historic bell tower into a contemporary reinterpretation of the Spanish Colonial Revival style of architecture
Groundbreaking for New Luxury Hotel in Santa Cruz Will Restore Rich History of Waterfront
Rendering: Official
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Ensemble Investments, the developer of California properties including Bernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley, and Hotel Nia in Menlo Park, in a joint venture with Santa Cruz Seaside Company announced the September 21 groundbreaking for La Bahia Hotel and Spa.

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Located on the former site of La Bahia Apartments, adjacent to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and main beach, La Bahia Hotel and Spa is scheduled to open its doors to guests in fall 2024. The property will incorporate the historic bell tower into a contemporary reinterpretation of the Spanish Colonial Revival style of architecture. The 155-room, luxury hotel will have unobstructed views of the beach, Monterey Bay and the Pacific Ocean beyond.

“When La Bahia Hotel and Spa welcomes guests, it will be the culmination of a long-standing project more than 20 years in the making,” said Kam Babaoff, Chairman and Co-founder Ensemble Investments in a statement. “Ensemble is dedicated to building upon the rich heritage and energy that make Santa Cruz a world-class destination while staying true to, and honoring, the original La Bahia site. We are proud to have the opportunity to revitalize and re-imagine a historic building in a destination as beloved as Santa Cruz. La Bahia Hotel and Spa will welcome the community of Santa Cruz, and guests from both near and far, to our spacious rooms, exciting culinary experiences, relaxing spa and the incredible event space we are creating.”

The property has been a familiar landmark on Santa Cruz’s beachfront for nearly a century. Originally envisioned by UC Berkeley professor of architecture William C. Hays in 1926, its Spanish Mediterranean palette captured the enchantment of its heyday. To honor the architecturally distinctive bell tower, La Bahia Hotel and Spa will feature a Spanish-Colonial style that will blend with a contemporary interpretation of Spanish and California Coastal interior design overseen by Forrest Perkins Design Group.

“The Santa Cruz Seaside Company is proud to be part of the team making a world class luxury hotel at this historic site a reality,” said Santa Cruz Seaside Company President, Karl Rice. “Ensemble will do an excellent job moving this long-awaited project forward and delivering another amazing hotel property to the Santa Cruz Community.”

La Bahia Hotel and Spa’s full repertoire of amenities will include a casual street front bar/restaurant; chef-inspired restaurant for special occasions; spa; swimming pool; handcrafted cocktails served at the pool and a lobby bar; fire pits; an upper level event deck; and banquet and event ballroom spaces.

Three dining outlets and four bars will be available. A casual beachside bar and restaurant downstairs; just upstairs, an upscale California Coastal dining option with an intimate bar; the iconic pool bar serving up classic cocktails and poolside eats; and a signature champagne lobby bar.

La Bahia’s showpiece spa, a Moorish-inspired private indoor/outdoor rooftop oasis, will feature a modern interpretation of the famous salt baths of Santa Cruz’s storied past.

The general contractor for the project is SWENSON, a Northern California real estate development company. “Considered the ‘Crown Jewel’ of Santa Cruz, SWENSON is honored to partner with an amazing team in building the historic La Bahia Hotel and Spa and seeing it come to life again,” said SWENSON Vice President, Jeffrey Huff.

Rendering: Official

Lisa Hay

Lisa is a staff reporter for What Now Media Group. She covers new restaurant, retail, and real estate openings across all of our markets. A true foodie, this Air Force veteran has lived all over the world — from Aviano, Italy to Nairobi, Kenya — but her favorite spot is NOLA for its rich history, architecture, culture, and of course, its good eats.
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