As more and more states have legalized the use of marijuana for recreation in recent years, there has been a lot of “buzz” in the travel industry about the future of cannabis vacations and what form this would take. But like everything else in the travel world, the global coronavirus pandemic and spread of the COVID-19 landscape changed and slowed everything down. Now, slowly but surely, travel is coming back, and Northern California’s Scotia Lodge is front and center as an instant hotspot for those whose travel decisions are influenced by all that cannabis is.
Taking a page from the trendy farm-to-table playbook where restaurants and hotels benefit from the surrounding local agricultural specialties, Scotia Lodge is an epicenter of its growing focus as the surrounding Humboldt Bay region is currently home to more than 12,000 cannabis farms. The hotel itself, located right at the entrance to the famous Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, is a classic and for a century it has been a top choice for visitors coming to see the area’s number one attraction, the world’s largest trees , the majestic redwoods. The Avenue of the Giants is a scenic 31-mile drive with access to several hiking trails that have been described as “the finest picnic in the world.” The 53,000-acre state park is the size of San Francisco, and a third of it is old forest of redwood, the largest collection on earth.
Originally built in 1923 as The Mowatoc Hotel, the Lodge was a small version of the large resort hotels found in the early national parks and served as a train stop between the Bay Area and Eureka. It later became known as the Scotia Inn, and then closed its doors in 2018. Humboldt Social, a group that wants to normalize the connection between cannabis and hospitality, bought the property and has restored the facilities, while preserving its historic integrity, including woodwork from the craft era and antique claw foot baths. The group already owns Humboldt Bay Social Club, a dog-friendly and family-friendly boutique hotel on the shores of Humble Bay, and Papa & Barkley Social, a cannabis consumption lounge, spa, pharmacy restaurant and tasting room in nearby Eureka.
“We are delighted with the reopening of Scotia Lodge after the hard work our team has put into carefully renovating the building to its former glory,” said Aaron Sweat, co-founder of Humboldt Social. “We have created a framework that celebrates the culture and community of Humboldt County and embraces the legal, responsible cannabis use of adults in an setting where they can relax, eat and socialize with friends and family. Our vision for Scotia Lodge is to continue to offer a unique experience for travelers and locals while respecting the lodge’s architecture and history. We embrace our surroundings as they embrace us. Humboldt has more cannabis use than anywhere else in the world, and we want to share that with our guests. ”
Scotia Lodge reopened from its restoration earlier this month (July 9, 2021) with 22 rooms and suites as well as the Main + Mill Kitchen and Bar. Among its other appeals, the hotel offers onsite on-site delivery and consumption from September. The lodge will feature extensive menus in the rooms and main areas with QR codes for scanning for cannabis items from its exclusive Social Nature line (items will include items such as gums, sweets, chocolates, pre-rolled joints, oils, etc.). Orders will be delivered within 30 minutes. Although Humboldt Social is not the first cannabis-centric hotel in the country (there are some in Los Angeles, for example), they are expanding their regional ventures with hopes of creating the Napa Valley for cannabis in Northern California.
“Hotels in Humboldt County should create space for visitors to smoke cannabis. Imagine if Napa Valley did not offer safe places to drink wine. We are committed to taking care of our guests by offering them a legal space to consume cannabis while visiting, ”explained Amy O’Connor, another Humboldt Social Founder. “For us, normalizing cannabis in hospitality means adding hospitality assets (food and drink, spa, retail) to cannabis businesses and adding access to cannabis to hospitality sites, such as light third-party delivery options and outdoor smoking areas.”