The Anatomy of a Tourism Destination - 1800's Version
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Tents near bath house, pre-amenities
One of the reasons to love Paso Robles is that everywhere you go, you meet friendly people. Locals, shop owners, waiters, tasting room attendants, bartenders and hotel front desk clerks all exude warmth and a welcoming attitude that is hard to find in other regions.
While it’s easy to believe that it’s sort of a happy accident, it turns out that Paso Robles has gone above and beyond regular “hospitality” since the mid 1800′s.
Long before Highways 101 and 46, or even the railroads, brought visitors here for our wine, Paso Robles was a visitor destination for our healing hot mineral springs and mud baths.
As far back as the 1850’s, visitors were arriving via stagecoach, buckboard, on horseback and even on foot to find cures for their ailments that the hot springs would reportedly cure. And to show their appreciation for visitors, the town rolled out the red carpet, Paso Robles style.
The Paso Robles Inn uncapped the old hot mineral springs wells in 1999 and now select guest rooms have spa tubs on their balconies
Right smack dab in the middle of town, where our Library and the Paso Robles Inn currently sit, was an underground hot spring (you may have heard of its resurgence, as it were, after our 2003 earthquake, but that’s another story for another day). In short order, guest cabins were built around the spring, as well as the first iteration of the soon-to-be-world-famous Paso Robles Hot Springs Hotel, which would eventually be replaced by a large, resplendent version that would attract the likes of celebrities such as Ignace Paderewski and The Pittsburgh Pirates, among others.
Streetcars were added to get people to the hot springs and mud baths more easily
There was also a taxi service to get folks from their hotel to the hot springs and as demand increased, a horse-drawn trolley on rails was installed to get more people to the hot springs and mud baths more easily.
Pretty impressive, big-city service for a town of less than 500 people.
That spirit of hospitality is still alive and well today. Paso Robles residents are some of the warmest, most welcoming people you will ever meet, to friends and strangers alike. Our wineries, restaurants and hotels are happy to give visitors suggestions on making the most of their visit to Paso Robles, and there is a pretty good chance that if you walk around our downtown, more than one friendly stranger will give you a warm smile and greeting.