HEARST CASTLE: California treasure is open again
California’s famous Hearst Castle has re-opened after a two-year closure due to the pandemic and severe rainstorm damage that prompted a $13.7 million renovation.
The steep, curvy access road to palatial home that media mogul William Randolph Hearst built on ranch land overlooking the Pacific was damaged by atmospheric rivers – storms fueled by long and wide plumes of moistures pulled in from the Pacific – in 2021.
Called La Cuesta Encantada (“The Enchanted Hill”), the San Luis Obispo County castle, designed by architect Julia Morgan, includes a 115-room main house, as well as guesthouses, pools, and cultivated gardens. Construction dates back to 1919.
The access road, which rises 503 m. over eight kilometres was “reconstructed and re-engineered” over 10 months, according to state officials. The project included replacing and enlarging clay pipe culverts from the 1920s that had been damaged by the rainstorms. Some historic stone retaining walls were also restored by hand.
The castle, which is located in central California about four hours from both Los Angeles and San Francisco, sees about 850,000 visitors annually, meaning about 22,000 bus trips traverse the access road each year. Some travel as often as every 10 minutes in the summer tourism season.
The castle features a magnificent 115-room main house plus guesthouses, pools, and 3.2 hectares of cultivated gardens. The main house itself, “La Casa Grande,” is home to Hearst’s extraordinary art collection and has hosted many influential guests, including President Calvin Coolidge, Winston Churchill, George Bernard Shaw, Charlie Chaplin, and a diverse array of luminaries from show business and publishing industries.
“Hearst Castle is a state treasure and we are thrilled to reopen this wonder to the public to enjoy in a safe and responsible manner,” California State Parks Director Armando Quintero said. “We are confident that these once-in-a-lifetime repairs and improvements to the road facility will serve countless generations to come.”
The reopening of the castle marks the delayed 100th anniversary of the construction of the castle by offering a new tour entitled “The Julia Morgan Tour,” offering an in-depth look at the life and career of the extraordinary woman, focusing on rarely seen areas of Hearst Castle that highlight her gift for design, and photographic displays of architectural drawings, family photos, and personal items.
In addition, the ticket pricing structure for Hearst Castle was revamped to make it more user-friendly for the public and business partners. The ticket price will now have all fees integrated into one total price which will make the reservation process seamless, and will reduce the overall cost to visitors, by $3 to $6 per ticket. Tour reservations are strongly recommended and can be made online at HearstCastle.org.
First published at Travel Industry Today