First California experiential boutique hotel inked

Culinary-first hotel brand Appellation is partnering with EKN Development Group to launch what is said to be California, USA's first experiential boutique hotel.

Debuting in 2026 in Petaluma, the 93-room property is aimed at setting a new standard for hospitality in the destination, while embracing the local place, culture and history.

Food priority

Appellation was co-founded by luxury hospitality veteran Christopher Hunsberger and celebrated American chef Charlie Palmer, and like all the brand’s properties, Appellation Petaluma’s culinary experience will go well beyond the hotel’s 3,125 sq ft of signature food and beverage venues.

Food-focused amenities and programming will be blended into every aspect of the downtown hotel, many of which will embrace the destination’s burgeoning culinary scene. The five-storey site will feature a 190-seat street front restaurant and will be crowned with the only rooftop bar in town, with views of Petaluma River.

Altogether, the hotel’s rooftop, courtyard, and hospitality suites will provide 3,000 sq ft of flexible event space, allowing for hosting multiple private events simultaneously.

Emerging destination

Appellation’s Palmer said: “Chris and I are lucky to call Sonoma County our home, and over the years, we’ve had our eye on Petaluma as an emerging culinary destination in the region. With its bohemian, metropolitan setting, Petaluma will offer our future guests a different experience in Wine Country compared to other Sonoma County counterparts like Healdsburg, where we will be opening our first hotel next year.”

Hunsberger added: “We are committed to building hotels that connect, engage and serve our local communities, and a big part of that is spotlighting local makers and craftspeople.”

Local homage

Ebbie Nakhjavani, CEO of EKN Development Group, commented: “From the beginning, we intentionally designed this hotel to pay homage to the integral role that food and wine play in Petaluma. We chose Appellation to bring this project to life because they uniquely put the culinary experience at the forefront of the guest experience and can offer a local Sonoma County perspective. Under Charlie and Christopher’s leadership, we know they will deliver the best in the industry.

“Honouring Petaluma’s rich arts scene, we will invest over US$500,000 in art including specifically commissioned signature pieces from local artists that will be accessible to everyone in the community.”

California developments

Elsewhere in California, EKN Development Group is developing a dual branded select-service/extended-stay hotel in Monterey. Courtyard by Marriott Sand City Monterey Bay will provide 120 keys, with the Residence Inn by Marriott Sand City Monterey Bay section provided a further 94 rooms. The site is due to complete in Q4 this year.

Further down the coast in Los Angeles, the 185-key Even Hotel Echo Park is taking shape for the developer, while near the state’s eastern border, the 150-room Lake Tahoe Alpine Resort will arrive in Tahoe City in 2025.