Hotel Lumberjack: The New Americana Motel in Sonora, California. Close to Yosemite and Inspired by East European Design.

Hotel Lumberjack: The New Americana Motel in Sonora, California. Close to Yosemite and Inspired by East European Design.

Founded in 1850 by Mexican gold miners, Sonora offers an eclectic escape in the heart of the California’s Sierra Nevada Foothills. The town is a charming enclave that welcomes travelers from near and far to experience a special blend of hospitality and history in a beautiful natural setting. Leisure travelers often come to see the local gold rush towns that surround the region stay in Sonora as a base for daytrips into Yosemite National Park.

Three years ago, Jeff Michels, purchased what was formerly the Rodeway Inn of Sonora and the legendary Historic Sonora Inn. In his own words, “when I first visited the properties what struck me the most was that there was this beautiful iconic boutique hotel located in the heart of a gold rush town and directly behind it a typical American Motel. Both were uniquely positioned in the center of town, but in need of a full renovation. I ultimately decided to move forward and purchase them because I saw how quickly the town was changing; new cafes, restaurants and specialty stores that embraced the town’s Gold Rush history in a fun way for both locals and visitors alike.” The decision was quickly made by Jeff to focus first on the motel as it needed extensive remodeling. He decided after discussions with many architectural firms to work with Balbek Bureau, located in Kyiv, Ukraine. They developed a unique vision of a New Americana Motel experience that focused on functionality with a sleek design.

The marketing and branding were done by the creative agency TWID. The new name of the property became Hotel Lumberjack. They developed the main Lumberjack character who is a modern-day tree cutter. When not out in the forest, he loves to doodle and create amateurish illustrations that guests discover throughout the rooms: from various trees to a racoon and even local trees and flowers. The concept was created to bring some fun and eccentricity into the guest experience. On the outside of the motel are murals painted by the Colorado based artist, Max Kauffman.

Each of the 34 newly designed rooms have multiple seating areas. These were designed with the understanding that Californians (alongside the world at large) is moving towards a hybrid work-travel lifestyle. Each room’s design supports this lifestyle, whereby families and friends have their own working niches to take a video call or just sit and relax. Longer stay guests will appreciate the in-room coffee maker, small fridge, and microwave. Large showers were added, alongside beautiful matte black hardware finishes throughout the bathrooms. Each guest room has beautiful custom wood paneling created by Cassone; a furniture manufacturer also located in Ukraine. They panels bring a sleek retro vibe into the rooms while having a dual purpose of hiding otherwise unsightly cords.

In designing the rooms, the largest consideration was that guests do not want clutter. The rooms have high pressure laminated wood surfaces that make it easy to clean and more resilient to guest wear and tear. Along with high-speed internet, additional modern technology, such as a 50” television in each room connects directly with a guest’s favorite media subscription (Netflix, HBO, etc.) or even with video gaming consoles through a direct HDMI plug-in.

On the exterior of the motel, vertical wooden louvers, bedeck the upper and lower levels. Creating a Mediterranean feel of shutters that give an additional level of guest privacy and provide shade. The landscaping has custom planters throughout the property, with a long hedge of formal boxwood planted into metal planters, creating a modern line across the entire parking parameter. There are also three oversized seating areas outside with olive trees and overhead shade sails which provide relief from the sun during the daytime and that sparkle overhead with lighting at nighttime. The exterior of the motel is surprisingly beautiful at night with the special attention on ambient lighting.

The entire team at Hotel Lumberjack at 128 S Green St., Sonora, California is eager to greet you on your next trip to California. Jeff Michels is available for hospitality consulting projects and is reachable at [email protected]

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