Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Winter WonderSLO

Each winter break, I look forward to the return of the Winter WonderSLO ice rink in the Expo Center. The 4,500 square feet of real ice create a frosty, festive atmosphere that make a perfect activity for families, couples, and friends.  And, with part of the proceeds supporting the SLO Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, this holiday activity is not only a fun tradition for locals, but also beneficial for the community.

 This year, the rink is open until January 3rd, so check out the Winter WonderSLO website for skate session times and ticked reservations ASAP! 

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Holiday Tradition

Decorations at the Madonna Inn have often taken on a life of their own. With each holiday, our creative team spends weeks transforming the Inn into a uniquely whimsical expression of the season; with Winter often requiring the most planning, preparation, and time.  And this careful attention to all things aesthetically fun and festive is certainly nothing new.

  From the time of the Inn's inception, Mr. and Mrs. Madonna (Grandpa and Grandma) would take great pride in making sure the Inn's interior and exterior looked superbly cheerful. In fact, their love for the holiday spirit was actually so strong that the embellishments eventually extended beyond the walls of the hotel and restaurants and all the way to the tippy-top of Cerro San Luis "Madonna" Mountain.

Beginning in the mid-1970s, Grandpa would erect a giant lit "tree" for Christmas and a lit cross for Easter at the top of the mountain behind the Inn. This began after he bought the Bianchi ranch property in 1972, and built a road upon the parcel of this ranch that stretched to the top of the mountain.

With 11 strands of red and white glowing lights strung from a 30-foot aluminum mast, the tree lights up the night sky each night of December and through the New Year. In years past, the tree would be lit only for the 12 days of Christmas, however more recently the tree has gone up on December 1st so that the community can enjoy it for a little longer. The tree takes roughly a day to set up and has been rebuilt numerous times throughout the years to withstand the elements. Since the '70s, it has been a tradition for SLOcals to hike to the top of the mountain near dark to enjoy the lights. Even for those who don't make the trek to the top, the tree is a beacon of holiday cheer that reaches for miles.

By the way... in case you've ever wondered, the tree's nightly illumination is not the feat of a timer, remote, or even magic. Rather, every evening - rain or shine - a Madonna Inn employee must travel up to the top of the mountain at dusk to turn on the generator that powers the lights.This year, my younger brother Dalton has been given this important task. So if you see him driving up the mountain in his work truck around sunset, make sure to give him a wave. And if you get too tired of hiking, he might even give you a lift to the top!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Gratitude is Sweet

With a chill in the air, puddles on the ground, and a bustling restaurant, kitchen, and bakery, the spirit of the holidays feels especially robust today at the Inn.

It is remarkable how much passion goes into our holiday preparations. I am continually impressed by the volume of food our team produces, as well as the enthusiasm and fun they have while making it all happen. The Madonna Inn could not be or do what it does without the multitude of talented, dedicated individuals working tirelessly behind the scenes. 

As I enjoy a slice of Madonna Inn pumpkin pie tomorrow evening, I will smile knowing how much love and hard work went into every bite. Cheers to a joyous Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Online Bakery Ordering!

After hours of data input, countless calls and emails to our web developers, multiple days of baked good photo shoots, and months of editing and perfecting... we are proud to introduce our online bakery ordering storefront - complete with pictures and detailed descriptions for all of our delicious offerings!

You can now conveniently order your favorite Madonna Inn baked goods (for in-store pick up) from the comfort of your keyboard. We think this new offering is great for people who want to browse all our fabulous cakes, pies, breads, and cookies; and is also a wonderful time saver during the holiday rush. And if, at the end of the day, you're the type of person that just likes talking to someone over the phone - fear not - we are still taking bakery orders the old fashioned way!

While our online ordering is for items that are only available for in-store pick up, we invite you to continue ordering our world-famous Cinnamon Pull-Aparts, Danish Pastries, and Freshly-Baked Cookies, along with Moonstruck Chocolates, for delivery in the United States via our online store.

Happy Shopping :) 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Wine Room Decades in the Making

Be it red, white, sparkling, or rose; there's nothing quite like a perfectly chilled glass of wine. And for a true connoisseur, "temperatured" wines are not just a luxury but a  near-necessity.

After about a year of planning and construction, we have finally unveiled our stunning new wine room. This beautiful addition has not only enhanced our (already) stellar wine list, but has also become the forever home for some vintage Enkeboll wooden carvings that were procured by Mr. and Mrs. Madonna years ago.

Until the beginning of the wine room construction, these intricate pieces which depict various stages of the wine making process - from harvest to pressing to fermentation to tasting - had been sitting idly in storage since the mid-80s, when they were purchased from Mr. Enkeboll's Southern California production facility.

Clif Bartlet, who served as the lead craftsman for this project, designed and constructed the wine room's wooden accents around the Enkeboll pieces - which now adorn the ceiling.

The next time you find yourself at the Inn, make sure to wander through the Steakhouse and to the dance floor so you can see the wine room for yourself (and maybe even enjoy a cool glass of your favorite vintage while you're at it!)


Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Stroll Through the Garden

Sometimes after lunch I like to take an easy, meandering walk around the Inn to get some fresh air and enjoy a little bit of quiet time.

Today I found myself in the Secret Garden, and couldn't help but share some photos I captured of the lush herbs and produce, beautiful shade trees and bright thickets of flowers.

Indeed, it was the perfect place to spend a few peaceful moments with myself.