USA TODAY- What do you think about hanging out on a rooftop hotel lounge – with a gaggle of ducks or geese?
The idea’s being floated for a boutique hotel with an agritourism bent planned in Northern California, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports.
Petaluma architect Ross Jones wants to start building a four-story, 42-room hotel called To: Hotel Petaluma in 2012. Jones says he’s inspired by travel writer Rick Steves, who likes to avoid generic, pre-packaged travel experiences that reveal little about a destination. The Petaluma area houses numerous organic farms and dairies.
But the rooftop-farm-animal concept has been attracting some criticism, the paper says. Some animal activists cite concerns about animal safety atop a proposed four-story building.
Some online discussions have raised questions about safety, for both the animals and people, and the comfort of animals in a rooftop garden. Others had ethical concerns about using animals as a prop for human amusement.
Jones said the idea of animal safety being an issue is unfounded. “There’s no way I’m letting animals jump off the roof,” he told the paper.
What triggered the idea of the animals? Jones said:
“We always wanted to do a ‘green’ roof because that’s an eco-approach to building. But we thought, that’s not enough. Why couldn’t we bring in the agritourism component there? Why couldn’t we introduce farm animals, a duck or gaggle of ducks or geese? They bring in an element of delight. The element of healthy food and healthy eating could be introduced at that point.”
Petaluma does, after all, have some unusual ties to farm animals, according to the town’s tourism website. Petaluma was home to the world’s first and only chicken pharmacy and in 1897, Petaluman Lyman C. Byce was credited with invention of the first practical chicken incubator.
And as for ducks, this hotel wouldn’t be the first to show them off to guests.
The Peabody hotels in downtown Memphis and Orlando both showcase ducks as part of their “Peabody Marching Ducks” show. The ducks march through the hotels’ lobbies twice a day, prompting guests young and old alike to snap photos. The Peabody Memphis apparently used to take it a step further. “Rumor has it that turtles and baby alligators each briefly graced the fountain in the 1920s,” according to the hotel’s website.
The Petaluma hotel is proposed for a prominent, downtown corner, “steps away from the Theater District, the river and downtown nightlife,” the paper says. The architect’s family has owned the land since 1963.