Santa Barbara Auto Camp Rents Refurbished Airstreams

What is it about Airstream design that continues to engender such passion more than 80 years after the trailer first appeared?

The 1959 Airstream Overlander 26’ is a real star in our vintage Airstream series with its generous sleeping accommodations for four. (Source: sbautocamp.com)
The 1959 Airstream Overlander 26 foot is a star in the vintage Airstream series with its generous sleeping accommodations for four. (Source: sbautocamp.com)

Is it the alluring, streamlined aluminum shell, cozy interiors, nostalgia for a simpler era?
“It’s a part of American culture that transcends time,” Matthew Hofmann recently told the Los Angeles Times.

“It symbolizes style and adventure. There is something very fundamental about getting in your car and driving across country. It’s in our blood.”

Hofmann recently opened an Airstream hotel consisting of four tricked-out trailers parked midtown at the Santa Barbara Auto Camp.

Curious pedestrians frequently ask Hofmann and business partner Neil Dipaola if they could take a peek inside the Airstreams. Upon entering, they find renovated interiors with hotel upgrades perfectly suited for “glamping” — mini-bars, wall-mounted flat-screen TVs, air conditioning, and 1,000-thread-count sheets, all for $150 per night.

According to Airstream, about 70 percent of all the trailers ever manufactured by the company are still in use, so it is not surprising that Hofmann, as well as other entrepreneurs, would think to use them as lodging.

Singer Kate Pierson of the B-52’s opened her second vintage Airstream hotel— six trailers near Joshua Tree — in November.

But unlike Pierson’s playful kitschy decor, Hofmann’s Airstreams stand out for their surprising elegance. The modern updates are no different than any home remodel, he told the LA Times. Hoffman views his trailers from the 1950s to 1970s as floor plans for small-space living.

This 1973 Airstream Sovereign has been fully restored by Architect Matthew Hofmann. This thoughtfully designed vintage trailer sits on a grassy park like space at the Santa Barbara Auto Camp in the heart of Santa Barbara.
This 1973 Airstream Sovereign has been fully restored by Architect Matthew Hofmann. This thoughtfully designed vintage trailer sits on a grassy park like space at the Santa Barbara Auto Camp in the heart of Santa Barbara. (Source: sbautocamp.com)

Creating an open and airy feeling in just 150 to 200 square feet, requires cutting the excess, according to Hofmann.

“I tried to lighten them up and simplify them while maintaining their classicism,” he said.
Since the four trailers are used as hotel rooms, not for extended traveling or permanent living, Hofmann reduced the amount of storage, which made the interiors feel tight.

Next he removed plastic accessories that created “visual noise,” such as window coverings, valances, and spice racks. Existing vents on the roof were doubled in size to create skylights, bringing in more sunshine.

“It’s more than just painting the walls white,” Hofmann said of the quest to brighten the interiors. “It’s how the space feels as you move through it.”

To add warmth, Hofmann installed strand bamboo and teak flooring.

“You don’t want to feel like you’re in a tin can. Airstreams can have a Teutonic look.”
Hofmann saved original shelving and all of the windows. In some kitchens he refinished the original cabinets, and in others he added new fronts to the existing frames.

The most surprising space in each Airstream is the bathroom, traditionally a utilitarian space the size of a closet. Hofmann expanded them and created a sense of luxury by installing colorful recycled glass tile and wraparound Corian counter tops. Full-size toilets are a plus. In one trailer, he even added a claw-foot tub.

For Hofmann, who grew up building treehouses in Mammoth, the challenge of designing on such a small scale has been exciting. He has renovated more than 20 Airstreams and now focuses solely on renovating vintage trailers with the hope of opening more Airstream hotels, reports LA Times.

Pop culture humorist Charles Phoenix, author of “Americana the Beautiful: Mid-Century Culture in Kodachrome,” said the continuing fascination with vintage Airstreams makes complete sense when you consider each is “a little cozy cabin on wheels that looks like a bright and shiny Twinkie. How could something so warm and cozy be so shiny and slick at the same time?”

Details

Santa Barbara Auto Camp

The Santa Barbara Auto Camp started as an idea. An Architect and a Developer came together by their mutual interest in functional, beautiful design and their shared love of vintage Airstreams. And the Santa Barbara Auto Camp was born—a place where old meets new.

Well, reborn actually; the Santa Barbara Auto Camp has been operating continuously in the heart of Santa Barbara since 1922. To celebrate more than 90 years of operation at the Auto Camp, a set of beautifully-restored vintage Airstreams for nightly rental was added to the Auto Camp.

