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Peninsula Zoomer: Hotel California – you can check out its history

Famous Mexican inn has connection to Canada, but not to the Eagles

Welcome to the Hotel California…

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave.

What baby boomer doesn’t remember the lyrics to that iconic Eagles song from the 1970s?

It was great to be young in that decadent, self-indulgent decade where what I did then would probably be considered illegal or immoral today!

So, as I am currently soaking up the sun in beautiful Mexico, it was a thrill to visit the Hotel California in the town of Todos Santos in Baja California Sur where the Eagles surely found inspiration for their mega hit.

What was it about the Hotel California that inspired Don Henley to pen the enigmatic lyrics of this classic song?

Well, as it turns out, absolutely nothing.

There is and never has been anything to link the hotel to the Eagles except an infamous trademark lawsuit. The Eagles had accused the hotel of improperly encouraging guests to believe the band had given permission for the hotel to associate the name of their song to flog merchandise.

The hotel claims no affiliation with the Eagles or with their song and album Hotel California. According to its website, it emphatically states there is no past or present connection between the hotel and the Eagles and any rumours or innuendo suggesting that the song is inspired by the hotel are untrue.

So there.

Bummer.

I was hoping to have some clarification of those abstract lyrics such as “we are all just prisoners here of our own device.”

According to an interview Henley did with Rolling Stone magazine, the lyrics speak to the hedonistic excess in America at that time.

But it was still a cool place to visit with kitschy décor and a huge colourful painting of Frida Kahlo in the lobby.

In conversation with an employee, Rodolfo, whose family was born and raised in Todos Santos, he quoted his mother who had a few choice words to say about the Eagles.

Now as this is a family newspaper her precise words can’t be printed, even in Spanish.

His dear madre was more impressed by the fact that former US president Dwight Eisenhower came to Todos Santos to fish.

But as I explored the history of the hotel, I learn there is a Canadian connection.

The Hotel California was founded in 1947 by a Chinese immigrant named Mr. Wong. It officially opened in 1950 where Mr. Wong lived with his wife and seven daughters. Wanting to appear more Mexican to the locals, he changed his name to Don Antonio Tabasco. His hotel was the first to serve ice cold beer in its restaurant.

After decades, the hotel fell into neglect and in 2001, a Canadian couple, John and Debbie Stewart, bought the hotel and completed a magnificent and creative renovation which has garnered them several design awards.

It continues to evolve and change with the times since its birth in 1947 when the Eagles were still in diapers.

I don’t even know if the Eagles ever visited Hotel California.

I don’t know if Elvis dropped by either.

But speaking of Elvis, he will be performing at CARP’s annual Christmas party co-hosted with Semiahmoo Seniors Planning Table on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021 from 2 – 4 pm at the White Rock Community Centre.

The event is free but you must show proof of double vaccination and ID at the door. Masks must be worn unless seated.

Registration is required by calling 604-538-5778 or emailing dethomps@telus.net

Who needs the Eagles when we have Elvis in the house!

April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, a national group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’ She writes monthly.

ColumnSeniors