As more and more states have legalized recreational marijuana use in recent years, there’s been a lot of “buzz” in the travel industry about the future of cannabis vacations and what shape this would take. But like everything else in the world of travel, the global coronavirus pandemic and spread of COVID-19 changed the landscape 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 things cannabis.
Taking a page from the trendy farm-to-table playbook, wherein restaurants and hotels take advantage of the surrounding local agricultural specialties, Scotia Lodge is in the epicenter of its growing focus, as the surrounding Humboldt Bay region is currently home to more than 12,000 cannabis farms. Sitting right near the entrance to the famed Avenue of the Giants at Humboldt Redwoods State Park, the hotel itself is a classic, and for a century 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 31-mile scenic drive with access to multiple hiking trailheads that has been described as “the finest forest drive in the world.” The 53,000-acre state park is the size of San Francisco and one third of it is old growth redwood forest, the largest such collection on earth.
Originally built in 1923 as The Mowatoc Hotel, the Lodge was a small-scale version of the grand resort hotels found in early National Parks and served as a stagecoach stop between the Bay Area and Eureka. It later became known as the Scotia Inn, and then in 2018, closed its doors. Humboldt Social, a group that is looking to normalize the connection between cannabis and hospitality, purchased the property and has restored the facilities while preserving its historic integrity, including Craftsman-era woodwork and antique clawfoot tubs. The group already owns the 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, dispensary restaurant and tasting room in nearby Eureka.
“We’re excited for the reopening of the Scotia Lodge following the hard work our team has put into thoughtfully renovating the building to its former glory,” said Aaron Sweat, Co-Founder of Humboldt Social. “We’ve created a setting that celebrates the culture and community of Humboldt County and embraces lawful, responsible cannabis use by adults in a setting where they can relax, eat and socialize with friends and family. Our vision for the Scotia Lodge is to continue offering 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 farms 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 and the Main + Mill Kitchen and Bar. Among its other appeals, the hotel is offering onsite cannabis delivery and consumption, beginning in September. The Lodge will feature extensive menus in-rooms and the main areas with QR codes to scan for cannabis items from its exclusive Social Nature line (items will include things like gummies, candies, chocolates, pre-rolled joints, oils, etc.). Orders will be delivered within 30 minutes. While Humboldt Social is not the first cannabis centric hotel in the country (there are some in Los Angeles, for instance) they are expanding their regional ventures with the hopes of creating the Napa Valley of cannabis in Northern California.
“Humboldt County hotels need to create spaces for visitors to smoke cannabis. Imagine if Napa Valley didn’t 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 locations, like easy third-party delivery options and outdoor smoking areas.”