This 1959 Airstream Overlander is one of our favorite Airstream hotel suites.
This 1959 Airstream Overlander is one of our favorite Airstream hotel suites. (Source: sbautocamp.com)

Address: 2714 De La Vina Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93105

Phone: (805) 364-2507

Website: sbautocamp.com

Worth Pondering…

I saw a peanut stand, heard a rubber band,
I saw a needle that winked its eye.
But I think I will have seen everything
When I see an Airstream fly.

—music and lyrics by Oliver Wallace and Ned Washington, in Dumbo

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More Parks with Creative Accommodations

You don’t need to drive a recreational vehicle to enjoy the RV resort experience.

Kate s Lazy Desert Vintage Airstream Hotel: Yellow Stripe Hairstream
Kate s Lazy Desert Vintage Airstream Hotel: Yellow Stripe Hairstream

Just mix one or more icon symbols of freedom and adventure on American highways with a creative mind. Add in a generous helping of awe-inspiring scenery, and you have a man-made curiosity and a one-of-a-kind resort.

In today’s post I report on two such resorts—an Airstream motel and Drive-in Airstream and RV park.

Kate’s Lazy Desert Airstream Motel

Fans of the B-52s might be inspired to roam — if they want to — all the way out to the Mojave Desert.

That’s where the lead singer of the quirk-pop act has brought her bee-hived sensibility to a new Airstream hotel that opened in November, 2012.

Co-owned by B-52s vocalist Kate Pierson, Kate’s Lazy Desert invites visitors to “rocket through the wilderness” in a collection of six vintage Airstreams, the interiors of which riff off the kitsch of the band’s best-known material.

The Lava trailer, with its orange-blob paint job, mimics the gooey movement of the ’60s-style lamp, whereas the Hairstream is a fantasy version of a B-52′s dressing room, and Planet Air is cast in an otherworldly pink light to recreate the aura of Planet Claire.

“Visiting the desert is like a little mini trip to the moon,” said Pierson, whose design sensibility is every bit as far out as her vocals.

The same could be said of the motel’s Airstreams, which are the perfect architectural compliment to the band’s space-age surfer vibe, looking, as they do, like lunar modules with their studded sheet metal siding.

Kate’s Lazy Desert Airstream Motel is located 17 miles north of Yucca Valley (California), off State Route 247 (Old Woman Springs Road).

For additional information and details on Kate’s Lazy Desert Airstream Motel, click here.

Shooting Star Drive-In Airstream and RV Park

Shooting Star Drive-In Airstream and RV Park
Shooting Star Drive-In Airstream and RV Park

Nestled between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon National Parks, Utah Scenic Byway 12 is located in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

This All-American Road which winds its way 124 miles from Panguitch to Torrey has dozens of natural attractions from alpine forests and ancient sea beds to pink rock turrets.

But this awe-inspiring scenic byway also boasts a relatively new man-made curiosity—The Shooting Star Drive-In Airstream and RV Park.

It’s a one-of-a-kind resort that combines Airstream travel trailers and vintage convertible cars with a drive-in movie theater.

Owner Mark Gudenas, a Chicago native, opened the resort about a year ago on 25 acres just west of Escalante.

The main attraction is the eight restored vintage Airstream trailers that guests can rent starting at $149 a night. There are seven vintage convertibles where travelers can sit and watch an old-time movie on a large outdoor screen.

The resort also has its own full-service RV Park.

A movie buff for as long as he can remember, Gudenas decorated the Airstreams in a manner he thinks John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, or Robert Redford would have liked when they were filming on location in Utah.

The Shooting Star Drive-In Airstream & RV Park features 360-degree views of the Grand Staircase, the Escalante Mountains and Dixie National Forest.
The Shooting Star Drive-In Airstream & RV Park features 360-degree views of the Grand Staircase, the Escalante Mountains and Dixie National Forest.

Each trailer has a kitchen, a tiny bathroom, beds, satellite radio and television as well as a wooden deck with Adirondack chairs and a propane grill. Gudenas even sells ready-to-cook packs of steak, salmon, chicken, brats, or hamburgers so his guests don’t have to hunt for the grocery store.

The Shooting Star Drive-In Airstream & RV Park features 360-degree views of the Grand Staircase, the Escalante Mountains, and Dixie National Forest.

It’s a one-of-a-kind resort along Utah’s Highway 12 where travelers can stay in restored Airstream travel trailers and sit in vintage convertible cars while they watch a drive-in movie.

There you’ll find 18 long, pull-through sites with 20/30/50-amp power, water, and picnic tables. Nine sites have a sewer connection and an easily accessible dump station is also available.

