On Tuesday, November 16, 2021, Juan Luis Martínez climbed the ladder at the Alex Madonna Gold Rush Steak House restaurant at the Madonna Inn. Hang snowflake decorations.
I walked up a curved staircase. The staircase was covered with the iconic bright pink carpet of the Madonna Hotel with oversized pink roses and blue hydrangea motifs, supporting the gorgeous railings as I ascended. I have looked up at this balcony many times. In the restaurant below, I enjoyed many nights, sitting in one of the curved cubicles, where there were clusters of pink and gold cushions and pink tablecloths, and biting the steak with a huge, jewel-colored Drinking water from a goblet.
But today, I have reached the top. The view overlooking the Gold Rush Steak House from above is even more spectacular than the view on the ground. From here, the golden tree rising to the center of the restaurant is even more magnificent. I can see all the branches of the tree stretch in all directions, and see their golden leaves in detail, illuminated by bright white light, it must be very difficult to change (and requires a very high ladder).
On Tuesday, November 16, 2021, Madonna Hotel employee José Torres decorates one of the many Christmas trees that rise around the hotel every holiday season.
The area is usually closed to guests, especially in November when I visited, because this is the place where the nativity scene is, there are classic figures of 3 feet and 4 feet tall, and two dozen or so Christmas trees of varying sizes.
Enrique Santos, the property manager who has worked in the hotel for three years, tried to change the trees to make the display as natural as possible. When Phyllis Madonna oversees holiday decorations, she likes the feeling of bringing the outside world in. "She doesn't need her guidance anymore," he said of the 93-year-old hotel owner, who is no longer involved in daily operations. "But I learned from her for many years. She used to [tell me] to make it look like a natural forest."
In order to achieve this goal, Santos led a five-person team to work behind the scenes for a month, and then carried out the actual renovation for nearly a month.
Decorations of the Madonna Hotel Gold Rush Steak House.
As the founders of the hotel, the Madonnas have always been admired by every employee. They opened on Christmas Eve in 1958, when there were only 12 rooms. Legend has it that on the first night, the couple filled all the rooms because they were very excited about opening the door. Over the years, they have developed the San Luis Obispo Motel into a mature destination, a must-see on the Central Coast, famous for its 110 rooms, each with its own gorgeous theme. (Alex has now passed away and Phyllis has retired; the hotel is run by their youngest daughter, Connie.)
The Madonna Hotel is now known for its pure, unapologetic kitsch-like a men's room with a waterfall urinal, you have to believe it on YouTube. Its huge four-layer pink champagne cake slice can feed three people (or just a travel writer driving back to Los Angeles during a long rush hour).
A roadside sign welcomes visitors to the Madonna Hotel in San Luis Obispo, California.
During Christmas, the Madonna Hotel is even more lively. It is full of animatronic deer, a box for writing letters to Santa, and thousands of flashing Christmas lights. In this kind of place, when it snows outside, you will feel comfortable sitting next to a fireplace with a high ceiling made of boulders and drinking hot wine.
It is so immersive that it can give you a vague winter holiday feeling in a place where it has never officially snowed-even though they had sprinkled a layer of powder in 1922, people are still talking about it today it.
On Tuesday, November 16, 2021, Juan Luis Martínez decorated Alex Madonna at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo ) The golden tree in the restaurant of the Gold Rush Steak House. Three-fifths must be fully implemented.
"Mrs. Madonna is the driving force behind all this," said marketing manager Amanda Rich (Amanda Rich). "For many years, she always told us what she wanted. She has retired for about 10 years and I took over. Once everything is done, letting her in and giving us her opinion is always a good test."
"Last year was so sweet," Rich added. "Mrs. Madonna was crying, she was so excited. It's all worth it because we want to make her proud. This is her place, this is her dream, and we are trying to keep it going. She likes decoration, so Christmas Of course it's time to shine."
If you have never been to the Madonna Inn, even if you have seen the photos, you think you know how magnificent and full of personality it is, you can't really understand how beautiful and exaggerated it is. Every corner, every corner, every surface is decorated and decorated with the aesthetics of "more is more", so that everything matches, because there is no match. And all this is voluntary.
The nativity scene is displayed on the balcony of the Gold Rush Steak House of the Madonna Hotel.
The water glasses on the table are brightly colored goblets with iridescent purple or cobalt blue, dark translucent amber or blue-green, opaque mint green or marshmallow pink milk glass. No two places are the same. It seems unintentional, but in fact everything is carefully planned. Upstairs is one of the two large gift shops, everything from carpets and bathrobes to swimwear, the hotel’s iconic pink rose design is spread out from the carpet. This kind of execution can only come from a company that understands its identity and attractiveness, and works hard to invest in it.
