Merced County Times Newspaper
The Power of Positive Press

A new hospitality management group announced for El Capitan hotel for downtown Merced’s art and entertainment district


Merced’s top boutique and destination hotel — a renovated jewel for the downtown area — will be under new management starting in June, according to a press release sent to the Times just before the press deadline this week.

The Austin-based hotel group New Waterloo will be taking over management for El Capitan Hotel in Merced, according to the announcement.

“We are delighted and humbled to work with the team at El Capitan Hotel,” said Bart Knaggs, the CEO of New Waterloo. “We look forward to supporting the people in place, as well as furthering their efforts to connect and enhance their impact in their communities. The care and cause they have embedded aligns entirely with the ambitions and intentions of New Waterloo as a management company. We could not be more excited to become a part of these communities.”

The historic El Capitan Hotel on Main Street reopened in the spring of 2021 after an extensive renovation project and under the management of the boutique hotel group Joie De Vivre. Shortly thereafter, Hyatt Hotels bought the brand and it became JDV by Hyatt. 

New Waterloo currently owns and operates the following hotel, food and beverage locations in Austin: South Congress Hotel, Otoko, Maie Day, La Condesa, Sway, Café No Sé, Mañana, Il Brutto, and Butler Pitch & Putt. The group also manages El Rey Court in Santa Fe, NM, and Waymore’s Guest House in Nashville, TN. 

The move in Merced, according to the release, marks New Waterloo’s expansion into California. The group also plans to open the Albert Hotel in Fredericksburg, Texas, and two restaurant concepts in Aspen, CO, all in 2023. 

The strategic expansion, according to the release, will allow New Waterloo to leverage its growing platform around its mission of intentionally empowering and getting behind the choices of people and communities — building hospitality business models that sustain lasting social impact.

“New Waterloo’s progressive hospitality management style is a wonderful fit for the El Capitan Hotel and our staff,” said Robin Donovan, managing director of the El Capitan Hotel. “Their commitment to helping communities grow and thrive closely mirrors our purpose in Merced.”

New Waterloo’s first venture, La Condesa, was nominated as a James Beard semi-finalist for ‘Outstanding Restaurant’ and their latest concept, Maie Day, earned one of ten Best New Restaurants in Texas by Texas Monthly. Their hotels have been featured in Travel & Leisure, Vogue, Garden & Gun, Huff Post, Bon Appetit, and more, with coverage surrounding the spaces’ forward-thinking design, community-centric endeavors, and high caliber of food and beverage talent.

This week’s release stated: “The team at El Capitan Hotel has established the property as an agent of positive social change in the Merced community. New Waterloo looks forward to building upon this culture and reputation for decades to come.”


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