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European Roots and The American Dream

Theis, with her blonde hair, rosy complexion and a kind open manner, conveys a strong passion about her work and her community, as an inn manager as well as an elected member of the city council. Just as her parents did, like her role model grandmother before them, Theis began helping out at Hofsa House when she was just 8 years old. “I showed guests to their rooms.” Theis recalls. Founded in 1947 by her grandmother, Donna Hofsas and husband Fred, of Bavarian German descent, the vision of the inn was inspired by a trip to Germany.     They sought to capture the aesthetic of old-world European charm with a timber–framed building, a classic style for townhouses of the Medieval and Renaissance periods, Dutch doors, and shingle-style roof.

Theis, with her blonde hair, rosy complexion and a kind open manner, conveys a strong passion about her work and her community, as an inn manager as well as an elected member of the city council.

Just as her parents did, like her role model grandmother before them, Theis began helping out at Hofsa House when she was just 8 years old. “I showed guests to their rooms.” Theis recalls.

Founded in 1947 by her grandmother, Donna Hofsas and husband Fred, of Bavarian German descent, the vision of the inn was inspired by a trip to Germany.


The Bavarian themed Hofsa House Hotel stands
The Bavarian-themed Hofsa House Hotel and its unique architecture has attracted visitors from all over all the world to Carmel-By-The-Sea. (Photo © Lillian Zheng |The Middle Land)


They sought to capture the aesthetic of old-world European charm with a timber–framed building, a classic style for townhouses of the Medieval and Renaissance periods, Dutch doors, and shingle-style roof.

In 1957, Donna commissioned Maxine Albro, one of America’s leading female artists, to create a mural representing the clothes and costumes of the Bavarian culture right on the front gate.

“We work hard here to maintain the European Bavarian theme”.

Each of the 38 rooms is unique, offering a casual inviting, ambiance with simple old-world elegance. With floral brocade bedding, warm tones such as peach orchard and rose accent, each room is a colorful treat. Some have balconies with ocean views and lush green foliage, which feel spacious and expansive, while red brick fireplaces create a cozy and intimate environment.

All rooms and public areas have free Wi-Fi access. Hofsas House was built into a hill, and magnificent ocean views can be savored on the fourth-floor deck area – a great place to sit, read, and enjoy a glass of wine while watching the glorious sunset.


 German Bavarian style
The hotel lobby is reminiscent of its tranquil and simple Bavarian German style, welcoming the guests as it first did when it opened in 1947. (Photo © Jonny Chen|The Middle Land)


There is also a heated pool, dry sauna, and all the basic amenities one could want or need for a comfortable stay. A continental breakfast is available to be enjoyed in the lobby or eaten privately in rooms, which may include a kitchen or wet bar if requested.

She describes the unique charms of her home in Carmel-by-the-Sea, a 1 square mile sanctuary preserving a quieter world, with strict city ordinances to ensure and maintain these standards and aesthetics. No chain stores are allowed in its main street, explains Theis, recognizing that many of her guests are middle aged and retirees, who want to get away from the fast paced of life, and to recharge and reconnect with their partners or significant others.”


Welcoming Guests from Around the World  

Theis who has recently traveled to Asia, Cambodia and Thailand, and enjoyed the rich experience of these exotic cultures. She expressed her delight at Middle Land’s mission to build cultural bridges between East and West.

“I wish I knew more when I was there.” she admits, speaking of the proper bowing gestures of Thailand.

In the hope of educating the Chinese tourists who come here, we asked Theis to offer her impression of Chinese guests. “I enjoy the Chinese guests!” she said. “They seem to really like the rooms and the property.” she added.

We asked if there were any suggestions she could offer to help acculturate Chinese people into Western living. Theis acknowledged that Chinese tourists usually speak in very loud voices, which can be off putting in certain environments.

“They don’t understand how their voices carry.” she noted about her Chinese guests who speak loudly, which is a strong contrast to the serene environment, of Carmel-by-the-Sea, known for its natural beauty and quiet, slow pace.

“That happens a lot.” she acknowledged, “Let us know how many people in each room so we can accommodate all the persons traveling together.” She explained, that sometimes another bed will not fit in a room. Clarity is best so no one is unpleasantly surprised.


Carrie Theis
Carrie Theis (left), the owner of Carmel’s Hofsa House, has been running her family hotel business for over 30 years. She is being interviewed by the Middle Land Magazine at her hotel. (Photo © Jonny Chen|The Middle Land)


Passionated Environment and Community Advocates 

One big difference she noticed from her travels to Asia was the pollution problem. “They don’t have the infrastructure like we do here.’’ As a big supporter of recycling, Theis explained the strides that her town has made to reduce wastes.

“Carmel recycles 75% of our garbage.” she said. Theis understands that even though the cost is higher in the short them, she feels it is important to look at the long-term costs of doing nothing. Asia has not yet been able to fully embrace this mindset.

She is a President and Board Member of the Carmel Inn Keepers Association, Board Member of the Carmel Chamber of Commerce and Co-Chair of the Economic Advisory Committee. She’s also served on the City’s Income and Expense Ad Hoc Committee and MST and Regional Taxi Authority.

Theis is committed to making the world a better place, sits on the city council, with the very hopes of serving her community and bringing people together.

“I try to be fair, reasonable, find middle ground, it’s hard to do sometimes.”

“We like talking to our guests. I enjoy people, you get to hear what it’s like in other counties.” Theis concludes, “You have to really like hospitality to do this work.”

Clearly, Theis takes great pride in her work and business that was passed down by her family.


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