Some people may say that the decoration is "too much", but I don't have one. This place looks like a heaven designed by Dolly Parton, and I come here as often as possible. Just as it oversaturates your senses, the hotel satisfies your appetite in an oversized way. You can't order a glass of wine, but a glass and a half of quartino. You can't really order a dessert. That famous pink champagne cake is usually sold out in the elevator-less bakery early in the day and then only offered to restaurant guests. It is cut into slices that can hardly be placed on a plate. If your inspiration comes from the attire of other guests-the people here are very impressive, especially on the evenings with ballroom dancing-you can buy sequined dresses, or boldly printed gowns, or more than a dozen styles and Color of faux fur.
The golden tree in the Gold Rush Steak House of the Madonna Hotel is decorated for Christmas.
It is a challenge to decorate Madonna Hotel for the holidays, because the place has been so gorgeously decorated. How to gild a lily that has been gilded? What I said is not as metaphorical as it sounds. There is a lot of gold here. Even the Madonna Inn matches with pink and gold foil boxes are painted pink and then gold.
(By the way, that pink is Alex Madonna's choice. "He thinks pink is very flattering for everyone," Rich said.)
There are hundreds or even hundreds of golden angels in the decoration: the electric candlestick hanging from the ceiling, as a sentinel statue, marks the transition from the main dining room to the dance floor, and clear twine flying freely from the branches of the golden tree in the steak house Rise above those round booths. When you compete with Christmas decorations, how do you make Christmas decorations stand out?
The answer is simple. Make everything bigger.
"A lot of our things are excessive," Rich said. "We have big decorations and huge garlands.... You obviously can't put some small things there, because it will indeed be lost. You have to find bigger, bigger, and better decorations so that they can stand out. ."
The magnificent entrance to the Madonna Hotel in San Luis Obispo, California.
Last year, due to the limited indoor capacity, Rich had to use four stalls in the steakhouse to set up a festive scene. "This is a benefit of COVID," she said, and she can use the extra space inside for decoration. Although she adds new products almost every year, her challenge is to redesign the displays year after year to make them look fresh.
"This is what I roughly want," Ritchie said, spreading out several very detailed sketches and reference photos from previous years. "I basically spent a day browsing old photos and [trying] to find new things." She showed me a sketch of two large animatronic deer standing that looked like a full-size fir forest.
"This," she said, "about one-sixth the size of a steak house."
My visit lasted about a week during the decoration process. There are decorations to hang on the golden tree, and decorations on the dance floor, balcony, stage, fireplace and stairs. This is just a small area that we can see from where we sit.
On Tuesday, November 16, 2021, Madonna Hotel employees Jose Torres (left) and Juan Luis Martinez (right) are hanging a large number of Christmas decorations for the restaurant of Alex Madonna’s Gold Rush Steak House .
However, when there are two huge decorative storage rooms to choose from, it is not a big challenge to make each year's decoration unique. This is a series that Madonna started when the hotel first opened. Rich said that even after 21 years of working in the hotel, she still hasn't used some decorations. "We have a lot of things," she said. "It's very interesting, we have a lot of choices."
After Rich decided on how the hotel would view this season, Santos and a rotating team of five workers implemented the design. Starting in October, they unpacked all Christmas trees that were still in storage and replaced all that were burned out. Light bulb. On November 1st, all the Halloween decorations came down, and on November 2nd, the holiday began. This process continues until Thanksgiving, which is the first day of the full performance, when 1,000 people will dine at the steakhouse throughout the day.
But not just in the main building, there are steak houses and all-day "coffee shop" restaurants, two gift shops upstairs, a walk-in bakery, a wine tasting cellar and a gourmet shop downstairs, and Several private function rooms. (The scale of this place really needs to be witnessed to believe.) There are decorations everywhere, including all the guest rooms, and each room has its own Christmas tree.
There is even a Christmas tree on the top of Cerro San Luis, informally called Madonna Mountain, which rises from the back of the hotel and can be seen from 101. Every night in December, someone must drive to manually illuminate the tree with the generator.
"This is other things the Madonnas have done for the community, so they have something to watch," Rich said. "It can be seen in the whole town. We always have a lot of people commenting on it. It's like,'Thank you, this is what we have been looking forward to seeing. We are glad it still exists.'"
— This secret bay area trail is a great place to hike after Thanksgiving
— Inside the tacky holiday decor of the Madonna Inn in central California, this is the roadside agency on Highway 101
— These popular SFO restaurants have closed and the possibility of reopening is unlikely
— Every winter, a group of charming ladybugs come to Bay Area Park
— I rode alone on the Niles Canyon train lights, a holiday resort in the Bay Area
——"Chalet in the Clouds", overnight in one of the mysterious water tower hotels in Mendocino
Julie Tremaine is a contributing editor at SFGATE, covering Disneyland.