Saturday, December 23, 2006

Southside Park B & B

Nice turn around story in town.

Bob Shallit: More room at the boutique inn soon
By Bob Shallit - Bee Columnist
Published 12:00 am PST Saturday, December 23, 2006

Will Sawyer and Bill Swenson took a risk four years ago, buying a historic mansion across from troubled Southside Park.

The park, Sawyer says, "was where you went to get drugs and prostitutes."

But their gamble at Sixth and V streets is paying off. The park is family-friendly now, thanks to a communitywide effort. And the pair's "Inn and Spa at Parkside" is a hit.

The residence -- owned by China's U.S. ambassador back in the 1930s -- was generating about $80,000 annually as a bed-and-breakfast inn when Sawyer and Swenson bought it. The former San Franciscans say it's now bringing in almost that much -- monthly.

With their seven guest rooms averaging 85 percent occupancy -- and a steady clientele for their day spa -- the owners a year ago decided to add an adjacent three-story building. The addition, with living quarters for the owners on the first floor and four new guest rooms upstairs, opens next month.

The new place won't have all the character of the Asian-themed main building, with its ceiling murals, ornate woodwork and grand bedrooms that run between $169 and $309 a night. (The inn will be open for public tours between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Sunday).

The new guest rooms will be plenty upscale, with bright, colored walls, oversize Jacuzzi tubs, fireplaces, flat-screen TVs, iPod docking stations and Kashwere cashmere-like bedding.

The goal, Sawyer says, is to "bring some of that cool factor" to Sacramento's hotel scene.

Sawyer notes that several big players (like Joie de Vivre and the Intercontinental Hotel chain) are planning moves into Sacramento with high-end boutique-style lodging, aided with significant amounts of public money.

"The small guys beat them to it," he says of the hot property he and Swenson have created in an unlikely locale. And, he adds, "we did it without any subsidies."