SANTA YNEZ VALLEY, Calif. - The Santa Ynez Valley has become an area where there's jobs and some unique business opportunities.
The once rustic and rural area is growing. There's a blend of the classic homes and longtime stores, and some new shopping centers, wineries, and the bustling Chumash Casino Resort.
It can bring in an increased tax base for local governments, but some long timers are uneasy about the changes.
Hospitality leaders gathered this morning for a Visit the Santa Ynez Valley meeting. It was held at Hotel Corque.
They displayed images of worldwide publicity the area is receiving, in magazines and social media sites.
Executive Director of Visit Santa Ynez Valley Shelby Sim said this is the first gathering of this type and they wanted to also honor outstanding employees.
They were given the Spirit of the Santa Ynez Valley Award.
Executive Director of Casino Hospitality for the Chumash Resort, Andrew Economon said he has more room for new employees because of the growing business. "We have right now over 125 job openings. We are looking for good people that want to get into the hospitality industry," he said.
The balance between growth and the character history for the area is often discussed. "There's a lot of people in the valley that may not like growth," said Economon. "It is happening whether we like it or not." He put the changes into perspective saying discussions and planning are important. "It's how we control the growth. What direction we take. We need to create opportunities for jobs, create opportunities for new people coming into the valley, new families coming into the valley."
The resort has grown significantly in the last ten years. Along with the casino and hotel, the entertainment lineup with major rock, country and comedic acts is a big draw to the front doors.
A visitor on Copenhagen drive says he escapes Los Angeles often for a trip to the valley. He sees a difference with the employees, and businesses that stand out. "It's comically hospitable how nice everyone is, it really is. It's like I am being filmed in the Truman show, every time I am here," said Matt Dean.
He also wants the valley to retain its historic look, but thrive where it can with new businesses. "That is because it is small and contained obviously it is touristy," said Dean who does not find it crowded or uncomfortable "especially coming from Los Angeles." He was with a group of friends who dined in Santa Ynez last night and were exploring the valley today along with a stop in Santa Barbara on the way back.
A hospitality honoree, Tom Ehrnman from Sunstone winery has been in the area just over five years.
He was given accolades for his ability to share the sense of adventure in the valley beyond his tasting room.
Much of it comes from personal experiences. "I never leave the area really for vacations. There's so much I haven't quite found myself here," said Ehrnman. "Each winery has it's own character. Then there's the other merchants in town. Olive oils, various restaurants my gosh there's just so much with its own character. I'm pretty sure you won't find anywhere else"
Ehrnman says he has a "voracious appetite" for adventure, and he shares that with visitors.
Recently the Buellton end of the valley has seen new tasting rooms for beer and wine, along with a just-opened shopping center that includes many restaurants including the Habit, Panda Express and Chipotle. It's not far from one of the most noted restaurants in the regions, the Hitchin' Post which has been featured in numerous travel magazines and the movie Sideways. It continues to be a "must-visit" location for many tourists.
The region has new social media tags for those taking pictures or writing about the Santa Ynez Valley. They were projected on a screen and attendees were asked to remember and use : #SYVibes #DineSYV @VisitSYV.
For more information go to: https://www.visitsyv.com/