Property: Best Western El Ranch Inn and Suites, Milbrae CA
On The King's Highway (El Camino Real) in Milbrae,
and just a stones throw from the San Francisco International Airport, this jewel of a hotel is the epitome of a lush tropical retreat. The architectural design is fit for a Spanish king, complete with red tile roofing (that resembles clay tiles), rounded archways, and carved pillars.
Dozens of Fan Palms, Date Palms, and lush Coast Redwoods adorn the entry, parking lot, and restaurant area. Guests are greeted by gloriously colorful Impatiens surrounding the entry sign, and lining the driveway. Behind the gorgeous color display along the entryway, there is a backdrop of exquisite specimens of New Zealand Flax, Blue Fescue, Daylilies, Princess Flowers in full bloom, and huge Agaves.
Once inside the lobby, guests will be awed by the recently planted Eco-Fountain: a 3-tiered water fountain that was re-born as color-in-motion fountain, with a small Agave on the top tier, and many colorful perennials below that will soon cascade over the edges, simulating the fountain from which it was born. (This gem has no drainage in any of the planter tiers, so the correct planting mix, plant material, and irrigation design and operation were all critical to it 's success. Another Serpico Success Story, and Art, the on-site Manager, loves it!).
The challenges this property offers include: a lot of street and pedestrian traffic and the resultant litter; this property must look perfect 24-7, as they never close, and the hurried traveler must always feel at home in the beautiful surroundings. A very limited budget for enhancement work also makes this site a challenge. Regular job walks with Art, Mario and myself, are a must, as is hand watering of the many potted plants throughout the sprawling site.
Machine noise must be kept to a minimum, as weary guest may be sleeping during the day. The limited amount of turf must always look its finest, and resemble a luxurious green carpet viewed on the way to the pool or restaurant.