Southern California is where it's happening. The latest? Upscale hotels as mixed-use projects in which unique structures combine accommodations with, say, a maritime museum, a historic public market, or a busy theme park.

In meeting and event planning, San Diego is solidifying a trend toward volunteer efforts to give something back to the host city. These are activities that service groups and religious meetings regularly undertake, but that were seldom available to corporate attendees and incentive qualifiers until 9/11 brought home the importance of giving back.

Disney's California Adventure opened in February 2001, following the December 2000 opening of the expanded Anaheim Convention Center and the January openings of Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and the Downtown Disney District. The 2001 completion of the $4.2 billion transformation of the Anaheim Resort was occasion for several weeks of celebration and a rush of meeting bookings.


It was September 2000, and American Express needed an alternative activity — one that didn't involve beach olympics — for its San Diego meeting. Fabienne Henks, of Meeting Managers, who was arranging the meeting, discovered Catalyst Marketing, run by Parker Pike, which specializes in marketing for nonprofit organizations. Voluntours is a division of Catalyst that works with groups to increase volunteerism by providing customized, accessible community service projects for attendees.

American Express, for example, organized a blood drive for attendees. Also, everyone brought along gently used professional clothing and donated the items to a job training center so that clients would have appropriate clothing for interviews.

Meeting executives interested in planning group service projects can contact Parker Pike at Catalyst Marketing (619) 497-5441.


At the Los Angeles SAP 2000 Conference, many major partners of SAP planned their events on the same night. All competed for the same guests and buyers. Siemens Corp. came to Extraordinary Events with an enormous challenge: Find the perfect location, create the theme, and develop the campaign to drive 2,500 guests to its event.

Extraordinary Events began by promoting the event at a SAP general session with dancers, a chain-saw juggler, and performance artists. Then they added publicity about a Harley-Davidson giveaway during the party. For the tease, they announced many headliner acts but never said who would perform at what time or in what order. Some 5,000 attendees showed up.

The location was California Plaza, an unusual outdoor facility in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. The evening theme was “The Faces of Los Angeles.” As guests arrived, they walked a gauntlet of characters who represented the city well: the Beverly Hills shopper; tourists; bodybuilders; athletes; starlets …. They were all there. And so were the famous California locations: the beach, Rodeo Drive, and trendy East L.A. The entertainment wowed all 5,000 guests. Extraordinary Events can be reached at (818) 783-6112; www.extraordinaryevents.net.


Long Beach
Los Angeles
Palm Springs
San Diego
Santa Monica

A gauntlet of characters represented the city: tourists, bodybuilders, athletes, starlets.
at Siemens Corp.'s segment of the Los Angeles SAP 2000 Conference


Called one of the most ambitious developments in the world, Hollywood & Highland, at that corner in Hollywood, is the new home for Oscar. Among the 70 retailers, a six-screen expansion of Grauman's Chinese Theatre, and a new 640-room Renaissance Hollywood Hotel, is Kodak Theatre, where the 74th Annual Academy Awards will take place.



  • The Grand Californian, Disney's first hotel within a theme park, has 750 rooms, two pools, two spas, a children's pool and water slide, and 20,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space.

  • The 360-room, mission-themed Anabella Hotel opened in March 2001 across from Disney's California Adventure with two pools and 3,000 square feet of meeting space.

  • The Embassy Suites Anaheim opened in September in Garden Grove. It has 375 two-room suites, each with dining area, wet bar, two televisions, and complimentary breakfast. It offers more than 11,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space.


  • Marriott opened Renaissance Hollywood Hotel on December 26, in plenty of time to host the 2002 Academy Awards ceremonies. The 22-story, 637-room hotel has 50,000 square feet of meeting space and a 25,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom. It is in the Hollywood and Highland retail and entertainment complex, which includes the Kodak Theatre. Events in the Grand Ballroom are catered by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck.

  • Six Continents Hotels has added the refurbished 258-room Crowne Plaza Beverly Hills to its portfolio of upscale hotels. The hotel has plenty of meeting space and is within walking distance of Rodeo Drive.


Sacramento's historic Public Market Building reopened in April as the key element of the new 503-room Sheraton Grand Sacramento. The Public Market has kept its original walls, facades, and atrium but now houses 20,000 square feet of meeting space and two restaurants next to the 26-story hotel tower. The hotel features pools, a fitness center, and a business center.


  • The Lodge at Torrey Pines opens in April in La Jolla, adjacent to Torrey Pines Golf Club and overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The Lodge has 175 rooms and suites; more than 13,000 square feet of meeting and event space with 11 meeting rooms; a 9,500-square-foot spa; and two restaurants serving contemporary California cuisine.


  • The city has welcomed Hotel Oceana Santa Barbara. Featuring the region's mission-style architecture, the hotel offers 122 guest rooms and suites, 2,000 square feet of meeting facilities, and an auditorium. Amenities include two heated pools, a Jacuzzi, and a fitness/spa facility.


  • Next January, the brand-new Hyatt Regency Grand Coast Resort and Spa will offer 520 rooms and 50,000 square feet of meeting space adjacent to the 290-room Hilton Waterfront.