Enchanté Boutique Hotel owner Abigail Ahrens uttered one adjective when notified that her downtown Los Altos hotel ranked No. 9 on the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards list of the Top 25 Small Hotels in the U.S.: “mind-blowing.”
Ahrens received an email with the news Jan. 24.
“Travelers’ Choice Awards are the highest honor TripAdvisor could give – meaning your business is truly exceptional,” the travel website’s email to Ahrens stated. “Based on reviews and opinions from millions of travelers, you’re in the top 1% of hotels.”
Ahrens said she and her team continue to work hard to meet the standard. Her business is now one of nearly 8,000 properties in 94 countries and eight regions worldwide that have received a Traveler’s Choice award over 17 years. California and Florida had the greatest number of hotels honored this year.
Keeping up with the competition
Ahrens described Enchanté’s accolade as the perfect “offset” to the Los Altos City Council’s recent motion to consider a gradual implementation of Measure D, approved by voters last November, which raised the city’s transient occupancy tax (TOT) from 11 to 14 percent. The council Jan. 22 introduced and further waived the reading of the ordinance to increase the lodging tax to a maximum of 12 percent, effective July 1. The second reading and adoption are tentatively scheduled for the Feb. 12 council meeting.
Ahrens credited the idea to gradually implement the tax to a conversation she had with City Manager Chris Jordan about her fear of losing business to Mountain View hotels if Los Altos were to levy the tax all at once.
“Mountain View’s TOT is staying at 10 percent,” Ahrens said. “It’s a huge difference. If a company decided to book the hotel for a week, at 14 percent, the difference would be about $1,000 in occupancy tax.”
Ahrens is flattered the city felt her small business would provide “so much of the income on an annual basis.” She is relieved, however, that Jordan introduced the option of increasing the tax by 1 percent per year.
According to the city attorney’s impartial analysis of Measure D, the TOT currently provides approximately $2.7 million annually to the city’s general fund to pay for services and programs. The tax, paid by guests for a room or space at a hotel, is anticipated to generate an additional $740,000 in revenue for the city by the time it reaches the maximum of 14 percent.