Destination California is not its usual robust self. Hotel foreclosures are up, room occupancy is down, and according to a report released by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAECD), ‘tourist activity literally fell off the table’ at the end of last year.
But San Diego's Rancho Bernardo Inn — a high-end suburban resort north of the city on Interstate 15 – have come up with a recession busting result.
Through a special deal, the hotel offer a room normally listed around $219 per night at a remarkably low $19 (£11.50). They called it the ‘Survivor Package’, and naturally, there was a catch: no lights, no toilet paper, no towels ... and not even a bed!
The Rancho Bernardo Inn, it should be pointed out, is no backwoods flea-pit. Quite the opposite. There are antique stone fountains, red Spanish tiles and brickwork, super-sized butterflies in the skies, floppy-eared rabbits on the turf, rosemary and jasmine bushes everywhere. With its top-notch spa and a fine-dining restaurant (El Bizcocho), it represents a picture-perfect version of the southern Californian good life— where happiness is measured in manicured fairways, and bright is the flash of pristine white sports sock against sun-dried, walnut-coloured leg.
But what your 19 bucks buys you is a free-standing tent had been set up in the space where the bed would normally go, and two strips of yellow 'caution' tape were plastered over the (disabled) air conditioning switch, and all the light bulbs had been removed!