Bee’s editorial editor Dan Morain joins Dan Walters at CALmatters nonprofit news site

Dan Morain, the Sacramento Bee’s editorial page editor, is now working at CALmatters with his former colleague from The Bee, Dan Walters, who joined  the nonprofit news site last year as its first columnist.

CALmatters is a nonprofit explanatory journalism newcomer for California.

“CALmatters will share Morain’s work with a network of more than 130 print, radio and online publications that it has developed since its launch as a nonprofit in 2015,” CALmatters announced. “Morain’s addition at this juncture reflects the spotlight CALmatters will shine this year on the vitally important 2018 gubernatorial and state legislative races, which will define California’s future.”

This is an ongoing trend as new media startups abound. In the ’90s I left The Chronicle after a decade to go to San Francisco-based startup CNET to help launch CNET.News as it was going public. I was Editor, and we won a prestigious National Magazine Award, among other honors. CNET later was sold to CBS for almost $2 billion.

More details are here.

Father says ‘American dream’ after daughter’s gold in halfpipe

“Kim Jong-jin, father of new Olympic champion snowboarder Chloe Kim, said Tuesday it was a dream come true when his daughter claimed the gold medal in the women’s halfpipe at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics,” according to the Korea Herald.

“It was an American dream.

‘I’ve dreamed about this,’ said Kim, speaking after his daughter’s gold medal run. ‘My dream came true. American dream.’

“Kim immigrated to the United States in 1982. His support and devotion to Chloe were so famous that it was even made into a television advertisement and was aired during Super Bowl broadcast”

“Kim said it was very special to watch his daughter winning an Olympic gold medal in Korea, the country where he was born.

“Her blood is 100 percent Korean even though she was born in the US, and was educated in the US, but blood is blood,’ he said. ‘Not many people have this kind of opportunity. Everybody has your origin. So it’s very special.’

“Before Chloe made history with her gold — becoming the youngest American to win an Olympic snowboard event, Kim texted her that it’s time to be a dragon. Chloe was born in the year of dragon according to the Chinese zodiac.

The rest of the article is here.

Yesterday’s news tomorrow?

The Union posted a “sneak peak” (sic) of the front-page of Tuesday’s newspaper on Monday evening. This blog already had published the news from two of the four bylined articles, as well as shared it on social media:

The sale of the National Hotel, on Sunday:

District 3 Supervisor Hilary Hodge’s first campaign finance report, on Feb. 1:

I hope the staff isn’t looking up to its paid contributor George “Biz Bits” Boardman as its role model for journalism! lol


Beyond the Ski Slopes

The introduction to the winter issue of our magazine:

“Make your business about much more than the snowfall.” — Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz

The “snowmageddon” in the Sierra last season—over 60 feet of glorious white stuff—reminded us of skiing’s glory days over 40 years ago when the sport boomed as a mainstream leisure activity.

We were in high school, schussing down the slopes at a newly opened resort called Northstar and enjoying a near-record snowpack and new lifts at Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. At Tahoe, “ski bums”—then a budding profession—shredded the slopes from 9 to 5 while subsisting on Top Ramen and PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon).

“Man that was freakin’ cool,” summed up “Tweeker Shred Master” in a song by Lake Tahoe singer-songwriter Darin Talbot that perfectly captured this carefree winter lifestyle.

Fast forward to 2017-18. This season’s snowfall got off to a slow start—a sober reminder that times have changed. Snowfall totals often are “iffy,” thanks to global warming; skiers spend less time on the slopes (an average of four hours instead of six); and they spend more time indulging in good food, spa treatments, fine wine and craft beer tastings, live music and other après ski activities. In addition, millennials aren’t as enthusiastic about skiing as baby boomers, studies show.

Ski resorts and mountain towns aren’t sitting flat footed. The CEO of Vail Resorts (which now owns Northstar, Heavenly and Kirkwood) has a simple strategy to cope with the changes: Make your business about much more than snowfall.

Tahoe ski resorts have invested in “weatherproofing” to ensure they can attract visitors regardless of snowfall totals. This includes snowmaking (now essential) but also adding other winter activities such as tubing and sledding, XC skiing, snowshoe hikes, snowcat tours, zip lines, gondola rides, and sleigh rides. Heavenly in South Lake Tahoe features the Ridge Rider Mountain Coaster.

