Flamingo Resort

Project Description

As an important cultural and historic element within the Santa Rosa community, the rehabilitation and reinvention of the Flamingo Resort required a series of strategic insertions and phased improvements to enhance the architectural character of the campus, heighten the guest experience, and preserve the resort’s historic mid-century modern architecture. A historic review catalogued the original hotel design allowing historic components that retained integrity to be protected and preserved while previous alterations, inconsistent with the historic fabric, were stripped back and simplified to be more cohesive with the original character of the campus.

Public space improvements consisted of 36,000 SF of renovation and 5,000 SF of new construction at the resort’s Main Building. With the addition of program over the years, both on and around the property, site circulation needed to be rethought to clarify the guest arrival sequence. A new pedestrian arrival plaza and walkway improve visibility and pedestrian connectivity to the street and surrounding neighborhood drawing visitors toward the restored ‘Flamingo’ tower sign, a locally designated landmark. A new porte cochere and hotel entry were strategically added in the center of an existing breezeway between the Main Building and adjacent guest room wing creating a visual connection for arriving hotel guests. The open-air porte cochere is distinct from the historic architecture, but compatible in scale and character with wood lattice walls that maintain the transparency of the breezeways that connect the hotel wings.

The Main Building’s original Flamingo Ballroom and meeting spaces were renovated and reconfigured to provide separate Hotel and Conference Center lobbies to improve hotel operations and guest experiences. The interiors take cues from residential design, emulating the experience of arriving at someone’s home, inviting guests in for a relaxing check-in experience. As part of the revitalization of the existing restaurant a new dining terrace canopy was added, which responds to the resort’s original radial layout, providing covered outdoor leisure, dining, and event space and strengthening its connection to the interior courtyard and pool. Within the courtyard, landscape and lighting enhancements reinforced its role as the heart of the campus. Pool fencing and accessibility improvements were added to bring the resort up to modern code requirements, while maintaining strong visual connections across the public spaces.

The exteriors of the four original 1957 guest room wings were preserved with their significant historic integrity. The interiors of all 170 guest rooms were upgraded with modern amenities and rebranded to resonate with the mid-century modern character. The transformed guestrooms feature custom designed screens that creates a foyer and backdrop headboard orienting the room and bed toward the floor-to-ceiling windows and views of the lush exterior landscape.

Art is integrated throughout the resort consisting of curated vintage and modern photographs, prints, paintings, and commissioned pieces. Enhanced circulation, landscape and lighting were incorporated throughout the site to contribute to the rejuvenation of this iconic resort.

Design Challenge

With the addition of programming over the years, both on and around the property, rethinking site circulation and clarifying the guest arrival sequence was one of the most pressing needs and challenges of the Flamingo Resort rehabilitation. In addition to welcoming visiting hotel guests, the resort also serves as a conference center and meeting space for the local Santa Rosa community. A large dividable ballroom, and series of smaller meeting rooms throughout the campus are used for events ranging from large campus-wide conferences to small community meetings. Previously, a single lobby served as pre-function space for the resort’s conference and meeting programming, as well as the front desk for hotel guests, producing a chaotic environment that did not adequately serve either function. Separating and clarifying the arrival experiences for the divergent conference and hotel guests was needed to successfully reinvent the resort for its next generation of clientele. Preserving the historical integrity of the main building’s exterior, a new porte cochere and hotel entry were strategically added in the center of one of the existing breezeways between the main building and adjacent guest room wing, providing a visual connection for arriving hotel guests as they enter the property. The new open-air porte cochere is enclosed in transparent wood lattice walls framing views into the interior courtyard and creating a beacon for nighttime arrivals. It is distinct from the historic architecture, but compatible in scale and character through its materiality and patterning. Reclaiming underutilized space within the main building, a new hotel lobby was carved out of the northeast corner of the building providing an independent front desk and lounge seating for hotel guests. Connecting directly to the restaurant, music lounge, and courtyard, this new entrance also serves as the front door to the local Santa Rosa community welcoming visitors to the many new resort hospitality experiences within the resort. While still linked to the broader resort amenities, the conference center is now provided its own flexible pre-function space. Situated between the main ballroom and two larger meeting rooms with direct access to the kitchen, it can be used for conference check-in, or lounge seating or a host of other uses. Vintage and repurposed art along with a new grand chandelier give the event space contemporary feel with a bridge to the resort’s storied past.

Physical Context

Located a mile and a half northeast of downtown Santa Rosa, the Flamingo Resort is tuck away in a suburban residential and retail district developed as part of the same 1956 masterplan, which included the resort itself. While still predominantly a motor hotel, with the increase of nearby retail and dining destinations, the resort was also in need of redefined pedestrian access.  At the intersection of Long Drive and Farmers Lane, where the property meets a more active aspects of the city, a new entry court was developed with lush low-level landscaping opening the previously closed-off corner both visually and physically to welcome pedestrians in. Surrounded by a perimeter of mature evergreen and hardwood trees, the resort is largely hidden from surrounding properties, with only its iconic seventy-six-foot-tall flamingo tower sign serving as a landmark to arriving guests. The outer ring of the resort is composed of auto courts between each of the guest room wings, providing a moment of calm at the begin and end of each guest’s stay. With the goal of retaining as much of the existing landscaping as possible, the mature redwoods of the auto courts were reinforced with new fire-resistant landscape screening the floor-to-ceiling windows and creating a visual focal point for the newly transformed guest rooms. Guestroom suites and resort amenities are focused toward the central pool courtyard that acts as the heart of the campus. There turf for social and leisure activities is mixed with a robust landscape experience along the courtyard perimeter, integrating the beer garden, event lawn and cabanas with moments of fantastical landscape giving a sense of wonder and fantasy. At the main building, guests arriving at the porte cochere are visually connected to the courtyard through a sculpture garden visible through floor-to-ceiling, and a new glass pool barrier added along the pools southern edge allows for unobstructed indoor-outdoor connecting between the restaurant and pool courtyard.