South Lake Tahoe hotel to receive overhaul |

South Lake Tahoe hotel to receive overhaul

Isaac Brambila
A construction worker from Sanchez construction is reflected in one of countless mirrors in the Roman room of the Fantasy Inn on Nov. 20 while working on renovations.
Isaac Brambila/Tahoe Daily Tribune |

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The heart-shaped hot tubs, the paintings of exotic birds on the walls in the rainforest room, the Doric-style columns in the Roman room and the strange presence of Elvis Presley in the Graceland room will soon become a thing of the past at the soon-to-be formerly known Fantasy Inn.

A roughly $1-million renovation, which started in early August, is underway at the once risque getaway destination for many locals and tourists.

The construction, General Manager Scott Morton said, aims to update the hotel and steer away from the couples-only vibe it has had since its opening in 1993.

“I’m most excited about rebranding it … making it something the city can be proud of,” new owner Charles German said. “You know, I talked to some of the locals and they think there’s stripper poles and things in there.”

German bought the Fantasy Inn in late May and began renovations in August. For his first hotel venture, after dealing in office real estate for the past 12 years, he sought and found the opportunity to purchase a hotel in his favorite mountain town, which he has regularly visited for 25 years, he said.

Though the hotel will still cater to couples, retaining wedding services in its indoor and outdoor chapels, the idea is to make the hotel more mainstream and attract other types of guests as well, German said. The renovations are largely aimed to steer the new model away from the themed rooms, excessive mirrors and aggressively romantic feel.

Updates include the complete overhaul of every room, including new paint, carpet, granite counters, bedding, sinks and showers.

“It’s just a complete gut, really,” Morton said.

They are also planning to construct a new lounge, a beer and wine bar and a ski locker. Those changes will reduce the number of rooms from 54 to 50, Morton said. The bar area will also serve food.

In future plans, management is also considering offering breakfast.

Walking through the hotel, the transformation starts to become clear. Romantic paintings on the walls and other decorations native to the Fantasy in disappear as one walks into the areas that are being updated. Color schemes seem more neutral as well.

The rooms currently remain stripped, with under-floors exposed and unpainted walls waiting to receive the new look.

“I’m excited about taking something I think is dated and tacky out of the tourist core and making something cool,” German said.

Morton said they expect 20 of the 50 rooms to be ready for a soft opening on Dec.15. Following the opening of that wing of rooms, construction will continue on the other half of the hotel, which is expected to be open in the spring. Closures for construction are not expected.

During the soft opening in December hotel management is also planning to release the new name. Morton said the hotel name and logo have been largely developed, but German is still working out trademark and other legal issues before the name is released.

Part of the name, however, will probably include the title of “boutique mountain lodge,” Morton said.

Though management expects to have a completely updated establishment, many of the features currently present will remain.

“We will continue to have spa tubs in almost every room, European showers and mirrors, but with a tastefully updated new attitude,” Morton stated in an email.

With those features, Morton expects the hotel will retain its nostalgic feel for the fun and fast times experienced by many during the hotels beginnings.

“Nearly everyone in Tahoe has had some fun times here,” Morton said. “They all have a story to tell. They’ve had a Fantasy Inn experience.”

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