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Giana Magnoli

Special to the Business Times

A big player in the Central Coast tourism industry, King Ventures CEO John King is
adding the largest resort yet to the list.

The Vaquero de los Robles resort will be unlike anything San Luis Obispo County has
seen in terms of size, with its hundreds of hotel rooms, a spa hotel, bungalows, a vineyard
and wine tasting facility, visitor center, a series of lakes, golf courses and more.

Located near the Paso Robles airport, the resort plans to attract fly-in customers as well
as drive-ins, making it easier for those from the San Francisco Bay Area or farther. King
expects a lot of visitors, as this will be the first conference hotel in the area with about
20,000 square feet of conference space alone.

King’s extensive resume of restaurants, hotels and resorts spans all of California, but the
Central Coast has a lot to offer visitors, he said. “We’ve got the best right here.”
Because of the growing tourism and winery industries in Paso Robles, called the “new
Napa” by some, King said it was the perfect location for a project of this scale.

“It’s a gorgeous little town now; the retailing is better (but) we need amenities to keep
tourists there,” he said. “There’s been one ingredient missing in this county for a long
time – a conference hotel.”

He will start the golf course by the end of 2008 and optimistically plans to complete the
project in two-and-a-half years. As the first large conferencing facility in the area, it will
be awhile before anyone can catch up, he said.

Originally from the Salinas/Monterey area, King “fell in love with the territory” of the
Central Coast while attending California Polytechnic State University in San Luis
Obispo. He began setting up businesses in historic buildings in the 1970s, a decision that
“saved a number of old buildings,” but has recently become interested in hotels and
health and wellness.

The Boutique Hotel product line includes six properties in San Luis Obispo County
tourist hotspots. However, despite the company’s heavy production, King said they “don’t
build stuff just to build it.”

“All the things we do are design-oriented; we have a certain amount of pride in our
architecture,” he said. That explains the layout of Vaquero de los Robles; its buildings
work with the territory, not against it. Many rooms will be built on two levels to
accommodate bluffs, and the various facilities are so spread out that the extensive acreage
will be connected by golf cart trails and funicular railways. The fixed-rail cable cars will
serve as elevators between facilities on different levels on the hilly property.
With a project like this on his mind, one wouldn’t think King has other irons in the fire.
However, he’s also excited about the treehouses for the Fernwood Motel & Campground
project in Big Sur as well as a Pismo Beach project that will include four Boutique
Hotels, vineyards, a golf course and estate homes, which he hopes to start within a year
and a half.