For additional information and details on Shooting Star Drive-In Airstream and RV Park, click here.

Please Note: This is Part 2 of a 2-part series

Part 1: Good Sam RV Parks with Creative Accommodations

Worth Pondering…

There is nothing like a dream to create the future.

—Victor Hugo

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B-52 Love Shack: An Airstream Motel

Fans of the B-52s might be inspired to roam — if they want to — all the way out to the Mojave Desert.

Kate s Lazy Desert Vintage Airstream Hotel

That’s where the lead singer of the quirk-pop act has brought her bee-hived sensibility to a new Airstream hotel that opened in November, reports The Orange County Register.

Co-owned by B-52s vocalist Kate Pierson, Kate’s Lazy Desert invites visitors to “rocket through the wilderness” in a collection of six vintage Airstreams, the interiors of which riff off the kitsch of the band’s best-known material.

The Lava trailer, with its orange-blob paint job, mimics the gooey movement of the ’60s-style lamp, whereas the Hairstream is a fantasy version of a B-52′s dressing room, and Planet Air is cast in an otherworldly pink light to recreate the aura of Planet Claire.

“Visiting the desert is like a little mini trip to the moon,” said Pierson, whose design sensibility is every bit as far out as her vocals.

The same could be said of the motel’s Airstreams, which are the perfect architectural compliment to the band’s space-age surfer vibe, looking, as they do, like lunar modules with their studded sheet metal siding.

Kate’s Lazy Desert is the west coast adjunct to Kate’s Lazy Meadow, an equally quirky, in-the-sticks collection of cabins tucked into the Catskill Mountains outside Woodstock, New York, where Pierson lives with her romantic and business partner, Monica Nation, who’s been running Kate’s Lazy Meadow since 2004, The Orange County Register reports.

Kate s Lazy Desert Vintage Airstream Hotel: Yellow Stripe Hairstream

The Airstreams in the Lazy Desert were originally situated along the Hudson River at Kate’s Lazy Meadow, and were always the first rooms to be booked, Pierson said. But when the trailers flooded during last year’s Hurricane Irene, she and Nation decided to wheel them off to the Mojave.

“How much safer can you be from a flood than in the desert?” Pierson quipped.

Pierson and Nation have been traveling to the Joshua Tree-area for years to visit her friends Phillip Maberry and Scott Walker, who decorated the Airstreams’ interiors. They also manage Kate’s Lazy Desert because they live next door in the small town of Landers where the motel is based.

If the Airstream Hotel looks like the B-52s Love Shack, that isn’t a coincidence. Maberry and Walker’s home was the location for the famed ’80s video. It’s also served as an unstated motto for the hotel, which is designed to be a romantic couples getaway, not a place for kids, even if there is a swimming pool in the area and the vibe is playful. The trailers are tchotchke’d out with the thrifted treasures Pierson and her band mate Fred Schneider have unearthed during decades of touring.

Pierson is something of a hotel aficionado, having toured with her band for more than three decades and stayed in venues of every caliber and stripe, reports The Orange County Register.

“For me, a great hotel is a place where you’re not disturbed,” said Pierson, who, at age 64, will record her first solo album in L.A. this winter.

“It’s just nice to feel like you’re in an apartment of your own that has really great decor that isn’t generic and is also in a beautiful natural place.”

Pierson and Nation are self-described “nature enthusiasts” who like to hike with their German shepherds.

“Landers seems like the middle of nowhere, but it’s next to this amazing place called the Integratron (a geodesic tabernacle renown for its acoustics) and Joshua Tree National Park, so it’s very well situated. But it’s also raw desert. You can look outside and there are no other houses, just giant mountains.

Kate s Lazy Desert Vintage Airstream Hotel: Desert Aqua Stripe Lava
‘Airstream Hotel’ at Kate’s Lazy Desert

“You can do the town and get a rock ‘n roll tour in or sit by the fire and play Scrabble and watch a horror movie,” added Pierson, who plans to stock Kate’s Lazy Desert with B horror movies just as she did Kate’s Lazy Meadow in upstate New York.

Eventually, Pierson hopes to expand her hotel sensibility to a city, most likely Palm Springs. “We’re just looking for an investor. If Mr. Marriott wants to invest, he can contact us.”

Details

Kate’s Lazy Desert Airstream Motel

Address: 58380 Botkin Road, Landers, CA 92285

Location: 17 miles north of Yucca Valley, off State Route 247 (Old Woman Springs Road)

Phone: (845) 688-7200

Website: lazymeadow.com

Worth Pondering…

The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for.
—Louis L’Amour

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