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Thieves steal from popular California hotel, Madonna Inn

On the outskirts of San Luis Obispo, the midpoint between the Bay Area and LA on Highway 101, the Madonna Inn is beloved for its kitschy charms, retro cafe, and themed rooms. Impossible to miss from the road, the mid-century hotel is perched on a hillside like a powder pink birthday cake, beckoning Americana-loving roadtrippers and, on a recent evening, thieves.

The stolen rug. 

Courtesy of Connie Pearce via Facebook

The rug is only worth about $250, according to a report in the San Luis Obispo Tribune, and the stills of the video seem to depict college-aged men. That led Pearce to speculate that the theft may have been some kind of stunt. But Pearce was not amused. Reached for comment via Nextdoor on Monday afternoon, she said the rug had not been returned and the thieves have not yet been identified.

She does, however, have one clue: “We know the sweatshirt he was wearing is the logo for a motorcycle repair shop in Campbell, CA.”

The Madonna Inn sign by Highway 101 in San Luis Obispo.

The Madonna Inn sign by Highway 101 in San Luis Obispo.

Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

Tiny North Coast town gets huge props from Michelin

For elite chefs and the people who patronize their restaurants, the Michelin awards are perhaps the most sought-after status symbol in the world. Despite their modest origin as the road guide for a tire company, earning — or, tragically, losing — a Michelin star is a career-defining event. And for the tiny but powerful subset of food-lovers who take Michelin awards as gospel, these stars influence not only day-to-day dining choices, but also travel decisions.

So when the 2021 Michelin awards dropped late last month, it was big news in the California food scene. Among the 90 starred restaurants in the state, 27 were new or upgraded this year. And of those to newly attain two stars, the coveted “Excellent cooking, worth a detour!” designation, only one was outside the Bay Area: The Harbor House Inn in the tiny hamlet of Elk, California, three-and-a-half hours north of San Francisco, where rising star chef Matthew Kammerer is cooking food that’s “highly original, driven by impeccable technique and devotion to sustainability,” according to the Michelin gods. 

The small community of Elk, California sits on the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean.

The small community of Elk, California sits on the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean.

Nicholas Motto/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Harbor House isn’t the only hotel restaurant to earn a Michelin star or two — Healdsburg’s Singlethread has three. But for a community as small, remote and tourism-dependent as the Mendocino Coast, the rise of this three-year-old inn as a major culinary destination is no small deal.

Everyone’s betting big on Vegas

Like other Las Vegas casinos, The Palms — once one of the hottest new spots in Vegas — was forced to close in March of 2020. Unlike most of them, it never reopened. Then, in May, it was sold to California’s San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. The tribe, which operates the Yaamava’ Resort an hour east of Los Angeles in Southern California, has now announced its plan to reopen the Palms in “the first half of 2022,” according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.

Unlike the Palms, which will reportedly seek to attract gamblers wanting to avoid the Strip, the Majestic Las Vegas Resort won’t have a casino (or smoking) at all. The five-star hotel complex is the big bet of Vegas hotel scion Lorenzo Doumani, whose family developed the Paul Revere Williams-designed El Morocco and La Concha Motels. Designed by architect Paul Steelman, construction on the suite-only tower will begin early next year to be completed by 2024, according to new details on the resort’s website.

El Morocco, La Concha and The Stardust along the Las Vegas Strip in the 1980s.

El Morocco, La Concha and The Stardust along the Las Vegas Strip in the 1980s.

Krubner/ClassicStock/Getty Images/ClassicStock

And, if you need more evidence that the pandemic hasn’t sapped Vegas’s boomtown vibes, MGM Resorts International bought The Cosmopolitan in September for $5.65 billion, according to Marketplace. When it last changed hands, just seven years ago, it went for $1.7 billion. 

Last, but certainly not least, is the news that the Canadian hotel company Moon World Resorts is planning a 4,000-room, $5 billion resort on the Las Vegas strip with a 1/75,000-scale moon replica as its main attraction. The massive 5.5-million-square-foot hotel project is “in talks” with five-star operators, according to the Points Guy.

Inside the moon itself? A 10-acre faux lunar colony with craters, “moon buggies” and a $500 for 90-minutes ticket price. Granted, it’s far less than a Space X flight.

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