Since midnight munchies are more than just a stoner stereotype, Room 420 at the Hicksville Pines Chalets & Motel boasts a fully stocked vending machine.
The room – in the resort town of Idyllwild, atop forested mountains overlooking Palm Springs – also offers a collection of Cheech and Chong DVDs, video games, blacklight posters, a bed built right into the floor and a volcano vaporizer to heat up whatever strain of cannabis guests have handy.
“It’s our most popular room,” said Morgan Night, who opened Hicksville Pines about a year ago.
Now Night plans to stretch that popularity across his entire motel. On Friday, he’s rebranding the property as a “bud and breakfast.”
Soon, Hicksville Pines will be age-restricted to 21 and older. Room 420 will remain special, as the only spot in the lodge to allow in-room smoking. Elsewhere on the property, guests will be allowed to light up, vape or eat cannabis-infused foods so long as they’re not inside one of the other rooms.
Visitors also will be able to board Hicksville’s retro RV – which Night has dubbed “Cannabus” – and take a free ride over to one of Idyllwild’s unlicensed cannabis dispensaries.
In the future, if Riverside County moves to issue licenses to marijuana businesses, Night hopes to open a dispensary on the property. Short of that, he’ll push for regular delivery services, the way other resorts might welcome food trucks.
Hicksville Pines is joining a small number of resorts in California that are openly advertising themselves as cannabis friendly. That number is expected to increase sharply as California extends the legalization of recreational marijuana and embraces the emerging cannabis tourism industry.
“I just think that we’re in a different time where smoking pot is part of normalcy,” Night said. “And that’s how life in my world should be, because it’s legal now.”
Night stumbled into being an innkeeper seven years ago.
He’s a DJ, writer, director and producer, with one feature-length film and several music videos to his credit. He was hosting a drive-in movie night in Los Angeles in 2010, but work was otherwise slow and he was looking for another adventure.
He was also a regular visitor to Joshua Tree and a fan of old trailers. So he combined those passions when he opened Hicksville Trailer Palace. What started as an artists’ retreat eventually became a full-fledged hotel, with 10 trailers – from a Pee-wee Herman-themed circus wagon to an equestrian-styled pony cart – surrounding a bean-shaped pool.
“It’s not fun for me to copy what other people are doing,” he said. “I just like being first.”
Anxious to find a new project a couple years ago, Night bought the Peaceful Mountain Inn, a few minutes from Idyllwild’s main village. Yelp reviewers called the collection of 10 rooms and cabins – plus a lodge with a game room and community kitchen – “rustic” and said it lived up to its name.
“It was very much a different generation’s place,” Night said.
He spent the next year overhauling the resort.
There’s the Third Man room, designed in collaboration with Jack White’s Nashville label Third Man Records. Guests can play albums from the label, browse merchandise and shower under a ceiling-mounted bidet.
There’s the Dita, decked out by burlesque start Dita Von Teese. It boasts a sparkly pink claw foot tub, round bed and a deck with a personal hot tub coming soon.
There’s a nerd room, a Dolly Parton room, a Haunted Mansion room and room where Christmas is celebrated all year.
Night said he’s always liked black lights, so the idea of doing a room that embraces the stoner stereotypes – rather than shying away from them, as so many entrepreneurs in the emerging legal industry now do – got him excited. But he also hoped Room 420 would send a message.
“I thought it was a great way to let people know what we’re about. We’re not your mom-and-pop bed and breakfast.”
A few months after Hicksville Pines opened, Californians voted to legalize recreational cannabis through Proposition 64. Then in late spring, Night was driving through Colorado while serving as tour manager for his daughter’s band, The Regrettes. He saw several examples of “bud and breakfast” resorts there. But he thought, “My hotel is cooler.”
Night is a medical marijuana patient, using cannabis to treat migraines and insomnia for the past decade. He describes weed as a “life-changer,” and says he is glad to help normalize the experience for his guests.
He has no plans to convert his Joshua Tree property into a 420-friendly resort. Since they don’t give out that address, they couldn’t have a public dispensary there. And he wants to keep one hotel family friendly.
He wants to host live music and other gatherings at Hicksville Pines, but said he isn’t interested in having it become an epicenter for “gimmicky” marijuana-themed events. Instead, he hopes it is known as a “really cool hotel” where guests just happen to be able to consume weed, just like they can enjoy alcohol at pretty much every other resort.
Night said his plans have drawn no reaction from his Idyllwild neighbors, an eclectic mix of new-age devotees and right-wing Christians who typically get along.
The town’s chamber of commerce isn’t currently active and there’s no local governing body, since it’s an unincorporated community. Riverside County currently doesn’t allow cannabis businesses, but recently voted to craft regulations for the industry so long as a tax measure passes on the November 2018 ballot.
A local real estate agent, who declined to give her name, hadn’t heard of Hicksville Pines’ plans but said she’s not in favor of the idea. She said the town has already been battling rogue dispensaries, calling the industry “a thorn in our side.”
Other neighbors offer a different view.
“I don’t think it’s going to draw a wrong crowd to the hill,” said Sami Contreras, who works at Idyllwild Beauty Shop and lives nextdoor to Hicksville Pines.
Contreras said marijuana businesses are a “hot topic” on the mountain, with divided opinions on whether they should be welcomed. The dispensary now open on the town’s main drag, she added, has not made a good impression.
But she praised the “eclectic” rooms at Hicksville Pines and said guests have been good neighbors. She’s optimistic they’ll handle this pivot responsibly.
“It doesn’t bother me because that resort is going to have patrons that are paying for their rooms and those patrons are more than likely going to eat at our eateries – especially if they’re stoned,” she said with a laugh.
“More power to them as long as they do it nicely.”
Night wants others in town to feel the same way.
“I would hope they would enjoy the fact that we’re bringing more people to their community,” he said.
“And, the truth is, there’s nothing safer than someone smoking pot and then going to their room and passing out.”
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