The resorts also seek to “own more of the mountain,” which means owning more hotels, restaurants and other attractions to boost revenue. The aggressive sale of season passes also helps cover fixed costs and hedges against unpredictable snowfall.

Ski resort owners continue to expand rapidly to diversify risk. A good year in Canada may make up for a bad year in California. Is skiing dying? No, but it sure is changing. Read our special report in this issue.

(Photo: Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows)

It’s official: National Hotel sold to boutique hotel group led by hotelier Jordan Fife

From the blog of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine:

It’s official! Managing Partner Jordan Fife, whose National Exchange Hotel Company is acquiring The National Hotel, emailed our magazine this press release:

Famed historic hotel, The National Hotel, has been acquired by The National Exchange Hotel Company and will be the launch of the brands’ flagship location in Nevada City, CA, which has been named one of the “20 Best Towns to Live” (Sunset Magazine) and boasts one of “The Best Main Streets in America”(Architectural Digest). Deal represented by Jon Blinder and Tyson Tucker of Coldwell Banker Grass Roots Realty, Commercial Division.

The National Hotel is a historically registered, 40 room property with pool and fully operational restaurant. The National is said to be the oldest continuously operating hotel in California (and west of the Rockies), it opened in August 1856 under the name of “Bicknell Block”. Located in Nevada City, it was built in stages between 1854-57, and is the site of meetings that led to the formation of the Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E). Famous guests include Mark Twain, Black Bart, Jack London, Lola Montez, Emma Nevada, multiple United States Presidents; Grover Cleveland, James Garfield, Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison, and Herbert Hoover.

The National Hotel is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, as State of California Historical Landmark #899. Multiple plaques detail the significance of the property, including one in the hotel parking lot that is dedicated to the town’s one-time red light district and its unique contribution to the California Gold Rush.

Fife is the son and grandson of former Nevada County residents and had even met his wife (a former resident as well) in this quaint town. The “acclaimed designer,” (Design Milk) Jordan Fife, intends to breathe new life to the National Hotel following a major renovation of the historic site in the heart of downtown Nevada City, creating stunning indoor/outdoor spaces inspired by the hip and grand Victorian properties of New York and San Francisco.

The “new” National Exchange Hotel will boast a innovative and cutting edge restaurant with veranda seating and a menu that reflects culinary innovation and farm-to-table California dining helmed by former Alma (Best Restaurant in America- “Bon Appetit”) Alums. “We intend on sourcing all produce within a 100-mile radius and utilizing daily deliveries from local farmers and livestock raised humanely on ranches.”

“We are excited to be entrusted with the restoration of such an important part of California, and the Nation’s history,” said Jordan Fife, Managing Partner and Head of Design and Development for The National Exchange Hotel Company. “It’s the perfect time to be a part of the fabric of Nevada City and add to the booming tourism and renaissance of one of the most unique cities in California.”

Upon completing a multimillion-­dollar re‐envisioning by Fife and his team, the exclusive hotel will become Nevada City’s only mid-luxury boutique hotel. Returning the hotel’s name to its originally calling, The National Exchange Hotel will offer guests a unique experience of rejuvenation, cutting edge design, and serenity with the beautiful grand Sierra Nevadas as a backdrop.

The hotel, while being fully renovated, will still maintain its historic and intimate feel. Part of the fabric of the hotel is the local color and the staff, “we invite all former staff back who seek a roll in the relaunch of this towns landmark,” says Fife. Featuring Frette Linens, claw foot baths, and a mix of bespoke and high-­end vintage furniture, The National Exchange Hotel hopes to set a standard last seen in Nevada City under former ownership of the Rector Bros in the early 1900’s. This once again, is an iconic property in the making.

Fife plans to rebuild using the signature hip and modern details he has become well known for in California. After designing homes like the Tim Palen Shipping Container House in Joshua Tree, he has brought his rustic, modern sensibilities into the hotel industry with the famed L’Horizon Resort and Spa, SO•PA Restaurant, and Smithy. As designer and property owner, Fife is proud to launch The National Exchange Hotel as the first hotel of his newly launched brand, National Exchange Hotel Company.

