For 10 years, Karina Winkler has managed hotels with Holiday Inn. For four of those years, she has lived in Santa Clarita as manager of the Best Western/Holiday Inn Express near Magic Mountain Parkway.Now, Santa Clarita is seeing a tourism boom that is making Winkler’s company, and others, expand their local reach. Soon, the city will see a 28 percent increase in hotel rooms, and Winkler says this boom can only mean good things for the Santa Clarita Valley.“Santa Clarita is absolutely thriving,” Winkler said. “There are a lot of things coming up in our city, with new housing developments and now also these new business developments, too. It is growing tremendously and it is great.”Jason Crawford, the city’s economic development manager, said 531 hotel rooms are planned to be added to the city in the upcoming months. All are in different phases of development.And beyond the ones already planned, approved and in development are about 200 more rooms. A Vista Canyon hotel project, with the exact location to be determined, is also in the works, he said.By the end of all the projects’ completions, the Santa Clarita Valley’s room count will be at 2,634.“As a community, we need more hotel rooms,” Crawford said. “We run at a really high occupancy rate.”In 2011, local hotels had a 74 percent occupancy rate, according to city statistics. The rate has gone up since, and was at 88 percent as of 2016, the most recent year for which data is available. Half of the hotels in the greater Santa Clarita area are inside the city, while half are in the unincorporated areas, Crawford said. There are already 915 hotel rooms in the city of Santa Clarita, while the unincorporated areas of the Santa Clarita Valley have 978 rooms.The hotels in development for pre-construction are:
The Luxen Hotel, which will be on Railroad Avenue at 5th Street
The Oliver/Element by Westin, set to be on McBean Parkway north of Valencia Boulevard
The Residence Inn/Springhill Suites and Holiday Inn Express at the lot at Wayne Mills Place west of Tourney Road near Magic Mountain Parkway
The Homewood Suites/Hampton Inn on Newhall Ranch Road
The Luxen Hotel, a boutique hotel in Old Town Newhall, is set to have 42 rooms.The slightly bigger Oliver/Element by Westin is planned to have 134 rooms.The Residence Inn/Springhill Suites hotel is planned for a total of 170 rooms.The five-story, 185-room Homewood Suites/Hampton Inn lot will be located between Rye Canyon Road and Vanderbilt Way. Hampton Inn will have 78 rooms for standard visits and Homewood Inn and Suites will have 107 rooms for extended stays.The biggest operating hotel in Santa Clarita is the Hyatt Regency, which has 244 of the city’s hotel rooms. As so many tourists pass through Santa Clarita to go to Six Flags Magic Mountain, the city trolley offers rides to and from the theme park from selected local hotels, including the Hyatt. This year, in response to its growth as a tourism destination, the city added a new evening stop in Old Town Newhall between 6:10 and 11:07 p.m., as tourism grows, for guests to also enjoy nightlife, said Evan Thomason, economic development associate for the city of Santa Clarita. “We’re becoming a travel destination, and we want visitors to discover everything,” he said.The trolley has been around for the last 10 years, servicing the Marriott Embassy Suites; Hyatt Regency (where the Westfield Valencia Town Center mall is); and Holiday Inn, all hotels located around Interstate 5.“We love it so much here in Santa Clarita,” Winkler said. “It’s a great community, but also it’s really a community that’s growing.”
Crystal Duan is the Signal's political reporter, covering City Council, the county and other happenings around the city. She graduated from the University of Missouri's journalism school and has worked at the Indianapolis Star and Minneapolis Star Tribune. She has been with the Signal since March 2018.