Hotel leans on Costco for success
By Tim Talevich
ASK MICHEAL KIDD to show you the
Costco products he uses in the quaint Avila La
Fonda Hotel in Avila Beach, California, and
you’d better be prepared for a long tour.
In the hotel’s lobby, you’ll see palm trees in
ornamental pots, dried gourds as decorations
and fresh flowers. In each of the Spanish-mission-inspired hotel’s 30 rooms, you’ll find
a big Vizio HDTV, iPod clock radio, Cuisinart
coffee grinder and maker, a microwave, wine-and water glasses, silverware and utensils, pots
and pans, all from Costco. And don’t forget
the mattresses, sheets, towels and toiletries.
Not to belabor the point, but most of the
provisions in the hotel, located on California’s
scenic central coast, come from the Costco in
nearby San Luis Obispo. For Kidd, it makes
perfect business sense as he works to find a
niche to make the Avila La Fonda (fonda
means “inn”) successful in a very competitive
industry—in a very trying time.
Kidd is a gregarious, Santa-esque figure
who is easy to find in tiny Avila Beach as he
strolls from the hotel to one of the other local
businesses he has an ownership in—Joe
Momma’s Coffee Bar, a spa called Nekkidd
and the Inn at Avila Beach. Success for La
Fonda, he explained recently over coffee and a
signature cinnamon roll at Joe Momma’s, lies
in offering guests a five-star hotel experience,
but not at a five-star price. The only way he
can achieve that is by keeping his costs low.
“That’s where Costco comes in,” says
Kidd. “Costco makes it possible for me to
make a high-quality experience affordable.”
Touches of that philosophy can be seen
throughout. Each room is stocked with a
courtesy basket with free bottled water, soda
and candy. In the evenings, guests are invited
to a free wine tasting featuring samples from
California’s popular Central Coast wineries
and appetizers (all from Costco, of course). A
library offers free use of books, DVDs and
music (ditto). And the hotel has a special
“Chocolate Pantry,” stocked with Costco
chocolates, candies and drinks, for guests with
a late-night sweet tooth. It operates on the
honor system at cost, which means a soda for
35 cents and no fighting a vending machine.
“I know this all sounds bizarrely cultish,
but we do it all for a reason,” laughs Kidd.
“People are surprised by all these little extras.
It makes a difference. I feel we’re offering a
value to bring in repeat customers.”
helped you in your
business? Tell us how.
“business tips” in
the subject line.
Company Name: Avila La Fonda Hotel
Contact: Micheal Kidd, managing partner
Address: 101 San Miguel St.
Avila Beach, CA 93424
Phone: (805) 595-1700
Note: Costco members receive a 30
percent discount on the published room
rate at the hotel. Certain restrictions
apply; see the hotel’s Web site for details.
worked in hotel
marketing for 30
years. He and his
business partners found a vacant lot in Avila
boutique hotel in the area. Avila La Fonda
opened in better times, in August 2007.
Like any savvy businessperson, Kidd
studies the competition to find ways to differentiate Avila La Fonda from the pack.
“It involves hundreds of things,” Kidd
explains. “Every good hotel has a TV, so we
installed big HDTVs. Every good hotel has
fine sheets, so we bought 500-thread-count
sheets. Every good hotel has a coffee maker, so
we have coffee grinders and makers. We’re
always looking at how to enhance our guests’
stays by giving quality for a good price. We
wouldn’t be able to do that without Costco.”
Every Thursday afternoon, hotel workers
load into the company truck for the trip to
Costco and supplies for the week. Of course,
along with the basics they fill up the gas tank
“We get everything there,” Kidd says.
“Our washers and dryers and office supplies.
The Kirkland Signature™ laundry detergent.
Pet beds and dishes. Patio furniture and those
This guest gets the picture and politely
starts to leave. “Hey, wait,” Kidd says. “I forgot
to show you the storage area in the basement.
We have those Gorilla storage racks with all
our extra supplies and ...” C