Proud city leaders and corporate executives joined excited residents in a “virtual” ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour of the new El Capitan Hotel in downtown Merced on Wednesday.
A massive red ribbon surrounded the outside of the hotel with the help of special VIP guests armed with scissors to take part in the proceedings. The ribbon was cut while the award-winning Golden Valley High School Percussion Team performed a thrilling drum roll.
“Mercedians believe in honoring the history of this community,” City Manager Stephanie Dietz told those present, and also those viewing a live broadcast of the grand opening event. “The city’s economic development, inspection services, engineering, planning team and I have spent the last four years working side by side with the team that restored the Tioga to market-rate apartments, the Mainzer to a family-fun entertainment center, and now the El Capitan into the jewel hotel that it once was. … Without a doubt, the El Capitan, Tioga and Mainzer perfectly reflect this community’s dedication to Merced’s history while demonstrating the best days are still to come in the City of Merced.
“There is more to Merced than being on the path to Yosemite,” Dietz added. “I urge you to come and see for yourself just what Merced has to offer.”
The day’s events were live-streamed on Facebook, and for every person who joined the event online, the El Capitan Hotel donated $10 to the Restore Merced program.
“It’s been a great adventure,” said Robin Donovan, managing director of El Capitan and Mainzer. “We have said from Day 1 that we would be good neighbors and that we would be a part of the local community.”
Originally built to serve train passengers and guests traveling to Yosemite National Park, the new 114-guestroom El Capitan will honor that spirit of exploration and adventure with three locally driven dining options, unique entertainment at the restored historic Mainzer theatre, and access to a rediscovered downtown, abundant local farms and wide-open spaces.
To mark the grand opening, El Capitan will encourage hotel guests to tune into the vibrant aspects and sounds of Merced with its Pick Your Label Package. The package includes stylish accommodations in one of El Capitan’s restored Arbor Lane rooms, complete with an in-room record player and access to the hotel’s extensive vinyl library. To complete the adventure, guests will receive a $40 gift certificate to downtown Merced’s local and independently owned, Tigers & Daggers Records and a Classic Vinyl cocktail from El Capitan’s Native Son. Package rates start at $239 per night.
“We are thrilled to welcome guests to experience the JdV by Hyatt brand’s inclusive spirit and joy-driven service through this new chapter in the hotel’s history,” Donovan said. “There is so much to discover in Merced from the charm of the town’s classic American Main Street to the surrounding farms and vineyards. We’re opening during a unique time, but El Capitan has been a beacon in this community offering access to comfort and adventure for more than 100 years and that is a tradition we’re excited to expand upon.”
El Capitan’s 114-guestrooms, including three one-bedroom suites and nine junior suites, will be spread across the restored Arbor Lane Wing and newly constructed Main Street Wing. The frontier spirit of early California and the American West will come to life in the relaxed elegance of the property’s eclectic design. Inspired by the golden warmth of the Central Valley, the guestrooms will use natural, hand-crafted materials and textures to evoke the surrounding landscape and draw the outside in.
Architectural and design elements throughout the property are inspired by the nearby 19th century train depot underscoring the history of Merced as a transportation hub. Following the JdV by Hyatt brand’s intent to celebrate locals and guests alike, artwork celebrating the agricultural and cultural traditions of the region will add the finishing touches to accommodations. El Capitan’s Arbor Lane guestrooms will offer whimsical elements including custom wallpaper highlighting local historic landmarks and record players in each room. In the spirit of connecting guests to the local neighborhood, the hotel will also offer a continually updated library of vinyl sourced from a local Merced record store, complete with new selections and classics.
El Capitan will offer three distinct dining experiences that all call upon the bounty of the Central Valley, a region famous for producing more than a quarter of the nation’s food. The casually chic Native Son, named for the famed climbing route in Yosemite National Park, will feature a casual 30-seat outlet that transitions from a café during the day to a free-spirited, community bar in the evening. The open-air Courtyard will entice guests with a relaxed dining and drinking experience centered around a custom bar set in a retrofitted horse trailer. Bathed in the California sunshine, The Courtyard will be perfect for an afternoon cocktail or light bite. Rainbird, the property’s signature restaurant, will debut in summer 2021 with destination-worthy dining from Chef Quentin Garcia highlighting Merced’s agricultural abundance to produce meals that reflect the unique flavors of the location.
Bobby’s Market, located in El Capitan, will open in late-spring 2021 with a curated Central Valley artisan experience and a tastefully updated version of the classic mercantile. Featuring a selection of locally made products, travel essentials and handmade goods the market will also include a “build-your-own” trail mix bar with locally grown nuts and fruits.
El Capitan will offer more than 3,000 square feet of dedicated meeting and event spaces, spread across three indoor and one outdoor space. The Courtyard is a unique and flexible outdoor venue for weddings and social events in the California sunshine.
El Capitan’s restored iconic sign stands sentry above the town’s historic Main Street where visitors can explore the town’s homegrown artistic scene and downtown connections to the agricultural community. Just steps from the hotel, Mainzer, a recently renovated and reopened theatre dating back to the early 1920s, offers live performances, movies and entertainment coupled with a lively bar and restaurant. Mainzer’s restored performance space provides an intimate location for guests to enjoy world-class entertainment from local, regional and national acts. Mainzer is one of three performance and movie spaces in downtown Merced, with additional multicultural spaces showcasing local artists. Merced’s quaint downtown also offers a plethora of locally-owned shops and restaurants as well as California’s only year-round farmer’s market certified by the state to be run by member-growers who sell directly to the public.
Known as the “Gateway to Yosemite,” Merced is a perfect basecamp for exploring the region’s wide-open spaces and outdoor recreational activities. Yosemite National Park is located just over 80-miles from Merced and the drive along Highway 140 through the Merced River Canyon is considered the most scenic route to the park. For guests looking to explore the region’s agricultural roots, more than 50 local farms, orchards, breweries and vineyards welcome guests to get a firsthand view of the growth process. Also within easy driving distance, the Merced and San Luis National Wildlife Refuges offer opportunities to hike, watch wildlife and enjoy wide open natural environments. Merced and Yosemite lakes provide areas for visitors to boat, fish or just relax by the shore and soak up some sun.
The property will open with enhanced health and safety guidelines and in accordance with state and local government travel ordinances. Guided by its purpose of care, Hyatt recently announced a multi-layered Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment to further enhance its operational guidance and resources around colleague and guest safety and peace of mind.