Fife remarks, “I have been coming to Nevada City since I was a child, and even met my wife here when I was 12, but there has never been anywhere truly wonderful to stay that reflects the charm of the town and the sensibilities of its tourists. I have been in and out of this hotel my entire life, thinking if I could own only one hotel, this would be the property I would want. The bones are amazing, and its history is the perfect backdrop for what I want to create. We have designed a unique hotel experience for our guests by looking closely at every small detail from the design and décor, to the everyday nuances of the staff and service.”

He continues, “The National is this perfect little jewel in this monolithic brick structure. It’s iconic and well-­‐preserved architecture, along with its rich history make it completely unique. There is nothing else like it.” The National will be designed to reflect the original Victorian style with modern influences. The feeling will be 1920’s gentleman’s club with tufted leather, oil paintings, built in bookcases with rolling ladders, and slightly ominous feel as a nod to the hotels haunted past.

Additionally, The National Bar will relaunch with the hotel and will introduce new cocktails inspired by the changing seasons, joining the current menu of classic favorites and will retain its original allure and charm that have made it a staple among locals. The bar and lounge will host live music from some of the nations top bands and weekly events. “We are very proud of our events program and can’t wait to show the locals all the fun things we have planned,” said Fife.

The National Exchange Hotel hopes to launch before the Holiday Season, 2018



Following on the heels of the meteoric success of Jordan Fife’s Palm Springs-based L’Horizon Resort and Spa, named the #1 Resort in California by Condé Nast Traveler magazine, Fife, in conjunction with Eastern Real Estate has launched a new industry defining hospitality firm. The National Exchange Hotel Company is the culmination of years of hospitality experience and a desire to create a new brand of experiential, design-focused hotels across America. Our “all under one roof” team identifies, acquires, designs/develops, and operates historically and architecturally significant properties in hidden-gem locations throughout the United States. We create hotels with personality, world-class food and libations, and the perfect level of service.

The National Exchange Hotel Company scours America for interesting, historic, or architecturally-significant properties that can be re-purposed or re-positioned. We look for anything from motor lodges, historic hotels and buildings, post offices, schools, eye-catching structures, to open land with unique natural and geological attributes.

Having our work identified as some of the best design in the world (Conde Nast, Architectural Digest, Travel and Leisure) and having won many hospitality design awards (HD Awards Best Luxury Hotel Design), we are fortunate to say we do all our design in-house and have tapped talent from every industry to contribute such as famed artist Dr. Woo, who will oversees all art curation and culture. We believe even a beautifully designed property is only as good as its staff and training. It’s the cultivated moments and easter-eggs that bring the property to life. Having some of the best operators in the business, we strive to understand and predict our guests’ needs and wants. We own and operate all our own properties post-development.


Managing partner Jordan Fifes’ work was one of the top three recognized by HD Design Awards for best luxury hotel design in the world. To date Jordan has built, and repositioned over 7 properties. These properties include award winning hotels and restaurants. Fifes’ most recent hotel projects have been named one of the “50 best new hotels in the world” by Travel and Leisure, one of the “100 best hotels in the world” by TATLER Magazine, “favorite new American Hotel” in 2015 by Architectural Digest, “top 3 best luxury hotel design” by the Hospitality Design Awards, and was accepted into the prestigious Leading Hotels of The World.

Most recently the hotel was named to the “Best 100 New Hotels in the World 2016” and 2017 Hot List by Condé Nast Traveler, and to the most lauded list, the Conde Nast Travelers’ Readers Choice Awards stating L’Horizon as #1 Best Resort in California- #2 Best Resort in the United States and #8 Best Resort in the World two years in a row. L’Horizon’s Michelin Star helmed restaurant SO-PA, has been named the number one restaurant in the Coachella Valley as well. Both the hotel and restaurant have been featured in hundreds of magazines, won multiple awards, and have achieved massive financial success.

Jordan Fife was recently recognized by Angelino Magazine in their 2017 September issue of Power Players as “Power Player- Field of Hotel Development” and “Top Celebrity Designer” by Design Milk.

(Fife photo: Chris Chandler)

Our magazine: National Hotel could soon be sold

The current issue of our magazine, which has been circulating since January, is reporting that the historic National Hotel “could soon be sold, according to our sources.”

Some rumors now are circulating on Facebook that the hotel “has sold.” Though I felt comfortable reporting that the hotel “could soon be sold,” I don’t think a deal has been signed yet.

It is best to sit tight for any signing, since all prospective deals can unravel. A sale would be a real boost to the town.