By Jason Hoppin
Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel
The former getaway for Hollywood’s jet set has fallen on hard times under former owner Sanjiv Kakkar, whose tenure was beset by state and federal charges, code violations, a damaging fire and even and the 2009 accidental death of 35-year-old Robin Carlson, who fell in a construction hole.
But on Tuesday, local hoteliers Pravin and Naina Patel announced they have purchased the iconic property, which includes the Bavarian-style Brook Room — which has a creek running through down the center of the dining hall — an indoor pool and rumors of a haunting.
“It’s almost like it was meant to be and it happened,” said Previn Patel, who owns three other local hotels and had previously expressed interest in the Brookdale Lodge. “I’ve spoken to so many people who have memories of the lodge. I want to bring that same memory back at a higher level. I want to take it back to its glory.”
The hotel has been closed since it was repossessed by the State Bank of India California. The Patels — who paid $2.75 million for the property — have been working with Supervisor Bruce McPherson’s office on the project, and Patel said he knows he has a long road to bring the property back.
Patel said he plans to start meeting with county officials immediately to clear up some of the building code problems. He plans to preserve the historic character of the building, some of which was lost under the former owner.
“It’s all about the history and the glory years of the property,” Patel said. “That’s what attracted me to it.”
Patel owns Santa Cruz’ Pacific Inn and Days Inn, as well as a Days Inn in Watsonville, adding that he also once owned a historic hotel in Pacific Grove, the Inn at 213 17-Mile Drive.
Some of the changes will be immediate. A fire-damaged section of the property will be destroyed, while an adjacent 49-room wing will be renovated, with retail stores on the first floor. The purchase includes homes and a small sewage system across Highway 9, which will also be renovated.
Renovation to the more historic parts of the building would come later, including removing the roof over the pool and allowing patrons to swim under the redwoods. Patel said he’s also been in touch with the Brookdale community.
“I know what they expect of me, and I plan to deliver,” he said.
The problems at the Brookdale Lodge had what should be one of San Lorenzo Valley’s greatest assets veering between tragedy and farce. McPherson said the purchase begins a new chapter for the Brookdale Lodge, which dates to 1890.
“From historic, economic and nostalgic perspectives, this is very welcome news for the San Lorenzo Valley,” McPherson said. “Even while it was closed, the Brookdale Lodge was one of the main conversation topics in the valley. Now the conversation will shift from, ‘How sad that it closed,’ to ‘How wonderful that it will reopen.'”
A federal grand jury handed down bank and wire fraud charges against Kakkar in October. The case is still pending in federal court, with the next court appearance scheduled for Aug. 18.