I’ve been wanting to check out a show at Vina Robles Amphitheatre since it opened in 2013, and somehow despite numerous wine tasting trips to Paso Robles and an early pandemic visit to see the extremely cool outdoors-among-the-vines Field of Light at Sensorio exhibit, which is right on the same rural highway, I never managed to make the 125 mile trek until a special deal at Hotel SLO caught my eye.
The “Summer Vibe” package includes a stay in one of Hotel SLO’s hipster chic rooms — ours featured a king-size bed, private balcony, a cozy sitting area, walk-in rain shower, and playful yet sophisticated decor that would have been right at home on the pages of any design magazine. There’s definitely a vibe to newer hotels — the boutique Skyview Los Alamos has it too — where each room has a seemingly unique style, and it almost feels like you’re a guest in someone’s home as opposed to a standardized corporate environment. There’s also an environmentally friendly bent to Hotel SLO that I approved of, including key card light controls (so you can’t accidentally keep on the lights when you leave the room); cute, glass milk jug style, refillable water bottles with easy filling stations around the hotel; and cleverly worded options to “refresh” your room without wastefully laundering your towels and linens unless you need that.
Our room was paired with access to a luxury box suite at Vina Robles Amphitheatre, a mere half-hour away from Downtown San Luis Obispo, even in Friday afternoon traffic. The concert venue is beautiful, nestled in a picturesque hillside, with all 3,300 seats within 150 feet of the stage (the Santa Barbara Bowl has 4,500 seats, to give you some idea of perspective), including general admission lawn seating up top, just above the “VIP Box” seats where we were. It was the perfect perch to watch The Offspring show, amongst a super enthusiastic sold out crowd. We had a great view of the mosh pit, but were safely ensconced in the sponsor boxes, with our own server to bring us beer and wine (the amphitheatre is on the Vina Robles Winery property after all), as well as surprisingly good woodfired pizza and other snacks.
Our VIP spot also gave us entry through the spacious tasting room, access to the lovely private winery patio with comfy chairs and fire pits, special parking, another menu of food and wine pairing options, and best of all, VIP restrooms. For anyone else who has ever gone to a concert and missed their favorite song because of long lines in the ladies room when they had one beer too many and couldn’t wait anymore, you know what a great perk this is. In addition to the Hotel SLO package, Vina Robles offers this VIP concert option to their wine club members. I also liked that Vina Robles Amphitheatre is a zero waste facility, with all of their items being either compostable (food and service ware) or recyclable (drink containers).
As The Offspring rocked their way through their lively set list of familiar, mostly 90s punk hits like “Come Out and Play (Keep ‘Em Separated),” “Gotta Get Away,” “My Friend’s Got a Girlfriend (Why Don’t You Get a Job),” and “Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)” — that last title unironically adorning the t-shirts of an impressive number of audience members who fit at least part of the bill — they kept the crowd fired up with equally entertaining banter. When lead singer Dexter Holland quipped, “In Paso they sing like angels and curse like sailors,” the crowd willingly obliged.
This was definitely not their first Paso Robles rodeo, as lead guitarist Noodles shared with me earlier in the day (before sharing a version of the story onstage), “We are looking forward to playing the Vina Robles Amphitheatre this time because the last time we played there, we played on a makeshift stage at the fair [which was coincidentally going on the same weekend]. Halfway through our set they moved a whole herd of cattle right underneath the stage. The dust and the smell were somethin’ else! Thanks for all the great wines, Paso.”
The wines were indeed pretty great. While Paso is well known for its hearty Cabernet Sauvignon, I was impressed by the whites at our tasting at Vina Robles Vineyards the next day. The 2021 Sauvignon Blanc was the perfect summer brunch wine, with citrus notes and a nice acidity, and the 2021 Vermentino, an Italian white you don’t see as often on the Central Coast, was subtly delicious. The food at the Bistro at Vina Robles was also quite good. The crab cakes with chipotle citrus aioli paired perfectly with the Vermentino and the cast iron cookie (warm chocolate chip, topped with vanilla ice cream and praline walnuts) was a delightful capper to our meal.
Hotel SLO’s Summer Vibe Special runs through October, with upcoming shows at Vina Robles Amphitheatre like Phoebe Bridgers on August 27, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo on August 28, and Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band on October 15. Along with the musical fun, the hotel is located within an easy walking distance of loads of shops, bars and restaurants, as well as attractions like Bubblegum Alley, the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, and Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa.
The package includes a $25 dining credit for any of Hotel SLO’s onsite dining options – High Bar Rooftop Lounge & Terrace, which has a great bocce ball court; and Piadina, and Ox + Anchor, both helmed by Executive Chef Ryan Fancher, a Santa Barbara guy who began his restaurant career at age 15 at Chuck’s Steak House and went on to work with Thomas Keller at The French Laundry, among others.
For more information and to book the Summer Vibe Special, call (805) 235-0700 ext. 7 or visit hotel-slo.com/offers/details/?id=20.