Be prepared to see things you've never seen before when you walk into the Hotel Paradox at 611 Ocean St.
That's what interior designer David Todd Oldroyd wanted. His idea was to have guests cross through slate grey concrete abutments that block out the businesses along Ocean and enter a world of modernity and ancient forests --a paradox, if you will.
The front desk is made from a giant Eucalyptus tree placed in a room that has a stark ultra modern Tokyo feel. There is a 120-foot-long book shelf, but the books are covered in stark white covers, each one a mystery until opened. There are comfortable nooks with couches and above them are out of focus photos of statues from Amsterdam taken by Oldroyd, who works for the San Francisco design firm ODADA.
"We did the concrete walls and you walk through them and it's supposed to make you forget about Ocean Street," said Oldroyd. "The oil changers across the street, the doctor's office. It's supposed to take you out of that world and then you come in here and walk into this moody, dark redwood forest."
It's a part of Santa Cruz that draws people here and isn't the beach, which was the big challenge designing a hotel in a beach town not on the water.
Hotel owner Perry Patel cut the ribbon to formally open the hotel Wednesday with a coterie of city officials. He said that Santa Cruz was known as a hard place to do business, but it didn't prove so for him. His family-owned business, BPR Properties based in Palo Alto, adds a new hotel a year. The acronym is for B.B., his father, Perry and Rita, his sister.
The $13.3 million hotel has 170 rooms. It used to be a Holiday Inn and then was housing for University of California, Santa Cruz students.
You'd never know from the refurbishing that includes a pool and jacuzzi that will be open year round for locals to use for a small fee, outside walls that glow in the dark, and luxurious, but simple rooms that seem to reflect the Santa Cruz attitude of big city culture mixed with spectacular views of nature.
"It's a box dropped in the middle of the redwood forest," said Oldroyd. "And I love the contrast of hard and soft, and black and white, old and new," he added. "You know, the white walls juxtaposed against the craggy bark and arms of the redwood tree, i mean that's that contrast that I think it celebrates the redwoods and it celebrates the white box."
Through September rooms go for $155 on weekdays and $205 on weekends. They range from $125 to $425 depending on the time of year.
Patel also owns the Holiday Inn Express and the Best Western All Suites on Ocean, but wanted the Paradox to stand out from the rest.
"As you drive up and down Ocean Street, you have the 60's and 70's buildings, and they're tired looking, and you know I just wanted to set something apart—modern building, hip chic hotel, that's not what you see on Ocean Street, so I think for us it was just in the name."
Patel was thrilled with the way the process went in a city once known for being hostile to new business.
"I mean it blew me out of the water to be able to get this in November, to submit drawings in December, to get a permit in March," he said.
"That's unheard of. And I think it shows to the city that they really are determined to be able to work with developers like ourselves, and to be able to encourage development. I think it's a positive, and I hope that other folks have the same experience that I did."