Travel Channel filming ends at Grass Valley’s Holbrooke Hotel |

Travel Channel filming ends at Grass Valley’s Holbrooke Hotel

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union
Buy Photo

With the Travel Channel’s filming of an episode of “Hotel Impossible” completed at Grass Valley’s Holbrooke Hotel this week, local businesses featured on the show are hoping to get exposure when the episode airs this fall.

“I think this is going to create a huge buzz about Grass Valley,” said Ian Garfinkel, the hotel’s owner.

“We should brace ourselves for a lot of people coming up to check out Grass Valley.”

Hotel Impossible” is a reality makeover TV show that first aired in April 2012. Each episode features a struggling hotel or one that is not living up to its potential, according to the show’s website.

Last year, host Anthony Melchiorri, an aggressive 20-year hospitality business veteran, spent several days at the Hotel Leger in Calaveras County. That transformation was featured on “Hotel Impossible” in January.

The show filmed its final segments at the Holbrooke Monday night, featuring a gala-like reveal of some of the physical makeovers to the hotel.

“The guy is a natural,” Garfinkel said. “He totally knows how to run a hotel. I would be crazy not to listen to his advice.”

Out of respect for Hotel Impossible’s wish to reveal what alterations made to the hotel’s main event room, back patio and other areas when the show airs this fall, The Union will not disclose those changes in this article. While Hotel Impossible’s own designer planned those secretive alterations, they were local hands that did the work.

Josh Moore, owner of Josh Moore Construction Inc., was emailed three weeks before filming began Feb. 27 about acting as contractor on the project.

“At first, I thought it was a scam,” Moore said, a sentiment shared by other agencies that helped the Travel Channel in Grass Valley.

Those organizations included Johnson’s Painting, Out of Sight Cleaning, Youngs Carpet One Floor & Home, Hills Flat Lumber, the Nevada County Historical Society and Bent Metal Winery, among others.

“I think (the producers) reached out to different aspects in the community with the intention of creating some community awareness and cross-driven marketing,” said Scott Brown, owner of Bent Metal winery, which supplied the wine, in a special Holbrooke-themed bottle, for Monday’s banquet filming.

“You can’t pay for this kind of exposure,” Brown said.

Moore, his five-member crew and his subcontractors, worked long, all-day marathon sessions over the weekend, often with cameras all around them.

“Everyone was nervous at first,” Moore said. “After three to four hours, you forget they are even there and focus on the work. It was a fun experience.”

Moore hopes his hard work pays off with exposure when the episode airs.

“It’s been just an amazing four days,” Melchiorri said during filming Monday.

“A hotel like this can only survive because it has a beautiful, supportive community. I want to thank for not only helping the Holbrooke but for helping me do my job. Because I can help (Garfinkel) and the hotel get on the right path, but if I don’t have a community that supports the hotel, then we just have an empty hotel.”

Billed as California’s oldest continually operating hotel, the Holbrooke is a Grass Valley landmark with signs flagging Highway 49 commuters to the historic vestige at mileposts heading into the city’s borders.

The hotel was founded in 1851, and its present structure was built in 1862 following an infamous fire, according to the Nevada County Historical Landmarks Commission.

While lodging at the Holbrooke is popular among out-of-town history and antique lovers, the bar and banquet rooms are frequented primarily by local residents. Clubs such as Rotary and the Mining Council host regular meetings in the banquet rooms, one of which can hold more than 200 people.

The Holbrooke’s iconic bar has been in continuous operation since 1852, when it operated as the Golden Gate Saloon. It houses multiple events throughout the week, including open mic nights.

“It was little tough on the pride,” Garfinkel said. “I feel like I am a pretty good businessman, but I realized I was focusing on the bar and the restaurant, and I was letting the hotel run itself, and that is just not an option.”

The hotel includes 17 antique-furnished rooms in the main building and 11 additional rooms in the rear “annex,” known as the Purcell House. It garnered California Historic Landmark designation in 1978. Its visitors have included presidents Ulysses S. Grant, James Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland and Herbert Hoover, according to the Grass Valley Downtown Association, as well as Mark Twain, among many others.

“This is a vibrant community,” Melchiorri said. “That’s why this hotel can last.”

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email or call 530-477-4236.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User