Monday, December 15, 2014

Rejoicing for Raindrops

Yes, the rumors are true... our thirsty California coast has (finally) gotten a healthy dose of rain!

In San Luis Obispo, this recent storm pushed our annual rainfall total to 124% above average for this time of year - thanks to a weather system sent from Hawaii via the Pineapple Express. The vibrant green tips of grass leaves, which seemed to sprout up overnight, are already beginning to carpet the hills, mountains, and pastures of SLO.

Although there are still blue skies and sunshine between the showers, all this rain makes it feel a little more like Winter here. And with more rain in the forecast, I can only imagine how beautiful our town will look and smell come springtime!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Margarita Adventures

So I normally don't consider myself much of a thrill seeker... but when I was offered an opportunity to go zip lining in Santa Margarita, I jumped on it right away. And let me tell you, it was not at all what I expected - in fact it was much, much more!
Our experience began at the Margarita Adventures headquarters in Santa Margarita, California: about a 15 minute drive from the Madonna Inn. Here, we got our MI group assembled and hopped on the bus which led us out to the first of five zip lines on the Santa Margarita ranch.
Our guides were fabulously knowledgeable about the Santa Margarita Ranch wildlife and history, as well as the safety and procedural points concerning the zip lines. I must say that on the first zip line my heart was beating wildly, and I was a bit surprised I still had a voice when I got unhooked from the first line!
After this first line, however, I was running and leaping off the starts and felt a little like Tinkerbell at Disneyland as she flies across the night's sky. With different take-offs and fabulous views of rolling hills, oak trees, and beautiful vineyards, each line was a wonderfully unique and thrilling experience.
After the Pinot Express, the fifth and longest line (at 1800 ft) we enjoyed some cold refreshments and a little snack before packing back into the Madonna Inn van and returning to San Luis. I even got to take home a t-shirt for hitting a target with a pumpkin while flying across the first line!
Needless to say, I can't wait for my next trip to the Margarita Adventure, and am so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone to experience this spectacular attraction - just a short drive from home.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Oktoberfest FUN

If you can't make it all the way to Munich this year for Oktoberfest, fear not! On Saturday, October 11th, Madonna Inn will proudly be hosting our inaugural Oktoberfest celebration at the Alex Madonna Expo Center. Our marketing team has had such a fun time promoting this event, and truly can't wait for the big day to come.

This authentic German celebration will feature a variety of Firestone Walker craft beers, hand-made soft pretzels, delicious kielbasa and bratwurst sausages served with sauerkraut and a warm bacon and scallion infused German potato salad, and Madonna Inn's world famous Black Forest cake. Stephen Patrick designs will transform the Expo center with rich, rustic adornments, and festive polka music performed by Trio Internationale will bring the spirit of Oktoberfest to life. Plus, a bounty of "Meine Damen und Herren" in their finest dirndls and lederhosen will make you feel as though you've been transported to a Bavarian wonderland!

Tickets are limited so get yours before they're gone at

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Pick, a Shovel, and a Model-T Ford

It may sound simple, but believe it or not that's how it all started... for Madonna Construction and eventually Madonna Inn, too. The following excerpt from Mrs. Madonna's book, My Point of View, tells the story of Mr. Madonna's humble beginnings as a young boy with big dreams.
"At age 15, Alex borrowed $30 from his mother to buy a Model-T Ford Truck... with this truck he picked up barnyard manure which he sold as fertilizer, hauled rock (which they turned into gravel) and loaded it with sand which he sold to plasterers. This truck and a pick and shovel were the only tools he had to work with, and marked the beginning of a career in construction," (18).
The pick and shovel would later become one of Mr. Madonna's trademarks (which can be seen in various forms around the Inn) and still serves as a reminder of the hard work and dedication which turned Mr. Madonna's dreams into a lasting legacy.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Celebration for Rudy

Today we held a surprise retirement party for long-time Madonna Inn employee, Rudy Raidl. Rudy began working at the Inn in 31 years ago and has been a dedicated and talented Copper Cafe cook ever since.

When he's not whipping up a delicious dish, Rudy enjoys his other passion - art. Rudy's artwork ranges from realistic life-sized murals, to impressionistic pieces, to cartoon sketches of his fellow employees, and even touch ups on our iconic entrance sign.

Not only was this day special because it was Rudy's last day, but also because it happens to be Rudy's 66th birthday! We chose a Beatles theme for this party since Rudy is a huge fan, complete with a Beatles-themed card and ambient Beatles music playing in the background. Emily Ibarra, our Guest Services Supervisor and also a terrific artist, designed and created Rudy's beautiful card for all the employees to sign. The inscription reads, "We will be a lonely hearts club without you, Rudy. Thank you for all the great years," and the front is a drawing of the famous John, Ringo, Paul, and George. Apart from the card, we all signed Rudy's cook's jacket with sharpies. So fun!

We also presented Rudy with a poster of various cartoons he had drawn and given out to his co-workers over the years. He had no idea that anyone had kept them, so this also made for a fun surprise.

Although we can hardly "Imagine" the Madonna Inn kitchen without Rudy's warm smile, we will always cherish the memories we made with him. We are excited for him to enjoy this next chapter of his life, and we know we will still see him when he stops by for a bite to eat, or to touch up one of his many Madonna Inn murals.

Cheers and congratulations to you, Rudy! Your Madonna Inn family will miss you!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Tribute to "Mr. Chips"

If you've ever spent a few minutes in the Silver Bar Cocktail Lounge, you may have noticed something peculiar. While most of the wood carvings around the Inn are impeccable, a stretch of wooden beams and cornices near the bar remain unfinished - bearing only the black marker outlines of what would have one day been carvings.
The late Alexander Zeller, a renowned Bavarian woodworker from Munich, Germany, was the artist responsible for the intricate wooden carvings throughout the Inn. Nicknamed "Mr. Chips," he had been commissioned by churches, public buildings, commercial businesses, and numerous individuals to create beautiful, one-of-a-kind works of art. In the early sixties, he was hired by Mr. and Mrs. Madonna to sculpt an array of wooden masterpieces for the newly-constructed Inn.
Unfortunately, Mr. Zeller fell ill shortly after the Inn's grand opening in 1961 and passed away before he was able to finish all his projects. Although this meant that the woodwork near the Silver Bar wouldn't be completed, Mr. and Mrs. Madonna felt that leaving the work unfinished was the proper tribute to "Mr. Chips."

Friday, August 8, 2014

Cherubs, Cakes, and Dinosaurs?

Madonna Inn is synonymous with many things. "Pink," "cherubs," "waterfall bathroom," and "cake" come to mind pretty instantaneously, but many are not so quick to associate MI with dinosaur fossils... until now, that is!

Outrageous as it may sound, Madonna Inn is currently home to two fossils which are nestled inside boulders used in some of the rock work between the Steak House and the Silver Bar. Legend holds that there were once three fossils until one extraordinary specimen was removed and given to a museum! Next time you're in for dinner or a drink make sure to check out this little piece of history.